Saturday, February 28, 2009

Older than "Dirt"

Scientists at Reading University in the UK have crunched the numbers and determined the oldest words in the English language. Among the linguistic geriatrics are "I," "we,", "two," "three," and "five."

They've also predicted the imminent demise of words including "squeeze" and "bad." Verbs and adjectives are particularly prone to drift. But don't go cutting pages out of your dictionary just yet. Well probably have those dying words for the next seven hundred years or so.

Details are here.--David E

Friday, February 27, 2009

Three Shopping Lists in One

The blog Largehearted Boy has an interesting interview with Lauren Groff, author of the recent Books & Bars pick The Monsters of Templeton. In it, she talks about the short stories in her new collection Delicate Edible Birds, pairing each with not only a related song, but also with a beer recommendation.

So you can get not only a bit of literary info, but also some hints on music and drinking. How can you beat that?

The full interview is here.--David E

Could We Get a Little Love Here?

Look, no one loves a good Regency/zombie mashup more than me. I've devoted plenty of pixels on the M&Q blog about the forthcoming book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (Read the items here if you haven't been keeping up.) But now I find out that the P&P&Z Facebook page has about ten times as many fans as does the Magers & Quinn Facebook page.

Yeah, it's a great idea for a book, but we're an actual bookstore. We've got hundreds of thousands of books--a surprising number of them with zombies. We're smart and outgoing and really fun to be with. If we were friends, we could totally hang out and it'd be cool and we'd never try to eat your brains.--David E

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bill Holm Dies at 65

From the Minneapolis StarTribune: Bill Holm, a larger-than-life author from Minneota, Minn., died Wednesday at a hospital in Sioux Falls. ... Emilie Buchwald, his longtime publisher at Milkweed, called him 'an American original, in the tradition of Walt Whitman.'"

The full article is here.--David E

Philip Jose Farmer Dies in Peoria

Prolific science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer died yesterday in Peoria, Illinois.

I grew up in Peoria, and I had no idea Farmer had lived there since 1969. Apparently, I was not alone in my ignorance. The Chicago Tribune reports, "Farmer's celebrity in the science fiction world did not translate to Peoria, where he grew up and attended college. 'I am obscure in Peoria,' Farmer told The Associated Press in 1988. 'I guess they don't read much around here.'" The full story is here.

And check out for more famous Peorians, including Betty Friedan and Susan G Komen.--David E

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Unmentioned Undead

Did Jane Austen have zombies in mind even as she wrote about love and marriage?

Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of this spring's most eagerly anticipated novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, who recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly, thinks she did. "[W]hen you take a look at the original book, it's almost as if, subconsciously, Jane Austen is laying out the perfect groundwork for an ultraviolent bone-crushing zombie massacre to take place. For instance, there's a regiment of soldiers camped out near the Bennett household. In the book, they're just there for characters to flirt with. But it's not that big a leap to say, Okay, they're there because the countryside has been overrun with what they call the 'unmentionable menace.'"

The full article is here.--David E

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meet Your Faithful Blogger

Yours truly will be moderating the discussion tonight as Magers & Quinn launches our science book club, the Big Bang Book Club. Join us at Grumpy's (1111 Washington Av. S., Minneapolis) to talk about The Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing. Author Daniel Bergner uses four case studies to explore the variety of sexual experience. The New York Times said, "The book is not written in clinical Krafft-Ebingese, but neither is it leering or salacious. The portraits are serious and even sympathetic, and their cumulative effect is to make readers realize that they understand a lot less about sex than they thought."

I hope you can make it.--David E

Monday, February 23, 2009

Poetry... Excellent

The BBC Scotland is going all out to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of the poet Robert Burns. (It was January 25, in case you missed it.) They've put together a website on which you can find 178 recordings (so far) of Burns' poems by notable Scots including Robert "Full Monty" Carlyle and the country's First Minister--and two by honorary Scot HRH The Prince of Wales.

