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8th June
written by Steph

Notice Emmy stage right thinking "One day I will be crushed to death by these papery things"...

So, Nashville is now a one Borders town. We used to have three, but two have now officially closed for good, which greatly saddens me since the closest non-used bookstore to me is now a BooksAMillion, which I hate because they have a religious bent that makes me uncomfortable, plus they're 5 miles away (and I used to be able to walk to one of the RIP Borders in just 10 minutes!). Other than that, you have to drive all the way out to West Nashville in order to go to a Barnes & Noble or out to Brentwood if you want to see the last remaining Borders. When I happened into Borders on the final day of their closing sale, a mother and her daughter wandered in and started asking where they could find a fully functional bookstore and it was so depressing because there no longer are any in the vicinity. Within the past year, Nashville has seen three bookstores close and that makes me REALLY sad.

Anyway, it was a total fluke that I happened to walk to Borders on what was their very last day in operation, meaning all of their merchandise was 80% off. Things were largely picked over, but I did manage to find several books to rescue from the pulp pile. Normally I find that my reading tastes don't match those of the most bookstore patrons, but this time I did enter into something of a competition with another shopper, as we kept reaching for the same books. I admit, I got rather cutthroat and managed to walk away with the following books:

A Friend of the Family
by Lauren Grodstein - I remember when this book came out last year and made a rather large splash, especially with the BookPage editorial staff. I am always looking for good thrillers, so I decided to succumb to the hype and see what this one is all about! Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum - This is a book that I read about when The Morning News had their Biblioracle in to offer readers with new recommendations. Although I didn't submit my own reading list for consideration, I did peruse many of the suggestions and this book caught my attention. It's supposed to be a bit like The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie as it involves a 7th Grade English teacher and her pupils, so I have high hopes. Also, I just really love when you discover a book online only to stumble across it in real life! New World Monkeys by Nancy Mauro - Total random purchase. The back cover sounded intriguing ("prickly marriage"; "road trip with unexpected consequences"; "PhD dissertation that won't get off the ground") and it had a blurb from BookPage on the front cover that compared it to Zadie Smith, so I thought I would throw caution to the wind and give it a go. Affinity by Sarah Waters - After reading Tipping the Velvet last year, I've been wanting to read some more Waters and this is what Borders had on offer. I do know this is supposed to be one of Waters's spookier reads, and I remember reading a pretty compelling review of this one over at Fizzy Thoughts. Also, Waters's books tend to be at least $6 at McKay's, so getting this one for something like $2 seemed like a good deal. The House on Fortune Street by Margaret Livesey - This is a book that when I saw it, I was sure I had read about it before somewhere, but could not recall anything about it. I've really been into "domestic fiction" of late, however, so a novel that explores a lifelong friendship between to women and how it is affected when they move in together seemed like something right in my wheelhouse. Has anyone read this book or did I have some kind of stroke that makes it seem familiar even though it isn't? Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea - I haven't read anything by Urrea, but I know that he has his fans and that this book in particular made a big impression on book bloggers. In particular, I recall Lu at Regular Rumination gushing about this one (yet I can't find any record of this save for her GoodReads notes which say "I LOVE THIS NOVEL!"), as did Eva at A Striped Armchair. If these two global readers gave it the thumbs up, what more did I need? Also, y'all know I love fiction set in Latin America (save for the dreaded 2666...).

