Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Wedding Giveaway

I'm prouder of these invites than my last five short stories

You may or may not know that Becky and I are having a book-themed wedding.  The books listed here are our partings gifts.  Some have come to us from reps, some from the famed Indie Bound goodie box, some from our shelves.  With these as our take home gifts one thing is for sure - our family will leave happy. 

Because these books are all worth your time, I wanted to share.  Click a link and take one home, why don't you?

I'd like to especially thank Jim Barkley, Gail Whitten, Geoff Rizzo, Doni Kay, Eric Svenson, and Marty Conroy.  They're publisher's sales reps, some of the best booksellers in the business.  When I get praised for doing my job well, I'm usually just foisting work off on one of them.

Only 15 days to go!


Piers Anthony; The Source of Magic
It's the second book in the series but the first one I read.  God, I loved these as a teenager.  I bought this intending to see how it had aged, but hopefully someone else will love it as much as I did.

Madison Smartt Bell; The Color of Night
I grabbed this one from Mitchell's personal collection because it looked too good to wait for him to read it.  Of course, I didn't get to read it yet myself.  Yet.

Naomi Benaron; Running the Rift
This is the third winner of the Bellwether Prize, the others being the amazing The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (see below) and the mighty Mudbound.  I think you've heard me praise those a time or two before.  If Barbara Kingsolver loves Running the Rift, that's good enough for me.
Okay, I admit this one came straight from the rep.  But Brian Michael Bendis wrote goddamn Goldfish and freaking Torso, so how could it be anything but awesome?

David Benioff; The 25th Hour
On any list of short stories authors who have most influenced modern fiction, Ray Bradbury makes the top five.  Maybe the top three.  I cried a little when I gave this one up.  

Ken Bruen and Jason Starr; Slide
A re-gift from the Hard Case Crime series.  Becky and I wrapped and labelled all of the books in cobalt blue to match our wedding colors, and we had a mass market-sized piece left over.  I promise to read it one day, because Hard Case is cool.

Bonnie Jo Campbell; Once Upon a River
I seldom read jacket copy or reviews, I just pick up a book and start reading.  If I'm hooked, I'll take it home.  I grabbed this one because it passed the test, but it looks like someone else will need to tell me whether the rest of the book lives up to the first chapter's promise.

Glen Duncan; The Last Werewolf
While I have mixed feelings about the praise being heaped upon this book, I have no doubts about Duncan's skills, or how much I enjoyed reading it.  Not without flaws*, but ultimately a hell of a lot of fun.

*I thought some of the passages got a little too military, which is not to my taste, and Duncan was much more deft with the character-driven scenes than the action; so there's a gentle critique which hasn't stopped me recommending it all over the place and getting nothing but smiles back, okay?

Heidi W. Durrow; Girl Who Fell From the Sky
By contrast, this is not one I'd call fun, but you can read for years and never come across a book half as good.  In all ways, finding a book like this is why we read.  I mentioned Kingsolver and the Bellwether Prize on this one already, right?  Good.  Just read it, already.

Anne Enright; The Forgotten Waltz
I can't remember grabbing this one.  I like Norton, and I probably figured it was about time I read something by Anne Enright.  It hasn't come out yet, but if you check Amazon, you'll find a slap-down of a review which is exactly what I was talking about a few posts back

Nigel Farndale; The Blasphemer
Another one I haven't read yet.  Another one it pained me to give up.  I fell in love with this one all over again while I was wrapping it and immediately saw why I took it home.  Why I didn't read it immediately is a bigger mystery, but I'll get on it.

William Giraldi; Busy Monsters
I hate reviews which say stuff like "it's like Kurosawa on steroids" or "Jane Austen on crack."

Busy Monsters is like Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live on acid.

Sara Gruen; Ape House
I've written about this one for THL.  I want to reiterate, I liked this book.  Did I love it?  No.  I still wish she'd written three beautiful, carefully considered books with this rich material.  Nevertheless, it's a page-turner, and a worthy read.

Hillary Jordan; When She Woke
Apparently I've mentioned this twice in passing (best reads so far this year and hoping it's huge in my BEA wrap-up) but I haven't posted a love-letter to it yet.  Huh.  Well, I guess this will be the third passing mention.  I really, really hope it's an out-of-the-ballpark success for Algonquin, Water for Elephants-style.  Remember the Bellwether Prize-winning Mudbound I mentioned?  This is the author's  second book.  Different, but equally awesome.

