Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shhh... Librarians Blogging

Hands down the funniest library blog is the Lake Mills Library blog. Someone in Wisconsin is having a lot of fun. Mostly it's descriptions of recent acquisitions. Some are loving and kind. Some are, well, not. I'm surprised that it hasn't been censored out of existence yet.

I'd be remiss if I didn't direct you to Swiss Army Librarian, where Brian Herzog gives you the view from behind the reference desk. Please also visit The Library of Digress for interesting library-related news from around the world. Closer to home, Booked in St Paul reviews recent additions to their collections.--David E

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bookstores Who Blog

Magers and Quinn is hardly the only bookstore with a blog. I'm a big fan of The Common Reader from NYC's McNally Robinson bookstore.

A slightly quirkier but no less entertaining blog is Open a bookshop, what could possibly go wrong?. Subtitled "Two Blokes, One Bookshop, No Idea," it's the history in blog of the Big Green Bookshop in north London. They began the blog even before they opened the store. I'm happy to report both are still going strong.--David E

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In the Corners of My Mind

Your faithful blogger is away on vacation, but I've lined up some reading material to keep you busy until I return. Each day, there will be a new posting. Together, they form an idiosyncratic guide to some of the blogs I like. Maybe you'll like them too.

First up is The Book Bench. It's The New Yorker magazine's blog on things bookish. The box below shows the last ten posts from the bench. You can click any title to see the full posting on The New Yorker's website.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Man on Wire


Man On Wire, a movie about Philippe Petit, who walked a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers in 1974, won this year's Sundance Film Festival award for best documentary. We have tickets for a preview screening of the movie to be held August 5, at the Lagoon Theatre. Come in and get them while they last.--David E

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Perils of Being Right

Christina Cappechi was among the crowd of around 50 who attended our event this week with Mignon "Grammar Girl" Fogarty. Although Fogarty is known for her clear and memorable answers to puzzling grammar problems, the audience's questions had a more social bent. Said Cappechi, "Few had grammatical questions. What they didn't know was how to correct the linguistic errors of their friends, relatives and colleagues." For example, is that a mote in your eye, brother, or a moat?

You can read the entire article here. And watch our events page for all our future events information.--David E

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

iNight of the Guns

Simon & Schuster, publisher of David Carr's memoir Night of the Gun, has gone all out in putting together a promotional website ( for the book. The book draws on Carr's skills as a reporter (including a stint as editor of the now-defunct Twin Cities Reader) to document his own descent into addiction and his eventual recovery. The website has all the police reports and video interviews you could hope to find on any episode of Cops. You can access them randomly or flip through them like the songs on a tricked-out iPod.

Or if you don't have the bandwidth, you can always hear Carr's story the oldfashioned way: He'll be in our store to discuss Night of the Gun on Thursday, August 14, at 7:30pm. Come in and get the whole story. Check out our events page for all the details.--David E

Friday, July 18, 2008

Like the Salivating Dogs You Are

It's a slow, slow time in publishing. Everyone is on vacation, and the literary brains are shutting down. The buzz of the moment isn't Rushdie or . No, it seems like all anyone can manage to talk about is Christopher Ciccone's book Life with My Sister Madonna.

And who am I to fight the tide? Here's an excerpt, courtesy of "Good Morning America," of all people.--David E

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Love My Job...

...when I get to make a sign like this.--David E

Attention Span

Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning show is talking with Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. She worries that computers and cell phones and multitasking are making us unable to concentrate on... um... right, the world around us.

For the record, Maggie Jackson was in our store in June. Be ahead of the curve. Check out our events page for details on all our upcoming events.--David E

Is This the Hottest Artist in the World?

The identity of the graffiti artist known only as Banksy has long been a mystery. Even as his art, which appears unexpectedly overnight, has become more and more collectible and valued.

Now the Mail on Sunday newspaper claims that Banksy is in fact Robin Gunningham, whom the British media constantly refer to as a "nice middle-class boy," because it's shocking that a graffiti artist could spell, I guess. The evidence is a bit thin, but interesting nonetheless.

If you want to know more about Banksy's art, we're one of your only sources for Banksy: Wall and Piece. It's a good look at his art, and it's about the only such book on the market. But we've got copies for you.--David E

Monday, July 14, 2008

Agony Uncle

I recently stumbled upon Five Dials, a small literary journal from the British publisher Hamish Hamilton, itself part of the larger Penguin group. The first issue is a very tasteful assortment of authors and topics, but the standout, I think, is an advice column by noted penseur Alain de Botton, author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Architecture of Happiness, and The Consolations of Philosophy, among others. His readers'questions: How does one get over nervousness at public speaking? How does one accept a compliment? and Where can one find a good meal in Grimsby?

You can download Five Dials here.--David E

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Plus ça change...