Cooking with Fernet Bianca
by James Hamilton-Paterson - Continuing my Borders looting trend of picking up Europa Editions for dirt cheap, I snatched up a copy of Cooking With Fernet Bianca because I looooove to cook and really don't read enough books that feature the culinary arts. At first I wasn't sure if this was actually fiction, but it is, and is apparently super funny to boot! I can't wait! A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth - Picked this up because it was a Europa but then I saw that it featured a potentially insane "protagonist" doing creepy things and knew it was a good choice regardless of the publisher. I hadn't heard anything about it at the time, but after buying it, I read a glowing review of it by Thomas over at My Porch so I felt even better about this purchase. Every Day is Mother's Day & Vacant Possession by Hilary Mantel - Let's be honest: the chances of me ever reading Wolf Hall are essentially non-existent (the subject matter just really doesn't appeal at all, even if it does have the Booker committee's ringing endorsement), but I woudl like to give Mantel a shot. So I decided to try some of her earlier works which are not historical novels but instead literary thrillers of a sort, which sound far more appealing. I didn't realize that VP is a sequel to EDiMD until I had brought them both home, but that seems like a lucky shake. How To Paint A Dead Man by Sarah Hall - Another book that got tons of love by book bloggers when it was released, though I admit I didn't pay much attention to the reviews. Well, except to register that Claire over at Kiss A Cloud was moved by it, which is good enough for me. I am sure you read it and loved it too... remind me if that is indeed the case. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Phillip Pullman - We are Pullman fans in this household, and we also like books that present alternate accounts of religious tales. I primarily bought this one for Tony because I think he'll get a kick out of it, seeing how he enjoyed the Golden Compass trilogy so much. Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman - You will recall that I read this book last year and found that it stuck to me more than I expected. One of those books that I kept thinking about long after I was technically done with it. So naturally, I was excited to get a fancy schmancy hardcover version of it so that I can read it again and have my heart torn to tiny bits once more. So there you have it, the last additions to my library that a Nashville based Borders will make. Have you looted any bookstores of late? What would you tackle first in this pile?


  1. 06/08/2011

    Lots of good stuff there, and I am familiar with a handful of them, though some are new to me. I am also saddened that we have a dearth of bookstores in our town, with only one Barnes and Noble being in the general vicinity. We don’t even have any independent bookstores here in Orlando, after the last one went out of business last year. It’s sad. Whenever I get to feeling down and depressed, I love to wander the bookstore shelves and engage in a little bit of retail therapy, but now even that is starting to become impossible. I am hoping that something changes soon, or before we know it, we will all be ordering books online exclusively.

  2. 06/08/2011

    I’m having some hardcore envy right now! Sadly, in addition to local chain stores closing, at least one indie bookstore is closing next month as well. It makes me so sad!

    I love the range of books you got (esp coveting the Pullman) — can’t wait to see what you think of the Hilary Mandels!

  3. Add me to the list of people who rave about How to Paint a Dead Man – and I normally don’t like books without a plot! Enjoy all your new books 🙂

  4. 06/08/2011

    I’m sad about all of the Borders closing in my area too. Last few times I’ve gone to B&N they look pretty dead (business wise) and I fear they could go down the same path. More and more of their store space is being taken over by the Nook. I’m not against eReaders, I have a Kindle of my own, but I will miss being able to go to a book store and thumb through the books!

  5. 06/08/2011

    I hope you enjoy Affinity–I have a feeling you will! I am envious of your Europas!

  6. Anonymous

    Ours closed a few weeks ago and I went a little bit nuts. I have to add, also, that Emmy looks a lot like a black velvet version of my tan pittie-mix, Donnie. Donnie has also been known to be slightly fearful of a house overrun by books…

  7. 06/08/2011

    Wow… so sad that you have such a lack of bookstores there. Maybe this means that YOU should open one! 😉 (I say this in jest, as we all know how difficult it would be in this financial climate — but how awesome would it be to own a bookstore?)

