Wednesday, December 30, 2009

5 of my favorite reads of 2009

I've read a little more than 60 books this year, and there wasn't a truly bad one in the bunch.  (My adoration for Mary Tyler Moore prevents me from talking too negatively about her most recent autobiographical adventure, a book I really wanted to love.)

Despite having liked the vast majority of books I read in 2009, there are a handful that definitely stand out.  Below, in no particular order, are some favorite 2009 reads.  (Note:  just because I read them in '09 doesn't necessarily mean they were published in '09.)  Click on any title for a full synopsis of the book, courtesy of

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

I found this book profoundly moving and very well-written.  Jordan does an excellent job of showing us how circumstances shape us (and how sometimes we turn into versions of ourselves we'd never, ever suspect). I highly recommend this to anyone 16+.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

At this year's Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show, I went to a panel called "Got Us Shaking in Our Boots" to hear a handful of authors speak about their haunting fictional creations.  As someone who reads very little mystery and horror, I thought it important to attend this session--I wanted to become more educated for my own benefit but also to better work with Avid customers who like this genre.  To my pleasant surprise, I was blown away by Carrie Ryan's work.  I recommend it for people 13+ who have enjoyed Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and (dare I say it?) Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series.

Oh!: A Mystery of "Mono No Aware" by Todd Shimoda

While at the Chin Music Press booth at Book Expo America this year, my partner in crime and I had the opportunity to meet the intelligent and amiable Todd Shimoda.  Jim and he got along swimmingly, and before I knew it we both had autographed copies of Shimoda's book in our hands.  And what a beautiful book it is! The people of Chin Music Press pride themselves on high-quality, appealing design.  (Check out their site for more examples of their work.)  The content is as compelling as the book's look.  Shimoda's story is sparse in some places, rich with detail and emotion in others.  I could say I recommend it to those interested in Japanese culture and those moved by the beauty of sadness.  But if I were to say that, I'd sound more than a bit silly and maybe even pretty snobby--but I'd be telling the truth.  This is a book I might never have read had I encountered it in any other way--but I'm so glad I met the author and decided to give it a chance.  I just loved it.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I picked this up for a friend while shopping at Bound to Be Read Books and ended up reading it myself first.  (That's excusable, right?  I mean, I don't dog-ear pages or crack the spines open more than two inches!)  Months later, I had the pleasure of sitting in at Bound to Be Read's monthly book club meeting and had a fun time discussing this novel with other readers.  It's very funny in parts, but there exists also a nearly overwhelming sadness to the plotline.  There are hand-drawnsketches throughout the book, and these bring levity to some of the seriousness of the story.  I recommend it for mature kids and adults (14+).

The Great Neighborhood Book by Jay Walliasper

I picked this up while browsing the shelves at Urban Think! Bookstore in Orlando, Florida earlier this month.  As someone really interested in my own neighborhood's well-being (and as the secretary of Athens's new-ish Buy Local initiative), I thought that this book would make a useful purchase.  To my surprise, I gobbled it up within a day, scribbling feverishly in the margins and underlining ideas that would work well in Athens.  If you're wanting to learn ways to make your neighborhood feel more homey, to make your neighborhood safe, to make your neighborhood more of the place you dream of, this is the book for you.  I've already recommended it to several like-minded friends in town--won't you give it a shot as well?

Many of you already shared your favorite 2009 reads on our Facebook page, but I know there are more of you out there!  Feel free to use the comments section below to tell us what you loved best this year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lots of great gift ideas!

If you live in Athens, I can deliver books to you up until mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve (this coming Thursday). Free home delivery just in time for Christmas?  Yep.  It's true.

Here are a few last-minute gift ideas.  There's only one copy of each of the following books, so hurry and reserve your copy first!

A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck (NEW & AUTOGRAPHED!)

 Book description: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009. First edition. Hardcover. New/new. Review " of Peck's best novels yet - and that's saying something." --Kirkus, starred review
"Irascible, independent, and unorthodox as ever, Grandma Dowdel makes a welcome return...she's entered that rare pantheon of unforgettably great characters." --Horn Book
"Peck has once again created a whole world in one small Illinois town, a place where the folksy wisdom and generosity of one gruff old woman can change lives." --School Library Journal

Signed copy of this brand new book from this legendary writer. $2 off list price!

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
Book description: Broadway Books, 2002. Paperback. As New. 208 pp. Review "This is a sweet book of a man's love for his mentor. It has a stubborn honesty that nourishes the living." --Robert Bly, author of Iron John
"A deeply moving account of courage and wisdom, shared by an inveterate mentor looking into the multitextured face of his own death. There is much to be learned by sitting in on this final class." --Jon Kabat-Zinn, coauthor of Everyday Blessings and Wherever You Go, There You Are
"All of the saints and Buddhas have taught us that wisdom and compassion are one. Now along comes Morrie, who makes it perfectly plain. His living and dying show us the way." --Joanna Bull, Founder and Executive Director of Gilda's Club

