Monday, June 30, 2008

Book and A Beer Chaser

The next meeting of the Twin Cities' most unusual and interesting book club is Tuesday, July 8. Books & Bars meets at Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W Lake Street, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.

July's book is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel, which details narrator Humbert Humbert's obsession with the his stepdaughter, has been controversial since its publication in 1955. There will not be a shortage of discussion for this book.

Books & Bars is not your typical book club. We provide a unique atmosphere for a lively discussion of interesting authors, fun people, good food and drinks. You're welcome even if you haven't read the book.

PS: Check out the StarTribune's article about Books and Bars. They loved it!

¡Que Libro!

The New York Times' Paper Cuts blog recently recounted a trip to Barcelona. Included was this shot of Dave Eggers' What is the What. Careful observers--or just those of us who read the comments section of the posting--will notice that these copies are actually in different languages.--David E

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Not Just for Cats

The helpful staff at NYC's McNally Jackson bookstore have put together this handy guide to napping with a book. Among the tips, "The ideal book for booknapping may be a mass market format title, particularly those full of alien civilizations and pat endings." Add a hammock, and you've got summer at its best.--David E

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Don't Lick the Pages, Kids

Children's book illustrator Emily Gravett used a very unusual tool in making the drawings for her latest title, Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears: rat urine. There's no actual urine in the printed books, mind you. Instead Gravett encouraged her two pet rats Button and Mr Moo to chew on and piddle on her drawings to give them a properly worn look.

You can read the entire article in the UK's Telegraph newspaper.--David E

Keeping It Local

I haven't yet been able to track down a copy and confirm this with my own eyes, but Magers and Quinn is the setting for part of Alison McGhee's latest young adult novel Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing). McGhee tells School Library Journal,"Magers & Quinn? It’s my favorite bookstore. I set the story in my own neighborhood in Minneapolis because I wanted to set a book here—usually they’re set in upstate New York."

We don't have any copies of this book in the store right now, but you can be sure we'll be getting more soon.--David E

Friday, June 27, 2008

Show Me Books

Following the writing school advice "Show it, don't tell it," the Kansas City public library makes itself known to citizens with a wall of books along its main facade.

There was something similar done during construction of a library in Cardiff, Wales, but it seems to have been only temporary.--David E

In a Nutshell

McSweeneys has posted a short series of , entitled "Lit 101 Class
in Three Lines or Less
." The half dozen haiku-like book summaries cover such chestnuts as 1984, Moby-Dick, and The Great Gatsby. For example:

Paradise Lost

ADAM: Paradise has arbitrary dietary restrictions?

DEVIL: They're really more like guidelines.

GOD: Incorrect.

Enjoy them with an undergraduate.--David E

Thursday, June 26, 2008

6. “Almost preachy in tone”

Quality Nonsense
has lived up to its name and posted a list of excerpts from readers' reviews of the Bible, posted on a bookselling website whose name I will not mention.

Check it out here.--David E

Road Reading

From the Baltimore Sun's (via the Used Books Blog) comes this map of boosktores around the US. There is also a link to a similar map covering Europe, if you're venturing overseas soon.--David E

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nescafe Books

On Demand Books has been manufacturing their "Espresso Book Machine" since 2006. It has been used at the World Bank and The Library of Alexandria, Egypt, to print and bind books in around seven minutes.

Now the EBM is making its commercial debut in the UK's Blackwell chain of bookstores. Soon customers will be able to choose from thousands of otherwise unavailable titles. Just put in your credit card, and the machine will make the book while you wait. Details are in the Independent newspaper.

If you're really interested, you can watch their promotional video below. But I warn you, it's a bit like watching ink dry.--David E

Rude Cabin Redux

Last month I blogged about Zane Grey's cabin in Oregon. Now the Seattle Times has a few more details and a nice picture.--David E

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Bring An Unaccustomed Wine.ppt

The good folks at the New Zealand Book Council work to promote reading. Their latest venture is the cunning and charming website The site uses Flash technology to mimic a Window desktop, complete with PowerPoint "presentations" of works by Twain, Poe, and Dickinson, as well as works by lesser-known Kiwi authors. They're hilarious, even if you don't have to keep your at-work literature on the down low.--David E

Hate is Such A Strong Word

An article in London's Times gives critics a chance to tell the books they least recommend. It's a glimpse behind the politesse that you normally find on the books page.--David E

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Origami Book

Clearly, the widespread illiteracy among paper dolls can be traced to the level of difficulty in making an origami book. This stuff's tough.--David E

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Behind the Counter

Illustrator Leanne Shapton interviewed bookstore employees. Her sketches of the worker bees, along with their best anecdotes are here.--David E

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Belle at the Bell

Spice up your Sunday afternoon with a visit to the University of Minnesota to hear Olivia Judson,author of
Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation
. Judson is an evolutionary biologist, and her discussions about the whys and wherefores of procreation are both fascinating and funny. She writes The Wild Side blog for the New York Times, or you can hear her on Minnesota Public Radio here.

