(Dramatic sigh.)
I'm honestly not sure I have time for this. If I didn't enjoy writing this newsletter so much, I would just leave you all hanging this week. You see, in just the last two weeks we've hosted cultural icon Lena Dunham at the Wilbur Theatre, music legends John Darnielle and Joe Perry at the Coolidge, and hockey great Bobby Orr in the bookstore. The rest of the week is all about getting ready for Friday night's sold out book signing with Neil Patrick Harris, and gearing up to move our theater of operations to the Boston Book Festival on Copley Square. I am working on the third draft of my introduction for our John Cleese and Robin Young event at the JFK Library on November 7th. And Bruno, our resident carpenter, still hasn't even started fashioning the giant Trojan bunny from which Cleese is going to emerge.
Oh shoot! That was supposed to be a surprise.

And as for the actual things in the store, well, I don't have the words. Let me try. Halloween goodies and gear, two giant cases of new holiday boxed cards, a beautiful new hand-painted autumnal artistry adorning the Giftsmith walls, a new table up front with a carefully curated collection of gift books, and plans for yours truly to get up on a ladder after hours and drape the entire store with strands of lights to make it all just oh so pretty.

Not to mention I've been stitching together that costume over there.
Looking back over all that I just wrote...I'm glad I took the time. Come to the Booksmith for any reason, we've got what you don't even know you're looking for, and we've always got the time!

(before I run away, here is something not book-related, but truly inspiring.)

Thursday, October 16 at 7:00 PM
Colm Tóibín
Nora Webster

From the author of Brooklyn and The Testament of Mary comes a novel that Kirkus calls “subtle, pitch-perfect.” Set in the 1970’s, Nora Webster’s husband has died young, leaving her behind with four children and grief that refuses to abate. She finds some consolation in music, which lets her look towards the future and life that can still be full.

   
SOLD OUT
Friday, October 17 at 7:00 PM
Neil Patrick Harris
Choose Your Own Autobiography
SIGNING ONLY
SOLD OUT


In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.
   
Saturday, October 18 at 10:30 AM
Children's Storytime

Do you love picture books? Join us in our children’s section as our fine children’s team reads stories aloud every third Saturday and last Sunday of the month.
   
Monday, October 20 at 7:00 PM
Peter Bebergal
Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll

In Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll Peter Bebergal explores the deep and nuanced connection between rock and roll and the mysterious world of the occult. Drawing on key developmental moments in rock history, from its origins in slave song to the rise of electronic instruments in the ‘80s, Bebergal creates a rich narrative analysis of the genre and its mystical ties.
   
Tuesday, OCtober 21 at 6: 00 pm
At the Coolidge Corner Theatre
The Boston Globe Book Club
A Conversation Between Maryanne O’Hara and Nicole Lamy


Join The Boston Globe Books editor Nicole Lamy and Maryanne O’Hara (Cascade) for the final The Boston Globe Book Club event as they discuss Cascade. Tickets are free and available at bostonglobe.com/bookclub.
   
Wednesday, October 22 at 7:00 PM
Kelly Link, Gavin J. Grant, MT Anderson, Sarah Rees Brennan and Joshua Lewis
Monstrous Affections

From the editors of Steampunk! comes the stunning collection Monstrous Affections, featuring stories from some of today’s top young-adult authors. Predatory kraken, harpies, and a landform that claims lives, these stories explore ambition, loneliness, love, and the boundless potential for connection.

Mayor for a New America

Thomas M. Menino,
Jack Beatty
HC, $28
Blue Horses: Poems

Mary Oliver
HC, $24.95
Even This I Get to Experience

Norman Lear
HC, $32.95
Leaving Time

Jodi Picoult
HC, $28
Special Deluxe:
A Memoir of Life & Cars


Neil Young
HC, $32

J
Howard Jacobson
Hogarth
Hardcover, $25

 

Howard Jacobson's J, Man Booker Prize finalist (congratulations to the winner, Richard Flanagan, by the way) is set in a world where collective memory has vanished and the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited. The novel is an inventive love story, where Jacobson's skillful rendering of the intricacies of human relationships explores the very nature of love, and what the idea of love even means in a world with no past.

 

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite
Suki Kim
Crown Publishing
Hardcover, $24

 

The world's newest nuclear power North Korea is called the "hermit kingdom," but I have always thought that gave a bad name to hermits. By all accounts, North Korea's closed borders protect an irrational ruling class which wields an iron-fisted control over the flow of food, information, and basic human dignity. The stories of ordinary citizens are starting to leak out, however, and now, with this stunning new memoir, Suki Kim pulls back the curtain on the inner circles of power. Barbara Demick, author of the astonishing 2010 book Nothing Left to Envy, describes Kim's Without You, There Is No Us as "strangely terrifying...a beautifully written book that greatly expands the limited bounds of what we know about North Korea's ruling class."
 