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Book description: W W Norton & Co Inc, 2005. Paperback. As New. 218 pp. From Publishers Weekly:  Featuring soap made from human fat, waiters at high-class restaurants who do unmentionable things to soup and an underground organization dedicated to inflicting a violent anarchy upon the land, Palahniuk's apocalyptic first novel is clearly not for the faint of heart. The unnamed (and extremely unreliable) narrator, who makes his living investigating accidents for a car company in order to assess their liability, is combating insomnia and a general sense of anomie by attending a steady series of support-group meetings for the grievously ill, at one of which (testicular cancer) he meets a young woman named Marla. She and the narrator get into a love triangle of sorts with Tyler Durden, a mysterious and gleefully destructive young man with whom the narrator starts a fight club, a secret society that offers young professionals the chance to beat one another to a bloody pulp. Mayhem ensues, beginning with the narrator's condo exploding and culminating with a terrorist attack on the world's tallest building. Writing in an ironic deadpan and including something to offend everyone, Palahniuk is a risky writer who takes chances galore, especially with a particularly bizarre plot twist he throws in late in the book. Caustic, outrageous, bleakly funny, violent and always unsettling, Palahniuk's utterly original creation will make even the most jaded reader sit up and take notice. Movie rights to Fox 2000.    Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

This book is in never-read condition, featuring an arresting, attention-grabbing cover.

Rabbit is Rich by John Updike (one of my favorite books!)

Book description: Ballantine Books, 1996. Paperback. Near Fine. Winner of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Ten years after Rabbit Redux, Harry Angstrom has come to enjoy prosperity as the Chief Sales Representative of Springer Motors. The rest of the world may be falling to pieces, but Harrry's doing all right. That is, until his son returns from the West, and the image of an old love pays a visit to his lot....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our first public book sale!

This past Saturday, Jim helped me pack up much of my Avid inventory.  We got to the Flicker Theatre & Bar just in time to grab one of the last available selling spaces--the other merchants had definitely beat us there.  Turns out it took longer than I'd expected to stow 200+ books, tables, and a bookshelf in a '96 Maxima.  That being said, we got a prime spot alongside that trademark, two-toned wall and got to work.

Throughout the day, we met lots of new folks, encountered some people whose names we knew via the Internet but had never met in person, and of course chatted with many well-known friends and locals.  I'm happy to report that the sale was a smashing success:  even those who chose not to buy a book were thrilled to learn more about Athens's own community bookstore.  We passed out promotional postcards, got people to sign up for our newsletter, and sold a lot of books!

Here are a handful of photographs from the Flicker Holiday Market.  As usual, Blogger isn't cooperating with me as I try to add captions to the pictures, so I'll just tell you what's what here.  The first couple of shots are of our display. Then you'll find photos of me with Jim (my #1 Avid sidekick/helper/coworker/beau) and one of my talented friend Lauren Gallaspy with her husband Andy. I'll close out the collection with a snapshot of Baby Kringle & Ma and one of a half-hidden Kate Mikulka with Don Chambers in the foreground.  We were so busy talking to folks that we didn't get much of a chance to photograph the other vendors! From what I hear, everyone was pleased with his or her sales and we may have another market in the spring.  Special thanks to Kate Mikulka (of Mikulka Polish Foods) and the Flicker.

our setup

Saturday, December 12, 2009

without further ado...our official logo!

A very talented and generous friend of mine, Brandi Price, is one of many reputable graphic designers interested in helping with logo and sign designs for Avid Bookshop.  I cannot thank her enough for dedicating her time to the project and taking this on as a pro bono assignment.  (And another very special thanks to Kristyn Lilley, who was also up for the task.)

I showed Brandi a photo of my favorite typewriter (purchased at my friend Courtnie's moving sale last year) and told her I'd like the color and style of the typewriter to be reflected in the logo.  I explained my vision for the store's atmosphere:  I want an organized, clean look that also feels homey and comfortable for every customer.  A tall order for a store, let alone its accompanying logo.  But Brandi took my words and ran with them. 

During a video conference a couple of months back, she unveiled the two designs she'd created.  After evaluating the designs myself and asking for several trusted friends' and colleagues' feedback, I decided on Brandi's first design.  Brandi tweaked a couple of details and emailed me the final logo.

I LOVE IT.  I hope you do, too.  When you look at this logo, what sort of bookstore do you expect to encounter?  What other businesses' logos do you strongly respond to, and why?  I'd love to see what designs speak to you--and which ones do NOT.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another book giveaway!

Between now and December 17th, anyone who buys a book from our online storefront will receive a FREE advanced reading copy (ARC) I have in stock (and I have lots!).  Once you make your online order, I'll email you and give you a list of free books to choose from. 

Free book with any purchase + free shipping 'til 2010 = how can you lose?

Thanks for supporting Avid Bookshop.

Books & crafts & food & friends!

On the Saturday before Christmas, don't join the crazy crowds at Walmart or at the mall.  Instead, drop by a locally-owned, independent business that is hosting one of Athens's many annual holiday markets.  The Flicker Holiday Market will be held December 19, 2009 from 11:00 AM - 5 PM.  Never been to the Flicker Theatre & Bar? It's a lovely spot at 263 W. Washington Street in downtown Athens.

The items offered this year are especially varied.  Jim Wilson & Don Chambers will have their famous pies for sale. Kate Mikulka will be offering up her well-reviewed Mikulka Polish Foods. There'll be bath and beauty products, Christmas ornaments, and more. For more details, please refer to the official event invitation.  We're pretty lucky to live in a town where local folks can share their passions with us--let's take advantage of this opportunity to support the arts (and our tummies).

I'll be at the market selling however many books I can fit into my allotted space. I'll have new and used books and will be able to point you in the right direction if you're looking for gifts for yourself or for friends. For a sneak preview of what I'll be selling (or to order online before someone can buy up your favorite picks!), take a look at the website:

Thanks, and happy holidays!