Monday, November 28, 2011

Jane's 2011 Holiday Picks for Children

One of our favorite holiday traditions at The Bookstore is when Jane puts together her annual list of holiday books for children. As many of you know, Jane is a happy grandmother, and loves previewing the newest books of the season. Here she is with two of her adorable granddaughters.

Did you know that you can place a pick-up order for any of these books by clicking the titles below? Just click "add to cart" and "I would like to pick this order up at the store," and we will call you when it's ready. There is even a message box where you can request complimentary gift wrapping!

Happy holidays to you and yours! 


THE SCRAWNY LITTLE TREE  by Ed Mehler: This is a charming little book about a boy rich in the spirit of Christmas and a very special tree.

THE CARPENTER’S GIFT by David Rubel: A touching story about the beginnings of the famous Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. A small boy, a Christmas wish, and an amazing story. This one is a keeper and the pictures are grand.

A CHRISTMAS TREE FOR PYN by Olivier Dunrea: This is a sweet story about a little girl who really wants a Christmas tree and although her papa has very little to say, she will indeed have her Christmas tree.

SONG OF THE STARS  by Sally Lloyd-Jones: If you love those stories that incorporate the creation story into the Christmas story, this is the book for you. The pictures in this one are beautiful too.

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Jan Brett: In Brett’s usual beautifully detailed style we meet a little troll who is not especially nice and has a lot to learn.  He gets it figured out by Christmas, thank goodness!  Brett’s THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS has also been re-released with a CD read by Jim Dale, of Harry Potter fame and accompanied by the Boston Pops.

THE THIRD GIFT by Linda Sue Park: This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of myrrh, how it is collected, and is a beautiful story of father and son and their relationship.  A great gift for the celebration of Epiphany.

CHANUKAH LIGHTS by Michael Rosen and Robert Sabuda: Robert Sabuda has worked his magic with pop-up art yet again to give us this beautiful Chanukah book.  This is a treat and a must have for all our Jewish friends.

The Staff Recommends: The Queen of America

Dear Friends,

I have been waiting to tell you about Queen of America for a long time. I read it last summer, back when it was just an advance reader's copy, but now it's your turn. I'm just so sorry you've had to wait!

You might have met Luis and his wife Cindy at our Cinco de Mayo Author Event in 2010, or at the Downtown Glen Ellyn Bookfest in 2011, and if so, then you know what kind of magic awaits you. But if you haven't, I can't even begin to tell you about the wonders of this story. You'll just have to read it yourself.

Queen of America is as beautiful as the cover, which is saying a lot. It's the long-awaited sequel to The Hummingbird's Daughter, the story of Luis' great aunt Teresita, the faith-healing Saint of Cabora from Mexico. You don't have to read Hummingbird first, but if you have, reading Queen of America is like reuniting with long-lost friends.

I laughed, I cried, I marveled at Luis' pumped-up, bigger-than-life characters. Teresita has been exiled from Mexico and is living in Arizona, where assassins and mobs of believers still manage to hunt her down. Her relationship with her boisterous father (I loved him in Hummingbird's Daughter) sadly deteriorates. She strikes out on her own in turn-of-the-century America, taking her faith-healing gifts from Arizona to San Francisco, St. Louis and New York. She might be a saint but she's a famous and independent young woman "on tour." Whom can she trust? Whom can she love?

 It begs for a Hollywood epic. But first, Queen of America wants to be in your hands as you read by the fire with a nice glass of spirits.

Glen Ellyn area readers will be happy to know that we are hoping to plan another Cinco de Mayo this year with Luis Urrea. That will give you and your book club plenty of time to read both Hummingbird and Queen of America before another night of storytelling magic. Click here to go to our website to reserve a copy of the book or buy the Google e-book.