You can scan the poems by reader, by title, by year, and (my favorite) by theme; entries include "cuckoldry," "anguish," and the puzzling "jacobitism." There's even a podcast available.--David E

Sunday, February 22, 2009

If You Go Out in the Woods Today

Author Ron Jacobs (above, left, at the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show in Pennsylvania recently) writes children's books that... um, aim... to encourage safe and responsible hunting. His book Little Jake's Big Bowhunt is Bambi told from the hunter's point of view. I can't say too much about Little Jake and the Three Bears, but suffice it to say not every bear makes it out of the woods alive. Info on the series is at

I am endlessly grateful to The Book Bench for this item.--David E

The Book of Night Women

Marlon James will be in Magers & Quinn Booksellers to read from his new novel The Book of Night Women. It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they—and she—will come to both revere and fear.

James' first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. James teaches at Macalester College in St. Paul.

Details on this and all our upcoming readings are always on our events page.--David E

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"The most promising local writer in years"

The Star Tribune has just posted a rave review for Nicole Helget's new book The Turtle Catcher: "With "The Turtle Catcher," Helget exhibits the dual novel-writing chops of stylistic wordsmithing and compelling storytelling and stakes a claim for herself as a unique and exciting presence in Minnesota literature. More accessible and less artsy than Louise Erdrich, she's also more dangerous and less sentimental than Leif Enger. "The Summer of Ordinary Ways" might have been one of those memoirs that succeeds because of great subject material; with her first long-form fiction work, Helget proves it's the writer, not the subject, that's truly remarkable." (The entire article is here.)

You can find out for yourself. We've got copies of The Turtle Catcher in the store now. And the author herself will be reading from her book in Magers & Quinn on March 5.--David E

Three Makes It a Trend

The bad news keeps coming for Jane Austen purists. First came word of the forthcoming book Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Then it was the board game. Now it's a movie... with aliens.

Reports Variety, "Will Clark is set to direct Pride and Predator, which veers from the traditional period costume drama when an alien crash lands and begins to butcher the mannered protags, who suddenly have more than marriage and inheritance to worry about.

"'It felt like a fresh and funny way to blow apart the done-to-death Jane Austen genre by literally dropping this alien into the middle of a costume drama, where he stalks and slashes to horrific effect,' [producer David ] Furnish said."

Details are here.--David E

Yeah, Baby!

I've always liked the various Len Deighton spy novels and thrillers (here), but I was unaware of his foray into the world of gastronomy. But now, thanks to this interview in the UK's Telegraph newspaper, I am on the edge of my seat awaiting the May release of "Len Deighton's Action Cookbook." According to the blogger Russell Davies, Deighton "trained as a graphic designer and did these cookstrips for The Observer." The cartoon recipes were compiled in a book (two, actually; the other is Ou est le garlic?). Genius.

Davies' full posting is here. The rest of the Deighton interview is quite charming, too. Read it here.--David E

Friday, February 20, 2009

Full Spectrum Writes

We are rarely able to put together such a coordinated display, so I thought this was worth a quick picture. The books are all from the Library of America's "American Poets Project." They're all only $10.99, so this rainbow of books won't last long. Get yours soon.--David E

"For Coffee House Press, 2008 went very well."

Alan Kornblum, publisher of Minneapolis' own Coffee House Press, spoke to the blog Conversational Reading recently, as part of their "ongoing series of interviews with publishers on what the recession means for their business." It's a very interesting article if you want a glimpse into the business of book publishing.

Alan is cautiously optimistic, and with good reason. "For Coffee House Press, 2008 went very well. We had some books with regional appeal that found their market [The Latehomecomer : A Hmong Family Memoir], and books with national appeal that received a nice boost from reviewers [Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire] and we had a National Book Award finalist [Blood Dazzler]."

Read the full interview here. You can learn more about Coffee House Press at E

A Reading by Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter will be in the store on Thursday, February 26, at 7:30, to read from the paperback of his latest novel The Soul Thief. The event is free and open to the public. We hope you can join us.

In The Soul Thief, Charles Baxter has given us one of his most beautifully wrought and unexpected works of fiction: at once lyrical and eerie, acutely observant in its sensual and emotional detail and audaciously metaphysical in its underpinnings. It is a brilliant novel--one that is certain to expand both his already-stellar reputation and his readership.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wait For It... Wait For It...