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride
Cary Elwes, Joe Layden, Rob Reiner
Touchstone Books
Hardcover, $26
 
It's Cary Elwes, telling behind-the-scenes stories about The Princess Bride.
What more can I say?
 

In Real Life
Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang
First Second
Paperback, $17.99
Ages 12-17

Cory Doctorow and illustrator Jen Wang team up to bring forth a story of a girl navigating two entirely different worlds. Anda's virtual alter ego is flourishing as she finds herself assimilating into a community that spans the globe, at the same time that her real life at home and school is getting more and more frustrating. In Real Life is an illuminating, eye-catching and necessary tale about finding balance and connection while living two separate lives.


The Princess in Black
Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Leuyen Pham
Candlewick
Hardcover, $14.99
Ages 5-8

 

Shannon & Dean Hale, along with the kick-butt illustration stylings of LeUyen Pham, offer a refreshingly modern take on the traditional princess. A tea party gets cut short by the Monster alarm, and Princess Magnolia graciously excuses herself to don her all-black action gear and crawl through a dank, infested tunnel to battle the most adorably brutish monster I've ever seen. Our family was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this (many thanks to our former events director Jamie, now publicist at Candlewick Press!), and it has been such a hit that it means I've spent the last week or so working on Libbie's Halloween costume. Maybe you saw that picture up at the top?

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters
Oliver Jeffers
Philomel
Hardcover, $26.99
Ages 3-5
 
The arrival of a new Oliver Jeffers book has become a little holiday of sorts. His work is simply delightful. Always surprising, innovative and compelling, Jeffers' style bends and flows effortlessly to illustrate the matter at hand. In this case, he takes the simple alphabet book and turns it into something much, much more. Each letter gets its own short story, and the stories are at turns enlightening, hilarious, or tragic. Jeffers has that quality that every good writer for children ought to have: respect for your audience. He clearly believes in his readers.
 
 
 
 

Contrary Country: A Chronicle of Vermont
Ralph Nading Hill, George Daly
Shelburne Museum Publ., 1982
Used Paperback, $3.50

 

Vermont is the best place, I think I've made that clear in the past. Perhaps the reason is the particular aroma of the sun-soaked wood of my grandparents' front door, or the heady texture of Green Mountain moss (have you ever laid flat in a bed of moss, with your nose buried straight down into it? It's what moss was made for.), or perhaps it's the complex overlap of sugar shack fog and manure funk. Or maybe it's something else? Ralph Nading Hill's classic book Contrary Country celebrates the history of the land and people who arose between the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain. Lively storytelling and George Daly's wonderful illustrations bring to life the unique blend of fierce independents and faithful community builders that make up Vermont.

 


I Want to Show You More
Jamie Quatro
Grove Press, 2013
Used Hardcover, $8

 
Jamie Quatro's stories have made the rounds (McSweeney's, Tin House, Ploughshares, and in the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories), but in this, her first collection, readers finally get to feel the full force of her talents. I Want to Show You More is a terrifying but hilarious slice of American adulthood, with stories about life with children, cheating, sex and god. Quatro's debut short fiction cuts deep and quick, and we can only hope she does show us more.
 


See the Circus
H.A. Rey
Houghton Mifflin Company
Used Paperback, $3.50

 

I have a soft spot for old circus books for kids. It's the ultimate in escapism! H.A. Rey's little square book is filled with delights and surprises, with each page folding open to the right to reveal clowns fooling around, a leaping tiger, or the (unlikely, yes) team of happy polar bears sliding down the slide in the middle of the ring. Big Top fun in a teeny weeny package!

 

The Interestings
Meg Wolitzer
Riverhead Books, Hardcover
Orig. $27.95, Sale $6.99
 
Meg Wolitzer's"genius" novel The Interestings is an "ambitious" "page-turner", woven from the lives of six unusual people (who met in a teepee, sharing a doobie, when they were just kids) who never could have guessed that their stories would parallel each other through the next four decades. Those are not my quotes up there, but I trust my sources.
 

The Lady & the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi
Peter Popham
The Experiment, Paperback
Orig. $16.95, Sale $5.99
 
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is an icon for democracy and nonviolent dissent in oppressed Burma. Her political path was perhaps unavoidable: her father the architect of Burma's independence and her mother an ambassador to India.  Her father was assassinated when she was only two. Leaving the country with her mother, she grew up in India and her life was spent in exile in India, England and America. Within six months of returning to her homeland 1988, she was leading the largest popular revolt in the country’s history. She was put under house arrest by the regime, but her party won a landslide victory in the 1990 elections, which the regime refused to recognize. In 1991, still under arrest, she received the Nobel Peace Prize. Peter Popham's brilliant biography paints a full portrait of one of the world's most authentically heroic figures.
 


