Friday, December 24, 2010
New on the shelves today:
Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Simple Times by Amy Sedaris Unabridged
Spoken Word American Poets compiled by the British Library
Peace and Plenty by Sarah Breathnach unabridged
The Autobiography of Mark Twain by (surprise) Mark Twain
Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin
7 Events that Made America America by Larry Schweikart
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
'Twas the night before Christmas, when through the black hole
Not a fanboy or girl was stirring, not even a troll;
The MacBooks were placed near the Wi-fi with care,
In hopes that St. Geekolas soon would be there.
Have you been a good little geek this year? Have you kept your PS3 and Xbox consoles all shiny and neat? Did you get all A’s in Elvish and Klingon and Shyriiwook (aka Wookiee Speak)? Did you roll all 20’s the last time you went dungeon crawling? If so, perhaps you’ll find one of these geek-eriffic books under the tree this year.
But if you haven’t been good ... Well, Sauron’s eye, I mean Santa’s eye, is ever watchful. So you better watch out.
Certified Star Wars geek (and Massachusetts native) Tony Pacitti charts his life in relation to the Trilogy—from pathetic childhood and adolescence to Luke Skywalker-like coming of age. We see a painfully shy kid slowly trying out the Jedi-like powers of adulthood and using the transformative Force (and forces) of the Star Wars universe to get him there. A hyperdrive tour through Star Wars fandom that's more fun than shooting womp rats in Beggar's Canyon. But “My Best Friend Is a Wookiee” also a comical, tender, no-punches-pulled coming of age memoir.
What happens when you mash-up “Anna Karenina” with the world of 19th century Russia, this time retro-fitted with robotic butlers, mechanical wolves and moon-bound rocketships? You get “Android Karenina,” from the same folks who brought us “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.” Here’s a sample line from Winters’ steampunked Tolstoy: “When Anna emerged [from the rocket], her stylish feathered hat bent to fit inside the dome of the helmet, her pale and lovely hand holding the handle of her dainty ladies’-size oxygen tank ...” A fun tongue-in-cheek romp for literature majors and science fiction aficionados alike.
If you grew up like I did on a steady diet of “The Jetsons,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Star Wars,” and “The Terminator,” then you’ve been wondering when all your robot fantasies might become true. But unlike personal jet packs (never happened) and hover craft (another back-of-comic-book pipe dream), cyborgs, androids, and avatars are real. With wit and insight, Mark Stephen Meadows separates science fiction from actual fact, navigating the ethically sketchy territory of domestic robots and autonomous military robots, artificial hands and artificial emotions. “We, Robot” raises the crucial questions that robot-makers largely ignore. In doing so, Meadows shows us that in our quest to create more and more life-like robots, we’ve become more robotic ourselves.
When I traveled to New Zealand to research my book “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks,” and embarked on my own Lord of the Rings filming location geek-out quest, this guidebook was indispensable. With its detailed maps, directions, insider information and exclusive movie stills—even GPS coordinates—I was able to find dozens of sites, from the Shire (Matamata) to Mordor (Mt Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park) to Arrowntown’s The Ford of Bruinen, location for the famed “If you want him, come and claim him!” scene. Perfect for the Tolkien freak planning his or her own LOTR adventure Down Under.
Must video games remain mere entertainment. Could they provide narratives that books, movies, and other vehicles for story delivery can’t? Might they even aspire to art? Tom Bissell's new book "Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter" aims a tentative mortar shot at these targets. His investigation is bedrocked upon personal experience; along the way, we also meet game developers at such megaliths as Epic Games, Bio Ware, and Ubisoft. Thankfully, the book isn’t pure fanboy boosterism. Video games can be great, he says, but they can be “big, dumb, loud.’’ A master prose stylist, the erudite Bissell is frequently insightful in the analysis of his video game obsessions.
A thoughtful collection of essays at the cross-section of religious and media studies. The various contributors take on quirky topics such as the theological implications of apocalyptic video games like Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Resident Evil; how avatars are changing social networks and our spiritual lives; and the medical ethics and theology in controversial games such as BioShock. Bonus material includes an interview with Rand Miller, cocreator of Myst and Riven, and other video game industry folks.
