Thoughtful Gifts for Readers

One can never have too many books. Here are a few interesting suggestions for you and yours on your Christmas list:

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For the book lover

The Art of Reading by Damon Young.

Perfect little book for the book lover who wants to cultivate their reading experience and understand the nature, value and beauty of reading.  The book is beautifully bound. The cover’s texture reminds me of elementary school hard back library books. Surely, the publishers, Scribe Publications, understood its target market.

 


For the shop-local reader…

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…If you are in Jacksonville, Florida. If you are elsewhere, here’s a great book about my city:

15 Views of Jacksonville: Short Stories from a Bold City edited by Caleb Sarvis. Bridge Eight Press publisher Jared Rypkema and I recently talked about the rich local writing scene in Jacksonville. 15 Views stands as a great example. Looking forward to the next fifteen.


 For the reader looking for a curated subscription reading experience

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Two friends, one in New York and the other way down under in Brisbane, Australia, both told me that I needed to check out Persephone Books . Surely, this double recommendation was a sign for good things to come. I’ve been a fan ever since the twin thumbs-up. Thanks to Peresephone, I discovered Dorothy Whipple. My life is now complete.  

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 Whilst sharing my love for Persephone Books, its beautiful endpapers and elegant grey covers, a Chapter Endnotes member told me about her magical mailbox delivery book experience with Heywood Hill, another London bibliophile haven, where Nancy Mitford worked! Heywood Hill will even stock your entire personal library. Wouldn’t that be a dream job.


For the Harry Potter fan

 All things Harry Potter at  San Marco Books and More.  What a magically decorated window!

All things Harry Potter at San Marco Books and More. What a magically decorated window!

Socks.

They are hot! They don’t match! And they make excellent ornaments…as well as, ahem, stocking stuffers.


 For the Bard Fan

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 Shakespearean Insults Chart

“Poisonous bunch-backed toad!”

“Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood!”

 One doth need a chart to keep all these wonderful Shakespearean insults organized.

 “Live a little, comfort a little, cheer thyself a little.”  Why not a little quirky gift?


For people who like tiny things

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Miniature Libraries abound.  Made as shadow boxes, with actual readable books, some close like a locket, some are DYI, made inside a cigar boxes or leather. Some of these mini-biblio-curio cabinets have a Victorian feel. Others are calming, simple and pleasingly paper-dollish in charm.

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For the poet

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Mary Oliver’s Devotions offers a rich collection of her work, inspired by nature. Oliver’s poems are easy to read and deeply meaningful. Like a devotional, you can pick any page, any time and be transported to an early morning walk, a reflection on loss or a dare to be happy. She reminds us, through her amazing talent with the written word, that we are all connected in this life, a wonderful gift.


 For the hopeless romantic

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The The Red Notebook by Antoine Lauraine was loved by all my book groups. A great escape from our crazy times.


Finally, for my people.

Fucking Apostrophes by Simon Griffin.

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Self-explanatory. In case you are still not clear about the subject matter, the subtitle, a guide to show you where to stick them, should clear that right up.

 

Happy Holidays and a Healthy 2019,

Stacey

Florida, Tahiti, London and the Moon

Our fall-winter title selections take us across the globe, to the moon and back. 

October

We'll read and discuss Zora Neale Hurston's classic Their Eyes Were Watching God. As a Florida-based book club, ZNH, already revered, holds an extra-special place in our literary hearts. 

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November

The Moon and Sixpence will serve as a two-fer. This slim novel will be our first exposure to W. Somerset Maugham. Bonus: the main character is a riff on Paul Gaugin. 

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December

Not only have we read Julian Barnes' Sense of an Ending, the ballots showed that we overwhelmingly want to read his latest, The Only Story. Barnes now joins Steinbeck in our catalog as an author we entrust. 

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January

Chapter Endnotes recuperates after a season of festive family and friends time. Deck you bookcase with your choice. 

