Wednesday, December 31, 2008

January Picks by Jackie!

January promises to be a month for curling up with a warm blanket and a good book. And there are plenty just out or just about to come out that I recommend as your companion under the covers!

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

This is a glorious book. It's about food as a touchstone and a means for memory, community, nurturing, healing, loving, seduction, sustenance, pleasure, joy, beginning, endings--life. It is the story of a cooking class that learns far more than culinary skills at the hands of a chef whose wisdom is not limited to food stuffs. The language is lush and decadent, rolling off the page and into your mind like a drug. I could taste, smell, see and feel everything as if I was indeed standing at the prep table myself. This is Bauermeister's first novel, but the power and magic in her prose tells me that it is far from her last.

Fans of Harris's Chocolat will be crazy about this book, but I would recommend it for foodies of any sort, and really just about anyone--this book casts a powerful spell that makes you see, feel and taste the world, even your memories, in a new, deep, consuming way.

Two Rivers by T. Greenwood

This book got bumped up on my reading list because it's one of January's IndieNext picks. And I'm glad it did, because this is a beautifully written novel with a complex tapestry of family, racism, sociology, cultural matters,love, hate, past and present. The story bounces effortlessly back and forth between the mid 1950's to 1980, building the story much like you would put together a jigsaw puzzle. It's fiction, but it certainly appealed to the mystery lover in me as
those bits and pieces began to fit together. Ultimately it is about understanding and forgiveness, though on it's surface it seems to be about a man, a pregnant teenager and a train wreck. But it's so, so, so much more. This is going to be a great bookclub pick--it touches upon such a cornucopia of discussion topics.

Never Tell A Lie by Hallie Ephron

This book will be featured on the IndieNext list for January, and boy, can I see why. I literally could not put this book down and powered through it in a matter of hours. It's a gripping tale of a young couple who have a yard sale one Sunday that an old high school acquaintance shows up at. This is an innocent start to a nightmare that threatens to shatter, even end, their lives. Pay attention--there are clues throughout the text. I think Coben fans will like the pace of this one especially, but any thriller/mystery/suspense lover should really dig it.

The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neil

If I had to, I'd call this "foodie chic lit", but this isn't "Sex in the City" chic lit--this one actually has some seriousness and some heft. Elena, the lone survivor of a horrific car wreck that killed a number of her family and her boyfriend, is a chef now, living with her damaged body and her more damaged soul in the tough, male dominated world of high end cuisine. She's offered her first executive chef position with the challenge of renovating and recreating a restaurant in Aspen. I absolutely FELL into this book. I identified with the kitchen challenges, Elena's loneliness, the fact that it was set in Colorado for the most part, and drooled over the many wonderful culinary creations in the book (recipes delightfully included). It's a love story (two, actually--there's a fun "side" story about a gay couple forming from what seems like polar opposites in the kitchen), but for many of the characters it's more about healing and taking chances. There's even some politics about immigration and "guest workers" in this country. And several ghosts. It's hard to pigeon hole this book, but not hard to enjoy it!

I, Lorelei by Yeardley Smith

It was hard not to hear Lisa Simpson's voice when reading this book--after all, Yeardley Smith has been coming into our homes for something like 20 years AS Lisa Simpson's voice. But Lorelei is very much her own character with her own problems. She's got two brothers ( one older, one younger), her cat just died, and now her parents are splitting up. Convinced that she will one day be famous, she begins to write a journal chronicling what all is happening in her life for her future biographers ( so they don't have to make stuff up about her). One of her teachers told her that many writers picture someone they are writing TO in their minds so that writing is more like a conversation, so Lorelei decides to writer her journal entries to Mud, her dead cat. Often funny, we still see tough things through her astute 11 year old eyes. It's quite good, and I'd recommend it for the 8-12 age group, or anyone (like me) curious about Smith's writing.

Stay warm and enjoy! And please, write us with a list of YOUR January reads--we're just
as curious about what you are reading as we are eager to talk about what we are!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Two more holiday stories

Well, the final weekend before the holidays is now over! Whew. Our stores were busy! Thank you to all of you who visited us!

Today in the Highlands Ranch store, there was a piano recital all afternoon. It was great to be working while live music played. Our bookseller, Jinx, shares a story with us about music:
I think my favorite Christmas was when I was 13 and my Mother gave me the sheet music for Silver Bells.  Sheet music was for me what CD's are for todays kids.  I played it so much on the piano that I'm sure my family must have wanted to hide the music--but they didn't say so.

Christmas was and still is, a book.  My mother shopped all year for our books and I still buy myself one special one--usually a children's book.

And bookseller Emilio writes:
Christmas has always been a family affair.  I remember best of all the Christmas time in the 1945-l950+ years. The second world war was over and there was reason for families to celebrate and get together.
Christmas Eve was an adult celebration at our house.  After Mmdnight Mass people were invited over for food and drink.  This was especially festive after the war because of all the returning members of the Armed Forces.  Our family and relatives were fortunate in having not lost anybody in the war.
As a child I could only stay in my room and wish for the day when I could go to midnight Mass and join the festivities.
Christmas Day, after Mass and private family celebrations, 8-10 families would come to our house to celebrate a family Christmas (We had the biggest house, so it was where we gathered. The men had a meal first, then the kids, and finally the women (I suspect they saved the best for themselves). After the kids were fed my father gave every child a ticket (5 cents) to the movie theater and 15 cents for candy and pop corn (This was to get us out of the house and out from underfoot. Early evening meant snacks men, kids, and women.  I don't remember any gifts I received.  
It was all about family being together.
I never made it to the adult Christmas because our families started going in a variety of directions.  However, my parents still kept the holiday alive by inviting college students who couldn't go home.  There were usually 10 to 15 invited for holiday meals.