  8. 06/12/2011

    @ zibilee: We don’t have any indies in Nashville anymore, though the rumor has it that Ann Patchett is going to be opening one up in the future because she can’t stand living in a town without bookstores. I agree wholeheartedly (but don’t have the same capital as Ann!).
    @ Audra: I’m really looking forward to trying the Mantels! Browsing through Wolf Hall, I can tell that’s not a book I’d enjoy but she does seem like a really skilled author so I’m excited to try some of her other material!
    @ Jackie: I know tons of people loved that book, it was hard to keep track! Now I’m even more excited to read it!
    @ Kathleen: Oh, I’m not against ereaders either (we have Sony ereaders that I frequently use), but you’re right that there’s no online substitution to going to an actual store and browsing about. I love just wandering about and stumbling on books I’ve never heard of!
    @ Stephanie: Oh, I hope I enjoy Affinity too! There was a lot I did like about Tipping the Velvet, but it wasn’t an all-time favorite for me… I think some of Waters’s later works may be more my speed. I guess I’ll find out!
    @ Anonymous: Emmy is a pitbull mix as far as we can tell… she is absolutely the sweetest dog in the world, and so far has showed no fear or aggression towards books, but I’m sure the more they infringe her territory, the more wary she’ll become! 😉
    @ Wallace: If I could run or work in a bookstore, I certainly would! I can’t imagine a happier job… but seeing how little love they’ve been getting of late, I think you’re right that they’re not the soundest of investments…
    @ JoV: I think I am going to throw The Pullman Tony’s way since he’s the reason I bought it and I think he’ll get a kick out of it… plus, it’s been far too long since he’s written a review round these parts… 😉
    @ Nadia: I can’t imagine having to drive so far for a bookstore! I am at least buoyed by the fact that we do have two really good used bookstores close by (no more than 5 minute drives!) so they are good ways to get quick fixes…

  9. JoV

    Watching bookshops closing down is a very sad state of affair. I would tackle “The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ” first in your pile and can’t wait what you think about it!

  10. 06/08/2011

    Sorry about the loss of bookstores in your city – that really rots! I know what its like though, because in my town, there is one tiny bookshop that never carries anything I read and the only Borders we have nearby is a 40 minute drive – we need more bookstores! Anyhow, I’m glad you were able to score so many terrific reads – they sound so good! Can’t wait to read your reviews of the Waters, Urrea, Pullman and Hall books. Enjoy your new reads 🙂

  11. Lu

    The reason you can’t find a real review of Into the Beautiful North is because I haven’t written one yet! I am lazy. And way behind on reviews! But that one is one of the best books I read this year, so I hope you like it 😀

  12. 06/09/2011

    I loved the Pullman and the Waters. I hope you will too!

  13. Nice haul! I hope the Pullman book is good, I’ve been curious about it.

  14. 06/10/2011

    It is sad that three of the bookstores in your place closed down recently. It is really sad that bookstores are going out of business. I don’t know when this thing is going to stop. I loved your comment – “I love fiction set in Latin America (save for the dreaded 2666…)” 🙂 I have that mammoth sitting on my shelf for a while now and I don’t know whether I will ever read it. I read Bolano’s ‘The Savage Detectives’ and I liked it, but this one, I think, it destined to say on the bookshelf, atleast for a while. If you love novels which have a cooking backdrop, I think you might like Sophie Kinsella’s ‘The Undomestic Goddess’ and Anthony Capella’s ‘The Food of Love’. Hope you enjoy Sarah Hall’s ‘How to paint a dead man’. I think she is one of the underrated wonderful writers today. I love the title ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’ 🙂

    Enjoy reading your new acquisitions! Happy Reading!

  15. 06/10/2011

    How unfortunate so many bookstores have closed! The Borders by my house and the one by my university both closed in the past year. I still get Borders’ emails and they emailed me after the one in my hometown closed suggesting I could visit their other store closest to my house — 2 and a half hours away!