Self-publishing house Xlibris has issued a press release on "Successfully Publishing a Christian Book." Among the five guidelines is this gem: "Third, pray. Ask for guidance, focus and inspiration. If you are writing a book on divine matters, then you are going to need divine inspiration. Once you receive direction and guidance for your book, you can then begin your outline."

The full press release is here. (Thanks to the Inkwell Bookstore Blog for the catch.)--David E

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Hairless Author's Paper Pad

This ad appears in the back of Real Sailor Songs, which M&Q recently acquired. This one small ad is crammed with great lines:
  • "With Bad Paper, one's Best is impossible"
  • "Being of unusual, but not painful smoothness"
  • "the pen slips with delicious freedom"
  • "stay-at-homes who dislike the restraint of desk or table"
Sadly, I am unable to determine why hairlessness was such a selling point for stationery in the early twentieth century. I can only assume that lesser papers were more hirsute and therefore more taxing to write on.

Click on the image to see a larger version.--David E

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Everything New is Old Again

Graphic designer M.S. Corley has redone the covers for the Harry Potter series and Lemony Snicket books as if were part of the iconic Penguin Classics series. You can see them all on his blog.--David E

Friday, February 13, 2009

Even a Bad Idea Can Evolve into Something Good

ABEbook's great blog, Reading Copy, has posted a list 25 Random Things About Reading, originally compiled by Itzabitza. A propos of nothing, here's number six: "Dr. Seuss coined the word “nerd” in his 1950 book If I Ran the Zoo.

Oh, and that reminds me: M&Q is on Facebook. (Click here if you don't know how these two things are connected.)--David E

Pass Me My Quill... And My Diet Mountain Dew!

As a rule, we don't buy used books that have a lot of writing in them, but how could we resist this one?. Click the image to see a larger version. It's worth reading.--David E

Thursday, February 12, 2009

M&Q Needs Book Reviewers

Magers & Quinn is looking for a few good book reviewers.

We can't pay you, so we're offering something more valuable than even money: advance reader copies. Be the first on your block to read new books before they're available to the hoi polloi. Show your copy off and make the local literati jealous. Of course, we'll also credit you whenever we use your review, so you'll have another item for your writing resumÄ—.

To kick things off, we've got pre-publication copies of three novels that we'll trade for 300-word reviews:To be considered, send me an email. Tell me a little bit about what you like to read and what insights you can offer M&Q's customers.--David E

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Data Privacy? Not So Much

Love the anonymity of the book world's online behemoth? This story might encourage you to shop more locally.

Ottawa resident Michel Cuhaci bought a book through, only to find that a printer's error meant he had a defective book. He posted a comment and forgot about the matter. That is, until the author (pictured above) tracked him down at home on Christmas Day, to deliver a replacement copy. (Details are here.)

Please know that if you buy a book from us, we will not hunt you down. We're committed to good customer service, but we know how to keep your private information private.--David E

Speed Reading Dating

Seattle's University Bookstore recently held their first "Read Dating" event. Participants paired off for eight minutes to discuss books, then switched partners. It's too early to tell if any loves blossomed, but a good time was had by all.

Want to meet some fellow readers? If M&Q had an event like that, would you come?--David E

Pride and Prejudice and Dice is selling a "Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Board Game."[P]ick one of four couples from the novel and maneuver them separately or together through town and countryside. Be the first to collect all game tokens, then race to the Parish Church to marry and win the game!" Zombies not included.

With thanks to The Inkwell Bookstore Blog.--David E

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

All 2009 Calendars Only $2.99

All M&Q's remaining calendars and planners--except for Moleskines and Paperblanks--are $2.99, regardless of the stickered price. This includes wall calendars, page-a-day calendars, and Taschen day planners. Come in the store and get one while they last, because once they're gone, they're gone.

Jonesing for Book News?