And for a great gift idea, you could wrap up a copy of this book into a gift basket with a bottle of tequila, a lime and some chips and salsa. Yum.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

In a post-everything era where old-school classics are being turned into bizarre zombie love stories (Pride And Prejudice And Zombies anyone?) or chick-lit romantic romps (from Bridget Jones’ Diary to all those sexed-up Mr. Darcy books) it is remarkable that an unembellished story of a love triangle among Ivy League college kids can still hook 21st century readers. In The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides proves that the romantic marriage-based plots of long-ago Jane Austen novels are not dead, and certainly not undead. Instead, they’re very much alive, along with their old-fashioned and timeless question: whom shall she marry?

The Marriage Plot is told from the alternating points of view of three college students who meet at Brown University (Eugenides’ alma mater) in the late 70’s: Madeleine, a smart, WASPY English major, Mitchell, a soul-searching Religious Studies major, and Leonard, a tall, mercurial bad-boy. It’s a choice as old as time.

Madeleine is a fan of 19th century novels, and in the first scene of The Marriage Plot, Eugenides gives us an intimate peek at her college bookshelf: 

There were her Edith Wharton novels, arranged not by title but date of publication; there was the complete Modern Library set of Henry James, a gift from her father on her twenty-first birthday; there were the dog-eared paperbacks assigned in her college courses, a lot of Dickens, a smidgen of Trollope. Along with good helpings of Austen, George Eliot and the redoubtable Bronte sisters. 

But Madeleine isn’t just a bookworm. She ventures out to a toga party where she meets Mitchell, a nice, curly-haired boy who is “good with parents.” Mitchell joins Madeleine on a trip home for Thanksgiving and impresses her traditional suburban family with dazzling Scrabble performances and manly games of pool. Mitchell misses his chance to make a big romantic move but continues to pine for her, his secret dream girl.

By senior year, Madeleine begins to feel a bit dowdy and conventional about her taste in literature. She’s drawn to a radical new English seminar that is popular with the cool black t-shirt crowd. It is there that Madeleine meets Leonard, a tall, handsome tobacco-chewing biology and philosophy major, who despite a crazy Jack Nicholson look, gives Madeleine a “strange fairy-tale feeling, as if she were a princess sitting beside a gentle giant.” 

And if The Marriage Plot would pause there, like an episode of The Bachelorette, and poll the readers: “whom should she choose?” --we’d shout out our advice: “pick Leonard!” – “pick Mitchell!” Or maybe, if we’re young at heart and have succumbed to Twilight vampire hype, we’d buy a t-shirt for “Team Mitchell” or “Team Leonard.” Because for some reason (who knows why, maybe our brains are just hardwired for it) we still love these romantic dilemmas. But then, after some boozy book club debate about the merits of each bachelor, we would quickly, addictively return to The Marriage Plot where we left off.

The novel follows the trio’s coming-of-age as they graduate and move forward with their post-graduation plans. Mitchell leaves on a spiritual world tour, including a stint of volunteer work with Mother Teresa. Leonard snags a prestigious biology fellowship but struggles with bipolar disorder. Madeleine follows Leonard and tries to nurse him through his wild mood swings. When Leonard and Madeleine are isolated in a small apartment at his lab in Cape Cod, you just might be reminded of some of the early scenes from The Shining. Leonard is losing it.

You begin to wonder whether Madeleine should choose either Leonard or Mitchell. It is, after all, 1982, and Madeleine is applying to graduate programs in feminist Victorian studies. This was the era when bumper stickers read: “A Woman Needs A Man Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle.” Madeleine has a nice-enough family and an empty room back in New Jersey waiting for her, complete with cozy Madeline wallpaper, in case she needs a place to crash and regroup after graduation. What she needs is a good girlfriend intervention. She needs to blast her Sony Walkman with loud, rowdy, move-on-with-your-life-without-a-guy break-up songs. 

But alas, Madeleine is young and in love, and a bit like some of those characters in the sentimental 19th century novels, she’s in love with being in love. During an earlier break-up with Leonard, Madeleine tried to soothe herself with some of the new literary analysis she’s been studying:
If you used your head, if you became aware of how love was culturally constructed and began to see your symptoms as purely mental, if you recognized that being “in love” was only an idea, then you could liberate yourself from its tyranny. Madeleine knew all that. The problem was, it didn’t work.
Ah yes, romance survives its scholarly deconstruction. The burning torch of the marriage plot is not so easily extinguished after all.

