Selected independent booksellers offer their Top 50 lists.
“The desire to share books is the natural outcome of loving them,” writes award-winning novelist Ann Patchett in her lively preface to this lovingly rendered “catalogue of matchmakers.” Editor Weyandt, co-owner of Micawber’s Books in St. Paul, Minn., developed the idea after a customer asked him to share a list of personal favorites. He continued the tradition, asking booksellers from across the country to contribute their lists and offer insight into whom they trust to recommend books, the reading material on their own nightstands, and the keys to operating a successful independent bookstore in today’s challenging marketplace. These professionals demonstrate exceptional curatorial care and a discernible passion for the art of bookselling, a craft Weyandt calls a “combo platter of bartender/barista and priest.” They include many family-run establishments like BookCourt in Brooklyn, N.Y., with two floors and three help desks, and Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska, home to the “world’s first bookish, blogging bear.” Some offer specialty products, like Chicago’s Unabridged Bookstore and eclectic Skylight Books in Los Angeles, which stock extensive collections of gay and lesbian material. The diverse best-of lists ably represent Weyandt’s varied cross-section of literary connoisseurs. Classics appear alongside older and newer perennial favorites by authors like Donna Tartt, Toni Morrison, Lorrie Moore, Jonathan Franzen, Jeffrey Eugenides and Zadie Smith. Proceeds go to the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, a group that fights literary censorship and supports struggling bookstores. In sharing titles and ideas, handselling becomes, as bookseller and author Eowyn Ivey of Fireside Books remarks, “a small but heartfelt gift, one reader to another.”
Entertaining, informative, satisfying and fun—everything books should be.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)