  16. 06/12/2011

    @ Lu: I figured out that you hadn’t written a review of it, so I have no idea how I became aware of your all-abiding love for that book! I know you wrote somewhere other than GoodReads about loving it!
    @ Nymeth: Well, if you loved those two books, I’m sure I’ll find much to enjoy in them as well. I am going to see if I can find your thoughts on the Pullman, as I’m sure you’ll have tons of brilliant things to say about it!
    @ Kim: I am not as fanatic about Pullman as some other readers but I did really enjoy the Golden Compass series so I’d be interested in seeing what some of his other fiction is like… I (or Tony!) will certainly report back!
    @ Vishy: I have a copy of The Savage Detectives and I suppose I will attempt it at some point… I read The Undomestic Goddess waaaaaay back in the day and did indeed enjoy it at the time! It was fluffy, but a lot of fun! Haven’t heard of The Food of Love, so I will definitely have to go check that out post haste!
    @ Christina: It is crazy to me when bookstores near universities close down – the Borders in Nashville that just closed it doors was right on the edge of Vanderbilt campus… What does it say about our future academics when they can’t be bothered to support books?!?
    @ Nishita: Oh, my library is a sight all right… perhaps for Hoarders? I keep saying I need to reorganize it because I’ve acquired so many books that I can’t always find the ones I’m looking for!
    @ Claire: I love when books that I read reference places I know well! I always feels that adds another level of enjoyment to a story as you can really walk in the characters’ shoes, so to speak.
    @ anothercookiecrumbles: I hadn’t realized that Borders had even made it across the pond – I thought they were based solely in the U.S. Surely there are plenty of other prominent bookstores in London? I have always had the impression that England was overflowing with bookstores!
    @ Frances: A joint read would be lovely! Maybe after you’ve finished with Richard’s read-along? I know that will keep you busy for quite some time!

  17. 06/10/2011

    I’d love to have a glimpse of your library, you have such a great collection 🙂

  18. The UK is completely without Borders now (for eighteen months or so now) and it is really sad especially in my home city where it was such a social hub and one of only a handful of bookshops.

    I also raved about How to Paint a Dead Man and Affinity is another great Waters read; it also mentions the area in London that I live in!

    The others are mainly all new to me so I look forward to discovering more about them when you have a chance to read them.

  19. RIP Borders. I’ve not seen a Borders here (in London) in ages (not unsurprising based on Claire’s post above), although I visited one in Los Angeles a few months back, which I loved. Added loads of things to my to-read list while browsing. Bookstores in the US are massive compared to the UK!! (well, broadly and generically speaking – there are exceptions)

    I liked Affinity, and loved How To Paint A Dead Man, and have the Pullman on my to-read pile. Hope you enjoy the books, and looking forward to hearing more about the other books.

  20. 06/12/2011

    I scored a Cooking with Fernet Branca too. Maybe we should read together?

  21. kay

    What a great haul!
    I have A Friend of the Family on my TBR pile, too, and I heard great things about it. I was thinking of reading it soon, so I’ll be curious to compare with your thoughts once you’ve read it too!
    I also have Affinity, but I haven’t read anything by the author yet, so I’m not sure what that experience will be for me.

  22. 06/13/2011

    You could always go to the used bookstore on Elliston by the soda shop (Elder’s?). Though they once yelled at me and a friend for SPEAKING in there. Not the nicest of folks. And I’ve heard that complaint about them a lot.

  23. 06/14/2011

    Nice new books! We went to our local Borders a while back but never returned for the really good discounts. Oh, well. Your books look like a lot of fun; if it were me, I’d probably for the Sarah Waters, which is surely an engrossing, enjoyable read.

  24. 06/15/2011

    @ kay: My understanding of Sarah Waters is that most of her books are rather unique and unlike anything else she’s ever written, which intrigues me about her. It makes me think that even though I didn’t love Tipping the Velvet, I may still absolutely love something else she’s written.
    @ Kari: LOL. Your recommendation for that bookshop (with which I have a passing familiarity) is not exactly a glowing one! Don’t worry, I still have McKay’s close by, so as far as used books go, I’m still well-positioned.
    @ Dorothy: Yeah, I went to one of our local Borders the very first weekend they announced they were closing and it was a madhouse even though the deals were not actually that good. 30% off books still puts them quite a bit more expensive than you would find them online… At 80% off, however, that’s another story!

  25. 06/20/2011

    I’ve never been a fan of Borders, but it’s still a shame that the company has gone bust. It’s always sad when a bookstore closes down, which is why it is *so* important for us all to support the ones that remain by buying from them wherever possible instead of using online stores. I guess, living in London, I am fortunate in having very many book stores within walking distance, or within a 20 minute bicycle ride, so I cannot imagine what it must be like to have no other option than to use amazon. Do you have a library or secondhand store nearby?

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