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11th February
2011
written by Steph

Indiespensible #24

After a short delay due to the last-minute decision to include a galley in this installment, Indiespensible #24 is now in my hands! The featured book this month is Hannah Pittard's debut novel, The Fates Will Find Their Way, which tells the story of a girl who goes missing on Halloween night. Given that its told from the perspective of a group of young boys, I am immediately reminded of The Virgin Suicides, so I'll be interested to see how Pittard uses this iconic form of a narrator and makes it her own.

Also included was a snazzy Powell's mug, those weird interview cards that Powell's so loves to include, and an advance reader's copy of Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson. According to Powell's, this is a highly anticipated novel, but I am not too proud to admit that I hadn't heard of it when it showed up along with my other goodies. The special edition box containing Pittard's book is extraordinarily lovely and definitely whets my appetite for the book itself. What are you waiting for? Isn't it about time that you treated yourself to an Indiespensible subscription?
19th December
2010
written by Steph

Indiespensible #23

The holidays, they are a crazy time, and as such the blog has been suffering. My time has been taken up with planning Minnesotan road trips, bracing myself with all this cold weather, taking motorcycle classes (! But also true! Story to come another day!), and of course attending holly jolly festivities. I am tired, y'all, and as a result my reading has been at the pace of a snail. If we accept that snails can read. And maybe they do. At the rate I'm going, by the time I've finished my next read they probably will be able to read if they already can't. So clearly what I need is another book in my life, this time a 1000 page chunkster in the form of The Instructions by Adam Levin. Normally I'd be a tad p.o'd that it took 10 days to get here by mail, but 'tis the season for parcels being delayed in the mail and really it's not like I've just been sitting around waiting for it to arrive. If I can't even make it through a 250 page book, how am I going to make it through this, I ask you? And yet I am kind of excited for this book... if only I could finish The Wilding (Indiespensible #22)! Along with this lovely tome (which I can use to easily replace 5 lb free weights, right?) came a lovely Powell's tote (you know how I love little birds on things!), an interview with Levin on those notecards that make me feel like a tv news reporter, and a box of chocolate-covered marshmallows from A Little Bit of Sweet, a Portland bakery and sweet shop. Who knows when I will read the book, but I bet you those chocolates don't ever see 2011!
2nd December
2010
written by Steph

Now these are souvenirs I can get behind!

For those of you who read Matt's blog, A Guy's Moleskine Notebook, you'll know that during our day spent with him, he took us to his very favorite bookstore in San Francisco, Green Apple Books. One of the things that immediately impressed me about GAB, as well as many other bookstores we popped into while in SF was just how much character they all have. A far cry from the cereal box Borders and Barnes & Nobles that dominate here in Nashville. GAB is one of those delightful bookstores that is just stuffed to the gills with shelves of books, so that the perfume of paper is heady in the air. Add to that narrow aisles and creaky wooden floors and you have a wonderful haven for lovers of books. One of my favorite sections at GAB was the discounted new book section, where overstock books were going from anywhere between $4 - $7. Normally at McKay's $4 for a book is at the top end of my budget, but the selection was so dizzying and exciting, especially in terms of the international fiction, I knew I needed to splurge and bring home some babies. It soon became clear that our carry-on luggage wouldn't cut it with my treasure trove, so we decided we'd have to mail my book bounty back to Nashville. After the jump, I'll dissect the titles I picked up in more detail. (more…)
4th November
2010
written by Steph

