Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New York Notices

There's literary news in the real estate section. Minneapolis' own Open Book center is the subject of an article in the New York Times today. It credits Open Book--correctly, I'd say--with sparking interest in the now-booming area near downtown.

And the article ends on an interesting teaser about future plans for the area: "Mayor R. T. Rybak has formed the Great City Design Team to come up with public art and street design proposals for this and other neighborhoods throughout the city. The first public art installations for Washington Avenue will be designs inspired by literature and book arts."--David E

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Books and Bars... and Kickball

I knew that Magers and Quinn is part of the best book club in the Cities, Books & Bars. It's the best because it is held in a bar, so the conversation is free-flowing and spirited. What I didn't know is that some Books & Bars folks have banded together to form a kickball team. The season is off and running, and the B&B team is off to a 2-0 start. (You can track their progress here.)

Patrick knocks one out of the park.

"Inspiration" and "Text" cheer on the team. (Get your own free nickname when you attend a Wednesday game.)

The next Books and Bars meeting will be next Tuesday, May 13, at the Bryant-Lake Bowl (810 W. Lake St, Minneapolis). Doors open at 6:00; discussion starts at 7:00. The book of the month is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It is a novel set in Nazi Germany and tells the story of a young girl who copes with her struggles by reading. The Guardian called it "a beautifully balanced piece of storytelling."--David E

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Glimpse Inside the Librarian's Mind

The L.D. Fargo Public Library in Lake Mills, WI, has a blog. On it, they post mostly listings of recent additions to the collection. It's not very gripping stuff, until you start to read the little descriptions of the incoming titles, and you hear a very bored librarian talking. For example:
  • "Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein. Another suspense novel.
  • "Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman. Suspense again.
  • "Christ the Lord: Road to Cana by Anne Rice. Not a suspense novel. Everyone knows how this turns out."
Or this one:
  • "Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde. Some chick book.
  • "Cheating at Solitaire by Jane Haddam. Some big house covered in snow on the cover."

To the person writing this stuff: I'm a fan, man.--David E

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We're Like Chuck E Cheese for Smart Kids

A rainy Thursday in the store was made livelier when we hosted a birthday party for Anya and her friends. There was cake and a pinata and a scavenger hunt. Everyone went home with a book, and a good time was had by all.--David E

Freedom From Choice

Web magazine has a profile of Berlin's Bildschöne Bücher bookstore. The store was founded by former Taschen sales director Bodo von Hodenberg and based on the same principle as his website Only a carefully curated selection of art and design books are available. This is not a comprehensive. They do the selecting for you, and the customers love it.

You can watch the three-minute film here.--David E

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Aw, Shucks...

The City Pages weekly has named Magers and Quinn as the Twin Cities' "Best Bookstore (Used)." They clearly did their research: "From Charlie Brown to Aristotle, hidden treasures can be found in every nook and cranny of the store. It's the perfect place to browse, with more than 120,000 used and current titles, with subjects ranging from how to cook to how to find a date."

And they drew attention to our events, as well. "The shop also has one of the most active author reading programs in town, often with a dozen or more events a month. Magers and Quinn keeps the literary spirit alive, bringing authors and book lovers together in the name of a good read."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.--David E

Oh, You Beautiful Doll

A coworker said it best: There aren't many books that can appeal to both the doll collector and the true crime enthusiast. But we've got the book that straddles that line. The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is a collection of photographs of crime scenes, reconstructed using dolls.

The creepy/compelling scenes are the work of Frances Glessner Lee, who helped found the nation’s first department of legal medicine at Harvard Medical School and who made the dioramas based on actual crime reports. (Lee is also rumored to have been the inspiration for the protagonist in Murder, She Wrote.) You can read more about Lee here.

We've got several copies of this book, but hurry in. They won't be here long. Meanwhile, you can see more pictures of Lee's dolls and dioramas here.--David E

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Mother's Day

On April 22, 2004, former NFL player Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan. The administration and the Pentagon immediately portrayed his death as the result of a dramatic gun battle with the enemy, and Pat was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and a promotion in recognition of his bravery. But as would later emerge, Army officials were all along hiding the truth: Pat was killed by his fellow Rangers.

Tillman's mother Mary has written a book about her experiences, Boots on the Ground: The Life and Death of Pat Tillman. She's not doing much publicity until she appears on 60 Minutes next month, but you can read an article/interview in the San Jose Mercury News.

And you can meet Mary Tillman in our store on Wednesday, May 14, at 7:30pm.--David E

The Secret to a Long Life... Revealed

Judy Powers, of Beverly, Massachusetts, was raking her front yard when she decided that she'd rather read a book. Good thing, too, because a few minutes later two cars collided in the road in front of her house, and one of them careened across her yard and into her stoop. Powers was unscathed. Details are here.

