Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bookstore Tour: The Strand

The Strand - Manhattan, New York City (Greenwich Village)
Basics: Gigantic bookstore of “18 Miles of Books” fame
Size: 3 large floors plus basement (“the Strand Underground”)
The Goods: New and Used
First Impression:
(Actually my second impression since I was here about a month ago but still) HUGE. Lots of books. Lots of people. Lots of everything. It was overwhelming and confusing when I first walked in, but it was BOOKS so I didn’t mind the madness.
Finds and Features:
I unexpectedly stumbled acrossthe as-of-yet-to-be-released Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell in the Young Adult section. I was so excited to get my hands on a copy a few weeks ahead of time! Plus, it was only $9.50 for the hardcover. Most other new YA hardcovers were $15 or $16.
The selection at the Strand is unbelievable. I mostly found myself browsing the display tables that were set up (staff picks, Strand 80, real books cheaper than kindle books). This was an easy way to see highlights from the Strand’s collection, although there was plenty more in the stacks.
The basement or “Strand Underground” has a section of new books at half price. When I first saw the ancient sign advertising this deal I thought it was just a throwback to an old Strand discount. But it’s true! There is a whole section of hardcover books at half the list price!
Pricing:  Below list price. I’d guess that about half of the Strand’s new books are a few dollars below list price. The other half are well below list price (for example, I paid $7.95 for Nicole Krauss’s Great House when the list price is $14.95). Used books in the sale outside range from $1-5.
Tip: Look through all the copies of the book you’re interested in. You might find one cheaper than the rest! I looked through a few copies of Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan that were $14 until I found one that was $8.
What I Bought:
  • Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  • Great House by Nicole Krauss
  • Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
  • Point Omega by Don DeLillo
How I Felt When I Left: Tired but happy
Website: Strand Books

Friday, August 30, 2013

30 in 30 Challenge Wrap-Up

Last Thursday marked the end of my 30 in 30 challenge. I didn’t quite reach 30 books, but I still read more than I ever have in a month! It was actually quite a fun challenge. Here is the final list of books that I read:
  1. French Milk by Lucy Knisley (graphic memoir)
  2. The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler (nonfiction, drama)
  3. So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away by Richard Brautigan (fiction)
  4. The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery (Children’s fiction)
  5. A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (poetry)
  6. Saga: Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (graphic novel)
  7. Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue (short stories)
  8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (fiction)
  9. Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (graphic novel)
  10. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (fiction)
  11. Loteria by Mario Alberto Zambrano (fiction)
  12. I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (essays)
  13. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (fiction)
  14. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart (fiction)
  15. Questions About Angels by Billy Collins (poetry)
  16. Austenland by Shannon Hale (fiction)
  17. Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (fiction)
  18. Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff (novel in verse)
  19. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks (graphic novel)
  20. I Feel Bad About My Neck: and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (essays)
  21. Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnick (fiction)
  22. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa (short stories)
  23. The Boy Book by E. Lockhart (fiction)
  24. The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart (fiction)
  25. Crush by Richard Siken (poetry)
  26. Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart (fiction)
Favorite Reads:
  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (fiction)
  • The Ruby Oliver Quartet by E. Lockhart
  • Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
  • The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
  • I Remember Nothing and I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

448 pages, will be published on September 10, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Cath Avery doesn’t like change. She doesn’t like starting her freshman year of college away from home. She doesn’t like that her twin sister and built-in best friend, Wren, is too busy drinking excessively and fraternizing with fraternities to room with her. She doesn’t like that her mother - the mother who left ten years earlier without another word - suddenly wants back into their lives. And she doesn’t like being away from her sometimes manic, but always loving father. Cath doesn’t like change, but she loves Simon Snow, the magical book series that has been a constant in her life for as long as she can remember. When she worries that her roommate, Reagan, hates her or that Reagan’s boyfriend Levi hangs around too much, Catch dives into the world of Simon Snow fan fiction, working on the magnum opus that she’s been writing for two years.

