Stacie Reads

"The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination." -Elizabeth Hardwick

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On those broken nights, the city seemed a place of seepage, both ghosted and full of gaps.

I suppose I liked to dream of the piers as they once were, their vast and damaged rooms, because they seemed to represent an ideal kind of city, one which permitted solitude in company, which offered the possibility of encounter, expression and the pleasure of being alone amongst one’s tribe (whatever tribe that happened to be). I thought of them often, those dreamlike, crumbling rooms, extending out across the water, where men now long since dead freed one another, as Wojnarowicz put it, ‘from the silences of the interior life’.

I’ve missed you, Alastair once said, and my heart jumped at the pleasure of existing in someone else’s life.

from “Me, Myself and I,” by Olivia Laing, aeon magazine

Filed under Olivia Laing aeon magazine new york city loneliness art Long Reads

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Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
Thomas Jefferson

Filed under Thomas Jefferson books

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A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold, rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen, instead. A human with a brain and a heart and a desire to be uplifted, rather than a customer with a credit card and an inchoate “need” for “stuff.” A mall—the shops—are places where your money makes the wealthy wealthier. But a library is where the wealthy’s taxes pay for you to become a little more extraordinary, instead. A satisfying reversal. A balancing of the power.
"Libraries: Cathedrals of Our Souls" by Caitlin Moran

Filed under Libraries

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The Latter Species of Novelist

Wow. Giraldi chops down Alix Ohlin’s two new books with one hatchet blow. It’s ugly. And yet. And yet. It has me asking myself, as he suggests we do: How charged WAS the last novel I read?

Being someone who values a plot that moves things along, but prefers a focus on deft character development and language that makes me slow down, pause and want to quote aloud to all who pass by, this question is likely one I’ve already been asking myself. Just not with those exact words.

So, while I’m not likely to pick up Ohlin’s books now any more than I was before, the challenge remains: to continue evaluating what I want out of the novels I do read, and to ask others “How charged was the last novel you read?”

Filed under books reading novels language charged with meaning Giraldi

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Shelf Awareness: Unedited!

Tree StacieI’m notoriously verbose. Thanks to George Carroll for approaching me (so honored!), and kudos to the editors at Shelf Awareness who had to heavily edit my Young Booksellers profile for space.

Here are two answers that had to be knit together into one, briefer, response, but that I feel were worth sharing unedited; mostly because the sentiment is what I get from my fellow booksellers at Boswell, and beyond.

What kinds of things do you do to work with the community?

We exist. When a customer is checking out, and turns around to see someone he or she hasn’t seen in years and exclaims, “Oh my goodness! Hello! How are you!?”; when a couple gets engaged after a proposal left as a note in a book; when families bring their visiting relatives to the store and walk them around, gushing with praise; when a son buys a gift for his impossible-to-shop-for-father; when a woman comes in years later and thanks a bookseller for recommending a book that changed her life—these are the things we do to work with the community. We are the community. As are the corner grocers, the hardware store franchise-owners, the record stores, the pharmacies, and coffee shops, in any neighborhood in any city anywhere.

What is so special about being a bookseller?

Reading is, arguably, one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Books, whatever form they have taken historically, be they stone tablets, scrolls of papyrus, wood pulp bound in a rectangle, slim and floppy collections of short pieces called ‘articles,’ short or long posts in bits and bytes read on a screen – the dissemination of information and thought, the activation of imagined worlds and places and people: these things are the bringers of change. The world-changing ideas that spark in the minds of men and women are delivered in this way. And, recent neuroscience is bearing out the importance of reading on the brain’s development, as well as its immensely important role in how we empathize with and connect to people and the world at large. Booksellers, as well as librarians, teachers, or anyone who is trusted enough to put these tools in the hands of a reader, wields great power to effect change, do good, entertain, and generally improve the world around them. It’s also ridiculously fun to be around book people. They’re @(&#%* awesome.

Filed under bookstores bookselling Shelf Awareness books

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In the years immediately after a worldwide pandemic decimates the human population, and the earth is struggling to survive continued climate shifts, a man and his dog shore up at an airport, subsisting on scrounged goods, the occasional deer, and vegetables from a garden plot. But Hig and Jasper are not alone. Their precarious existence is kept secure by a combination of regular flyovers Hig does in his Cessna and the armed assistance of Bangley, a crotchety fellow survivor who isn’t afraid to take out any wanderers he perceives to be a threat. When one more tragedy strikes, Hig will have to choose whether to stay put, or move on, in a world without a future. A poetic narrative of grief, loss, survival, and hope, it’s a companion read to Cormac McCarthy’s hypnotic The Road, the kind where days after finishing it, my chest still aches.

In the years immediately after a worldwide pandemic decimates the human population, and the earth is struggling to survive continued climate shifts, a man and his dog shore up at an airport, subsisting on scrounged goods, the occasional deer, and vegetables from a garden plot. But Hig and Jasper are not alone. Their precarious existence is kept secure by a combination of regular flyovers Hig does in his Cessna and the armed assistance of Bangley, a crotchety fellow survivor who isn’t afraid to take out any wanderers he perceives to be a threat. When one more tragedy strikes, Hig will have to choose whether to stay put, or move on, in a world without a future. A poetic narrative of grief, loss, survival, and hope, it’s a companion read to Cormac McCarthy’s hypnotic The Road, the kind where days after finishing it, my chest still aches.

Filed under The Dog Stars Peter Heller book rec post-apocalyptic