Stephen King; The Colorado Kid
Stephen King!  Hard Case Crime!  Mass market-sized scrap of cobalt paper!  Re-gifting!  Now it's out of print so I might never get to read it!  I suck!

A. Lee Martinez; Chasing the Moon
This dustjacket I did read, because it's nothing but a giant quote from the book.  I picked it up because it looked fun, in a Terry Pratchett meets Warren Ellis kind of way. 

Simon Morden; Degrees of Freedom
This should only appear in manuscript form because all the market associated with it is off-putting.  Just pick it up, start reading, and enjoy.

Marisa De Los Santos; Falling Together
Ever since Marisa de los Santos did an author appearance for Love Walked In and forever made it a Books & Books bestseller, I've wanted to read her work.  That was 2005.  Then a freebie of Falling Together came in and I grabbed it, thinking, "Finally."  I hope someone in my family enjoys it.

Steven C. Schlozman, MD; The Zombie Autopsies
It's tough to pin down the coolest thing about this book.  The fact that it creates a very believable scientific reality?  The we-found-these-transcripts-in-a-deserted-remote-location tease in the manner of The Blair Witch Project?  The anatomical drawings?  It's all so good.

Martha Southgate; The Taste of Salt
Another one which I shed a bitter tear to see leave my shelves, but if you love something you're supposed to let it go, right?  Also, further proof of my Algonquin crush.

JM Tohline; The Great Lenore
Maybe I shouldn't have looked through what I was wrapping, or chosen differently.  I just wanted to give decent stuff, you know?  This one looks so damn good.  Letting it go might have been my biggest bitter tear.

Alexi Zentner; Touch
Judge a book by its cover, but only when it's that good.  This made me think of a family gathered around a hot stove in the dead of winter, telling stories to pass the time.  It's off my shelf, but I still look forward to reading it.


Diane Ackerman; One Hundred Names for Love
Grabbed it from the bookseller freebie shelf, started it, took it home, passed it on.

Martin Amis; Everyday Drinking
That link is for the paperback but I bought it in hardcover.  In fact, everything I bought at Voltaire I bought in hardcover, every time I visited - they didn't go out of business because of me.  Are there plans for a Books & Books Key West?  I'm not at liberty to say.  Are there intentions, wishes, hopes, and schemes?  Perhaps.

This is the type of book which should only be given as a gift.  The rich wit harkens to a simpler time when a fun-loving drunk could live beyond judgement.  Nowadays it's too guilty a pleasure to buy for yourself, but getting it from someone else is a treat.

Kevin Avery; Everything is an Afterthought: the Life and Writings of Paul Nelson
After I wrapped this one, I plucked another off the freebie shelf the very next day.  The smidge of guilt I feel for depriving someone else of the book is overwhelmed by the joy at keeping this on my shelves.

Donia Bijan; Maman's Homesick Pie
When women writes about food and family, they become part of a sub-genre.  Chances are they'll be marketed a certain way, a way that brims with nostalgia and coziness.  There's nothing in life more important than food, friends, and family, and slapping a cover like that on Bijan's memoir feels dismissive.  Or maybe another set of eyes would have to have this book, I don't know.  To me, this should only exist in manuscript form as well.  Pick it up, start reading, and be sucked in.

Marshall Chapman; They Came to Nashville
I've had this on my shelves for a bit.  It seems like a good one to have, doesn't it?

Stephen Greenblatt; The Swerve
I don't read much history myself but this just came out and our customers are going apeshit for it.  I'm not sure if it's because Greenblatt wrote Will in the World, or if they just really want to read about the renaissance.  Ask a history buff.

Chelsea Handler, Chelsea's Family, Chelsea's Friends, and Other Victims; Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me
My Book Club, Page Against the Machine, read Handler's second book because of me.  I told them that My Horizontal Life was equal to David Sedaris, that I read the first story of Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang aloud to Becky while she was driving and we both cried laughing and almost crashed the car, but I didn't mention Chelsea's breakout hit, her post-talkshow second offering, Are You There Vodka?  It's Me, Chelsea.  Parts awesome, meh overall.