This trio’s tangled road to adulthood makes for an engaging story. The marriage plot is suspenseful - page-turningly so. We care about these characters; we’re invested in their future. And as they move forward with their lives, their bad 80’s fashion choices, their fairy-tale dreams and their youthful love triangle in the past, there is at least some good news. They don’t have to worry about vampires, zombies or The Bachelorette show for about 25 more years.

Come check out this book for yourself on The Bookstore's staff pick shelf. Available as a Google e-book on our website here for only $12.99. And come back to The Bookstore to take part in our informal poll: Team Leonard or Team Mitchell? Or maybe just Team Madeleine (a fish without a bicycle)?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Funny Man by John Warner
Beer & Book Signing Tuesday October 18th at 7pm

We hope you can make it to The Bookstore on Tuesday, October 18th at 7pm for a conversation with authors John Warner and Kevin Guilfoile.

Seriously, you have to pick up a copy of Warner's new book. Margie just finished it and loved it, calling it a "really moving combination of funny and sad." Plus, did you know Dave Eggers designed the cover? 

Come on down on Tuesday and find out if it is a mere coincidence that Warner named two of his characters Margie and Mrs. Kowalski. Seriously! How cool is that?

Please call (630) 469-2891 or email to RSVP. We're buying beer & pretzels to make it even more fun. You should come!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sister Carrie 
Literary Tour of Chicago

This month we joined the Glen Ellyn Historical Society Book Club in its reading of Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. One of the joys of reading Sister Carrie has been to follow Carrie on her journey through the streets and sights of Chicago in 1889. Dreiser wrote the book in 1900, but set it in a time when Chicago was on the verge of major change and development in preparation for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Chicago just wasn't the same in 1900 as it was in 1889 - and neither was Carrie Meeber. 

One of the remarkable things about a Sister Carrie Literary Tour is not how much has changed, but how much has been preserved. It might take a little imagination, but the ghosts are there among the landmarks. 

We are working on creating a map of all of these sights for a self-guided sightseeing tour. If we have enough people to sign up we will arrange a private bus tour from Glen Ellyn, which will include a cocktail hour at the Palmer House Hotel. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Sue or Margie at The Bookstore at (630) 469-2891, or comment below. 

All page references are to the Signet Classic Paperback Edition, 2009.

1.     Old Wells Street Train Station  

Carrie arrives on the Chicago and North Western train from Wisconsin, which in 1889 would have pulled into the old Wells Street Station at Wells and Kinzie. This station was torn down in 1911 when a new station was built on the west side of the Chicago River. The Merchandise Mart now stands at this location. This scene is where Carrie parts from Drouet and greets her sister Minnie Hanson (p. 9).

2.     State and Lake: Drouet’s Office 

Drouet pulls out a “neat business card” and hands it to Carrie on the train, trying to impress her. As he says in the book: “ ‘This is the house I travel for,’ he went on, pointing to a picture on it, ‘corner of State and Lake.’ There was pride in his voice.” (p. 7)


The Page Brothers Building is a Chicago Landmark that represents the only standing cast iron fa├žade building that was built after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This may have been Drouet’s building, but if not, it is a good representation of the types of structures standing at the corner of State & Lake in the Sister Carrie era. The Chicago Theater had not yet been built.

3.     Minnie Hanson’s Flat 

Dreiser says that Minnie Hanson’s flat is located at 354 West Van Buren. It is described as a working class neighborhood inhabited by laborers and clerks (pp. 7, 11).The current location of this address is on the east bank of the Chicago River, underneath the Congress Street bridge in the middle of the Lower Wacker construction project.

This address is probably fictional, because the book describes Carrie walking east on Van Buren through an area of “shanties and coalyards” until she finally came upon the river. Dreiser seems to be picturing Minnie’s flat to be several blocks west of the river, possibly in the Halsted Street neighborhood. Later in the book, when Carrie agrees to move out of her sister’s flat, Drouet says he will “come out as far as Peoria and wait for her.” (p. 71). Peoria is two blocks west of Halsted.

