Monday, April 30, 2012

Serena by Ron Rash

So back to Park Road Books in Charlotte where the conversation the bookseller was having with the customer concerned the changes from the hardback to the paperback cover art for Serena. I bought the book because it takes place in North Carolina and later found out there is a movie in the works. Better yet! I think the book will lend itself well to the big screen. Serena is a feisty woman who married George Pemberton in 1929. Together they build a timber empire in the North Carolina woods. The opening chapter concerns a brutal act of violence that sets the tone for the rest of the novel. I'm not a huge historical fiction fan, but Ron Rash is not a timid writer and Serena is not a woman you would want to cross.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I picked up an IndieBound flyer when we visited Park Road Bookstore in Charlotte, NC and read the blurb for this book. Cheryl Strayed encountered loss in her twenties, but instead of going out and baking pies like Beth Howard of Making Piece, she decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. She had no previous hiking experience. In fact, she had never carried a back pack until she hoisted her fully loaded "monster" onto her shoulders to begin her trek. Emotionally gripping, this memoir kept my interest and an provided an opportunity to laugh a little and cry a little.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Main Street Books in Davidson, NC

Davidson is one charming North Carolina town. We drove up from Charlotte to check out a few places - Birdsnest Music, Toast for Lunch and Main Street Books. The bookstore is small and rather haphazardly arranged. I did not see a very large fiction section but rather books about gardening, cookbooks and children's books.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Carry the One by Carol Anshaw

This book garnered lots of early praise as one where a tragic opening scene is followed by a thought-provoking study of how different individuals cope with tragedy.  Carmen marries Matt in the opening chapter, and when a car full of drunk - and drugged - wedding guests kill a young girl walking on the street on their way home from the wedding, all of these characters lives become knit in a variety of ways. The story begins in 1983 and follows the characters up through - you guessed it - 9/11.  I would call the events believable, the characters a bit shallow, and the prose clear and fresh.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Very Cool Used Bookstore - Book Buyers in Charlotte, NC

Book Buyers is located at 1308 The Plaza # F Charlotte, NC 28205 in an area of the city we had not visited before where there are cool vintage and antique stores and a pawn shop. This used bookstore was HUGE. So large that a deconstructed airplane is hanging for the ceiling. Much browsing. No purchases.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Park Road Bookstore - Charlotte, NC

We found this independent bookstore on a visit to visit my #1 son last year during spring break. He took us for breakfast at The Flying Biscuit (highly recommended) and mentioned there was a pretty cool bookstore in the same strip center. This year we returned because I love bookstores that feature lots of employee recommendations displayed with the books. These people talk books. As I was browsing, I overheard a conversation between the bookseller and a customer - obviously a frequent customer - about the paperback cover of Ron Rash's Serena. It was a compelling enough conversation to make me find the book on the shelf and eventually buy it on the way out. Nice store!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Taylor Books - Charleston, West Virginia

Now that we live in a town without a bookstore, we crave visits to one even more, so as we set off south for a spring break trip, we pulled off the highway in Charleston, West Virginia to check out Taylor Books. Thanks to the IndieBound app on my phone, I can search for cool independent bookstore while on the road and this one has a website that describes it this way - "Located on Capitol Street in beautiful downtown Charleston, WV, Taylor Books is an independent bookstore, coffee shop, cafe, and art gallery. Opened by Ann Saville in 1995, Taylor Books has become a landmark and must-visit destination. We invite you to take advantage of our broad selection of books and wide variety of hard-to-find magazines." We found the store easily on a brick street full of other inviting bakeries, shops and galleries. The bookstore includes a large gallery space with local artists' work displayed. Since I can't leave an independent bookstore without making a supportive purchase, I bought a copy of The Chicken Chronicles: A Memoir by Alice Walker.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie by Beth Howard

I bought this book as a gift for my mother-in-law who was holed up in a rehab center following surgery because she is arguably the Queen of Apple Pie in Athens County, Ohio. Then I read the first sentence: “I killed my husband. I asked for a divorce, and seven hours before he was to sign the divorce papers, he died.” Oh my. My mother-in-law is a widow. This might not be a cheerful little book about pie. Then, there was the line in the intro alluding to the legacy of pie appreciation she inherited from her mother which said, “If only my mom hadn’t made my dad that banana cream pie. Fuck pie.” I continued reading, and the book is now, happily, with my mother-in-law because it is the perfect book for her – and for you – if you love baking pie. Or if you love the famous American Gothic painting by Grant Wood. Making Pie is Beth Howard’s recap of her odyssey from despair in LA to the American Gothic House where she now resides in Iowa and runs the Pitchfork Pie Stand. Her journey, across American in a pie-themed RV, includes visits to famous pie establishments, her stints as a judge in county fair pie eating contests and her efforts to distribute free pie. This book charmed me.

Learn more about Beth’s story by visiting her blog - The World Needs More Pie

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Arcadia by Laura Groff

I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I had received an Advance Readers copy and kept it on the shelf, and decided to kick-start spring break week with a fun book about a Utopian commune in New York State, circa 1970. I found the protagonist, Bit, who is little bitty small child at the beginning of the novel, charming enough. But when the sham of idealism takes over Arcadia, and the novel moves forward many years, I lost interest. Not enough hippie in me - not enough drug use? For whatever reason, I was happy to leave this perfect place.