Judson's speech, entitled “The Art of Seduction: Evolution, Sex and the Public,” will be at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 22 at the University’s Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2106 Fourth St. S., Minneapolis. The event is free. Details are here.--David E

Four Pizzas and Two Paddles

Two Minnesota teenagers have retraced Eric Sevareid's 1930 canoe journey from Ft Snelling to Hudson Bay. Sevareid told the world about his trip in the memoir Canoeing with the Cree. Today's travelers, Colton Witte and Sean Bloomfield, announced the end of their journey via a satellite beacon message.

Details of the trip are here and here.--David E

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tasha Tudor

Renowned children's book illustrator Tasha Tudor has died at the age of 92. The New York Times' obituary is here.

Tudor illustrated almost 40 books and used the proceeds to fund her life on a Vermont farm, where she lived in the manner of an early 19th century farmer, growing much of her own food and weaving her own clothing. Reports the LA Times, "In the early 1990s, Tudor announced that she was quitting public appearances, partly because it was hard to find someone who could watch the house and knew how to milk a goat."--David E

Like Sausage and Politics

Galley Cat gives us a glimpse into the glamorous world of big publishing. Here we see David Benioff slaving away to get out the word about his new novel City of Thieves. He stopped into his publisher's offices to sign 800 copies as part of the promotional blitz. Ah, the writing life.--David E

Secondhand Wonderland

Online magazine Pop Matters has put together a series of eight glimpses into the used book trade. It's called "Secondhand Wonderland," and I can't improve on that title.

David Pullar's article on the mathematics of buying used books and Diane Leach's love poem to old books are already up for your perusal. You can read the series here. Future installments will be posted in pairs every Wednesday for the next three weeks.--David E

Thursday, June 19, 2008

But Exceedingly Fine

In 1302, Dante Alighieri pissed off the Pope, failed to appear for a trial, and was banished from his hometown of Florence. (Fortunately for fans of literature, his exile was his most fruitful period of writing). He died unforgiven.

In 2008, the Florence city council voted to rescind the charge against Italy's most famous poet. But not everyone was prepared to let bygones be bygones. Reports The Telegraph, "The motion to rehabilitate Dante was passed by 19 votes to 5 at the city council earlier this week."

Who are these five holdouts? What's their beef? The news story is here, but it's sadly silent on these questions.-David E

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Saved by the Belle

The Star Tribune reports that the Amazon Bookstore Coop, the nation's oldest feminist bookseller, will not be closing as previously feared. A buyer, Ruta Skujins, is stepping forward to save the business and realize her dream of owning a bookstore.--David E

You can visit Amazon (the good Amazon) at

4755 Chicago Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55407

New store hours beginning June 2:
Closed Mondays
Tuesday-Friday Noon-8 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday noon-5 p.m.

UPDATE: You can read the new owner's letter to the community on the Minneapolis Metblogs website.

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus*

The Vatican has denied permission for the company making a movie out of Dan Brown's novel Angels & Demons to film in any churches in Rome. Details are here.

The Vatican is still smarting from Brown's earlier novel The DaVinci Code and its characterization of Jesus as a husband and father. "Vatican spokesman Rev. Marco Fibbi said: 'Usually we read the script but in this case it wasn't necessary. Just the name Dan Brown was enough.'"--David E

Nowhere to Sit?

If you're stymied by the lack of places to sit in your local library, this product might be for you. Swipe your RFID-enabled library card, and the anthropomorphic little chair will follow you throughout the library, so you always have your own personal seat.--David E

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If You Go Out in the Woods Today...

Christian radio host Brannon Howse was trolling his local Barnes and Noble store, when he found what he was looking for: outrage. A copy of Michael Thomas Ford's Ultimate Gay Sex was left open and Mr Howse lost no time in announcing his displeasure at learning something in his local bookstore.