“354 West Van Buren” in 2011. Images by Margie White.

4.  Carrie’s Job Search Across the Loop

Carrie’s brother-in-law recommends she start her job search at the commercial establishments on Franklin. She spots a dry goods wholesaler (“Storm & King”) on Franklin, but she chickens out and wanders aimlessly through the Loop. She is said to have walked past Madison, Monroe, La Salle, Clark, Dearborn and State, until she backtracked to apply for a job at Storm & King. They didn’t have any job openings, but they suggested she go apply at the department stores on State Street (pp. 16-20).

Chicago Landmark: Lake-Franklin Group buildings

“As the oldest remaining buildings in the Loop, this commercial block represents a rare example of what downtown Chicago looked like when it rebuilt from the Fire of 1871. These early-Victorian era buildings exhibit many of the distinctive features of post-Fire architecture, including cast-iron columns, incised stonework, decorative window hoods, and arched window openings. Located just one block from the Chicago River, this intact group of "mercantile loft" structures is one of the last remnants of the city's wholesaling district, an area that was integral to Chicago's status in the late-19th century as the world's largest market for grain, lumber, livestock, and provisions. The early occupants of these buildings represent a compendium of period wholesalers: a tannery and leather dealer, a manufacturer of iron and woodworking machinery, a sandstone company, a steam heating company, mitten and hat manufacturers, and a corner saloon.”

5.      The Fair Department Store 

Carrie finally asked a policeman for directions to the department stores of Chicago, and he directed her to The Fair on State Street. It was one of the more modest department stores along what was then called the “Ladies Half-Mile.” Dreiser uses clothing to portray social standing, so when the policeman sent Carrie to The Fair, he had already judged her unworthy of the higher-end department stores like Field’s or Carson, Pirie Scott. He was right. Carrie was enthralled, and found it to be a “showplace of dazzling interest and attraction.” (pp. 21-22)

The Fair occupied nearly every building along the north side of Adams between State and Dearborn. According to Chicago Urban History:

The Fair was one of several major department stores that operated along Chicago's State Street during the early twentieth century and helped transform the city's Loop district into a bustling center of entertainment and leisure. Known for the affordability and practicality of its merchandise, The Fair never attracted the so-called "carriage trade." Instead, it catered primarily to Chicagoans of more modest incomes: middle-class professionals, working-class men and women, and first- and second-generation immigrants. One of the store's most widely dissiminated [sic] marketing slogans promised “ ‘Everything for Everybody under one roof' at a cheap price.”

The Fair, circa 1906. Source: Library of Congress  

6. Jackson & Wells, Near Carrie’s Place of Employment

After Carrie’s disappointment at The Fair, she heads back west along the south side of Jackson Boulevard. She stops to apply at a hat-making shop on Jackson. She then crosses Fifth Avenue (now known as Wells Street) and spots the fictional Rhodes, Morgenthau and Scott, the wholesale shoe company where she is briefly employed (pp. 20-21).

Corner of Jackson and Wells in 2011.
Image by Margie P. White

The McKlintock building in the background
was built in 1896 and was not standing in
Carrie’s era, but would have been there
when Dreiser wrote the book in 1900.

7.   Union Park Church in Ogden Place Neighborhood
In Chapter 10, Dreiser states that “Drouet had taken three rooms, furnished, in Ogden     Place, facing Union Park, on the West Side. . . . The best room looked out upon the lawn of the park. . . . Over the bare limbs of the trees, . . . rose the steeple of the Union Park Congregational Church.” (pp. 90-91)

Union Park Congregational Church was built in 1869, survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and temporarily housed city workers while government offices were being reconstructed. Abolitionist leaders Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman are said to have spoken at the church. Martin Luther King Jr. also addressed the congregation. It was in the news recently when its spire was damaged in the heavy snow and lightning in February, 2011.