In the course of writing the M&Q blog, your dedicated scribe comes across a lot of items which, although worthy and interesting, don't make the cut to get a full-on posting. Usually, it's because I can't think of a snappy headline or a funny quip. But now these orphaned items have found a home on the store's Facebook page. I'll post links to our wall. Check it out if you need a fix between blog postings.--David E

Saturday, February 7, 2009

More Time-Wasting

Scientists at London's Times newspaper have put together a fun gizmo to help you kill a little time online. Book Scraper lets you search the complete texts of 126 classic British works. You can search by word and see a graph of all the instances that, say, "abrupt" has appeared in the books. Or you can delve into a single work to see the stats on its vocabulary (how many words it shares with other works, and how many are unique) or see a word cloud of all the most important terms in the book. You can even compare the vocabulary sets of two books to see how much they have in common.--David E

Friday, February 6, 2009


I could waste a lot of time on the website It's a nifty page, dedicated to saving English's disappearing terms such as:
  • jecorary--related to the liver
  • lambition--the act of licking
  • pessundate--to cast down
  • agonyclite--a member of a heretical sect that stood rather than kneeled
The truly dedicated can adopt a word, sign up for a new word a day, and even buy a tshirt with their favorite word emblazoned on it for all to see. Even a quick browser will learn a lot in just a few minutes.

Thanks to the Utne Reader's "Great Writing" blog for the tip.--David E

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Social Networking for Introverts

God help me, I've started a facebook page for Magers & Quinn. I can't pretend to know how facebook works. I can't even give you a direct link to the store's page, but if you're already a seasoned facebooker I'm sure you can find us. (Wait, is it here?) Friend us, write on our wall, and watch as a cardigan-wearing introvert bookstore employee dips his toe into the world of social networking. It should be fun.--David E

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Confidence, Man

Neil Gaiman talked about his Newbery Medal-winning novel The Graveyard Book to Women's Wear Daily of all places. He tells a good story about the book, though. The germ of the story came to him over twenty years ago, but he put it aside, thinking “This is a much better book idea than I am a writer.” Eventually, Gaiman found the confidence to write a book has gone on to win Young Adult literature's highest prize. We should all be so modest.

The full article is here.--David E

Come in Out of the Cold

Stuart Klipper has traveled to Antarctica six times in twenty years to photograph this astounding body of work, offering a sweeping look at this majestic continent, which has lately become central to global climate change concerns. Shot in panoramic format—the only way to encompass a landscape that seems to stretch on forever—Klipper's work captures major features and surprising details: ships suspended in the frozen sea, glowing blue icebergs, vistas of endless snow, and troops of penguins. This volume's substantial size, panoramic shape, and unique vertical-opening case emphasize the grandeur of these austere and lovely photographs from the bottom of the world.

Stuart Klipper is among the most experienced photographers of Antarctica. He lives in Minneapolis. He is a mainstay of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers program. His photos of the Antarctic have been on display at the Museum of Modern Art.

You can meet Stuart Klipper at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Monday, March 9, at 7:30pm, when he joins us to discuss his latest photography book The Antarctic: Antarctica From the Circle to the Pole. Details on this event and all our upcoming readings are on our events page.--David E

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Talk Back

Daniel Bergner's recent cover article "What Do Women Want?" in the New York Times Magazine started a lot of conversations. Three hundred seventy one people commented on the story on the newspaper's website, last time I checked.

But you can do more than just commenting. You can actually meet Bergner. He'll be in town on Tuesday, February 24, at 7:00pm, to help us kick off our new science book discussion group, The Big Bang Book Club. He'll be talking about his new book The Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing, from which his article was drawn. Come by Grumpy's Bar & Grill (1111 Washington Av. S., Minneapolis) and meet the author in the, um, flesh.--David E

A Book and a Beer Chaser

The next meeting of the Twin Cities' most unusual and interesting book club is Tuesday, February 10. Books & Bars meets at Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W Lake Street, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.

February's book is The Monsters of Templeton. Lauren Groff's novel brings the characters of James Fenimore Cooper into her modern-day family saga. Stephen King singled the novel out for praise, saying, "The sense of sadness I feel at the approaching end of The Monsters of Templeton isn't just because the story's going to be over; when you read a good one — and this is a very good one — those feelings are deepened by the realization that you probably won't tie into anything that much fun again for a long time." (The full review is here.)

You can read the first chapter here.

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.