A new independent bookstore in South Park, San Diego!

A Year of Reading, Week Four

So… you may remember last week I said I was going to Seattle for ABA’s Winter Institute (which ran Tuesday-Friday) and I wasn’t sure if I would get my Week Four post up on time.

I will do my very best to post Week Four of this project on time and as promised… but I can’t, um, make any promises.

Bookselling Juice

Now here we are three days late on a weekly post – not a great precedent for the 4th week in a 52-week series. I don’t know what I was thinking, imagining I would have time to sit down and write about what I read that week. (I’m currently writing under duress, being exhausted and having to go to work in the morning. I know, this is my bed and I have to lie in it, but this post will be mostly gibberish.) In fact, I read not a single word of a book from Tuesday afternoon until this morning (Sunday.) Maybe the longest reading drought of my entire adult life. It turns out, going to a bookselling conference is about everything you can possibly fathom regarding books EXCEPT reading them. And book industry people all have hollow legs, by the way, so there were some lo-o-o-o-o-ng nights. And longer mornings.

Just like previous years, I met a lot of great people at this gathering of the indie bookselling tribe, heard about a lot of fantastic ideas, and have come home with all sorts of plans that will either make my current bookstore a slightly better place (not that most people there would notice) OR make the fantasy bookstore I will some day open all that much more awesome. But there are some other perks. Mainly that I packed up and shipped home a shit-ton of books from my visit to the North. Before Seattle, my wife Jen and I visited Portland, Oregon – among many things, home of Powell’s Books, the country’s largest independent bookstore. (Hubba-hubba.) As much as we knew we didn’t need to buy any books… we did anyway:

Look, her head is made of frogs!

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Flannery O’Connor: The Complete Stories 
Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot
When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman
Hell at the Breech by Tom Franklin
the DK Guide to Trees
and Harry Potter in Spanish

Then, from Seattle – as far as I can remember, since I boxed it all up and shipped it home from the show – a huge pile of advance copies and/or signed copies:

Inappropriate Behavior by Murray Farish
The Bees by Laline Paull
The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour
California by Edan Lepucki
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol
Ruby by Cynthia Bond

I also met and procured the forthcoming books of Colson Whitehead, Greg Iles, Walter Kirn, Barry Lopez, Wesley Stace, and Holman Wang. And I was honored enough to be invited to dinner with Justin Go (The Steady Running of the Hour,) Bryce Andrews (Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West,) and Molly Wizenberg, author of Delancey & co-founder of the Seattle restaurant of the same name. (Molly also fed me and a passel of other booksellers. A huge thanks to Wendy Sheanin of Simon & Schuster for that invite.) What else… oh yeah, I also had dinner with the inestimable, super-sweet, and lovely Amy Leach, author of 2012 Catapult Notable book, Things That Are. (Big ‘ol thanks to Patrick Thomas of Milkweed Editions for that.) And finally, after a decade of slinging his books and meeting his entire family on more than one occasion, I met, broke bread with, and drank alcoholic beverages with Anthony Doerr. A gentleman more genial and genuine cannot be found. The galley copies of Tony’s incredible new book, All the Light We Cannot See (on sale May 6) were seriously the hottest item at the Institute and his signing line was by far the longest. I’m just saying, I’m pretty sure I’ve been on to something all this time with regards to this guy and it’s time you all started listening to me.

I’ll have more to tell you about Winter Institute and all that in this coming week’s post, arriving in 3 1/2 very short days. In the meantime, I promise to take a break from partying and start reading again. After I get some sleep. Adios.


2 comments on “A Year of Reading, Week Four

  1. Erin
    January 27, 2014

    You'll have to let me know what you think of Porochista's book. She was a good friend of mine from high school (and my co-news editor on my high school paper :)).

  2. Seth Marko
    January 30, 2014

    Sounds like a potential Catapult/Library Shop event to me…

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