After a recent trip to the UK, I quickly realized that if I thought my book buying habit was unsuitable in NYC, then my habit would quickly spiral out of control into pure addiction if I had stayed in England and Scotland one second longer. What could really feed my habit would be the £1 sale going on over at Halcyon Books in Greenwich.
Halcyon Books is a secondhand shop after my own heart. Books are piled taking up the majority of the space resulting in patrons having to scooch around each other muttering sincerest apologies.
After entering Halcyon, my [book-loving] friend and I were in pure joy. These were not bargain books that are allocated to the sad boxes in front of shops. I wanted to procure a book that was not necessarily “literature” but something well-written and enjoyable. The search stopped when I came across this frightening PD James cover (left). I immediately returned all other contenders to the shelf and went to the register.
We also had a look at the inner cover flap which proved to have a whole series of equally disturbing covers (right). Of course, I thought to myself: “This is it. Absolutely no more books.” Right.
As a poor writer of no importance, I must keep my spending in check. Of course, I wish I would have an endless supply of cash money and one of those fancy home libraries that really only exists in the movies. So, to help with my compulsion, I check out the cheap books that the sellers on the New York streets offer, utilize the public library, and hit up those wonderful organizations like my favorite Project Gutenberg, et al.
I have been stuck in ¡total distraction! perusing the many free titles on Amazon’s Kindle store. When I think of free books, I generally think of books in the public domain–classics, mythology, etc. Yet, yesterday, I came across a ton of stories by Philip K. Dick that are being offered for free. If you’re like me, the summer is time for some plotty fun. Perfect!
Also, not for free but for $0.99, are The Works of Nikolai Gogol, which includes the short story, “Viy,” which was made in to a fantastic film in Russia in 1967.
Last week, I was kindly invited to the launch party for Zola Books. I was unable to visit their booth at BookExpo America but all was explained to me at the company’s little shindig. I had heard of Zola about a month ago but I had a hard time understanding the concept because 1) I can be super dense when it comes to technology and 2) I’m not quite sure if there is any other service that is comparable so I had nothing to relate it to. I chatted with a few people but it wasn’t until I got the rundown from founder, Joe Regal (formerly of Regal Literary), was everything illuminated. He and his small group of employees are super passionate about what they are doing (especially about the aspect of Zola that will give more revenue to the author and smaller “brick-and-mortar” bookstores). According to Publishers Weekly,
Zola’s interface, Regal said, is designed to make book-buying a more pleasant and cleaner experience than it is on Amazon…Zola’s e-books are platform agnostic (meaning they can be downloaded on all major devices, including Kindle) and can be read off the site, but readers can also opt for a more interactive experience…Regal is not alone. A number of authors have invested in Zola. One writer who put her money where her mouth is, is Audrey Niffenegger. The e-book edition of her bestseller The Time Traveler’s Wife will be available exclusively at Zola when the site launches.
The article continues with a breakdown of some of the other features that Zola Books will offer. One of its goals seems to be a more positive experience for the author, readers, and indie booksellers. The website is not live yet, but I am looking forward to seeing the direction this company takes.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the first person on top of an internet trend or whatnot, but where have I been! Why did no one pull me out of my cave and show me AmazonCrossing. According to Publishers Weekly,
Amazon has established a second publishing imprint, launching, AmazonCrossing, which will do English-language translations of foreign-language books…Amazon said it will choose titles for AmazonCrossing the same way it does for AmazonEncore–using customer feedback and “other data from Amazon sites around the world to identify exceptional books deserving a wider, global audience.” In addition to selling the titles through its own channels, Amazon hopes to sell AmazonCrossing books in bookstores
AmazonCrossing has been around for two years and I’ve only now just stumbled across it. I like the concept. It is bringing international books to a broader American reading audience. It looks like the books are reasonably priced as both paperbacks and $3.99-$7.99 ebooks. Just more of a distraction for me from work and writing. It looks like you can contact them directly to propose a submission, email@example.com
For the frequent readers of this blog, you know that I’m located in the Big Apple. Because I live in NYC, I’m lucky to be exposed to many great cultural shenanigans–especially, writerly events. However, this post will be different.
I’ve noticed that many comments are from readers who wish they had something comparable in their home city.¹ Well, for those from South Florida, you’re in luck! I’ve been tipped off that John Barth will be reading and discussing a new essay from the most recent Granta. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know that Barth was still alive (many of his contemporaries have long been buried). The works of his I’m most familiar with are Lost in the Funhouse and Chimera.
I’ve been to Granta readings in the past and I’m sure the one in Miami will be enjoyable also. Here are the details:
Feb 7 2012 8:00 pm
John Barth reads and discusses his essay “The End?,” muse-inviting rituals and writing ‘nothing’ with writer and art critic Chauncey Mabe.