February

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The New York Public Library recently showcased an exhibit with wonderful letters and interesting ephemera featuring the late Tom Wolfe. His writing, like the exhibit, had all The Right Stuff

 

BEA Alphabetically

Just returned from BookExpo 2018/Book Expo America, basically, biblio-nirvana for the bookish.  Now that my brain and heart have returned to normal waves and beats, some observations worthy to consider:

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All You Can Ever Know or need to know is highly recommended by Little Fires Everywhere’s Celeste Ng. Thrilled that my ARC (Advanced Readers Copy)  was Nicole Chung’s first inscription of this interesting novel, a journey of identity. 

Barbara Kingsolver wears Naturalizers. This fact, discovered in a brief conversation with Kingsolver, an American literary treasure, solidified absolutely that my world is now complete. 

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Can wait to dive into Unsheltered published by Faber & Faber.  

Drunks by Christopher M. Finan, is an historical examination of alcoholism and recovery in our country Addiction is a treatable mental illness, a fact finally here and accepted. Fiction and non-fiction books devoted to this acknowledgement continues to grow. Published by Penguin

"Every weekend, for the last 20 years, C-SPAN2 has featured Book-TV--48 hours of author interviews, readings, panels and book fairs." If this quote sounds familiar, then you'll understand my every-Saturday devotion to Book-TV biblio-journalism and why I froze up like a fangirl when I met Peter Slen. Proudly will enjoy a cuppa with my Book-TV mug for the next twenty.

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Forecast themes: Activism. Korea (See A). Themed cooking-travel

"Girl" titles finally on the wane. Mostly. Thank god. 

H.R.H. royalty is still hot. Curtsey to BBC Masterpiece Victoria, The Crown and the wedding. And Corgis.

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I missed Ransom Riggs. Feeling peculiar and hollow. 

Just discussed Barry Joseph's Seltzertopia  yesterday. Nu? Wishing Berhman House had the ARC availableHowever, my Jacksonville. Florida audience was bubbling for more about Barry's upcoming title. 

 Yes, that's Dr. Ruth Westheimer holding Barry Joesph's  Seltzertopia  and he with her graphic novel,  Roller Coaster Grandma . 

Yes, that's Dr. Ruth Westheimer holding Barry Joesph's Seltzertopia and he with her graphic novel, Roller Coaster Grandma

Kingsolver. See literary Queen B.

Lines oh-so long and sinewyly silly for individual pub house author signings: there must be a better way.

Massage therapists. Obvious necessity for BEA 2019. Glad the survey asked!

Nick Offerman was solicited by pub house rep, proposing woodworking show host deal. NO’s courteous declined leads one to believe that this idea is already on Dutton’s drafting table.

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Oblivious I was the the 10.6 miles walked within the Javitz Center in one day. 

Puffin + Penguin + Pantone = partnership with incredible potential, that, alas, needs way better press. Phaidon needs no presslift  as its beautiful books trigger biblioswoontopia.  

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Quote books. Everywhere. See Phaidon.

Roz Chast. Neurotically adorable. As only a neurotic would know.

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Selznick, Brian celebrates Harry Potter's 20th. Yes, 20 wizarding years and still, no one has gotten hint: Hermoine's time-turner necklace pour moi.

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Titles found, worthy of Chapter Endnotes Readers' time. From authors who are living. Robustly aerobic. See, I’m open.

Useful. Only so many book bags can one book lover employ. And then it becomes hoarding. 

Visqueen. The consistency of my brain because of the bibiloverload. 

Wishing it would rain for a month so I could sit inside and read. 

X. My phone fell on the floor during a commonly-experienced event: a freenzy over free fill-in-the-blank-biblio tchochkes. Some lovely soul spotted it and returned it to me within the world's longest 10 seconds. 

Yoku means bathing. Shinrin Yoku is a Japanese term for forest therapy, like feng shui for the outdoors, or, the maternal wisdom, "Go outside and play." Either way, Yoshifumi Miyazaki's, Shinrin Yoku The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing is a beautiful book about about the therapeutic wonders of Mother Nature. Try it. You'll like. it. 

Zero reason to complain. The crowds were full of kind, nice people. The lines, full of same. Panel discussions, interesting. Authors, gracious. A zen community, all lovers of the written word. 

 

This almost Ashrei or OULIPO-esque post gratefully acknowledges that Jan and Mike Molyneaux and Desiree Bailey of Jacksonville, Florida's San Marco Books and More are to be credited, thanked or blamed for unleashing my inner Laocoon behavior at Black-Friday-fueled-biblio furvor at BEA in NYC. From wherever your perch where you read this epistle, please support your local bookstore. 

