Monday, July 20, 2009

How's Your Beowulf on the Beach Book Coming Along? Are You on Target for the Party August 27th?

We hope you are enjoying your summer reading projects, whether you're participating in our Beowulf on the Beach Summer Reading Challenge, or you're helping your kids get through their Get Caught Reading lists.

As for me, I've picked Moby Dick as my Beowulf on the Beach book. I was going to save it for our vacation to Florida in late July, but I got a head start. That way, I'll still be on target even if I consume too many bikini maritinis to be able to concentrate at the beach. (It can happen. And then you wake up with drool stains on your book.)

I'm thrilled to report that so far, Jack Murnighan is dead on with his "field guide" to Moby Dick. Murnighan insists it's actually quite funny. Although I wasn't completely convinced, I've meant to read this book for a long time, and Murnighan was my tipping point. I never read it in high school, but I did skim it while reading Ahab's Wife by Sena J. Naslund. (The story of the imaginary wife of Captain Ahab in Moby Dick.)

But now I can confirm that reading Herman Melville at my (ahem) mature age is a riot. Melville reminds me of some of my favorite straight-faced jokesters. Those kind of people totally crack me up. You know how you try to make eye contact to get them to smile, but they just won't respond? So you're left to wonder, is it just me? That awkward moment of possible misunderstanding is so delicious.

There's a scene early on in Moby Dick where two sailors share the same accomodations at the overcrowded "Spouter Inn". (Okay, Melville's messing with me already.) Ishmael is a thoughtful teacher turned sailor who is pretty squeamish about bunking with Queequeg, a Fiji Island version of Rubeus Hagrid. Anyway, the scene is hilariously cozy, and you're left to wonder: did they just hook up? Come on Melville, make eye contact with me!

So anyway, I hope you're enjoying your Beowulf on the Beach Challenge as much as I am so far. We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below - don't be shy! You've got more than a month to go until the Bookstore cocktail party (featuring an appearance by Jack Murnighan himself!). It's not until August 27th at 7pm, so you still have time for many of the great classics in Murnighan's book. Maybe not War & Peace, but there are plenty of others under 400 pages. If you haven't picked out your book yet, just stop in and our staff will help you make your selection. (Yes, this is a great job!)

Don't forget to call (630)469-2891 or email us at to register for the party.

Happy Summer Reading!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Top 10 Things I Liked About Last Night in Montreal

I've got this weird habit of highlighting the advance reader copies of books that we pass around at The Bookstore. It's a way of communicating with the next reader: "I liked this, do you?" This book was Sue's new hardcover, so I didn't dare bring out the highlighter. Still, there were so many great lines and passages that I was afraid I would forget, so I started a list. I'm not even going to explain it, except to say, go read this book and then comment on my list when you're done. (I liked this, did you?)

Top 10 Things I Liked About Last Night in Montreal:

1. The ambiguity of Lillia's gestures on their last morning in Brooklyn (e.g., the kiss on his forehead)

2. The Icarus print on the wall of Cafe Matisse, and the shepherd who observed

3. The beauty of untranslatable words in lost languages (e.g., Dakota word for the specific loneliness of mothers whose children are absent)

4. Lillia's messages in the bibles: "wish to remain vanishing"

5. Michaela's tightrope walk

6. Eli: I want to be your language, your translator, your dictionary, your map

7. Montreal en francais= 101 ou 401.

8. "How deep in our genes is the longing for flight embedded?" ("limitless longing")

9. The pay phone in Arizona that rings at night

10. The last night in Montreal

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thanks Back to Gary United Methodist Church Campers

I'm verklempt.

Check out this poster the kids from the Gary United Methodist Church Camp made for The Bookstore.

It's hard to decide which comment is my favorite, they're all so nice: "Our moms [heart] The Bookstore; "Your place is so quaint - better than Borders!"

It made my day.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Declare Your Independence

Let's Talk Indie.

Before I start sounding like a whiney old bookseller, let me just thank all of our customers who totally get it, the ones who come to our bookstore with lists of books they want to order, even when they know they're a click away on Amazon. (Don't forget, they're also a click away on our website too,

Amazon is like the elephant in the room. We know he's there, you know he's there, and we agree not to mention it. You might come to our bookstore because you believe in buying local, or because you have a little independent streak and like the idea of an independent bookstore, or gosh, maybe you just like us and our recommendations. Whatever your reason, we thank you. We know there are alternatives out there.

So why do some people just not get it? We just received curious comment on our blog, thanking us for an older post on Little Bee by Chris Cleave, mentioning they couldn't find out that much about it in Seattle. And then they just happened to mention that they were excited to go buy it from Amazon. That's like saying, gosh your husband is really kind of cute, do you mind if I take him out for a quick date?

Yes, I mind!

Obviously, this guy from Seattle isn't going to order Little Bee from a bookstore in Glen Ellyn, but on the other hand it would have been easy to go to and order from a local independent bookstore. Or if he is going to break down and order it from Amazon, maybe he could just be polite enough not to mention it. On our independent bookseller's blog!

Again, maybe it's just the grumpy bookseller in me coming out (grrrrr!) but geez, your book buying habits make a difference to us. We believe our community is a better place with a vibrant, friendly independent bookstore on Main Street. And to make sure that's a reality, we all have to support it. Any by support, I mean the kind of personal commitment it takes to drive around the block 3 times looking for parking. The kind of commitment it takes to wait a couple of days for us to order the book you want instead of running over to Barnes and Noble. For those of you who do make that commitment all of the time, Thank You! To those who don't (yet), just think about it the next time you think about clicking over to Amazon. Do you want a bookstore in our community?

In honor of the 4th of July, make it personal. Declare your independence.