Indiespensible # 22

With October being as busy as it was, my reading slipped off quite a bit, and I have to admit I haven't yet regained my reading mojo. I've only got one book waiting to be reviewed in my queue, and in the past week I've picked up and started several books only to put them down because they just weren't doing it for me right now. But maybe this new installment of Powell's Indiespensible will be the panacea to my reading slump? Included in Volume 22:
  • Signed, first edition copy of Benjamin Percy's The Wilding
  • Powell's interview with Percy on commemorative collector cards (which make me feel like I'm a newscaster getting ready to read for broadcast)
  • A Powell's insulated metal canteen, which is perfectly Steph-sized!
I admit that prior to Powell's announcing this month's pick, I had never heard of The Wilding; anyone out there already read it? Normally I don't offer up official synopses or press material, but I figure this book is sufficiently "beneath the radar" that a bit of background might be helpful. From Publisher's Weekly:
Percy's excellent debut novel (after the collection Refresh, Refresh) digs into the ambiguous American attitude toward nature as it oscillates between Thoreau's romantic appreciation and sheer gothic horror. The plot concerns a hunting trip taken by Justin Caves and his sixth-grade son, Graham, with Justin's bullying father, Paul, a passionate outdoorsman in failing health who's determined to spend one last weekend in the Echo Canyon before real estate developer Bobby Fremont turns the sublime pocket of wilderness into a golfing resort. Justin, a high school English teacher, has hit an almost terminally rough patch in his marriage to Karen, who, while the boys camp, contemplates an affair with Bobby, though she may have bigger problems with wounded Iraq war vet Brian, a case study in creepy stalker. The men, meanwhile, are being tracked by a beast and must contend with a vengeful roughneck roaming the woods. A taut plot and cast of deeply flawed characters--Justin is a masterwork of pitiable wretchedness--will keep readers rapt as peril descends and split-second decisions come to have lifelong repercussions. It's as close as you can get to a contemporary Deliverance.
Intriguing, non? It certainly seems seasonally appropriate, so I'll probably be digging into it soon! I will let all of you know how it goes!
11th October
2010
written by Steph

Yay! Books!

My parents were in town this weekend, and you know what that means: shopping! In a freak twist of happenstance, I have somehow managed to never take them to McKay's during their various visits to Nashville, but Tony and I decided that this oversight clearly needed to be rectified this time around. While my mom was perusing the extensive recipe book collection, my brother was trawling the discount cd section, and my dad was perusing travel books as well as manuals on how to improve his poker game, I made a beeline to my favorite haunt: fiction. Perhaps because it's been a while since we've traipsed through the hallowed aisles of McKay's, but this time the shelves were just overflowing with books that I very much needed to own. Check them out in detail after the jump! (more…)

18th September
2010
written by Steph

A new obsession...

When it comes to marking my place in books, I'm all over the map. I've no problem with using a scrap piece of paper, leaving my book face down (spine damage be damned!), or even just making a mental note of the page number before heading on my merry way. I routinely pick up fistfuls of complimentary, paper bookmarks whenever I'm out at bookstores, but while I'm pretty good at keeping track of these while a book is in progress, once it's done, it's as though whatever bookmark I used must also disappear to mark the finish of the book. For this reason, I haven't made it a priority to collect beautiful bookmarks, as I've always assumed the pleasure of them would be fleeting.

It's a pun! Get it?

[Tony on the other hand is very fastidious with his bookmarks, which is why when we found this hilarious one in a used book, he got to keep it and use it as his own, because I would never forgive myself for losing such a gem.] My ambivalence towards bookmarks changed when at Christmas my friend Taryn gave me a whimsical set of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" bookmarks. Not only did I love their sturdy construction and quirky bent, I really enjoyed how they "clipped" onto pages (meaning I can attach them to a back cover when I'm reading so that they don't go wandering) and are rather conspicuous, so at the conclusion of  a book, they're easy to spot

En garde!

when set aside (rather than nestling down in the pages of the book only to be forgotten until some future read). These fun bookmarks are ones I really enjoy using, and the materials used are flexible and forgiving so that using them with hardcovers is a breeze and there's no fear of ripping or snagging the pages in a book. When I saw these bird bookmarks online at Our Workshop (a U.K. based store), I knew I had to have them. They were so pretty

Hello!

and delicate, and in case you haven't noticed from our header image, Tony and I have a bit of a fondness for avian depictions. So enamored was I that I happily ignored the intimidating £ signs next to the prices and placed an order for one gold and one silver bird bookmark. Despite their overseas excursion, I'm happy to report that these new additions to our collection made their way to us very speedily (just over a week!) and were actually not all that expensive ($20 for the two, including shipping).  They are even more beautiful in person than I imagined; pictures really can't do justice to how dainty and intricate they are, and we are truly delighted by them. I think these bookmarks shall have clipped wings as I'd hate to lose them, and will likely only use them for books I read at home as I can't bear the thought of slinging them haphazardly into a bag. Added bonus! The bird bookmarks came with the following hilarious warning placard:

Do most bookmarks come with warnings?