       1613 W. Washington, Chicago, Image:

8.   West Jackson Historic District

Although Carrie and Drouet lived on Ogden Place, Ogden Avenue at Union Park is very commercial now. In order to capture the feel of the upper and middle-class neighborhood as it was in 1889, go to the West Jackson Historic District, located on the 1500 block of West Jackson, which is a Chicago Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

West Jackson Blvd. Then (1906)
Source: Unknown

West Jackson Blvd. Now

Images by Margie White

West Jackson homes for sale in 2011 in $700,000-$1 million range.

9. Jefferson Park, Now Skinner Park 

In Chapter 15, Hurstwood writes to Carrie “asking her to meet him in Jefferson Park, Monroe Street.” They met on a “rustic bench beneath the green leaves of a lilac bush which bordered one of the paths.” (p. 142)

Jefferson Park is now known as Skinner Park, and although it is surrounded by the Whitney Young Magnet School, the Chicago Police Training Academy, and the new Skinner Elementary School, it is still a lovely and lively city park with paths, park benches and a playground. 

     Skinner Park “Sister Carrie” Benches 2011, Images by Margie White

More Information

For more information about the locations in Sister Carrie, there is a list available on Goodreads. Very few of these locations exist today, but there are some historical and current images available on the web. Not all of the websites provided are accurate or operational.

# 1.354 West Van Buren (the Hansons' flat). [Fictional]
# 2.No. 29 Ogden Place (Carrie and Drouet's flat). [Fictional]

# 3.Bartlett, Caryoe and Co. (Drouet's employer). Corner of State and Lake. [Fictional] -- this bldg. was at the corner of State and Lake
# 4.Rhodes, Morgenthau and Scott (shoe company where Carrie is employed). Adams and Fifth Avenue. [Fictional]
# 5.The Boston Store. 118–20 State.
# 6.Schlesinger and Mayer. State at southeast corner of Madison.
# 7.Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co. 234 W. Madison.
# 8.The Fair. State, Adams, and Dearborn.
# 9.Sea and Co. 122–24 State.
# 10.Siegel, Cooper and Co. 185–89 Madison.

# 11.Grand Opera House. Clark, near Washington.
# 12.Criterion Theater. 87 Sedgwick.
# 13.McVicker's Theater. Madison, between State and Dearborn.
# 14.Hooley's Theater. Randolph, near La Salle.
# 15.Chicago Opera House. Washington, between Clark and LaSalle.
# 16.Columbia Theater. Monroe, between Clark and Dearborn.
# 17.Avery Hall. Madison and Throop (Carrie makes her acting debut here in Under the Gaslight). [Fictional]
# 18.H. R. Jacob's. Halstead and Madison.
# 19.Standard Theater. 169 S. Halstead.

# 20.Tremont Hotel. Dearborn and Lake.
# 21.Grand Pacific Hotel. Jackson and Clark.
# 22.Palmer House. State, southeast corner Monroe. (Link is a later, 1925 structure)
# 23.Windsor Hotel (Drouet and Carrie dine here before the seduction). Dearborn, between Madison and Monroe.
# 24.Rector's (Hurstwood and Drouet favor this restaurant). Clark and Monroe.
# 25.Hannah and Hogg's (Hurstwood is manager of this resort). Adams, opposite Federal Building.
# 26.Kinsley's Restaurant. 106–7 Adams.

# 27.The Exposition. Michigan Avenue at Adams.
# 28.Michigan Central Railroad Depot (Carrie is tricked by Hurstwood into boarding the train from this depot). Michigan and Lake.
# 29. Union Park Congregational Church, 60 N. Ashland Ave.

Historic maps and buildings in Chicago

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Read Sister Carrie with the Glen Ellyn Historical Society Book Club this September

Attention Glen Ellyn area readers!

There is still time to pick up the September pick for the Glen Ellyn Historical Society Book Club. The next meeting is Thursday, September 22nd from 10am to Noon at the History Center on Main Street.

The Bookstore has paperback copies in stock, so stop in, pick one up and join us. Some of us are even thinking about following up with a Chicago area field trip based on the book.

