Monday, August 24, 2009

Declaration of Indiebound

Some of you have heard of IndieBound before, but still more of you have not. IndieBound is a program launched in 2008 to help bring together independent businesses and those who love them: bookstores, readers, independent business alliances, locally-owned shops, etc., etc. It has been met with great success, and Avid Bookshop will be proud to post the Declaration of IndieBound as well as the well-crafted IndieBound signs in the store.

This is of particular interest to me, as I'm the newly-appointed secretary of the yet-to-be-named Buy Local Athens program that is being launched. I'm really interested in sustainability and shopping local first, so IndieBound is right up my alley.

Take a look at the website to see if you can find any favorite IndieBound shops near you! Joining IndieBound as an individual is a fun way to explore independent shops you might never have heard of before.

In the meantime, watch the video below to watch some well-known (at least in our world!) indie booksellers reading the Declaration of IndieBound aloud.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

a great podcast for lovers of literature & storytelling...

I wrote this for my personal blog six months ago but thought it'd be of particular interest to readers of the Avid blog.

Are there any English majors out there? Anyone who wanted to take more English classes but decided to pursue some other interests instead? You might want to keep reading to find out what podcast I'm going to recommend and why. I promise it's good--you should stay tuned.

As someone with an undergraduate degree in English and American literature, I can recall many, many hours of discussion-based literature classes during which pompous classmates dismissed others' theories and claimed their interpretations were the "right" ones. Luckily, far more prevalent are the memories of having one "aha!" moment after another during class discussions, grateful for others' insights that led me to understanding the story, poem, or essay more deeply. Despite my initial discomfort with revealing to others what I saw in the patterns and prose of fiction, I eventually opened up with the knowledge that almost any self-proclaimed theory about literature can be argued as long as you have some evidence and well-picked quotes to support it. Work may be created by the author with one particular goal in mind, but his readers will walk away from the piece with a variety of insights the author may not have intended--and each reader may have a completely unique interpretation.

Other than a few informal meetings of our local fledgling book club, I haven't much talked about literature in a critical sense since I graduated from NYU in 2002. I read voraciously and definitely reflect on my reading, but I don't go out of my way to push myself to understand a novel more deeply or try to see someone else's point of view. I read and reflect alone, then put the book back on the shelf. I hadn't realized I missed the push and pull of roundtable literature discussions, hadn't known that I'd missed the part of myself that could pull all-nighters writing twenty-page papers about my particular take on a poem.

Until now. On a whim, I downloaded a few episodes of The New Yorker's Fiction Podcast. I bundled up for a walk a couple weeks back and pressed play on my iPod and was whisked into a wonderful, beautiful story. I can't remember what episode I listened to that day, but I can remember smiling as I walked down the streets of Athens. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow! I feel as if I'm in one of my English classes with a really good teacher and no obnoxious, holier-than-thou classmates!" You see, the show not only features the stories themselves--it comes complete with a brief discussion before and after the story is read. One famous author picks any story he wants that has been published in The New Yorker. The guest author reads this story he admires and then discusses the ins and outs of the work with the magazine's fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, who has a really pleasant voice (unlike the voices I've stumbled across on several less-established podcasts). I did a quick Google search for her so I could link to her name and came across a really great article from The New York Times--click on her name and read it, if you'd like. Sounds like a cool woman in the NYT article.

And she sounds like a cool woman in her recorded life on this podcast. She isn't abrasive, judgmental, or dismissive when it comes to guest authors' interpretations of the work they choose to read. She retains the wide-eyed wonder (overused phrase--sorry--but it seems to ring true here) of a girl who's still in love with reading, who's still amazed at all the tricks of language and tone. Deborah and the guest author talk about whatever has moved them in the story, about the author's language and motivation, about his/her diction and use of imagery. I've listened to about ten of the episodes so far, and no one has annoyed me. The stories are always great, and the intimate conversation that follows really does shine light on the story.

Have you never ventured into literary criticism but wanted to know what intellectual bibliophiles had to say about so-called "good" fiction? Did you take one (or twenty) literature classes in college and then go cold turkey, not having another literary discussion after age 22? Are you an avid reader who thinks she immediately knows all there is to know about a piece of writing? Are you curious to know why I love this show so much? If you answered yes to any of those questions, I have an answer: this is the podcast for you.

Let me know what you think of it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What do YOU love most about bookstores?

What are some of your favorite things about bookstores? What do independents have that chains don't have? What do non-indie chains have that indies lack? (Don't be afraid to talk about the glorious wide aisles at Barnes & Noble--though I may not shop there nowadays, I certainly have spent my weight in gold there!)

Do you have a very favorite bookshop? Any treasured bookstore, past or present, that felt like home? Please share your stories here and let us over here at Avid find out what you value most in a bookstore shopping experience. We'll be using your feedback to help create our store--it is, after all, for the neighborhood and community, and finding out what you want will help us make Avid Bookshop a success.

exciting things afoot!

Well, kids, there's a lot going on but I'm not at liberty to tell you much about it at this point. I feel like a little kid who's just been told a bunch of amazing secrets but was sworn to secrecy. Granted, the updates we've had over here at Avid HQ aren't earth-shattering, but when your lifelong dream is progressing even more excitingly and smoothly than you'd dreamt, you certainly are apt to jump up and down and want to give the scoop to every passerby.

BUT. But. I shall remain mum until I know for sure what's what and what the next step in the plan is. Rest assured I'll keep you updated as soon as it's proper for me to do so.