Thanks to both Jinx and Emilio for sharing their holiday memories with us. The Tattered Cover hopes you and your family have a safe and happy holiday season, filled with lots of new memories.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Holiday Memories

A few more of our booksellers share their holiday memories with us:

Sometime in the late 70s, my dad gave me a paperback of P.D. James' Death of an Expert Witness for Christmas. It seems like a small thing, but it meant a lot to me that he had made the effort to talk to a bookseller and get a recommendation for a new mystery author, since by then, I'd pretty much polished off Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, and was making inroads with Ngaio Marsh and Josephine Tey. I really enjoyed the book, and couldn't name any other gifts I received that year. It's now been ten years since my dad's death, and I'm looking forward to reading James' new release, The Private Patient, when it comes out this fall, as part of his legacy to me.

--Hank C.

And bookseller Chuck writes:

Books have always been a part of my holidays but nothing was really jumping out at me. If we ever got to open an early present it was almost always a book, hours were spent in the living room in front of fires with family lounging around reading or being read to. Every year my mom would read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to us, but not just any edition, it had to be our grandfather's edition with the wonderful illustrations. One year we spent hours looking for that edition even though we had other editions we could have read to us. It not just the stories it also the books.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Poem

One of our booksellers in our Highlands Ranch location wrote a poem for the holiday season!

'Twas the month before Christmas
and all through the store
were lots of fine books
that one couldn't ignore

The hard covers were stacked,
so high that they swayed.
And shiny paperbacks stood
in their cases displayed

Cards, lights, and calendars ranked
case after case
and shelf upon shelf of gift-stuff
fills the space.

And each shopper's list flutters
in the common refrain:
One for mom, dad, and Johnnie
another for Jane.

So, questions ring telephones
like jingling bells
Soaps, teas, and candles
bring Holiday smells

The thoughts of each loved one,
of family and friends,
at gatherings and dinners
before the year ends

For each a bright package
in ribbon and bow
Good books to curl up with
let the winter storms blow...

--Mark L.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bookseller's Holiday Memories

Some of the many booksellers here at the Tattered Cover have graciously shared some of their holiday memories surrounding books. We begin to publish them today.

When I was very young we had a few Christmas books we pulled out every year. We had inherited them from older cousins who had outgrown them. I remember sitting with my little sister reading from Richard Scarry's "Animals' Merry Christmas". I was absolutely delighted to find this book still in print when I came to work here. It still makes me smile to see that book come through each year.


And from Molly, of our Internet store:

I can remember being totally enchanted by my first pop-up book - a fantasy trip to Mars where an elaborate castle was depicted in paper with many levels and stairs. I spent hours walking my fingers and my tiny dolls up and down the stairs and hiding behind the pop-up features.

Now that I am an adult, I am mesmerized by Robert Sabuda's wonderful paper engineering and artistry. I have given several to my family and other adult friends. At the Tattered Cover, we keep them in the childrens' section, so they are still a secret from the many adults who would treasure them - Night Before Christmas Pop-Up Book, Dinosaurs: Encyclopedia Prehistorica, The Christmas Alphabet, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and others. They are super-special and unexpected delights. I recommend them as gifts for anyone!!

Thank you, Happy Holidays, and Keep on Reading!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Recommends for Kids!

Whew! The holidays are upon us! We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season!

Today's post is from bookseller Jackie:

There are a LOT of great new holiday books out for the little ones (and really, who are we kidding, grownups like them too--EVERYONE is a kid at holiday time, right!). Here are a few that caught my eye and heart this year:

Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett

Jan Brett's illustrations are what make this book. Add a pop-up surprise ending and the recipe for gingerbread running through the margins and you've got a holiday inner for the 6 and under crowd. (Or folks like me who just love gingerbread stuff no matter what season it is!) .

Christmas Cookies by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

A delightful holiday vocabulary lesson with charming illustrations by Jane Dyer. There's even a recipe for Christmas Cookies at the very end :)

The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snickett

I was sold by the second sentence: "Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you'd see."

A bit of charcoal wants to be an artist, or at least get involved in a barbecue. Funny with that lovely Snickety snark to it, but still a great holiday story!

All I Want for Christmas by Deborah Zemke

Cute critters asking for one special thing for Christmas--clever, simple. Nice holiday book.

Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou

This book is based on a poem performed by Angelou at the 2005 White House tree lighting ceremony. The paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher are truly amazing. One line of the poem especially captured me: "It is what we have hungered for. Not just the absence of war. But true Peace." That is truly what the greatest world hunger today is.

A Very Marley Christmas by John Grogan

From the text: "But Marley, being Marley, always ended up on the wrong side of right." Everyone's favorite wild child puppy experiences Christmas for the first time--can he help it if he didn't understand what the tree in the living room was for (among other mishaps)? Humorous illustrations by Richard Caudrey are the icing on the cake.

Mrs Claus Explains It All by Elsbeth Claus (aka Christi Love)

LOVE this book! Love it, love it, love it. These are well thought out and extremely creative answers to kids questions about Santa and friends. Watch out for Undercover Elves or any of the other clever surprises that go into making the North Pole work. Kids will love it, and adults will appreciate the subtle but ever present humor woven in.

