Monday, April 22, 2013

Billions of Reasons Why You Should Read Carl Sagan's "Billions & Billions," a Blog Post from Halley.

If you're a frequent visitor of our store or our blog, you're probably familiar with our little St.George's Day (April 23rd) competition, I'm also going to assume that you've read Hannah and Paul's pleas for purchase of their books.  Hannah gave you ten reasons for why you should be reading The Illumination,  and Paul one upped her by listing eleven reasons why you should read Cormac McCarthy's Child of God.

I am now presenting you with the ultimate one upmanship by presenting you with ONE BILLION reasons why you need Carl Sagan's Billions & Billions. At least, that was my original plan. Based on the fact that simply counting to a billion would take a person over 31 years, I have decided to pick several of the more compelling of my one billion reasons.

#1. It's Carl freaking Sagan.

#345. The reading of Carl Sagan is a fact that is both impressive to friends and enemies alike. Wow and awe those around you with your new-found hoight-toighty sciency self.

#1224. It's good to get out of your comfort zone. I'm assuming that a lot of our customers don't read science based books for fun. If you're a fiction lover, this is the perfect gateway book to not only nonficiton, but to science writing. Billions & Billions is a collection of essays, which makes it pretty accesable if you're apprehensive of reading an entire book about science. The essay format gives you the ability to pick and choose how indepth you want to get with the book.

#90,546. It talks about important and modern issues. Even though the book is now sixteen years old, Sagan was talking about issues that are still heavily debated today. Billions & Billions covers climate change, green energy, censorship, abortion, and war, amongst other things.

#322,411. The book is humorous. This may be a bit of a shock, but Sagan was actually a funny guy. He was frequently a guest on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, and Carson's parody of Sagan is the origin of the book's title.

#109,201,200. Even more impressive than Sagan's humor is his humility. This book was written while Sagan was battling a horrific disease that would eventually lead to his death. Sagan writes about his battle and remains to have a beautiful and inspiring outlook on life.

#847,193,645. It's fun to root for (and support!) the underdog. Billions & Billions is in a real niche when compared to my coworkers' choices for the contest. As soon as I saw what I was up against, I knew that I was in for a rough ride. Help pull of the upset of the month.

#1,000,000,000. Science is sexy, but science by a turtle-necked genius is even sexier. Show your support for eloquent science and turtle necks with the purchase of this book.

This eloquent plea for Carl Sagan's Billions and Billions brought to you by St. George's Day. Celebrate with a plush dragon, available in taupe or green.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

11 Reasons Why Cormac McCarthy's Child of God is (Actually) the Best Book You'll Read this Month

Okay, so you've read Hannah's latest post. I'll admit it, those are some pretty good reasons to buy "The Illumination." But I think there's something I have in support of my selection, Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," that Hannah doesn't have: an extra reason. That's right, without further ado, 11 Reasons Why Child of God is the Best Book You'll Read this Month:

1. It situates itself squarely within the Southern Gothic literary tradition. While reading this book you may find yourself asking aloud: "What is this I'm reading? Is it Faulkner? Is it Flannery O'Connor? Eudora Welty?" Answer: no, it's just one of the strongest and most lyrical American writers alive today at his finest.

2. It asks big questions. If you're a fan of fiction that's not afraid to take on big subjects this book is for you. In a scant 195 pages McCarthy raises problems of grace and violence, depravity and free will, and a common human nature implicates us all in the actions of those we deem to be moral monsters. Woah.

3. Two words: cover art. Vintage has released editions of almost all McCarthy's work with parallel, gorgeous cover art. This could be the first in a magnificent collection.

4. Did you like "The Road?" Did you enjoy making your way through "The Border Trilogy"? Here's a McCarthy book that you'll like just as much, and that you can then recommend to your friends (seriously, like no one has even heard of this McCarthy book. Like it before it's cool!).

5. No one does violence or the grotesque like McCarthy, and no where is it more lyrically rendered than in this book.

6. Because I'll give you a better high-five than Hannah.

7. It's a quick read. You can do it! Sick of all those 600 page tomes that you optimistically purchased and then stopped reading after the first forty pages? This slim volume (at 195 pages, I'm telling you, you can do it!) doesn't sacrifice anything in terms of content, but it's realistic. Seriously: you can do it!

8. Because just because! (Trust me!)

9. What else are you going to spend $15 on? Hannah's book? Puh-lease! (Actually, Hannah's book is really good from what I hear, but don't let that sway you!)

10. Because who needs quotation marks? (McCarthy sensibly does away with all those frills of punctuation like quotation marks, apostrophes and basically anything other than periods.)

11. Do it for America. McCarthy is an example (like Denis Johnson or, I think, Marilynne Robinson) of how contemporary fiction writers can carry on the themes and tropes that have typically preoccupied American writers. So this book might not just be your best read this month, it could also be the most patriotic.

The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier is the best book you will read this month!

We are having a "friendly" bookselling competition at the store and I want to win.  I picked the Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier as my book to champion.  To compel you to come in and buy a copy, I give you ten indisputable reasons why you should.

1. My favorite prose is that in which beautifully crafted sentences give me goosebumps.  The Illumination gave me ostrichbumps.

2. His last name is Brockmeier.  Half of my last name is Breimeier.  He knows how to spell the "meier" part of his name the right way, therefore he is great and therefore you would like his book.

3. The book is set in a world where suddenly, light emanates from physical pain.  Papercuts emit a small glow, internal bleeding blinds.  It is fun to imagine my wounds shining.  Glitter would become obsolete, which some would consider a good thing.

4. If you enjoy the Illumination, Brockmeier has other delicious writing.  You'll thank me for introducing you to your new favorite author.

5. I will give you a high five.  I am very good at giving high fives because I look at your elbow when doing them.  I can't complete a good high five, however, if you don't also bring it.

6. The cover is really cool.  There are so many bad covers out there, you should buy a book where the cover is as good as the contents and vice versa.

7. For $15 you can have a book whose characters will stay with you for a while or three beers that you'll regret the next day at work.

8. The other books in the competition are just not as good.  That is my completely unbiased opinion, I'm like a journalist!

9. I'm not the only one geeking out about the Illumination, here's Scott Hutchins' review for the New York Times.

10. If you buy it, you will help me on my path to glory.  Everyone likes the winner.  Don't let me suffer from second place depression.  There's enough sadness in the world, why add to it?