Granta 118: Exit Strategies (Grove, $16.99) is the latest issue of Granta, the magazine of the best new writing from around the world. This issue explores personal and political exit strategies with new work from Aleksandar Hemon, Claire Messud, John Barth, Susan Minot and more.
265 Aragon Ave | Coral Gables, Florida | 33134
¹I would still like to compile a list of book festivals, etc. that are outside of NYC and the United States. Please drop me a line if you have any info pertaining to this: acidfreepulp [at] gmail.com
Last night at Housing Works Bookstore, a dear dear dear writerly friend¹ and I went to the New York magazine Behind the Longreads panel. I usually turn into a pesky toddler squirming in their seat waiting for the moment of the final applause. However, this panel was fantastic.
The moderator was NYmag’s editor-in-chief and the panel consisted of 3 writers who published articles in the magazine in the past year. Because I had already read the articles, I found it particularly interesting to hear from the writers themselves about how much work and time goes into researching and writing the pieces. One of the writers said that his original draft was 50, 000 words! But it had to be trimmed to 10, 000 for the magazine.
Below are the writers and the articles they discussed:
¹FRIEND PLUG ALERT! My dear dear dear writerly friend is amazing. Her works has appeared in various publications including The Believer, Symphony, Forward. All of her articles for the New Yorker’s Book Bench are available in their archives.
The Literary Man and I braved the chill last night to attend FSG’s Work in Progress presents Nerd Jeopardy. Unfortunately, we weren’t chosen to compete but after a few glasses of red wine, I was confidently and inappropriately saying answers aloud.
The fine folks at Work in Progress compile a huge amount of literary answers/questions in the style of Jeopardy! Heckling is encouraged and according to the event website,
There are assorted prizes…You will leave the event vindicated for majoring in 19th-Century Russian Poetry. And because of the free drinks, you will also leave the event slightly tipsy.
A good time and highly recommended, but get there early because seats are limited and it’s in the basement of McNally Jackson.
52 Prince St | New York, New York | 10012
One of my most popular posts was The Mysterious Bookshop. To catch you up to speed–The Mysterious Bookshop is a store in lower Manhattan that specializes in crime/mystery fiction. Today, one of my loyal readers (read: my mother), forwarded me an email with information about a similar store in Delray Beach, Florida. It is called Murder on the Beach. I’ve never been there so I can’t vouch for it but it looks like they have some great events coming up. If anyone in South Florida visits this store, drop me a line and let me know what you think. Enjoy!
273 Pineapple Grove Way | Delray Beach, FL | 33444 | 561.279.7790
courtesy of Google
Westsider Books is seriously, one of my favorite book shops in the city. Besides used and rare books, they also sell music. A few years ago, I stumbled across this store while I was walking down the street. Anyone could have missed it. FOREVER, there was scaffolding covering the entrance.
Inside the two-level store, books are jammed everywhere. They have some kind of arrangement going on but there are still so many books inside that they have to make piles on the steps leading to the second floor. The few employees make a good effort of dividing the books into appropriate sections (fiction, philosophy, plays, etc.). I am really taken with their WWII history section which I have aptly titled, ‘The Hitler Section.’
Outside, they always have a treasure trove of $1 books and when the Occupy Wall Street library books were destroyed, Westsider offered these books up for free to the occupants.
Truthfully, I’ve only ventured to the top floor once. I’m usually perusing the well-stocked fiction section and the aforementioned wall-o-Hitler books that call the first floor home. Last month, I finally trekked up to the second floor where the rare books are kept. The prices are out of my league but it’s still a pleasure to take a look. To get a better idea of the interior of the store, I snapped a crummy photo on my cell phone (below).
2246 Broadway | New York, NY | 10024
courtesy of NYU Local
Whenever my Brooklyn Mamma visits Manhattan, we always make a trip to her old stomping grounds in Soho. Somehow my mother has never made it to one of my favorite bookstores in the city, Housing Works. As part of a larger non-profit organization to assist those living with HIV/AIDS, all of the proceeds of the bookstore go to this noble cause.
The used bookstore itself is beautiful. It has high ceilings with a second level and was most likely a former industrial space. In the back is a small cafe with tasty coffee and wine. All of the employees are volunteers and a pleasure to chat with. Once a month, they take 30% off store-wide and for the month of December, every day is 10% off.
Seriously, this bookstore has so many great finds. They have a HUGE literature section and have wonderfully organized their other sections like, history, psychology, horror, etc.
I made out with a couple of great finds (both paperbacks): Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson [$3] and a novel I’ve never heard of but stuck out to me because of the subject matter which I will gift to a friend, Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital [$7.50]. Also, as a congratulatory gift, my mother bought me an old book of German poetry from the 19th and early 20th Centuries for a $1 in honor of recent news about the translation project I am working on. My project sponsor has decided to send me back to Germany next year!
Housing Works is great to stroll around in for an hour or to meet a friend for coffee and a fresh knish. Once a year, they also have a marathon reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
126 Crosby Street, New York, NY