One Hundred Shining Candles by Janet Lynn

Sweet story about two children from a poor family determined to make Christmas special. Lovely illustrations by Lindsay Grater. Reminded me of Laura Ingals Wilder's sweet and simple books.

The Christmas Rose by Sepp Bauer

This story was originally published circa 1920 as a sort of advent calendar. It got lost over time, but was rediscovered in an antiquarian bookshop in Switzerland in 2006, along with the original illustrations by Germany's famous Else Wenz-Vietor. Based on German Christmas traditions, it's a very sweet tale about two woodman's children who want nothing for Christmas but for their ailing father to be well again. Saint Nicholas (who visits homes Dec. 6 in Germany) tells them that the scent of the White Winter Rose has the ability to cure all illness, but to get it they must go on a long, dangerous and difficult journey the Winter Land as The Winter King is the only one that grows it. Helped by many woodland and fantastical creatures, the children have an amazing adventure and learn the true meaning of love and Christmas spirit.

The Dog Who Saved Santa by True Kelley

It seems that Santa was quite a slacker as a youngster. Fortunately he had Rodney the dog, who through persistence and cleverness, "bootcamps" Santa into the fine, jolly, hard working and caring fellow he is today.


I also want to share a fantastic story a co-worker told me. Her nieces and nephews have SO many Christmas books (a side effect of having an Aunty in the book biz, among other things, lol) that her sister in law has created a tradition. Mid November she wraps each and every one of those books, and beginning on Thanksgiving day, the kids get to pick out two of them a day to open and read. They've got the fun of opening "presents" as well as the joy of rediscovering old favorites, plus some great family time to boot. I think this is just one of the coolest things ever. Think about starting a tradition in your own family!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Buy Local For the Holidays!

This year, more than ever, it is important for us, as consumers, to shop locally. Shopping locally ensures that our hard-earned cash stays within our own communities, helping out our neighbors and creating a more vibrant local economy.

Tomorrow, Saturday November 22, is America Unchained Day. The idea is that on this one day, consumers flex their collective muscle by shopping locally. We urge you to shop locally tomorrow, be it early holiday shopping, dining out, or perhaps even buying books.

And, next Friday is the first day of Buy Local Week. It runs from November 28 through December 5. Endorsed by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and sponsored by Colorado Local First, Buy Local Week is a chance to focus our dollars on our own community. Check out the Tattered Cover's page at Colorado Local First here. And look around for their really cool stickers (we've had some in our coffee shops for the past week or so.)

So don't forget: Shop Locally this holiday season!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sick of Vampires? Try SHINIGAMI!!!

No it's not a new paper folding technique.

Literally translated the term means "death god".
Basically these guys are Reapers, but with personal issues and sometimes cool Samurai swords.

'Tis the season to read macabre things so here's a sampling of fiction, novels, manga and graphic novels featuring Shinigami and Reapers, From Japan and from U.S. and U.K.

My first encounter with Shinigami was through watching the anime series

Descendants of Darkness by Yoko Matsushita (Manga)

I promptly picked up the Manga series. It details the travails of two humans conscripted into the post of Shinigami after their troubling deaths. They work for a vast and dysfunctional afterlife beaurocracy. Apparently there are things you can't escape even after death, government being one of them. They spend their time leading lost souls to their just reward. As with a lot of Manga it features a high level character angst and "bromance". Google the term and you'll find the wiki and "urban dictionary" definitions.

The trends of manga popularity move fast so the currently hot titles are:

Bleach by Tite Kubo (Manga)
This is the one with the samurai swords, and basically has the same set up as the Descendant's story line; a group of once human protagonists who deal with the problems that arise when the dead hang around too long postponing their final trip out.

We also have an art book from the series, All Color But The Black.

Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba is a darker take on the Shinigami trope.

High school student Light Yagami finds a mysterious notebook. It turns out that it belongs to the Shinigami Ryuk, a very creepy character, sort of a clown with spikes (doubling up on the primal phobias). Ryuk lets Light discover the notebook's special qualities; anyone who's name is written in it dies immediately. Light thinks he can use this power to rid the world of evil men. He doesn't do so well against it's other
temptations. The series eventually becomes a contest between Light and
brilliant detective L who is determined to find the source of the mysterious deaths.

Now on to Euro-American Shinigami/Reaper fiction:

Death and the High Cost of Living by Nail Gaiman. (Graphic Novel)
The Sandman's wicked cool sister Death goes about her daily routine. With some nice character notes and philosophy about life.

The Crow by James O'Barr (Graphic Novel)
James O'barr wrote and drew this stunning piece after a devastating incident occurred in his own life. He has never specifically stated what happened but rumor has it that events that serve as the catalyst to the Crow's creation in the story are somewhat autobiographical. The rest is a surreal exorcism of intense emotions that comes through violence and loss to a sort of trancendance and acceptance. A very dark take on the death giver that isn't for everyone but
certainly should never have gone out of print. It's finally being published again.

For those who like their fiction in a more "realistic" vein:

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (Mystery Series).

Tells the story of everyone's favorite serial killer/blood spatter analyst. Self appointed reaper of the Miami/Dade district. The story is a great twisty examination of character and the boundaries of being human. I loved the TV series so I sampled the book, the writing is very nice, so I might be taking this trip again in reading the novels.

For more deadly, but oddly charming anti-heroes, I also recommend the Ripley novels by Patricia Highsmith and the Hannibal series by Thomas Harris. (Both in mystery.)