Simon Snow may bear some parallels to another famous boy wizard, but Cath’s story is unlike any I’ve read before. Catch is smart, brilliant even, but anxious and often incapable of dealing with life’s curve balls. When Cath’s handsome fiction-writing partner betrays her, she fumbles without fighting back. When she finally realizes that Levi has been hanging around for her and not her roommate, Cath doesn’t know how to react. But eventually she learns to allow the people around her, including Levi, to help when she needs it most. As Cath and Levi grow close, Cath’s other friendships and relationships waver. I found this wavering to be the best part of Fangirl. Because Cath’s life isn’t just a love story, or a story that ends when she gets into a relationship. Her life is about the strain that college puts on her relationship with Wren. It’s about her father’s work, his absentmindedness, and his devotion to his daughters. It’s about her passion for writing, her fear of creating something new, and her relationship with the fictional characters that she’s known for more than half of her life.

Fangirl can go from laugh-out-loud funny to tear-jerky within a page. It’s immensely readable because Cath is such a complex, relatable character. I felt her anxiety and fear, her joy and uncertainty as I turned the pages. And I couldn’t wait to see how her story, and Simon’s, ended.
Rating: 5/5

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bookstore Tour: Kinokuniya

Kinokuniya - Manhattan, New York City (Midtown West)
Basics: Bilingual (Japanese and English) bookstore
Size: 2 medium-sized floors plus basement
The Goods: New
First Impression: At first I thought that this was completely a Japanese-language bookstore based on the signage and window displays. I cannot, unfortunately, read Japanese but I decided to pop in anyways. I’m so glad I did! Kinokuniya is a welcoming, well-lit, and easily navigable space.
Finds and Features: As soon as I walked in I spotted Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn in paperback. I’ve been waiting for this to come out in paperback forever, scouring the Internet for a release date. Well, it’s still not out. But Kinokuniya had the UK import!
The second floor of Kinokuniya is pretty much completely manga, in both Japanese and English, plus DVDs. There were a few well-stocked rows of graphic novels as well.
Although my first impression was a little off, there were still a lot of Japanese elements and materials in the store: Japanese-language newspapers and books, toys and games, and of course, manga.  
Pricing: List price, aside from a few carts of clearance books.
What I Bought:
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • What a Wonderful World, Volume 1  by Inio Asano
How I Felt When I Left: Surprised and happy
Website: Books Kinokuniya
Apologies for the poor quality pictures!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

30 in 30 Challenge Update #2

Here I am again, nearing the end of the 30 in 30 challenge. I’ve fallen a few books behind, but we’ll see what happens when I reach day 30 next week.
Books I’ve read since my last update:
8.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (fiction)
9.  Saga, Volume 2 by Bryan K. Vaughan (graphic novel)
10.City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (fiction)
11. Loteria by Mario Alberto Zambrano (fiction)
12. I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (essays)
13. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (fiction)
14. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart (fiction)
15. Questions About Angels by Billy Collins (poetry)
16. Austenland by Shannon Hale (fiction)
17.Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (fiction)
18. Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff (fiction in verse)
19.Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks (graphic novel)
20.I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being A Woman by Nora Ephron (essays)
21. Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnick (fiction)
Currently Reading:
  • Polaroids from the Dead by Douglas Coupland
  • Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa
I went on a little Jane Austen homage kick over the past few weeks. Austenland by Shannon Hale was a quick and cute read about a Janeite who takes a vacation to a regency-themed estate in England. Amidst the bonnets and games of Whist, our heroine is torn between two charming men - one who represents the real world and one who embodies the fantasy of Austenland. Elizabeth Eulberg’s modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Prom and Prejudice, fell flat for me. Revolving around the prestigious prom at Longbourn Academy, several main characters in Eulberg’s story were left out or transformed into caricatures of Austen’s originals. I just finished another young adult adaptation of  Pride and Prejudice - Claire LaZebnick’s Epic Fail. I enjoyed this version a bit more than Eulberg’s, but the adaptation was a bit looser. I’m tempted to write more about modern versions of P&P in the future…
I’ve also read Nora Ephron’s two most recent collections of essays this month: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being A Woman and I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections. I love Nora Ephron. I love her movies. And I devoured her essays. Her humor is subtle and sophisticated, her intelligence isn’t the least bit showy, and her stories are immensely relatable. I can’t wait to read more of her older work and The Most of Nora Ephron comes out this fall.
The challenge ends on 8/22, so I’ll post after that with my final update!