Small Business & Indies First Saturday 2014!

Tomorrow, Saturday, November 29, 2014 is “Small Business Saturday” and “Indies First Day,” in which authors and book lovers are being encouraged (including by an open letter from Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman) to support their local independent bookshops. I once again encourage all local bookworms to visit Charleston, WV’s only independent bookstore, Taylor Books, on that day or any day. You can also order books and ebooks/epubs from Taylors online, but it’s worth the trip for the bookshop’s atmosphere.

Taylors is my favorite bookstore on this side of the Atlantic and has the best coffee in Charleston. If you don’t like books or coffee, I really don’t know how you live.

If you do like books and are looking for recommendations for Indies First Day, my personal favorite books of all time are: Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and pretty much everything else written by Kurt Vonnegut or Edith Wharton. More modern favorites have been Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Book Thief and anything by Brian Morton, Kate Morton, Maggie O’Farrell, Samanatha Harvey and Victoria Hislop.

I also highly recommend the more modern classic The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, which is now being adapted for a movie. You can read my rave review of it here. I first heard about the Guernsey book from a former manager of Taylors and it was a longtime staff pick on the shelves there. I’ve since given copies of the book to several friends, all of whom loved it as much as I did.

Other favorite bookstores of mine on both sides of the Atlantic: Empire Books in Huntington, WV; Two Sisters bookery, Old Books on Front Street and Pomegranate Books in Wilmington, NC; and The Winding Stair, Hodges Figgis and Chapters in Dublin, Ireland.

It would be very nice if independent bookstores get the kind of support from Indies First/Small Business Saturday that Record Store Day brings to indie music shops.


Current Read: Florence Gordon by Brian Morton

By the author of the brilliant Starting Out in the Evening, the protagonist of Brian Morton’s new novel, Florence Gordon, is an aging writer struggling to write her memoir amidst the dysfunction and chaos of family.


Buy @ Amazon


Rainbow Rowell: Landline

Rainbow Rowell has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed Rowell’s first two novels so much that, upon finishing Fangirl, I immediately dove headfirst into her spectacular third book, Landline.

Star-crossed lovers, love triangles, long distance phone calls, quirky time travel, marital problems, crazy relatives, happy endings, second chances and a plethora of pop culture references….Landline is a love story of Nora Ephron proportions.

Granted, this story of an old yellow rotary phone that literally connects a woman to her past is speckled with plotholes.

Nonetheless, it culls the best elements from classic romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle and time travel rom-coms like The Family Man, Big and 13 Going on 30. And it’s all wrapped up in Rowell’s distinctively endearing voice.

If ever a book needed to be made into a movie, it’s Landline.

Buy @ Amazon


Rainbow Rowell: Fangirl

I just finished reading Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a work of contemporary fiction so much.

Much like Rowell’s widely beloved previous novel, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl is an easy but well written and extraordinarily empathetic YA book. Fangirl tells a lighter story than the emotionally wrought Eleanor & Park, which made for a happier albeit less captivating read. But the strength of both books is their authentic, relatable characters.

Fangirl is a love letter to fanfiction writers, replete with excerpts from its own Harry Potter-inspired fic and frequent Twilight references. Yet more endearing are protagonist Cath’s geeky angst, her dysfunctional family (comprised of a rebellious twin sister, absent mother and bipolar father) and her Felicity-like freshman year of college.

I appreciate that Rowell’s heroines remain uncompromisingly independent despite their glaring insecurities and only fall for good guys who treat them with kindness and respect – a far cry from the unhealthy and often dangerous relationships portrayed in other popular YA series.

Rainbow Rowell’s novels expertly capture the awkwardness and blatantly emotional sincerity of teens in a heartfelt, deceptively simple way reminiscent of John Hughes movies. I hope Hollywood starts making movies based on her books, the world needs more of her kind of fiction.

Buy @ Amazon

Rainbow Rowell Official Site