If all of this is just too dang angsty and emo for you, lighten things up with Mort and Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett. (Sci-fi.) A writer who is always good for a laugh and a bit of a think.

I also see that we have a book in the Science Fiction section titled Shinigami, by Django Wexler. It seems to be the beginning of a fantasy epic that deals guessed it...death and the afterlife.

Cheers and happy Hallows to you all,


A Bookseller Remembers Tony Hillerman

Author Tony Hillerman died earlier this week, and Bookseller Cathy G. had this to say:

What a great guy he was! Love his books, love that deep connection with the Southwest and Native American culture & traditions--and how they exist in our ever-changing world.
He came to our store many times for signings. I remember one years ago when I was assisting with events and had the privilege of hanging out with him a bit while we waited for show time. He told a story of a co-signing at another book store with another author where few--if any--people turned out. He and the other author laughed about it (what else could they do? cry?), signed each other's books, and went about their lives. A simple story that illustrated for me his warmth, humor, and unassuming manner.
I'll miss him!

To check out his books, click here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Julia Glass coming to the TC Colfax Avenue!

Julia Glass, winner of the National Book Award for her debut, Three Junes, is coming to the Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue on Monday, October 20, 7:30 p.m., in support of her latest novel, I See You Everywhere.

I have read all three of Glass' novels, including her second one, The Whole World Over, and think she is getting better with each successive novel. Her latest is just sublime. Once again, Julia Glass has taken me into the world she has created. A world at once familiar and at the same time, somehow more focused, sharper emotionally. This novel, the intertwining stories of two sisters, Clem and Louisa, whose lives are spent mostly apart, is written in each of their voices as they tell their stories. Julia Glass has a way of laying out the plot naturally, in heartbreaking vistas and subtle nearly-missed revelations. This is a must-read from a powerful writer.

This is a fantastic chance to come and meet a powerful American author! For more information on the event, click here.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Follow our blog!

Hi. So Blogspot has added a new gadget called Followers, and it's pretty nifty. It's just here on the right of this blog, and if you click it and become a follower of Between The Covers, it would be great! It'll let us know that folks are reading it. You can join either with your google account or anonymously, so there are options. And you'll know when we update the blog! So please, become our follower! Thanks!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Trade Shows Update!

Recently the Independent Booksellers Association held their regional trade shows--a place to learn to be better booksellers and bookstores, find out what all is new in the industry and the season, and get a chance to talk to oodles of authors and publishers. Think of them as a sort of bookseller candy store! Each region's schedule was packed full of book signings and author appearances and other cool events, but we thought we'd pick a few out to give you an idea of just how diverse and interesting they all were.

Starting the Mountains and Plains (Tattered Cover's region), the biggest sensation was a screening of Paperback Dreams, a documentary about independent bookstores that will be airing on PBS this fall. It really jazzed a lot of folks up, so don't be surprised to see a lot of indy bookstores making displays and events to go along with it. Another huge hit was a new messenger bag put out by MPIBA that has "Reading is Sexy" emblazoned on it.

The MPIBA keynote speaker was Frank Wilczek, Nobel prize winning physicist and author of Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether and the Unification of Forces which is getting a lot of buzz for finally being able to clearly explain to the general public revolutionary ideas about space and matter you used to need a lab coat and large chunks of the alphabet after your name to understand. A children's author breakfast featured J. Otto Seibold, (Vunce Upon a Time) and Rick Riordan, (39 Clues: The Maze of Bones). Another popular event featured authors Chuck Klosterman (Downtown Owl), John Hodgman (More Information Than You Require) and Laura Pederson (Buffalo Gal).

The New Atlantic region's Children's Breakfast featured authors T.A. Barron, Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why), Loren Long (Drummer Boy) and Cameron Tuttle (Paisley Hanover Acts Out). Other authors involved in show events included this month'The s IndyBest headlinerJoyce Hinnefeld (In Hovering Flight), Louis Bayard (The Black Tower), Michael Wexler (The Seems), Alafair Burke (Angel's Tip), and Cecelia Galante (The Patron Saint of Butterflies) among many, many others.

The Pacific Northwest show had Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain) as a keynote speaker (lucky dogs). The show also featured David Wolman (Righting the Mother Tongue), Susan Jane Gilman (Undress Me In The Temple of Heaven), Juan Eslava Galan (The Mule), Stephanie Kallos (Sing Them Home), Benjamin Mee (We Bought a Zoo), Bob Staake (The Donut Chef) Kim Barnes (A Country Called Home), Chelsea Cain (Sweetheart), and John Bemelmans Marciano (Madeline And The Cats of Rome) among many others.

Last but not least, the New England show had a workshop near and dear to our heart: Do I Really Need a Blog? Social Media 101 for the Independent Bookseller put on by Random House sales reps and Uberbloggers (check out their BooksOnTheNightstand blog, it's actually in multimedia!) Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman. Children's authors Laurie Halse Anderson (Chains), Jeanne Birdsall (The Penderwicks of Gardam Street) and Norton Juster (Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie) were featured at a breakfast. Other authors involved in the events were Wally Lamb (The Hour I First Believed), Dennis Lehane (The Given Day), Kathleen Norris (Acedia and Me), Elise Broach (Masterpiece), Julia Glass (I See You Everywhere) and Stewart O'Nan (Songs for the Missing) among many others.