The Financial Times has an update from Mutanabi Street, the main bookselling district of Baghdad. They profile Nabil al-Hayawi, owner of Renaissance bookstore. The news isn't great, but al-Hayawi is undaunted. He still sees customers clamoring for books: “I was happy that I discovered the people still reading,” he told the FT.

If you're of a historical bent, you can go back and read an earlier post about Mutanabi Street. It's still accurate, sadly enough.--David E

We're with the Band

Minneapolis band Solid Gold recently gave a long interview to for their "My Town" column. The band members run down their favorite places in town, and mentioned us as the place to go to get good reading material.

Thanks to the band for the plug. We're always grateful to our fans.--David E

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stefan Fatsis

Stunt journalist Stefan Fatsis trained with the Denver Broncos football team for three months to become a big-league place kicker. He tells the story in his new book A Few Seconds of Panic : A 5-foot-8, 170-pound, 43-year-old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL. Fatsis recently took part in an online chat with readers of the Washington Post; you can read the transcript here.

And Fatsis talks to his friend and former coworker, MinnPost's Pat Borzi. Read that interview here.

If that's still not enough, there's another interview with Fatsis on, and there's an excerpt from the book on Deadspin.

Then, mark your calendars because Fatsis will be in the store Tuesday, July 15, at 7:30pm. Come in and ask him your own questions.--David E

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Official

The voters have spoken, and their choice for the Best of the Booker Prize winners is Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. Thirty-six percent of the votes cast in the competition were for Rushdie's allegorical history of India.

Details of the BotB are here--David E

For Highpockets

Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl's latest summer reading recommendations include a book that a friend of mine has long raved about. The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread is finally available again. First printed in 1965, TGTSSB tells the story of nine-year-old Morris Bird III and his hike home across Cleveland. You can even read an excerpt here.

No word yet on when (or if) Robertson's other books will be reprinted any time soon.--David E

Sunny, Buddhist Noir

NPR has posted an except of John Burdett's novel Bangkok 8. I haven't read it yet, but if it's half as good as his earlier novel in the same series Bangkok Tattoo, it'll be good.

The books are police novels set in modern Thailand. The protaganist is the euphoniously-named Sonchai Jitpleecheep, half-Thai and half-American detective in the City of Angels (Bangkok, don't you know?) police force. The dialogue is particularly good, I think.--David E

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Wish I Were Kidding

Summer is a good time to catch up on books you wish you'd read years ago. The good folks of Langley, Virginia, think so: The FBI has posted a slate of books it would like to purchase. On its wish list are 370 copies of The Looming Tower, 130 copies of The Koran, and 3 copies of PowerPoint 2003 for Dummies. The full list is here.--David E

For When You're Not Reading

ABEbooks is soliciting responses to its survey of textbook buyers. As a blandishment, they're offering a Wii to a randomly selected respondent. The Wii (shown at right) is some sort of internet-enabled toaster, I believe. I'm told it's very popular with the younger set, at any rate.

Enter here.--David E

Sneaky Peeks

If the White House was anti-book before (Vincent Bugliosi's The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder probably isn't in the Lincoln Bedroom, for example), this news isn't going to change any minds there. Curtis Sittenfeld's forthcoming novel American Wife is reportedly a very thinly veiled reimagining of goings-on in the White House's master bedroom. The novel follows a good Wisconsin girl who becomes First Lady and learns that the position demands some compromises--both moral and otherwise.

Radar magazine has a few choice (and not work-safe) excerpts and a brief review: "The result is a masterful highbrow-lowbrow mash-up that satisfies as ass-kicking literary fiction and juicy gossip simultaneously."

And yes, the book will be published just in time for the Republican convention, so you'll have something to read while you stand in St Paul protesting. Pre-order a copy today.--David E

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Grey Lady Gets Down

Internet sensation Matt (the dancing guy... I told you about him last week) is now an Old Media star, too. The New York Times has a longish interview with the man himself.--David E

Fatwa... the New Marketing Tool

Brad Thor--who in my imaginings always refers to himself in the third person: "Brad Thor wanted his latte extra hot!"--has found a provocative way to promote his latest novel, The Last Patriot. In an interview with CNN's Glenn Beck (a transcript is here), he kinda sorta claims that a fatwa has been issued against him. Now, rightwing blogs are picking up the story.

But something tells me that Brad Thor isn't unduly worried: a full calendar of his upcoming appearances is still listed on his website.--David E

Don't Overthink This

In a normal year, the judges for the Frank O'Connor Prize--the most moneyed award for short fiction--would be announcing their shortlist, then decorously withdrawing to their book-lined studies to consider their final choice. (Or so I imagine.) But this year, they've dispensed with all that: "'With a unanimous winner at this early stage we decided it would be a sham to compose a shortlist and put five other writers through unnecessary stress and suspense,' explained the award's director, Pat Cotter." (Details are here.)

The book that has prompted such love and admiration is Jumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth.--David E

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wait... There Are Beaches in Norway?