I'll be discussing BEA on National Public Radio on Tuesday. Tune in to NPR's WJCT 89.9 FM First Coast Connect Book Club, 9:30 am EST. Or download the app. 

Literature as Escape

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In a blurry mirror, just a few sentences into the first chapter,  Aaliya. focuses a vision of herself, not helped by two glasses of red wine: a dye job gone blue. She's a mess. She's a reflection, perhaps, of all of us.

This week Chapter Endnotes Book Groups will dive into Rahib Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman. So far, feedback is strongly mixed. Why?

Aaliya Sohbi, a 72-year-old woman whose physicality has practically become one, molded into her reading chair cushions, rooted in the confines of her Beiruti apartment and way-too-large one, per her mother's estimation, is either received as likable or crusty. Readers accuse Aaliya or the author, another subject, I digress, of being a gauche name dropper of literary heavy hitters, an affect that either bore or overwhelm the reader. Conversing, the self-aware Aaliya is admired for being a strong woman in a war-torn city, who knows what she wants: to be left alone; to embrace ritual; to sleep with an AK-47, thank you very much; to fall into the biblio-rapturous rabbit hole of literary free-fall. 

Does anything really happen in this book? Consider: the beauty of sleep, the conundrum of translation, the problems with religion, the rejection of social norms, the pain of aging, the absurdity of war, the worth of hot water, the dependence on flicking on your lights. Nostalgia, memory. loss and friendship. Perhaps it is just a trip to a museum, a walk to a book store or simply reflections on times-past.

Aaliya is Clarissa. Beirut is her London. Virginia Woolf's protagonist leaves her place to run errands to prep for a party. Aalyia has to escape her apartment in order to avoid a neighbor's knock. 

As Ruth Ozeki's Old Jeko would say, "Same, same."

Why should we care about an aging hermit? We hear Camus' pointless philosophy tiptoeing throughout her apartment, her brain.

And yes, what is with all the allusions, imitated a la Alemmedine right here, throughout this entire epistle? Eye-rolling? Fun?  

 An Unnecessary Woman offers a reading list for life. As a book lover, what could be lacking? 

Looking forward to discussing this 2013 National Book Award Finalist. Although not a fan of lists, awards and all the other accolades, would this title have surfaced without the press that comes along with the honor?

A wonderful acknowledgment,

Stacey

Strong Women of the Books

Aaliya.

Agatha.

Bibi.

Elena.

Emily.

Fadia.

Izzy.

Mia.

Pearl. 

Vera.

And you.

Join me for a discussion of recent strong women who have crossed our pages.

See below for details.

April 14. 1pm. Main Libary.

After we've explored literary strong women, join me next door at Jacksonville's MOCA for a free docent-led tour of A Dark Place of Dreams, featuring the works of artists Louise Nevelson with Chakaia Booker, Lauren Fensterstock and Kate Gilmore. 

See you soon!

Stacey

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Explaining Irma a la Yossarian

Our book discussions take place in Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. As Irma gets ready to make her turn, once she slows a bit on Friday, despite the hyperbole, no one knows, at the moment, her path. 

 In the meantime, decisions need to be made. A real Catch-22. 

Unfortunately, relying on the hair-on-fire media can descend into illogical thinking and result in panicky circular reasoning. Witness the run on bottled water at Publix. May I suggest a faucet? While at it, take a cold shower. 

Until Friday, we in Jacksonville, like Schultz, no nothing. Meantime, instead of letting the hysteria fuel your anxiety, may I suggest some dry, non-dramatic, trusted weather sources: 

1. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at1.shtml?cone

2. http://spaghettimodels.com

3. https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/storminfo/11L_tracks_latest.png

If you like a little drama, but still seek a knowledgable source, nothing is better than storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski of catastrophic #blueshed fame: enthusiasm and knowledge.

 https://twitter.com/Jeff_Piotrowski

Like Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Mother Nature's threats force us to face our illusion of control and random mortality.

Thinking it is rare when a book discussion floods into weather prognostication. 

That's some book discussion, that Chapter Endnotes.