Monday, September 29, 2008

This week, Bookseller Ryan reviews The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway:

Not since "Catcher in the Rye" have I felt that a book was written specifically for me. Not that much is really shared between them, except they are those rare books that brim with complete and utter awesomeness. They were also that exact book I needed to read at that exact point in life.

Upon reading the cover flap I thought I was in store for something a bit pulpy and moderately derivative. This is something I usually don't mind since I am very fond of genre fiction. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that while getting the gist of the story absolutely right the flap-writers also got is wrong. Rarely have I been happier.

Why read this book?

Why not?

The writing style is fun, yet serious. The characters are multi-dimensional and well utilized. The plotting perfectly navigates that dangerous ground between the fields of literary and (believable?
understandable?) science fiction. Unfortunately, this may be a flaw, as unimaginative readers of both stripes may just give this one a skip.

What else, Ryan? Tell us.

Sure thing, no problem.

Perfectly placed comedic gems are liberally scattered through the book, even as horrific events unfold. There is love and war and kung fu scenes never before found between such day-glo covers. More importantly there is terrible sadness and friendship and that wonderful all-that-matters-at-the-end-of-the-day trait called loyalty.

Now, I don't like to beg (not true), but I implore you to give this one a chance. Step out of your comfort zone, grab this pink, fuzzy book and hold on for dear life. When you are finished reading you will approach me. I will nod calmly and knowingly as you offer your neverending thanks for making you read "The Gone Away World".


If you didn't have a pulse this book would give you one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Some Staff Recommends

From the shelves of the Colfax Avenue store, here are a few new titles members of our staff are recommending:

Jon C says, "A charming fantasy novel that any book lover will enjoy."

This book has recently come out in paperback. To purchase it, or for more information, click here: City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers.

Mindy is recommending this new short essay collection with: "Some are funny. Some poignant. Some will kinda make your skin crawl. All worth reading."

For more information, or to purchase Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave, edited by Ellen Sussmann, click on the title.

Pat W. is recommending "This 'user-friendly', 'non-partisan' book that will help all with the issues, positions and TERMS."

This new, and topical, paperback can be purchased here: What You Should Know About Politics...But Don't: ANon-Partisan Guide to the Issues by Jessamyn Conrad.

Pat H recommends this new paperback: Q & A by Vikas Swarup.

"A great story about a man's 'alternative education'." This new paperback novel is set in modern day Mumbai, India, and set to be an upcoming movie titled "Slumdog Millionaire."

Rob is recommending Forgery of Venus, by Michael Gruber, a new book in hardcover.

He says: "Another fun read by the author of Book of Air and Shadows. You may find yourself in Italy scrutinizing paintings after reading this."

For even more staff recommends, check out our Goodreads site, or come in to visit any one of our stores!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sometimes, It's Not About the Book...

A report from bookseller Neil Strandberg on the Nancy Pelosi Event at the Tattered Cover, 20 August 2008

Predictably, the man stood up and shouted, “What about ‘Thou Shall Not Kill?’” “What about the Constitution?” He continued to shout these questions as he casually shuffled sideways down the aisle of chairs and into my arms. I spun him around and pushed him toward the exit.

“Shut up or I’ll have you arrested,” I hissed to the back of his left ear that was close enough for my nose to brush.

I was trying to be quiet. Up on stage, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper were engaged in pleasant conversation. They acted as though they did not notice the disruption as I was doing my best to be sure everyone remained undisturbed. Happy even. I smiled as much as I could.

“Arrested?” he shouted as we moved together, our feet entwined, stumbling out of the room. “You can’t have me arrested! I have free speech! Free speech!”

“That’s it,” I hissed again, then offered the countdown I practice every day with my 4-year-old daughter: “3-2-1.” Still shouting. Okay. I faced a colleague, Derek, and more loudly commanded, “Trespass this guy.” Derek and a police officer hired for the occasion each reached a hand out for the arms of this man and led him downstairs. Finding a smile I turned, re-entered the event and waited for the next person to rise and shout. Predictably, it came in a few minutes.

That was on Wednesday, August 20th, and part of the run up to the Democratic National Convention here in Denver. I’ve had many, many opportunities while at Tattered Cover to help with celebrity author events, be they household names from Washington, D.C. or Hollywood, and people sometimes behave strangely at such events. We knew there would be trouble during Speaker Pelosi’s visit, so we weren’t caught flat-footed. We had time to prepare and I think we did a pretty good job, all things considered. In fact, in the days since I’ve been offered thanks by some of the others who also attended that night.

But I’ve been mulling it over because one of the people I hissed at left his business card with Derek and asked that I write and explain myself. Explain myself? WTF. “Dude,” I want to jab at him, “you showed up at my store for my author with the intent of making scene, ignored my request for respectful conversation, ignored my instruction to shut up and used “free speech” like a permission slip to be a dork. What did you think was going to happen? Rule number 1 of civil disobedience – not that being a dork rises to that level, but still – make your statement, take your lumps.

But let me tell you all something else. That’s my work-self talking. That’s the guy who showed up to an author event heavily leveraged by law-enforcement wearing a beige three-button suit, dark blue shirt and shiny blue tie. In fact, I think I was the only guy in the room not paid a salary by the federal government wearing a tie. Jokingly (maybe?), one of the Capitol Police special agents remarked to me, “What are you doing in that get up? Who fights in a suit?” I didn’t come to fight, of course, I came to “manage” but even then, this is the indie bookselling business. Who the hell wears a tie? Ever?

