April Favorites

T.S. Eliot famously said, “April was a bitch of a month.” (That’s not what he said.) I overextended myself, picking up extra hours and responsibilities on top of my full-time schedule in February and March, and my migraine and nerve pain rejoined and knocked me on my ass in April (which is why this post is coming a few days late). But there were still a few lilacs out there. Continue reading

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February & March Favorites

I missed February favorites because things have been so busy at the bookstore. So I’m going to include both February and March favorites here.

A Change of Scenery: Alpine, Texas

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I actually took a couple days off, and drove out to West Texas with my husband and pupper. (Tuco is so good in the car. I feel bad for everyone who doesn’t have a Tuco.) Alpine and the surrounding areas are so beautiful. Time slowed down. Stars are bright. Hills are hilly. And people are so friendly. This is the Texan-friendly that Austin sometimes forgets. We visited the McDonald Observatory for a star party and witnessed a satellite flare that was brighter than all the stars. Picked up a stack of used science fiction/fantasy mass markets at Front Street Books for under a $10 (indies forever). Alpine reminded me of Thibodaux. My parents would love it.

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Possible summer reading challenge?

For my eyeholes:

Books

Shelter by Jung Yun which I call “the quintessential Korean-American novel” here and I admit that I don’t actually have the authority to make that proclamation. And I don’t know how to exactly articulate why I think this is so (I am not Korean-American).

Human Acts by Han Kang
If you follow me on my social media at all, you would know how much I love The Vegetarian. Last November (way back in 2015), I called it “my favorite book of 2016.” Three months in and I stand by that. Human Acts is Kang’s second English language translation. It isn’t available stateside yet, but I can’t wait for it to arrive. This is a collection of interconnected stories of victims and survivors of the Gwangju Massacre of 1980. If you don’t know anything about the Gwangju Massacre, Kyung-sook Shin’s semi-autobiographical novel The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness paints a delicate picture of the social conditions and climate for South Korean factory girls around the time of the massacre.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Lauren Groff’s masterful story of a marriage offered our best (and most controversial) conversation for the New & Noteworthy book club. This is a story about an unpleasant woman married to a likeable man. As an unpleasant woman who is married to a likeable man, it’s real to me that marriage is a liberating thing.

Television

I pulled back from television a bit these last two months, but I did catch up on Broad City. God, I am so late to this, but so glad I am watching this.

For my earholes:

Audio Books

I had a bad experience with an audio book on a long drive several years ago. It was the wrong book, wrong author, wrong reader–all soured me on audio books for years. But with that 7.5 hour drive to (and from) Alpine, Texas, I downloaded a couple of audiobooks. A coworker recommended Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, which is, of course, hilarious, but also turns out Ansari as a researcher and sociologist on the evolution of dating, love, and coupling in the modern era from the middle of the 20th century to today. Sure, he calls you lazy for listening to the audio instead of reading the book (which makes me slightly uncomfortable because what about blind listeners?) but those funny voices are worth it.  Yes Please by Amy Poehler is the second book we listened to on the way home. Did you know that she built a personal recording studio at the foot of Mount Rushmore for this very recording? I’m writing this from that very sound booth (you can’t prove that I’m not)! This is the book that made me a full convert to audiobibliophile (that’s a word now). Amy packs so much extra stuff into this recording that you just don’t get in reading a book by yourself: the voice talent of Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, and her own parents; interviews with the important players who helped shape her career; and a live recording of her final chapter from the UCB Theater.

Over the last two months, I’ve listened to The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero, Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema by Anne Helen Petersen, Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman, Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell, and Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Christin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Podcast

During vacation, I also started listening to the You Must Remember This podcast by Karina Longworth. Longworth focuses on the hidden histories and forgotten stories from Hollywood’s first century. I am obsessed with this podcast. It has infiltrated my entire life. Inspired by her Star Wars episode VI on Marlene Dietrich, I read Karin Wieland’s Dietrich & Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives (reviewed here). And by her twelve-part series on Charles Manson’s Hollywood, I read Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders and Adam Nevill’s Last Days. (Also the reason I listened to Scandals of Classic Hollywood on audio).