A report in Memphis' Commercial Appeal newspaper alerts to a likely reason for the announcer's perspicacity: "The publicity also comes at an opportune time for Howse. He recently announced that he is running for mayor of Collierville in the November election."

B&N believes a customer removed the book from the shelf and placed it in Mr Howse's path. To its credit, Collierville, TN, has declined to prosecute the store for its beach of decorum.--David E

Alpha and Omega

The prepublication reviews for Ethan Canin's new novel America, America, which will be released next Tuesday, keep coming in, and the author must be well pleased. John Updike, writing in The New Yorker says, "Its reach is wide and its touch often masterly." And on the other end of the lit-cred spectrum, Entertainment Weekly calls it "satisfying, compulsively readable saga."--David E

Monday, June 16, 2008

Just For the Articles

From the LA Times comes word that Nobody Move--the forthcoming novel by Denis Johnson, author of Tree of Smoke--is being published in four installments in Playboy magazine. The first excerpt appears in the July edition, which I'm reliably informed in on newsstands now. They're not posting the texts online, so if you want a peek, you have to buy the magazine.--David E

Beret Not Included

Too cool for your local coffeeshop? Maybe the Hipster Book Club is for you. An outgrowth of a LiveJournal community, the HBC has launched its own website, complete with member reviews and interviews with authors Sloane (I Was Told There'd Be Cake) Crosley and Josh (I Am Not Myself These Days) Kilmer-Purcell.

The HBC pointed me towards an interesting-sounding book. A Wild Haruki Chase: Reading Murakami Around the World is a collection of papers from a symposium held in Tokyo a few years ago. It covers not the author himself, but rather his readers. Murakami is a phenomenon; his work is incredibly popular all around the world, and this volume both documents that fact and tries to explain it.--David E

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is it any wonder I'm not the president?*

Says the owner of this minutely cultivated bookshelf, "I aligned my books in honor of the Rainbow Snake of Australian mythology. (Hence, the colors move in a zig-zag pattern, from top left to top right, then right to left, and so on)."--David E

Through the Airwaves

One of my very first posts on this blog was about Jonathan Ames. Later, our book club read his novel Wake Up, Sir!. Now from Variety comes word that a screenplay by Ames has gotten the go-ahead from HBO and will soon be shot as a pilot. According to the newspaper, Bored to Death "will center on a Brooklyn writer who nurses a painful breakup by acting out his dream to live as a character out of a Raymond Chandler novel."

I may have to get a television.--David E

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Toronto's Globe and Mail has posted a short excerpt from the 2008 IMPAC-winning novel De Niro's Game. Read it here.

Funny Pages at the U

David Hadju, author of The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America will be speaking at the University of Minnesota's Elmer L Anderson Library at 7:30pm on Tuesday, July 8. Details on the U's event are here. Reservations are recommended; call 612/624-9339 or email the library.

Hadju's book details the furor that surrounded early comics. They were accused of fostering all sorts of depravity among susceptible youth. Both bonfires and Senate hearings ensued. Ten-Cent Plague has gotten glowing reviews in New York Times and the Washington Post. You can read an excerpt from the book at David Hadju's website. --David E

What's Left Behind

The blog at recently featured an article about things found in used books. Among the discoveries were money, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, and a tooth.

I can attest to the range of items folks leave behind when they sell old books. I once found about a dozen marijuana leaves pressed in the pages of a book like flowers in a diary.--David E

Friday, June 13, 2008

Don't Miss The Boat

A full house of book lovers crowded into the store last night to hear Nam Le read from his debut collection of short stories, The Boat. If you missed it, signed copies of the book are still available in our store.--David E

Eat. Sleep. Read.

The American Booksellers Association is working to promote independent bookstores across the country with its new website The site has a search feature to let you find indie bookstores anywhere in the US, as well as a "Declaration of IndieBound." The tract (which includes the phrase "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all stores are not created equal") encourages folks to stare down the big chains and support plucky neighborhood businesses. Soon, the site will feature booklists, social networking, and bookstore event information.