You’ve already guessed that I’m going to declare possession of another self, and this other self is, even as I write, looking out my office window above Denver’s 16th Street Mall with jealousy as young demonstrators parade down the street exhorting me, you, the Democratic Party and the nation to do this and to do that. I feel the same. There are things I want to shout, too. Indeed, years ago, before the setting #1 buzz cut from Floyd’s, came army surplus clothing and street demonstrations against Ronald Reagan’s policies in Central America and the first Gulf War. My cohorts and I lamented the fact that we were mere tots during the most tumultuous days of the Sixties and had thus missed out as actors in one of the country’s coolest moments.

I don’t exactly feel that way now, though, and have scratched my head repeatedly over the organizers of “Recreate 68.” What fresh lunacy is that? But I do possess the urge to shout, to speak truth to power, to disrupt the status quo – though as often as not I am a daily, active participant in the status quo. Hell, I help define it: witness the beige Hugo Boss from Nordstrom Rack.

But somewhere between desires for extreme action to shouting at the Speaker of the House
in my bookstore to maintaining the status quo lies something essential to the American story: we must all find a moment to break a few rules or the rule mongers will be our masters. If that guy comes back to the store I will throw him out. That’s part of the deal. But all the same I’m glad he’s out there.

I am most impressed by one young man, living some black-clad post-Che bicycle-punk aesthetic, who walked below my window yesterday demanding a return of Crystal Pepsi. “You know you want it,” he hollers, “But you have to demand it.” Yep, that about sums it up. His friends laughed with him, as did the riot cops on the corner. Brilliant. I love that guy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Little Book

Over 30 years in the making, "The Little Book" by Selden Edwards just arrived at the Tattered Cover!

Here is Jackie's review:

The Library of Congress cataloging for this book is: 1. Rock musician--fiction. 2. Time travel--fiction. 3.Vienna(Austria)--fiction. 4. Austria--History--1867-1918--Fiction. And it is definitely all of those things. But it's SOOOOOOOOO much more. This book tells a story that keeps looping back upon itself and back upon itself and back upon itself. It introduces us to the likes of Freud and Samuel Clemens, Hitler and the Empress of Vienna. It's a history lesson and a brilliant work of science fiction. It's a love story. It's a travelog. It's intellectual, political, psychological and sociological. It's a fairy tale. But mostly, it's an amazing book that took this author 30 years to write, finish and get published. Fans of The Time Traveler's Wife or Somewhere in Time will LOVE this book. So will fans of WWII intrigue/spy fiction. Really, this book offers something for everyone who is willing to suspend their disbelief and just let the story unfold. 5 stars absolutely.

And here is Joe's review:

A little over a month ago, Jackie wrote about a 5-star novel she'd recently read called "The Little Book". And she's right; it's absolutely fantastic. 5 Stars.

Selden Edwards tells the tale of Wheeler Burden, 60's rock star, college baseball star,
and son of an even more iconic man who died at the hands of the Gestapo. Somehow Wheeler
wakes up in 1897 Vienna, a city in the middle of an unparalleled explosion of art, philosophy, thinking, and building surrounded by an empire quickly crumbling. While we never really find out HOW Wheeler got there, we do learn why, and to what affect.

Jackie said she thought the book was science fiction, and I disagree. Although time travel is not something readily explained in most general fiction, for non-fans of sci-fi, there is nothing to be afraid of here. Art, philosophy, a tremendous love story all blend here along with a touching story of father and son and fascinating discussions of Freud's work.

This book was fun to read (especially since I lived in Vienna and frequently miss the city, described in rich detail here) and I think is going to be fun to sell!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jackie's Lingering Creepies

I was writing a review on another site of Edward Levy's 1980's book The Beast Within , one of the creepiest books of all times and has been the stuff of nightmares for me for years (the traveling salesman chained in the basement by a madman, the cheating wife's corpse fed to him, the inevitable escape and reign of terror)--the story lingers still. Writing about that long ago read but vividly remembered book made me think of other books that have given me "the lingering creeps". Here's my list so far:

It by Stephen King (I didn't have a problem with clowns until this book, and now all the painted faces at something as different as Cirque du Soleil make every hair on my body stick up!)

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (I actually go out of my way to NOT work the nights when Ellis is signing at the store--dark and crazy things live in that man's head and I just don't want to be anywhere near him.)

The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs (Made me afraid of the knock on the door!)

Hannibal by Thomas Harris (the dining scene!)

Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris (the soup!)

(Interestingly, Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, both creepy in their own right, do not bother me nearly as much so they don't make the list!)

Are You In The House Alone? by Richard Peck The terror of being stalked with no one believing you--and this is a young adult novel!

Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin (the conception scene especially) Published in 1967 and STILL creeping people out!

I'm sure I could go on--I've read plenty of horror in my time. But I really want to hear from others. Please comment and add your "lingering creepies"--Halloween isn't THAT far away you know! waaahaaahaaaa!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Some of Jackie's Recent Recommendations

Bookseller Jackie may read more than any other bookseller here at the Tattered Cover. Many of us are amazed by the number of books she tells us about. Here are a few of her latest recommendations:

1. A Week in October by Elizabeth Subercaseaux
Chilean born Subercaseaux has crafted what feels like a delightfully old-fashioned novel set in modern times. The formality and reserve of it makes a stark comparison to much of today's writing--and a wonderful change of pace. Clara Griffin is married to a successful but distant man--their marriage has grown stale at the very least, and he's been cheating on her. Then she discovers that she has cancer, and she feels the need to say things too long unsaid in the gentlest way possible--she writes a "novel" in a notebook, kept in a drawer where it seems that her husband is most likely to find it. Much of this book shows us the dance between these two people as one reveals veiled truths and the other has to absorb them without admitting he's been reading them. Truth is a fluid thing in this book--there's some "he said-she said", but the rest is indefinable to the very end. I found it to be a very interesting read.