For me it doesn't get better than My Horizontal Life, a pre-talk show stand-up comedian, very self-aware, very inappropriate, writing about her life.

I stand by my statement; give My Horizontal Life the Pepsi challenge vs. Me Talk Pretty One Day and see which one makes you laugh out loud more.  Yet Sedaris is a national treasure, while Handler is that talk show chick.  That's why she's had four different publishers - they just don't get it.  (How four publishers but three books, not including this one which she didn't write?  Harper agreed to publish Vodka first; it had an ISBN, a page in their 2007 catalog, then bupkiss; next year, Simon & Schuster put it out).

What does all of his have to do with Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me?  Very little.  Which is what Handler had to do with this book.   

Sam Kean; The Disappearing Spoon
Oh those madcap scientists, using gallium teaspoons as a prank on their guests.  One of my best friends from high school went to MIT.  He told me about a prank pulled during the first week wherein students would press the button on a drinking fountain and the lights on the entire floor would flicker off.  So, um... yeah.  Read this.   

Robert Morgan; Lions of the West
In an ode to Manifest Destiny, ten historical figures tromp westward to prove they deserved America more than the Indians.  I'm sure it rocks, though.

Penguin Classics (Various authors); Know the Past, Find the Future: The New York Public Library at 100
While Miami-Dade considers shutting down 13 libraries to close a $400-million dollar budget gap created by a ridiculous stadium no one gives a rat's ass about apart from the politicians and contractors who got their pockets lined, New Yorkers enjoy this love letter from Penguin publishing.  Celebrities literary and otherwise gush about their favorite piece in the library's collection, and get their picture taken.  Miami, why not try being a real city?  

Mary Roach; Packing for Mars
Mary Roach is another author who I've been meaning to read for years, but the difference between her and Anne Enright or Marisa de los Santos is that I have a bunch of Roach's books.  Before I gave this one away, Roach held the dubious distinction of being the most-represented, least-read author on my shelves.  Now, she's tied with Zadie Smith.  

Tom Ryan; Following Atticus
For me - and I doubt I'm alone on this one - dog memoirs jumped the shark when Marley and Me multiplied into a picture book, a Young Adult book, and finally a movie.  Dogs suck, okay?  Didn't your mom love you enough, you have to roll around on the floor with a smelly bundle of drooling dog breath whose big selling point is that it will love anybody?  Unless your book is Travels with Charley, shut up about your damn dog.  I love cats, but I don't want to hear about how they changed your life, either.  And I really don't want them solving cozy mysteries.

Anyway, you know, Tom Ryan is cool.  

Amy Stewart; Wicked Plants
Amy Stewart in coming to Fairchild Tropical Garden in the fall.  I was sorely tempted to keep this one to have her sign it.  It was even a first edition.  But a book this cool deserves to be shared.  It's a lot, lot, lot of fun.  I'll more than likely end up buying it again.

Young Adult:

Brian Michael Bendis; Takio
What's Takio?  No idea.  This is another one right from the rep.  But again - Brian Michael Bendis.

Vera Brosgol; Anya's Ghost
I loved this book.  Becky loved this book.  We both love hand-selling this book.  Apart from one woman who didn't feel comfortable giving her grandson a book with references to smoking and menstruation, we've had zero complaints.  You'll love it, too.

Anya's Ghost proves that First Second, while not my favorite graphic novel publisher (that title goes to Vertigo for Preacher, Y the Last Man, and the mighty Scalped), puts out work that really means a lot to me.  First Second scratches me right where I itch, with stories about characters trying to navigate the muddied waters of mixed culture.  Don't get what I'm talking about?  After you've read Brosgol, grab American Born Chinese off my dessert island shelf.

Katie Crouch; The Magnolia League
I really enjoyed Crouch's second book, Men and Dogs.  I've also found that a keeping a table stack on hand leads to decent sales - never a given unless there's also a bookseller there to recommend it.  I was on a panel with her at SIBA and found her intelligent and charming and I've been saving Girls in Trucks for a rainy day.

