This week at Eight Cousins . . .
Friday, February 9, 2018
It's been a month since the flood. Sometimes if feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels like 10 years ago. But time is funny like that. I don't think that I've ever experienced a January that has gone by this quickly.
On Friday, our buyers team (Books, Children's Books and Gifts) visited four independent bookstores in MA. Besides being an excellent way to spend the day, we were on a mission. We looked at shelving, displays, and register areas as well as gifts. We also connected with friends.
The network for independent booksellers is strong. We attend several conferences a year coordinated by the American Booksellers Association. Eight Cousins is also an active member of the New England Independent Booksellers Association as well as the New England Children's Booksellers advisory council. These two regional associations are geographically close enough to meet throughout the year, in addition to our annual Fall Conference.
We started our trek at Belmont Books. Belmont Books
is a relatively new store that opened on June 16, 2017. Send 1st Birthday cards to 79 Leonard Street, Belmont, MA 02478. Besides being recently designed, with the latest in bookstore shelving, Belmont Books is managed by Tildy. Look familiar? Tildy worked at Eight Cousins between 2008 and 2015. Now she also oversees a fabulous children's department at Belmont Books. They grow up so fast.
Our next stop was Brookline Booksmith. Brookline Booksmith was founded in 1961. Looks like every indie bookstore and their customers owe the original store, Paperback Booksmith, a debt of gratitude. According to their website, they were one of the first bookstores to display the books by category, rather than by publisher! THANK YOU! Brookline Booksmith, in addition to having excellent book and children's book selections, has a gift shop that is most definitely worth the drive.
After lunch with Joanne's daughter, our third planned bookstore visit was to Papercuts J. P. in Jamaica Plain. Papercuts J. P.
opened its doors in November 2014. I often hear Papercuts described as creatively maximizing a small space. Careful and thoughtful curation is vital in a small store. It means making a lot of hard decisions, but also feeling confident that every book in the store has been selected for a reason. Papercuts recently expanded and now has a wonderful kid's section. As we've been talking at Eight Cousins about reallocating, and possibly reducing, our inventory, it was extremely beneficial (and inspirational!) to visit this successful and uniquely curated store.
Finally, we decided we had enough extra time to visit one more store on the way home. Buttonwood Books and Toys
in Cohasset went through a change in ownership not long before Eight Cousins and the "new" owners have always been a wealth of helpful information and advice. Buttonwood is half bookstore and half toy store, so we had to stop in to check out their epic toy selection. Takeaway: we need more stuffed animals.
Visiting these four phenomenal, successful, thriving independent bookstores is a good reminder that we are part of a bigger ecosystem. We're fighting hard to regrow, but Eight Cousins cannot survive on its own. We actually depend on two ecosystems: a healthy Main Street in Falmouth and a healthy network of independent bookstores.
More about the supportive business community on Main Street and in Falmouth next week. For now, please help us celebrate our network of independent bookstores.
Yes, you may submit more than one.
Yes, booksellers, you may submit your own stores.
In fact, please do! The more the merrier and the more wonderful opportunities to browse, experience, and discover the best books that the publishing industry has to offer.
~ Eight Cousins
Upcoming Author Events schedule:
February 20 at 2 pm
Richard Thomas, author of Why Bob Dylan Matters at the Museums on the Green
Only Killers and Thieves
Paul Howarth's debut novel, Only Killers and Thieves, depicts the harsh life in the Australian outback in the late 19th century. The narrator, Tommy (aged 14), and his older brother visit a water hole for a day of swimming, only to return home to tragedy. In desperation and seeking revenge, the two fall under the harsh grip of John Sullivan, a wealthy, unscrupulous landowner whose goal is to disperse (read decimate) the indigenous tribes of Australia.
What follows is a horrific two weeks in the barren, searingly hot outback, tracking down a native tribe, under the direction of Inspector Edmund Noone of the feared Queensland Native Police. The events that transpire have a devastating impact on Tommy, an impact that haunts his dreams and drastically changes the course of his life.
Reminiscent of tales from the American West and the cruel treatment of Native Americans, Only Killers and Thieves details the British settlers' racist attitude toward the aborigines and the relentless removal of them from their native lands.
Due to graphic depictions of violence, Only Killers and Thieves is not for the faint of heart. Nevertheless,at its core it is a tale of "family, guilt, empire, race, manhood and faith." I was drawn into the story, its descriptions of the rugged and barren landscape, and the loneliness and harshness of life in the outback. I was particularly sympathetic to Tommy and the conflicts of conscience and survival he faced. I endured the violent passages, and in the end strongly recommend the book, a departure from my usual reading.
Melissa Castrillon, Illustrator
A new picture book, Yellow Kayak is a stunning blend of classic and contemporary. The illustrations feel timeless, but also contain a quirky modern sensibilities and humor. The text, short verses, convey friendship, mindfulness, exportation, adventure, and peacefulness. The calm ocean setting -- complete with lighthouse -- and the playful marine animals make Yellow Kayak a must-have book for Cape Cod residents and visitors alike.
The Stars Are Fire
In The Stars Are Fire, Shreve uses the true story of a massive fire in Maine in 1947 as the inspiration for her latest novel. Shreve’s description of first, the too rainy spring, followed by the too dry summer leading up to the fire leave you feeling moldy and then parched. Her telling of Grace Holland’s escape with her children is chilling. Grace is then left to put her family’s life back together. I find myself rooting for her to become a modern woman and in doing so, secure her independence.
When I visit NYC, everywhere I turn people have ear phones in: walking on the streets, in the gym, riding on the train. It brought to life Lynn Neary’s recent story on NPR. In her piece she reported on the growth in downloadable books and podcasts. Ah, ha! With all those activities audiobooks give you the ability to do two things at one time. More multi-tasking. But what I find with audiobooks is how she ended her report -- people want to hear a good story!
Interested in Joining a Book Club . . .
. . . but not able to commit to a monthly meeting?
Consider following the PBS NewsHour/New York Times Book Club, "Now Read This." Each month, the author of the book selected is interviewed, discussion questions are posed, and articles relating to the book are posted online. You can follow on your own schedule and at your own pace.
January 2018 was the first month for "Now Read This"; the book was Jasmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing
. The book for February is Killers of the Flower Moon
, by David Grann. There is an interview with David Grann at PBS NewsHour
, three discussion questions for the first week are posted, as well as a New York Times review of Killers of the Flower Moon
. At the end of the month, Grann will join correspondent Jeffrey Brown on the NewsHour broadcast to answer reader questions. Online, you can watch Jeffrey Brown’s interview with last month’s author, Jesmyn Ward.
So far, the articles, interviews and discussion questions have been very interesting and, even if you don't formally "join," the program enhances your reading! Killers of the Flower Moon
is only available in hardcover. The paperback version
is expected in early April. The book is also available in large print
, as well as digital audio
and audio CD