Music


I usually avoid concerts because I don’t typically enjoy crowds. I specifically don’t enjoy Austin concert-going crowds in which there are always people who stand in front of me and talk loudly to each other above the music that I’ve paid to see and to hear. (Always.) But I did attend one concert at SXSW at K-Pop Night Out. (I’m trash for pop music from a certain area of the globe.) And because that area of the globe is not this area of the globe, I don’t get the opportunity to see some of my favorite bands. I was happy to drop everything and see Love X Stereo & Mamamoo at the Belmont. I had to leave early, so I missed Haihm, which I suspected would be a little bit too loud for me (I also missed Zion.T but I’m not exactly a fan of his anyway so there was no big loss there). Also, Block B just released their comeback single (their first in over a year in a half!) 몇 년 후에 (A Few Years Later) earlier this week and yes, I am trash for this group.

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Mamamoo at SXSW


Follow these Accounts:

Weseldoesart for daily drawings. She even gave me the two she made of her unicorn.
Jjoongie shares the same tastes as I do in fiction, but her photos are way better than mine.

Happy reading!

~jan

Deep in the Infinite Image: The New & Noteworthy Book Club Discusses Bats of the Republic

My thoughts on the New & Noteworthy November pick BATS OF THE REPUBLIC by Zachary Thomas Dodson.

BookPeople

Deep in the Infinite Image:
The New & Noteworthy Book Club Discusses Zachary Thomas Dodson’s Bats of the Republic

Bats! Texas! Overlapping genres! Parallel timelines! Archival records! Full disclosure: I am an archivist who is a former graphic designer–who also has a weak spot for misunderstood animals. If there is any book that is written with me as a reader in mind, it is Zachary Thomas Dodson’s Bats of the Republic.

It’s hard for me to sell this book here in text without just handing you a copy of this gorgeous tome. The care taken into crafting each page in this book (including the dust jacket and endpages) is stunning. Everything is printed in browns and greens–not one word in black and white! I have read through the entire book, and I still pick it up and flip the pages, knowing that I’m not going to read a single…

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Wicked Wit: The New & Noteworthy Book Club Discusses Margaret Atwood’s The Stone Mattress

October’s book club pick. Demi and I are getting really good at our selections.

BookPeople

Margaret Atwood writes, “Calling a piece of short fiction a ‘tale’ removes it at least slightly from the realm of mundane works and days, as it evokes the world of the folk tale, the wonder tale, and the long-ago teller of tales.” Tales, as we are familiar with them, also evoke the idea of youth, innocence, and darkness–rites of passage into adulthood. Atwood turns this on its head by writing about adults who are facing endings rather than beginnings.

This collection begins with three linked stories about a love triangle among bohemian artists in the 1960s, told from the present day. Each member of the triangle has gone on to pass the decades separately. In “Alphinland,” Constance (C.W.) Starr, a widowed author of an enormously famous fantasy series, navigates the mundane task of preparing her home for a snow storm, all the while listening to the disembodied voice of her…

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Viva la Webolution!

Another thing I wrote about online communities and enthusiasm

BookPeople

-This post comes from our inventory manager Jan

Online Creators and Their Communities Are Our People, Too

I’m in no way overstating when I say that here at BookPeople, we care about community. We love serving communities that are built from the ground-up. And the most visible ground-up communities these days are happening online.

The Internet is a big place. Really, really big. And, being designed by hippies, the web, of course, has no hierarchical structure. Everything is (somewhat) equal on this massive web that just keeps growing by the nanosecond (YouTube has over a billion unique users who generate over a billion views daily [source]). And yet, humans–being the amazing, social wizards that we are–have found ways to not only interact with one another, but connect.  These online communities consist of membership based on anything from identity to shared interest and are mediated on access to…

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