According to this article in The Norway Post (which charmingly calls itself "The Doorway to Norway"), the public library in Stavanger, Norway, is doing outreach the oldfashioned way. The library has loaded a vintage 1957 Opel Olympia with books, which it then offers to folks lounging on area beaches--even if they don't have their cards with them.--David E

Umm... the Bible?

I confess I don't really care about the article itself, but the headline is great. Today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune is a roundup of what's hot in religious bookstores. It's entitled "What Would Jesus Read?".--David E

Monday, July 7, 2008

A World Without Ishmael

Caleb Crain, who posts on the blog Steamboats Are Ruining Everything, copied and pasted the entire text of Moby Dick into Wordle analyzes the frequency of words in a text, then arranges them to make a "word cloud." The more frequent the word, the bigger it appears. This is the result, comprising the 75 most-used words:

What's probably the best-known word in Moby Dick doesn't appear in the cloud: Ishmael.

Wordle lets you do the same thing to any string of text. You can choose the colors and the font, too.--David E

With thanks to the Paper Cuts blog.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

It's Short for "Assistant"

Moonrat, whose candor makes a pseudonym entirely necessary, writes my new favorite blog Editorial Ass. I started by reading her excellent post "How Important Is Your Book, or, Top Ten Ways to Blow a Book Deal #4", in which an author of some self-importance shoots himself in the foot over a nice lunch. Now I'm going back and reading her whole story, her rise from lowly editorial assistant to lowly editor. Aspiring authors will also find much of use, including "What Makes a Dream Author" from last fall. It's all still true.--David E

Saturday, July 5, 2008

What Do You Really Think?

A list on comprising one person's choice of the top ten books you should read before you die has whipped Miama Herald book blogger Connie Ogle into a mild frenzy. Her response, entitled "Stupidest. List. Ever.", is a nice salvo against middlebrow reading. Admittedly, that's a soft target, but you have to admire her gusto:

"7. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown. Now COME ON, writer! This doesn't even make the Top 10 Cheap Thrill Beach Books You Should Read Before You Finish that Margarita."

Yay, Connie.--David E

Friday, July 4, 2008

News from the Northwest

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has posted an excerpt of David Guterson's new novel, The Other. Guterson is the author of Our Lady of the Forest and Snow Falling on Cedars.The New York Times called The Other, "a moving portrait of male friendship."--David E

Contested Will

NPR reviews the theory that Shakespeare wasn't Shakespeare, and that his plays were in fact penned by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. There's a fair amount of circumstantial evidence, including de Vere's travel itinerary through Italy. The argument has a long history, and even prompted a riot in the 19th century.

Mark Twain is among the de Vere partisans. Today's
supporters can find company at the Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre or E

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I Sing the Tourist Electric!

Even before it was gentrified, Brooklyn was no stranger to America's literati. Walt Whitman "lived in Brooklyn for over half his life and twice as long as he lived anywhere else," says Whitman's Brooklyn. The site is chockablock with illustrations of the other borough, circa 1850, and is packed with tidbits about Whitman and life in NYC generally.--David E

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

No Registration for Indiana Bookstores

A judge in Indiana has overturned the state's law which would have required bookstores to register as adult businesses if they sold sexually explicit materials. Plaintiffs--including Indiana bookstores, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Indiana ACLU, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art--claimed the law was so broadly written that it would include literature such as Lady Chatterley's Lover or The Joy of Sex.

Judge Sara Barker agreed, writing that "A romance novel sold at a drugstore, a magazine offering sex advice in a grocery store checkout line, an R-rated DVD sold by a video rental shop, a collection of old Playboy magazines sold by a widow at a garage sale ... would appear to necessitate registration under the statute."

You can read more about the ruling in Publishers Weekly, Indianapolis Star, and the Chicago Tribune.--David E

Call for Entries

"What Light" is looking for Minnesota poets. Please submit up to three short poems, maximum 50 lines or 300 words each, as attachments to You must be a resident of Minnesota and a member of to enter. Our judges--Maria Damon, Patricia Kirkpatrick, and Carol Muske-Dukes--will select twelve winning poems to be posted, one poem per week, on and The deadline is July 19, 2008.

Membership on is free. Contact or call 612/375-7611 with questions on registration.

The mission of is to improve the lives of Minnesota artists and provide access to and engagement with Minnesota’s arts culture. is a project of the McKnight Foundation and the Walker Art Center.

Full details on the judges and answers to some FAQs are here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Actually Literary

Matt is a self-described "31-year-old deadbeat from Connecticut" who quit his job to travel around the world. And when he gets there, he dances and dances and dances. You can read about it on his blog. I'm sure by now someone has emailed you his video, but if not:

Why am I telling you this? Because the lyrics to the song in the video are adapted from poetry by Rabindranath Tagore, so there's a slightly bookish reason to put it on the blog.--David E