2. Brida by Paulo Coelho
I've never read anything by Paulo Coelho before, so I was rather surprised by the pagan spirituality of this little novel. It's the story of Brida, an Irish girl in training to become a witch. It is full of beautifully worded prose--I found myself making little tics and stars beside many paragraphs to go back and examine again (my apologies to those who get the book after me, lol). There is some seriously high minded spirituality folded into this simple book about a woman's quest to learn to use her powers and her heart. I was especially intrigued with the Catholic Christianity woven within the more traditional magical teachings and philosophies. This is, apparently, one of Coelho's earlier works that has finally been translated from the original Portuguese. I found it a good way to whet my appetite for his other works before I come to a decision of what it is I think of him as a writer.

3. Rules of Deception by Christopher Reich
The political climate that this international spy thriller is based on could not be more current or better researched--agencies within agencies, leaders lying to their people, wars being started for public reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with the agenda behind them--it's all there. Reich won the International Thriller Writers Award a couple of years ago, and it doesn't take long to figure out why. Fans of Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy will embrace this author with open arms and sleepless nights as they push through his books many twists and turns that lead to spectacular endings. Men will love the action and technical details, women will love the strong central female character who is full of surprises. And every fan of thrillers will love the white knuckle last few chapters. Some readers may be bothered by an undercurrent of anti-American sentiment, but given the settings and situations is this book, it would be clearly a plot flaw for it NOT to be there.

4. The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Mitchard is a rare breed of writer who can capture the emotions and hearts of both the adult fiction and the teen fiction world (She's the author of the tearjerking Deep End of the Ocean, among many other books) . I agree with the publisher that this book is a 12 and up--it deals with some fairly violent themes as the book goes on--but the story is gripping and suspenseful and easily kept THIS adult's attention--in fact there were points where I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.
This is the story of Mally and Merry, identical twins who, on the eve of their 13th birthday, discover there is more to their minds and talents than just being able to communicate with each other telepathically (not unheard of in twins, especially identicals). These new talents begin to tear their lives apart as they pull away from each other trying to deal with and/or deny them. But they are a part of a generations old tradition of powerful women and what is required of them cannot be avoided or denied--and it's very nearly the death of them.

The story is tight for the vast majority of the book--my only gripe is with the last chapter. Mitchard becomes a bit ham handed trying to tie up too many loose ends and give the reader the back stories of too much. My best guess is she's trying to lay the groundwork for a follow up novel with these characters, but it was done in such a below par way I was severely disappointed--it was tedious and anticlimatic. For that reason alone I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Jackie's Summer Mystery Series Reading List

Summer time has always been about reading freedom for me--no classes dictating what I had to read when, etc. Plus time--loads of g-l-o-r-i-o-u-s time--for reading. My childhood summers were spent with the likes of Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon. In my young adult years I followed James Patterson's Alex Cross through harrowing crime after harrowing crime. I got hooked on the prolonged joy of what I would call "series reading"--following the same set of characters through more than one book and adventure after adventure, reading them back to back so our "relationship" seemed seamless. I still do it today, though time isn't as plentiful in these grownup summers as it was back then (it's true what my folks said--time really DOES go faster as you get older)--Laurel K Hamilton's Anita Blake series has me in thrall, Laurie R King's Sherlock Holmes based mysteries are good friends, and the more innocent stories from Jennifer Chiaveri ni's E lm Creek Quilters or Jane Kirpatrick's stalwart settlers keep me coming back for more. There's a series for everyone, truly. So I thought I'd list 20 mystery (my genre of choice) series that you may, or may not, know about that would make great summer reads:
Scrapbooking Mysteries by Laura Childs (who also writes a Teashop Mystery series!)
Gay Vampire Mysteries by Dean James
Foodie Mysteries by Joanne Pence or Joanne Fluke
Veterinarian Mysteries by Lillian Roberts or Laura Crum or Georgetter Livingston
Southern Mysteries by Anne George or Patricia Sprinkle or Charlaine Harris
Egyptian Mysteries by Elizabeth Peters
Bed and Breakfast Mysteries by Mary Daheim
Knitting Mysteries by Maggie Sefton
Ministry Mysteries by Emilie Richards
Debutant Dropout Mysteries by Susan McBride
Psychic Eye Mysteries by Victoria Lane
Death on Demand Mysteries by Carolyn Hart
And so, so, so many more.
Happy Summer Reading!!!! -- Jackie

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Colcannon at the Colfax Store This Saturday

A must see at the Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue!
Saturday, June 28th 10am

A few years back a striking Irish gentleman named Mick approached me about doing an event in our store. Well, I think he approached me, it was a few years back so I could be embellishing the story a bit. Anyway, I was given this CD to listen to, THE POOKA AND THE FIDDLER AND HAPPY AS LARRY (Colcannon, Oxford Road Records 2005). I took it home and returned to work the next morning happy as a kitten. 'THE POOKA' is traditional storytelling set to music, beautiful, mesmerising, music. I'd not heard anything like it before, yet it did bring back childhood memories of listening to Peter and the Wolf.