Here's a post I wrote about it when I read Sister Carrie for the second time just last year:

Sister Carrie (Theodore Dreiser, 1900) is one of my favorite Chicago novels. I recommend Sister Carrie to our local book clubs because it offers moral ambiguity, an early feminist sensibility and layers upon layers of social commentary that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.

Sister Carrie is ripe with opportunities for an interesting historical Chicago Literary Tour. The online version of the Pennsylvania edition includes a list of all of the locations mentioned in the book, from Carrie's sister's flat at 354 West Van Buren to Carrie and Drouet's love nest at Ogden Place.

I would recommend starting your Sister Carrie tour on State Street, because Carrie was so easily seduced by the charms of department store windows. You could stroll through the old Marshall Fields (it will never be Macy's to me), and then have lunch or a drink in the historic Palmer House Hotel on Monroe Street (where Drouet and Hurstwood stayed in Chapters 24-27).

If you're adventuresome, your tour should include a visit to the near west side, particularly Skinner Park (formerly Jefferson Park), where Carrie meets Hurstwood ("on a rustic bench beneath the green leaves of a lilac bush") and they first discuss the possibility of running away together.

* * * *

If you're interested in joining us on a literary tour this fall, leave a comment here or stop in and visit Margie or Sue at The Bookstore. We hope you can make it to the Glen Ellyn Historical Society's book club meeting on September 22nd.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

E-Books Now Available At The Bookstore!

Where You Purchase Your E-Books
Makes A Difference in Your Community


Our loyal customers know how long we have waited to be able to bring Google E-Books to our website! The fantastic news is that we are now able to offer you e-books at the same low prices as our competitors. Most e-books are priced in the neighborhood of $9 to $12.

We thank you for your patience, and hope it's not too late to convince you to change your e-book purchasing habits. Our Google E-books may be downloaded to your computer, the i-pad, Sony e-readers, and even your i-phone! The only device they are not compatible with is the Kindle. That is because the Kindle is a proprietary device owned and controlled by Amazon.

For our customers who have already bought Kindles, we are very sorry to lose your e-book business. However, we hope we can still be your number one choice for print books and children's books. Please continue to join us for book club nights and author events, and support us in any other way you can. Perhaps when you upgrade to your next generation e-reader, tablet or device, you could choose a different device that will help you support your local community. Not only does The Bookstore collect sales tax, we contribute to various schools, libraries and not-for-profits right here in Glen Ellyn. We give back right in our own backyard. Something to think about.

ANYWAY, Go check out our new website and the new Google E-Book feature on the right sidebar. (Go ahead, have you got something better to do right now?) Open a Google account if you don't already use gmail, and you're good to go. Maybe you'd like to purchase one of the Staff Picks you see here on the side of this blog, or under the Staff Picks Tab of our new website? HINT, HINT!

If you have any how-to questions, or need some help trouble-shooting, just shoot us an email or call the store at (630) 469-2891. Most of our employees have completed their own e-book purchases by now and should be able to help you.

We thank you for your support. We really do.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tom Montgomery Fate Appearing at the Glen Ellyn Public Library on June 9th

Tom Montgomery Fate, Glen Ellyn area author of Cabin Fever, A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild, will be appearing at the Glen Ellyn Public Library on Thursday, June 9th at 7pm to celebrate the publication of his new book. Book sales and signing available.

Tom Montgomery Fate is the author of five books of nonfiction, including Beyond the White Noise (1997), a collection of essays,Steady and Trembling (2005), a spiritual memoir, and Cabin Fever (2011), a nature memoir. His essays have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, Orion, Iowa Review, Fourth Genre, Riverteeth, Sojourners, Christian Century, and many other journals and anthologies; and they regularly air on National Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio. A graduate of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and of Chicago Theological Seminary, he is currently a professor of English at College of DuPage, in suburban Chicago, where he also lives. He and his wife Carol have three children.

"This quietly marvelous book is really a mystery novel at heart. The mystery is, How to live? Tom Montgomery Fate . . . sets out to answer this question, meandering, with Thoreau as his companion, toward the truth - or more accurately, the truths." -- David Gessner, author of Soaring with Fidel

For more information go to Tom Montgomery Fate's website.