In the steampunk tradition comes this debut novel a greeting card writer imprisoned aboard a zeppelin who must confront a genius inventor and a perpetual motion machine. In creating his world, Palmer borrowed from archival source materials that predicted life how life would be in the year 2000, then retro-designed modern gadgets that use turn-of-the-19th-century technology. A kind of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” as Jules Verne might have envisioned it and a great, richly-imagined read.
Dungeons & Dragons insider Mazzanoble (she now works for Wizards of the Coast, the company behind D&D) gives a sassy and informative look at D&D from the female gamer's POV. She tackles myths and realities of gamer stereotypes and proves that women should be, and increasingly are, welcome to roll dice and at Cheetos with the rest of the trolls. As Mazzanoble writes: “Let’s get one thing straight: I am a girly girl. I get pedicures, facials, and microderm abrasions. I own more flavors of body lotions, scrubs, and rubs than Baskin Robbins could dream of putting in a cone. ... I am also an ass-kicking, spell-chucking, staff-wielding 134 year-old elf sorceress named Astrid Bellagio.”
Is Obi-Wan Jesus? Why does Yoda speak like a character from the Old Testament? What inspires our devotion to this mythical universe of Jedis, Dark Sides and “feeling the Force”? Grimes gives us a different take on the LucasFilm empire, one that sees the Star Wars stories as potentially as powerful and useful as the ones we learned in Sunday school. In my case, I missed church entirely, but that didn’t stop me from quoting “There is no try. Do or do not” as a kind of spirtual/philosophical mantra.
Not long ago, enviro-spiritual interpretations of “The Lord of the Rings” were all the rage. Now, paeans to “Star Wars” are popular. Here’s one that’s a deliciously warped nostalgia trip through Star Wars fandom. From collecting Kenner action figures to getting Star Wars birthday cakes from puzzled parents to scribbling fan letters to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, Booth shamelessly flaunts his lifelong lust for all things Star Wars. Like a tractor beam, this endearing account draws us in and makes us reminisce about our own geeky obsessions.
A diverse and thoughtful examination of the so-called “fantasy” genre: from Middle-earth to Narnia, high fantasy to dark fantasy, fairy-tale fiction to magic realism and adventure-fantasy tales. Peppered with meaty quotes by J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis and Stephen King, Martin’s book provides a concise primer for those wondering why it is we’re drawn to tales of magic quests and heroic derring-do.
Dr. Who fans, rejoice! This collection of essays takes a look at the mythological undercurrent in this classic BBC television series considered by the Guinness World Records as the “longest-running science fiction television show in the world” and "most successful" science fiction series of all time.” (Take that, Lucas and Roddenberry). Topics connect Dr. Who to Arthurian legend, Batman and medieval Scandinavian Valkyries. An engaging discussion for the serious traveler of the Whoinverse.
Most of the time, playing video games is fine, fun and perfectly harmless. But every now and then, a player gets a little too immersed in a game’s imaginary word. In Cleave’s case, the game was World of Warcraft, and his playtime turned into an 80-hour-a-week, life-wrecking addiction. “Unplugged” tells a cautionary tale of hitting rock bottom, wising-up and climbing out of the dungeon.
Silly. Ridiculous. And a hoot. In the spirit of those “how to survive a zombie apocalypse” manuals comes this tome to tell us how to defend against the latest enemy. The book claims it is “the only comprehensive survival guide that will help you prevent, prepare for, and ward off an imminent home invasion by the common garden gnome.” Great color photos bring the spoofy goofiness alive.
For the food geek on your list. Sumptuous, jaw-dropping, eye-popping, mouth-watering fantastical landscapes made entirely from real fruit of this earth: vegetables, cheeses, breads, fish, meat, and grains (and fruit, too). The 25 photographs take you on a trip around the world... and the sweet treat is each photo is followed by making-of insights into the creative process. Don’t read on an empty stomach.
The title pretty much says it all. You’re a geek. You have a kid who’s a geek (or you want to turn your kid into a geek). Read this crafty book for ideas to share your love of science, technology, gadgetry and MacGyver. Engineer and wired.com’s Geek Dad editor Ken Denmead offers projects so you and your child can, among other things: 1) launch a video camera with balloons; 2) make the "Best Slip n' Slide Ever”; and 3) build a working lamp with LEGO bricks and CDs. Soon, together, you can rule the galaxy as father and son. Mwahahah!
Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, now in paperback. Follow his adventures and get more info on this book at http://www.ethangilsdorf.com/
Sunday, December 19, 2010
It's a Book - For the one who can't live with out their electronic devices.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: Wonderful coming of age story perfect for readers 13 and up.
The Evolution of Calpernia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly – ages 10-14. Perfect for spunky outdoorsy types who love insects and animals almost as much as their brilliant grandparents.
They Called Themselves the K.K.K: The Birth of An American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti – Ages 12 and up. A great book for readers curious about race relations and the origins of the KKK. Excellent classroom resource for teachers.
The War to End All Wars, World War I, by Russell Friedman. Ages 12 and up. Perfect for young readers curious about the birth of modern warfare or world history – excellent resource for school book reports!
Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors by Joyce Sidman, ages 4-8. A beautifully illustrated picture book read for budding scientists and naturalists.
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse, by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Massee - For the lover of fairy tales turned upside down, poems or just something a little different. Ages 6 & up.
The Sky is Everywhere, By Jandy Nelson. Great for fans of Sarah Dessen, romance, teen realism, or someone interested in becoming a writer themselves. Ages 14 & up.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Gardens of the Moon (and sequels) by Steven Erikson: These books will appeal to fans of G R R Martin and lovers of complex, gritty, military fantasies.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke: These short stories will be treasured by lovers of fairy tales and eighteenth-century England.
Little, Big by John Crowley: Perfect for lovers of beautiful language, dreamlike stories, and subtle magics.
The Player of Games (and all the Culture novels) by Iain M. Banks: Just the things for science fiction fans who like grand ideas and witty writing.
Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson: The logical choice for trekkies looking for a laugh.
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis: Perfect for the serious reader of interesting fiction.
Spun by Sorcery (and the sequels) -- Barbara Bretton: For the geeky knitter or the sewing S/F fan this is perfect fit.
Buddha by Karen Armstrong: Perfect for students of religious history and those wanting a clear and balanced account of the Buddha.
The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson: Perfect for the fan of historical fiction, nautical adventures, and, well, Vikings, and anyone who reads to be transported to a foreign place and time.
Monday, December 13, 2010
The Yuletide season seems to have inspired Dickens to go beyond the realities of his other writings. While many of his novels features tall tales and vivid imaginings, his Christmas stories are resplendent with spirits, visions, and magic that give Dickens an even greater license than even his wildest metaphor. And A Christmas Carol is the epitome of this freedom with its ghost of Christmas past, present, and future, and its simple yet compelling vision of an afterlife.
While much of this is captured in the best adaptions of the story (my favourite stars Patrick Stewart), the full joy of the tale can only be found on the page. Dickens' language is so emotive, and he speaks to the reader with such sincerity, that his sorrows catch in the throat, his terrors quicken the pulse, and his joys bring smiles and laughter. William Makepeace Thackeray called A Christmas Carol "a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it a personal kindness". It is a kindness which I accept every December with growing gratitude.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Porter Square Books is carrying a lovely line of soy wax candles and aromatic fragrance diffusers with scents suggestive of Thoreau, Whitman, Dickens, and Whitman, all attractively boxed for gift giving. Plus, a small tin with scented wax in the same fragrances. All would make thoughtful gifts for the readers on your list, or for yourself.
We're also carrying great gifts from Arghand. Along with their soaps, we're now also carrying their lip balm, body lotion, and face creme. All of Arghand's products are hand made in Afghanistan, with all profits going to the Arghand Cooperative.
For the holidays we have a great assortment of boxed holiday cards, enclosures, and gift wrap. No matter your taste I’m sure you can find just the card from one of the following vendors, Lizzy Boyd, Unicef, Green 2, Sierra Club, Smudge Ink, Great Arrow, Good Cause Greetings, Pomegranate, Mudlark, Borealis Press, Mara Mi and many more. By now, the pile has diminished substantially so don’t wait much longer. Plus, an array of fun and lovely counter cards for the holiday season.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
If you're giving a digital reading device like an iPad, Sony Reader, Nook, tablet, etc, as a gift this year, we have gift tags that you can download and print out from our Ebooks Holiday Sale page. There are a number of different sizes and varieties that can be included with the card, wrapped with the gift, or attached in an email, as a reminder to your friends and family to shop independent.