Crouch sent me Magnolia League with a personal note.  I meant to read it, and to give her a slamming introduction at her reading at Books & Books like I did with Joe Hill, but somehow. . .  I never did.

I kept a copy, though.  The cover of the ARC is much more interesting than this girl in a chair.  You'll see it when I scan it and gush over the book in a future post.  

Julie Anne Peters; she loves you, she loves you not...
Teenage love hurts.  This book proves its hurts just as much for lesbian teens.

Joe Schreiber; Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
Becky's in charge of the YA, and she loved the shit out of this one.  She couldn't stop laughing, and I could barely get her attention the whole time.

So Joe Schreiber, I hope your book is supposed to be partly funny, and you owe me two days of loving.


Lauren Chattman; Cookie Swap!
How much fun is a cookie swap!  Actually, I have no idea, never having done one myself.  But I've heard good things.  Primarily from the jacket copy of this book.  I did do a few clothing and costume swaps that were awesome, and I imagine the principle is the same.

Of course, those swaps may have been awesome because they involved nudity.  But the right cookie can compete with nudity.

Janice Cole; Chicken and Egg 
Really a memoir about a food writer who decides to raise chickens in an urban setting.  I imagine her publisher decided to fluff out the memoir with recipes to give you more bang for your buck.  Or should I say. . . cluck?  Ahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaa!!!

Lilach German; Cupcakes, Cupcakes and More Cupcakes!
Confession time.  I often mistake cupcakes for muffins, and vice versa.  More bad news?  I describe cupcakes thusly: "The same as a muffin, except with frosting."  I probably should've kept this one and leafed through it daily until my mental block / disconnect corrected itself, but I wanted it to go to someone who would actually use it.  Plus, I want to see the aunts fight over who gets it. 

Viola Goren; Pies, Pies and More Pies!
Imagine Publishing never met an exclamation point they didn't like.
Fun fact?  Type the title into my job's website and the first book that comes up is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  So close. 

Laura Werlin; Great Grilled Cheese
I bought this one because of Werlin's presentation at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival this year.  Transforms grilled cheese from a guilty pleasure into a gourmet delight.

Coffee Table Books:

Marcelo Bendahan; Carnivals of the World
We opened the shrink-wrap to give it our cobalt blue wrap and were blown away.  Gorgeous and fun.

Seth H. Bramson; Historic Photos of Greater Miami
Historic Photos of - is an awesome series.  If you live in South Florida, you know the name Seth Bramson.  This one is the perfect marriage of series and author, and another Books & Books bestseller.

Dennis Connors; Historic Photos of Syracuse
The hoops I had to jump through to get this book to come up on our website make we wonder how Books & Books ever sells anything online.  Like some CD and movie databases I've been on, sometime your really need to know exactly what you're looking for.

Anyway, I take it all back - giving this up was the biggest bitter tear I shed.

Robert A. McCabe; The Ramble in Central Park
It took my last trip to New York City to make me really appreciate this book.

Jennifer Ortiz; Historic Photos of Cuban Miami
Another Books & Books bestseller.  I wonder whether my family or Becky's will snatch this up.

K.Y. Solonin; 19th Century Paintings of Life in China
The tiniest picture for the largest book?  Gosh, the internet is a strange place.

I love the story behind this book almost as much as I love the paintings.


Love this movie or hate it, now in book form.

For ultimate collectors.

If you've made it this far, congratulations.  You're either a fiercely loyal Sweet Reader, a member of our family setting your sights on a particular book, or you have way too much time on your hands.  Nevertheless, you deserve a reward.


  1. I made it to the end! BUT I also skimmed.

    Congratulations, buddy. I'm very excited for you and wish I could be there.

    (i think you are regifting HCC books FROM ME)

  2. OH, ALSO. those invites are fucking fantastic. how neat.

  3. Yeah, when I posted those I was like, "Gabriel reads this blog... oh, well."

    Wish you could be here, too. Maybe in the next life we'll be jet-setters.

  4. I have an ARC of "The Taste of Salt". You can have it when I"m done.

  5. Hiya. I've been meaning to ask you for a suggestion on a book. From the list of fiction here or any that may pop into your head as "Roy would love to read this", can you make a suggestion....or a few?

  6. I have to ask the bookseller's question: "What's the last book you loved?"