The moral: Rake less; read more.--David E

Friday, April 18, 2008

Talking Books

David Macaulay, author and illustrator of City, Cathedral, and (my favorite) Castle, delivered the 2008 2008 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture yesterday in Madison, Wisconsin. In the hour-long talk, Macaulay discusses his creative process and his body of work. You can view the lecture online here.--David E

The State Shall Whither Away

Click on the pictures for more oddly pretty pictures of an abandoned library in Russia. From a Russian photo blog whose name I can't tell you via E

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

JK Rowling Makes 50-Year-Old Fan Cry

Steven Jan Vander Ark, webmaster of the Harry Potter Lexicon and would-be author of a book based on the site's explanations of all things Potter, broke down on the stand yesterday, under the withering gaze of author JK Rowling. She and her publisher are suing Vander Ark for plagiarism.

For details , see the New York Times.--David E

In My Father's (Brick) House, There Are Many Mansions

I just stumbled upon the book from the folks at The Brick Testament. Clearly no bible collection is complete without these gems.--David E

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rough Guides

Thomas Kohnstamm's new memoir Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? is causing great anxiety among the folks at Lonely Planet. It turns out that Kohnstamm faked his contributions to a dozen of the publisher's books, including their guide to Columbia. “I wrote the book in San Francisco,” he confessed. “I got the information from a chick I was dating—an intern in the Colombian consulate.”

Oh, and he also dealt drugs to finance his trips, since LP didn't pay enough. Details are here.--David E

Ask Chuck Palahniuk

I know, I'm posting too much about our event with Chuck Palahniuk, but this one's extra good.

Chuck will be interviewed by’s Alexis McKinnis. Alexis in turn is asking readers for your input on what to ask him. You can read the suggestions thus far and post one of your own on her blog.

My favorite question: "Ask him if this is true: Palahniuk has mentioned at book readings that he is working on a musical based on Fight Club with David Fincher and Trent Reznor."--David E

Monday, April 14, 2008

Choke at MSPIFF

The movie version of Chuck Palahniuk's novel Choke will be screened at the Minneapolis/St Paul International Film Festival. There's only one showing (11:30pm on Saturday, April 26), so mark your calendars now. Details are here.

Choke won the Special Jury Prize for the work by an ensemble cast at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. it stars Sam Rockwell as the con man and Angelica Huston as his mother.--David E

PS: Chuck Palahniuk will be in town to read from his new novel Snuff on May 21. (Details are here.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Down from the North

Arnaldur Indridason is Iceland's most popular crime novelist. His novel Jar City has sold 30,000 copies--that's one for every ten Icelanders. Now the movie version of his bestseller is coming to the Twin Cities as part of the Minneapolis/St Paul International Film Festival. The movie is directed by Baltasar Kromakur, who also made 101 Reykjavik.

Screenings are April 25 and 28. I'll see you there.--David E

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Up and Coming

Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff, a collection of short stories set in small-town Ohio, is the subject of an interview on NPR. Pollock talks about coming to writing slowly; he started by typing out stories he liked, so as to learn their structure and rhythms.

Pollock will be in town reading from his book along with Chuck Palahniuk. Both authors will be appearing at the Triple Rock Social Club on May 21. Details on that event and how to get tickets are here.--David E

Oy Vey = Uff Da

Neal Karlen will be in the store at 3:00pm tomorrow (Sunday, April 13) to talk about his new book The Story of Yiddish: How a Mish-Mosh of Languages Saved the Jews. The event--like almost all our events--is free and open to the public.

If you're impatient, you can get a sneak preview of his story in this interview in the Minneapolis StarTribune. The article even includes some Yiddish basics ("The shlemiel spills the milk, the shlimazl gets spilled on."), so you can hit the ground running.--David E

Friday, April 11, 2008

On the Road Exploded

Artist Stefanie Posavec has analyzed Jack Kerouac's On the Road, breaking it down by theme, by sentence length, and other such metrics. Then she has graphed the information. The results make for compelling viewing--at least as good as the book, for my money. Click on the images below to see more examples and to read about Posavec's methodology.--David E

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Palahniuk TV

Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and Choke, will be in town to read from his new novel Snuff on May 21. (Details are here.) You can get a sneak preview of the author in the YouTube clip below.

With thanks to Switchblade Comb--David E

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hear, Hear

The New York Public Library has made its audio programs--lectures, video interviews, and podcasts--available to iTunes listeners everywhere. It's quite an impressive list, too. You can hear from Orhan Pamuk, Azar Nafisi, Miranda July, Christopher Hitchens (debating God is Not Great with Al Sharpton), Daniel Mendelsohn, and many, many more.