To help promote we've got a Tshirt (like the one at right, but in red; size Large; click the image for more info) for the first reader/patriot to sign the declaration. Once you've signed, email me (here) and I'll set the shirt aside for you to pick up in our store.--David E


The Rack of the Hesperus*

OK, so it's not actually a rack, but we have a table chock full of rediscovered classics from Hesperus Press--all at the bargain price of only $4.99 each. The UK publisher specializes in lesser-known shorter works by well-known authors. Among the offerings is Lady Susan by Jane Austen, a satire of glittering London society in the eighteenth century. There are also novelas by DH Lawrence, Henry James, and Charlotte Bronte. Get them while they last.--David E

For Really, Really Short Attention Spans

Internet syndicator has been sending members short snippets of books via email and RSS for a while now. Every day, another bit of Iron John or Banker to the Poor shows up in your inbox or RSS aggregator. But if that much content is too, too overwhelming for you, fear not; you can now receive your daily shot of lit via

If you're not already a twit here's how it works: You can post little messages--140 characters or less--throughout the day, telling everyone who wants to know what you're doing and thinking. You can also follow your friends' postings, so you know what they're doing.

All well and good, but how many folks are going to read Pride and Prejudice 140 characters at a time? One hundred and nine had signed up at last count. You can learn more about dailylit's tweets here. If you sign up, please let us know what you think.--David E

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Up and Coming?

The winner of this year's IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is Rawi Hage for his novel De Niro's Game. The prize is not only extremely lucrative--$155,000--but it also has a good track record of predicting popular success. Last year's winner of the IMPAC was the runaway bestseller Out Stealing Horses.

De Niro's Game tells the story of two boys growing up amid the chaos of wartorn Beirut. London's Telegraph newspaper called it "vividly evocative of the chaos of conflict and the moral confusion of young men."--David E

Listen Up

Members of Minnesota Public Radio can get a ten percent discount on their purchases at Magers and Quinn. Please be sure to show your membership card or key fob to qualify.--David E

A Mother-Loving Book from Coelho

There's a new book coming from Paulo Coelho, author of the international bestsellers The Alchemist and The Witch of Portobello. Brida--written in 1990, but only now available in translation--is the story "a young Irish girl and her quest for knowledge." A posting on Coelho's own blog hints at his larger subject: "the Great Mother and the pagan religions."

Brida will be published June 24. You can get a small preview of the book on, where several short quotes from the book are posted.--David E


Aaron Mitchell Molina has posted this sweet photo of the now-closed Carlson Book Store in Duluth, MN, on his photoblog Click the photo to see a larger version.

The old bookstore seems to be quite the magnet for photographers, to judge by all the photos on E

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Cat's Away

Our esteemed manager Jay is going to the motherland. He's spending two weeks in Norway, getting in touch with his roots.

You can follow his progress on his blog, Son of Norway. There's also a brief listing of his recent posts in the upper right corner of our blog, so you can see when he's posted something new.--David E

The Truth Shall Out

We now have copies of former White House spokesman Scott McClellan's books What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception in the store. Get yours today, while supplies last.--David E

The Final Frontier

Thanks to some concerned citizen's Freedom of Information Act request (OK, it's really, we can all see an inventory of the books, movies, and music aboard the International Space Station (.pdf; be warned, dialup users, it's a hefty 1.75 megabytes). The list is weighted towards science fiction. No surprise there. But someone who's been up there clearly has plans for the future. There's a copy of The Ten-Day MBA: A Step-By-Step Guide to Mastering the Skills Taught in America's Top Business Schools in orbit above us right now.--David E

With thanks to the Seattle Public Library's Shelf Talk blog.

Grammar Nerds, Unite!

The folks at the Capitol Book & News, in Montgomery, AL, have a lot of time on their hands, it seems. And they've also got a controversy on their hands...

"At dispute: the phrase "national bestselling author," frequently seen in publishers' advertising blurbs. But is it correct, grammatically, or should it be "nationally bestselling author?" Frazer and Thomas spent the better part of the day arguing over this, neither willing to concede anything.

"One believes that "nationally" is correct, since an adverb is required to modify the adjective "bestselling." The other thinks that "bestselling author" is a compound noun, and should in fact be modified by the adjective "national.""

What do you think? If you want to weigh in, you can do so here.--David E

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Paging Mr Queequeg

An article in the Guardian pointed me to this collection of literary tattoos.--David E

Over the River

Kristen Eide-Tollefson, owner of The Book House in Dinkytown, is the subject of a very interesting interview on one of my favorite book blogs. She has much to say about the role of bookstores ("The Book House has always been about stewardship: the stewardship of the book as a physical object and the collection as a temporary embodiment of a particular perspective."), about being a woman bookseller ("I think the proving has had more to do with being established and sustaining myself as an independent businesswoman, than as a bookseller."), and about much more. Check it out here.--David E