For more questions about ebooks, Google ebooks, and digital reading in general, please visit our EBOOKs Resource page, give us call, or just stop in the store.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
How does an organization of words become a story?
A line or a sentence occurs to me, or even just a sentence containing an idea for a story. Or I discover a line or a sentence in something I'm reading, and see how that could be part of a piece of writing of my own. Usually the germ of a story lies in a piece of language that may be funny at the same time that it's moving, or just odd and unsettling.
How would you define what are often considered the fundamental components of a story; plot and character? Can a story exist without them? Are there ways to define or understand plot and character that limit how we read and write stories?
I like to define the word "story" in a very fluid way, so that it can include a Katherine Mansfield short story, a Flannery O'Connor short story, but also something less traditional, like one of Russell Edson's "poems," as he calls them--really, to my mind, short and bizarre prose narratives of domestic drama. Or Kafka's parables and paradoxes, the short-short stories of J. Robert Lennon or Daniel Grandbois, or the philosophical meditations, logic problems, and one- or two-line narrative suggestions that I've included in my own books of stories alongside more traditional forms. Kafka's paragraph-long story about Alexander the Great includes a character and a minimal plot--a man standing on the bank of a river and deliberating, presumably. Some of my stories, even shorter, have a character, such as the historian Herodotus or a seal, but almost no action. Still, they grow from the impulse to write a story.
In your work, you’ve bent, twisted, stretched, and played with the short story form, to the point where some readers consider you a poet as much as a prose writer. What value do categories like “short story,” “poem,” and “novel” have? Is there a different category that you think better describes your work?
Well, these different categories are handy for moving quickly into a discussion of John Keats or Isaac Babel or Jane Bowles, but there is really a continuum, as I see it, from the longest, most complex novel down to the shortest poem by Emily Dickinson or the contemporary Woodstock poet Sparrow. Its a very rich continuum, and I like to embrace it rather than worry too much about where exactly all those dividing lines fall.
Where do you think the short story can go from here? What exploration is still left for the short story form? What are you hoping the short story will do or look like in the future?
Again, I don't worry too much about that. There seems to be a hunger out there in the reading public for the traditional short story and the traditional novel. I'm not sure that will go away anytime soon. I like the trend I see toward incorporating a lot of reality in fiction, of researching "real" material in order to create believable fictional characters interacting in the aftermath, for instance, of the Chernobyl disaster, as Jim Shepard does; or--another innovation, I think--basing a novel on extensive interviews with a participant in an even more contemporary tragedy, as Dave Eggers does in What is the What.
Why do you think there is that hunger for traditional short stories and novels?
I think people take great comfort in what they're used to, especially in reading, which is often a comforting activity rather than a stimulating one. Writers tend to be more open to stimulation, and more likely to be actively seeking new forms, which is why an innovative writer might tend to be more a "writer's writer." But even we writers find deep enjoyment in reading the traditional forms, which have been developed and refined over time and reach a certain perfection in writers like Flannery O'Connor and Hemingway.
Do you believe, like Flaubert, that there is a “perfect word?” If so, what is the reader’s responsibility to that word, or book of perfect words? How can readers appreciate its perfectness? If not, what should writers strive for instead?
I don't really believe there is a "perfect word," since too often I have seen how many different directions a story can go in, depending on which particular word you set down. A story can always develop in an infinity of different ways. (Like those alternate worlds in Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy--a very powerful notion.) On the other hand, within a story that is nearly finished, that needs just one more read-through, the choices of revision seem to be very limited--and I've experienced the truth of this on those occasions when I take a first draft of a story and revise it, forgetting that I've already revised it elsewhere, and find, when I compare the versions, that the revisions are the same.
How can readers tell how good a translation is if they can’t read the original language?
They really can't. They can tell if it's written in a way they like or don't like, but that doesn't tell them if it is true to the original. I can remember how conflicted I felt doing the final draft of the translation of the opening paragraph of a novel by Pierre Jean Jouve, years ago. The first few sentences of the novel were quite awkward in French, and I reproduced that awkwardness in English knowing that a reviewer might well blame me for the awkwardness, not the author of the original.
Is there a work you would really like to translate?