The performance was amazing. On October 15th, 2005, Mick arrived with the the entire crew of Colcannon: Jean, Brian, Mike, and Rod. The lower level of the old Cherry Creek store was filled with the young, the old and everyone inbetween. The entire audience was captivated as Mick and the instruments told their stories. Ooh horray!

Skipping forward to July 2006, we had just moved our store to the new Colfax Avenue location a month before. The dust had settled and it was time to celebrate. I gave Mick a call. I could not think of a better way to welcome our customers to the Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue than to have Colcannon bring in 'THE POOKA'. And I was right, they did it again. The entire Colcannon crew showed up (this time they brought me candy), filled the lower level, and enchanted the audience with their storytelling and music. By
this time, I was just smitten with the whole bunch. Did I mention that Mick used to work in the old theater that is now our bookstore? I call that a good match.

This week marks the two year anniversary of the Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue. And guess what? Yes, we're bringing Colcannon back to help us celebrate. I've already started humming along, skipping to work and dreaming of pookas. This is definitely a must see. The Colcannon crew will be at the Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue this Saturday, June 28th, at 10am performing THE POOKA AND THE FIDDLER. And I'll be there too, gushing over them and dancing along. Oh, and you can check out Colcannon on the web at

For more information on this event, click here.
I hope to see you Saturday.


Monday, June 23, 2008

David Sedaris at the Tattered Cover!

For those of you who may have missed David Sedaris' visit to the Lower Downtown Tattered Cover, here is a brief review from Bookseller Bonnie:

You know when you're flying and you are just sure that the person next to you is farting their ass off? According to David Sedaris it might not be them but in fact the put-together flight attendants roaming the aisles. A reader of his clued him in, "We call it crop dusting," she said.

Now that I think of it, David told a lot of fart jokes on Sunday. People were practically peeing their pants as he read from his newest book When You Are Engulfed In Flames. And speaking about peeing your pants, he talked about that too. Who would have thought that potty humor would lead to some of the best writing of all time?

After his reading, David signed every book for every person who wanted one. Most readers also got little drawings and a chat with the author as well. He signed books for more then 6 hours and was delightfully personable. What a treat for the Tattered Cover!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Booked -- Girls Rock Edition!

The carnival came to the Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue this past weekend, well at least it seemed like a carnival. We had our first run with a new young adult author program called BOOKED (Girls Rock edition). How do I explain BOOKED? Well, take your traditional author reading and signing, combine it with a talk show format, mix in a bit of game show, roll the dice, and you get BOOKED. Our premiere event Girls Rock consisted of three YA Colorado Authors: Denise Vega (my co-conspirator) Lynda Sandoval, and Terri Clark. Each author came ready and willing (well, that might be a slight exaggeration) to play. After the formalities of introducing the authors to the audience, it was game time. Using a set of giant dice, audience members volunteered, or were just plain picked, to choose an author and roll the dice. Die #1: fact, fiction, read, roll again, author asks, wild card. Die #2: pig-latin, flap arms like chicken, drama, round trip, beard, blindfolded. I can't rember the exact order of things, but highlights included: Denise Vega, and daughter both sporting a fake beard while asking and answering the question, Terri Clark answering questions blindfolded with a superman tie, and Lynda Sandoval doing a professional book reading in good old pig- latin. Each author brought items to raffle off, munchies to eat, music and printouts of their playlists. Everybody, authors, audience and staff just had a ton of fun. I can't wait to do this again.

Beth, in Marketing

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Even though the time has long since passed when summer meant free days of fun in the sunshine, days at the pool, and long sultry afternoons with a great book, I can't help but approach summer with dreams of all the above. Every year I pick out a few summer reads. Books that I think will represent that summer for me. That will transport me out of the tedium of having to put on work clothes when the high temperature is going to be in the 90's. Something to look forward to during those long evenings I now spend on my porch.

I thought I would write a little bit about the books I'm planning on reading this summer, and perhaps inspire you to set out with some great summer dreams of your own:

For the past few summers, I have picked a book relating to the garden that I will read all summer long. Last year it was the excellent Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, now in paperback. This year it's Gardening At The Dragon's Gate, by Wendy Johnson. This is a zen approach to gardening in the form of a memoir. I am really enjoying it. I like to spend my weekend mornings gardening, weeding, watering, and then sit with my coffee and this book. Her approach to gardening is very similar to mine: it is more than making plants grow, it is a way of communicating not only with nature, but the past and the future as well. I recommend this book.

Each summer, I like to read some lighter fare as well. Something when your attention may wander: either to watch a bird you haven't seen before, or because the people watching is really superb in the summer. This year, I am planning on starting to read Men From The Boys by William J Mann. This is the first novel by the author, published in 1998. He has since written a few other books, sequels to this first novel. And though I may have implied that this is lighter fare, I think it would be better described as a conversational approach to some very serious topics: coming out of the closet, HIV and AIDS, and trying to be yourself. I have been wanting to read this highly regarded series for a number of years, and will finally do it this year.

A friend just recommended I read The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. The book doesn't come out until August, but I have it on good faith that it's going to be well worth the wait. From what I've been hearing, this book is one of those fantastic, can't put down, completely transported to another world kind of books. Which is often exactly what I crave during the summer.

So these are three of the books I am planning on reading this summer. Of course, I have a huge shelf of books I want to read, and plan on getting to, including finishing the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. I'm on the fourth book, and can't wait to fall back into the City.

I'd love to hear from you about what you're planning on reading this summer.

Bookseller Joe