I fear this may be the start of a new book-related obsession for me. Any other bookmark aficionados out there? Which of the three showcased here is your favorite? Are there any bookmarks out there that you have been coveting?
25th August
2010
written by Steph
Yesterday, I finally decided to treat myself to something nice, and signed up for an on-going subscription to Powell's Indiespensible club. The Indiespensible program is one I've been familiar with for a while, but hadn't joined, due to its rather sizable subscription fee of $39.95 per mailing. That's a lot for one book, even if it is a signed hardcover that comes with its own commemorative box. However, a few things tipped me over the edge: 1) Did you know that along with your book (and box) every six weeks, you also get sent other surprise gifts? I love a surprise (well, most of the time), and I love getting more than just a book for $40! Previous gifts have included baked goods (really!), paperback novels by other authors they feel complement the current mailer, totebags, notebooks, shot glasses, and so much more... I love it!

There's a bird on the box!

2) The real impetus: the next installment (#21) is Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. By now you're probably sick of hearing about a book that hasn't even been released (I know Jennifer Weiner is...), but I'm super excited for it, and the prospect of a signed first-edition was more than I could pass up. I was doing some internet browsing to see if I wanted to pre-order the book from an online retailer, but it seems only Amazon is currently offering it at $15. Now, $15 is a price I'd be more than happy to pay for a hardcover (whereas in-store prices of $30, are a bit much), however I really didn't want to order through Amazon if I didn't have to. On a whim, I checked out Powell's, and saw that Freedom was their next Indiespensible pick, and while $39.95 is far more than I thought I might pay, I realized that I would actually appreciate all the bells and whistles for this particular book. It's something I know I'll treasure, and I'm also looking forward to receiving the first part of Paul Murray's Skippy Dies (amongst other heretofore unrevealed surprises).  I definitely feel this is an instance where by spending more, I'm getting way more bang for my buck. So tell me, are there any other Indiespensible members out there? If so, what's been your favorite installment thus far? If not, are you at all tempted to join? What's held you back?
8th May
2010
written by Steph

What do we have here?

Over the past few months, I’ve been fastidiously placing books I no longer wish to retain into a large bag with the intention of trading them in at McKay’s.  When I realized the bag was filled to the brim (and was pretty darn heavy, too), I figured it was finally time to make good on these babies and bring home some new ones. I think in the end, I wound up taking in 21 books (!), and here’s what I brought back with me: (more…)

2nd April
2010
written by Steph
Surprise!  Not.

Suprise! Not.

In honor of April’s showers (of which we have thankfully seen none… yet!), Tony and I celebrated the abundance this month brings by purchasing a ton of books.  If only I had posted this yesterday, y’all might have thought this was an April Fools prank… but no!  We really did buy all of these books… I guess when I fall off the wagon, I fall hard. And repeatedly.

Break down of our bounty after the jump! (more…)
5th March
2010
written by Steph

Falling off the wagon has never felt so good...

After months (or at least what feels like months) of avoiding bookstores, I finally caved last weekend and asked Tony if we could visit McKay’s. You knew something had to give!  I am confident this is my first time visiting in 2010, and if the logs on this site are correct, I haven’t been to my favorite place on earth since October!  Surely the best way to celebrate is by buying some books, am I right?

To be fair, I only purchased 9 books on this visit, which is probably the most self-control I have ever exhibited at this bookish paradise. Moreover, this time rather than relentlessly combing the ENTIRE fiction section, I went in with a list of specific authors I wanted to seek out, and largely stuck to those. I admit that a few unexpected titles jumped into the cart, but I wouldn’t say that there were any wildcard picks this time. Also, I’m very excited by the relatively international scope of the fiction I picked up. Check it out in-depth after the jump! (more…)
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