I've been enjoying translating short pieces of autobiographical fiction (what the French call auto-fiction) written about 90 years ago by the Austrian writer Peter Altenberg. I would like to go on doing short pieces by him and by others from various languages. I would also like to finish an "autobiographical essay," as he called it--a four-volume work--by the French Surrealist Michel Leiris. I did the first two volumes years ago (I called it Rules of the Game in English) and would like to finish the third volume and translate the fourth. Sooner or later. But aside from that, probably no more books--they eat up too much of my life!
Is there a language you wish you understood so you could read the works in the original and if so, which language and which works?
Oh, there are many languages. Russian for Eugene Onegin; Persian for Omar Khayyam; Swahili and Hindi so that I could explore what we Anglophones have been missing all this time. Hungarian, Romanian, Dutch? There is such a wealth of literature that never makes it into English.
What are you reading now?
For fun, Stieg Larsson (like everyone else) and Henning Mankell. Then, I'm just finishing Mary Robison's Why Did I Ever (not that it's a long read, but I've been savoring the language and the humor), I've recently finished Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, and I'm about to start Roland Barthes Mourning Diary, translated by Richard Howard, and will be at least dipping into the correspondence of Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan, translated by Wieland Hoban.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Virga (and sequels) by Karl Schroeder: Perfect for fans of steampunk, well-thought-out science fiction, piratey action, and intelligent characters.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Perfect for readers of 1984, fans of "Brazil", and the connoisseur of dystopias.
Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts: Just the book for lovers of UFO conspiracies, sardonic wit, and Soviet absurdities.
World War Z by Max Brooks: Perfect for fans of Orson Well's War of the Worlds, harrowing stories of survival, and global apocalypse.
Shark vs Train: For the energetic 3-5 year old (boy, most likely) with a rambunctious imagination.
Mulliner Nights by PG Wodehouse: Perfect for lovers of wit, lightness, and joy.
To Serve Them All My Days by R.F. Delderfield: Perfect for fans of Dickens, school novels, and the English countryside.
This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust: Great work of Civil War history for the American history buff and/or fan of Mary Roach’s Stiff
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz: Perfect for the rebellious teenager trying to figure out a world that just doesn’t make sense.
Google Ebooks are also a great opportunity if you’re not sure you want to do any digital reading. Because you don’t have to purchase any kind of hardware or even download any kind of software you can just give it a try and see if you like it.
To purchase a Google Ebook from us, just search for the book as normal. At the top of the search results will be a number of tabs, “Books,” “Google eBooks,” and “Other eBooks.” Just click on the “Google eBooks” tab and you’ll be taken to the results. Also, every book record will have a list of “Related Editions” of the title. If there is an ebook edition, there will be a link to it in that list. Just click on that link. Click here for a step-by-step explanation of purchasing a Google eBook. There are hundreds of thousands of Ebooks available on our website, from new releases, to bestsellers, to older classics and that list is always growing. For example, you might not be able to get a physical copy of the Autobiography of Mark Twain vol 1 before the holidays, but you can have a Google eBook for it right now.
For more information about Ebooks in general visit our EBOOKS Resource Page on our website, give us a call, or send an email to email@example.com
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth: For the adrenaline junkie who lives on the edge (as well as those who prefer to live vicariously--safely!--through others’ adventures).
French Essence: Ambience, Beauty, and Style in Provence: For the sophisticated Francophile who loves to decorate, cook, and celebrate all things français.
NOMA: For someone who likes to read cookbooks even if they never make a recipe from them or for someone who knows what “cloud berries” are.
George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm: For the Guns of August fan looking for another perspective on the build up to WWI
Sunshine by Robin McKinley: Perfect for Twilight fans looking for a fix.
Rosemary & Rue (and sequels) by Seanan McGuire: Perfect for Urban Fantasy readers and fans of the Dresden Files.
The Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkien: Perfect for lovers of The Silmarillion, Beowulf, and epic poetry.
I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita: For the radical young and old looking for a novel with a taste of revolution.
Sailing to Sarantium (and the sequel) by Guy Gavriel Kay: Perfect for fans of fantasy, political intrigue, and Byzantine history.
Lies of Locke Lamora (and the sequel) by Scott Lynch: Perfect for fans of swashbuckling adventure, cunning rouges, and surprises.
More perfect books coming soon.
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