See the NYPL's offerings on their website or via iTunes.--David E

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Not Your Average Librarian

The latest extravaganza by East Texas' Kilgore College's Rangerettes dance squad is all about libraries. Yes, "Lost in the Library" combines a love of good books and quiet contemplation with high kicks and jazz hands. (Tickets are on sale now via email, if you're lucky enough to be in the area; performances run through April 12.)

I'm dying to know what this show looks like. If video of this year's book-themed dance show goes online, I swear I'll find it for you. Meanwhile, here are the girls at a recent halftime show.

And this bonus bit of Rangerette lore, from the troupe's history page:

"In 1939 the Kilgore College Dean, Dr. B.E. Masters, decided that the college needed an organization that would attract young women to the college and keep people in their seats during football game halftimes. His goal of equalizing the male/female student ratio had a secondary benefit - the folks would stay in the stands during halftime instead of sipping improper beverages under them."

Late-Breaking News

Dan Buettner will be in the store at 7:30pm on Monday, April 14, to read from his new book The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer From People Who've Lived the Longest.

“A must-read if you want to stay young! Buettner teaches us the secrets of the world’s longest-lived cultures and how they can turn back your biological clock.”—Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., author of You: Staying Young—The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

“This book gives you practical tips for living long and well—the essential components of lifestyles in those areas of the world where healthy aging is the rule. I recommend it.”
—Andrew Weil, M.D.

“Dan Buettner takes us on a journey to explore the secrets of longevity and in so doing introduces us to a world of joy in aging... at 91, this is very good news!”—Walter Cronkite

Saturday, April 5, 2008

You've Got Verse

Photo by Stefan Powell via Flickr via Jacket Copy.

Not getting enough poetry to help you celebrate National Poetry Month? Sign up for a poem a day in your inbox, courtesy of the Academy of American Poets.--David E

Friday, April 4, 2008

Half Full

It's only been a few weeks since announced our May 21 reading and signing by Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, Choke, and the forthcoming Snuff. (Details are here.) Chuck will only be available to personalize books for the first 150 who purchase tickets, and we've already sold a bit over half of those tickets. (Tickets are available here.)

After those first 150 tickets are sold, you'll still get a signed copy of Snuff, but you won't be able to talk the author or ask him to sign any of his earlier books. Don't be caught out.Get your tickets soon.--David E

No Giggles, Please

Mary Roach, author of Spook and Stiff (about the afterlife and cadavers, respectively), has chosen an altogether sunnier topic for her latest book. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex covers the fascinating world of human sexual behavior. Her recent interview at shows just how far the author was willing to go in the cause of furthering our knowledge--and just how much more science has to learn. Even the orgasm's cause is still a mystery: "They don't know for sure exactly what triggers it."--David E

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Calling All Poets

It's not too late to submit a poem for the What Light poetry contest. The deadline for the next round is April 19. Entrants must be residents of Minnesota and members of You may submit up to three poems, each no longer than 50 lines or 300 words.

The judges this time are Marian Haddad, Bryan Thao Worra, and Katrina Vandenberg. Winning poems will be posted on and

What Light is sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers,, and Artisan Vineyards.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ain't Got Time to Read

Minneapolis' Fox 9 News was in the store yesterday, filming a "news" segment about the new book by wrestler-turned-governor Jesse Ventura, Don't Start the Revolution Without Me! There's a lot of footage of the store and our single copy of The Body's magnum opus. Careful observers will see that we have not placed a "Staff Pick" sticker on the book, as no one will admit to having opened it.

You can see the report here.--David E

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


In 1980, there appeared a most interesting memoir--Amazons: An Intimate Memoir by the First Woman Ever to Play in the National Hockey League. Ostensibly written by Cleo Birdwell, its author is in fact Don DeLillo, and its subject never existed.

According to the article, "The Puck Stopped Here", published in BookForum, DeLillo's publisher at the time turned down the novel. But the book still managed to find its audience:

"Holt, Rinehart, and Winston picked Amazons up and proceeded to publish it with deadpan skill, slyly eliding the question of its factual nature. They hired a willowy model-actress to pose in full Rangers regalia for the four-color back-cover author’s photo. This game gal also consented to travel to Chicago for the Ameri­can Booksellers Association convention, where her appearance at the booth to sign galleys, again in a Rangers uniform, created an aisle-clogging sensation. As a result, Holt printed twenty thousand copies, roughly double DeLillo’s usual run, and had to go back for a second printing of five thousand copies."

Amazons is out of print, but you can still find copies online.--David E