How About Never, Is Never Good For You?
Bob Mankoff
Henry Holt, Hardcover
Orig. $32.50, Sale $9.99

 
Bob Mankoff's memoir is blessedly stuffed with cartoons, usually four or five on a page. Mankoff is the long-time cartoon editor of The New Yorker and founder of the all-inclusive online archive the Cartoon Bank. Every inch of this book is filled with laughs, but what really makes it special is the fascinating glimpse into the workings of one of the most coveted and demanding editorial positions in the world. When you see five hundred cartoon submissions per week, how on earth do you consistently go about separating the wheat from the chaff?
 
 

Some of us have actual work to do.
 
The Giftsmith is 'Falling' in love with the colors of autumn! See our woodland creatures scurrying about in preparation for the season? Take one (or two, or three) home with you, and warm up your nest.
 
   

Next book club meeting
November 10th @ 7:30pm

The Hired Man
Aminatta Forna

No need to sign up, just show up!

 

Brookline Booksmith is honored to be a part of Brookline Sister City Week, when our town celebrates its ties to Quezalguaque, Nicaragua. On Monday, Oct. 20th, we'll be on hand selling books at the Coolidge Corner Theater for the first of three amazing events. Come hear special guest Nicaraguan poet & French Legion of Honor winner Vidaluz Meneses, with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz and music by Latimbop. On Wed., October 22nd, attend the Forum on Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin (CKDu) at the Brookline High School/MLK Room at 7pm. Free to the public. And on Thursday, October 23, the week wraps up with the Celebration Fundraising/Farewell Party at the Vine Ripe Grill, Putterham Golf Course, Brookline with Governor Michael and Kitty Dukakis, Keynote Speaker Congressman Joe Kennedy III and MC Jesse Mermill. Music by Alejandro Vega. Click here to get tickets and get to know our neighbors!

On Monday, 11/17 at 7pm, Jennifer Campaniolo will read from her new book, Legendary Locals of Brookline. Brookline boasts groundbreaking doctors, scientists, researchers, authors, sports heroes, Presidents, governors, and even mayors of New York (how embarrassing). And with all of those luminaries, guess whose portrait made it onto the back of the book? Booksmith's own Dana Brigham! Legendary Locals of Brookline tells their stories, as well as the stories of some of the lesser-known heroes and humanitarians who make Brookline a great place to call home.

 



There is so much going on here at the store at this time of year, it's truly a whirlwind. Working at a small shop like ours, where we attempt to do so many great things all under one roof, the approach to the holiday season tends to make the rest of the day feel like a vacation.

Workday over, it's time to hop on the bike. I have 25 minutes to ride home to Newtonville and pick up the kids at school. Then it's lunchtime, two loads of laundry, clean the bathroom, and take the kids to the playground. Change the laundry to the dryer first, though. Back home, everybody change into your gymnastics outfits, it's off to Needham. Back home again, fold the laundry and read a book standing at the stove, Jack sets his alarm for twenty minutes and does his reading while Libbie draws highly detailed imaginary horror scenarios on 3x5 index cards. Jess gets home and we all hold hands and sit down to dinner. Then it's kids in the dishwasher and put the dishes to bed, and I'm thinking, well, wasn't that a nice, relaxing afternoon.
I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks for reading,
Paul

currently reading What is Zen? by Alan Watts.
currently listening to Made in Heights.

email me, if you'd like to make this a conversation.

 
 

Boston Phoenix's 2012 "Readers' Pick for Best Bookstore, New"
Boston Magazine's Best Bookstore 2004-2006, 2008, 2011, & 2013
WBZ-TV A-List Editor's pick for Best Bookstore 2006, 2007, & 2011
Community Newspapers' 2009 Readers' Choice Award


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brookline booksmith
279 Harvard St.
Coolidge Corner, Brookline
an easy block from the Coolidge Corner T-stop on the C line
617.566.6660
thestore@brooklinebooksmith.com
Dana Brigham, Co-owner and Store Manager

Open 7 days a week:
Monday - Thursday: 8.30 am - 10 pm
Friday: 8:30 am - 11 pm
Saturday: 9 am - 11 pm
Sunday: 9 am - 9 pm

Open 24/7 at www.brooklinebooksmith.com


 

 

Brookline Booksmith Online