Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Installment One

I'm doing my Sunday Salon posting a little differently today. I expect my day's reading will consist of two distinct parts: shopping and actual reading. We'll start with shopping...

I spent a leisurely morning at Books-A-Million with a caramel macchiato and a wandering eye. I felt the need for a little readerly retail therapy, and I quickly found myself with an armload of books and a lot of whittling down to do.

Books I sampled and have my eye on:

Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow - "An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing as the initiated convince L.A.'s down and out to join their pack. Paying no heed to moons, full or otherwise, they change from human to canine at will — and they're bent on domination at any cost. Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kind-hearted, besotted dogcatcher, and the girl he loves, a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack. Anthony has no idea that she's more than she seems, and she wants to keep it that way. But her efforts to protect her secret lead to murderous results. Blending dark humor and epic themes with card-playing dogs, crystal meth labs, surfing, and carne asada tacos, Sharp Teeth captures the pace and feel of a graphic novel while remaining "as ambitious as any literary novel, because underneath all that fur, it's about identity, community, love, death, and all the things we want our books to be about."

I'm interested in this one on two levels: it sounds like an odd, quirky, unusually interesting story. But on a wholly structural level, the book looks fascinating. It's written in a free verse poetry form, and I'm pretty interested in Nick Hornby's comparison of the book to a graphic novel (above). There are no pictures, mind you, but to my understanding from an NPR interview, the pace with which the book moves as a result of the verse style is much like a graphic novel. I can't wait to give this one a go.

Green, Greener, Greenest, by Lori Bongiorno - "The perfect guide to help readers decide how to best spend their time and money to protect the environment, Green, Greener, Greenest offers flexible tips for everyday living, all categorized as green, greener, and greenest. Cutting through the labeling and the hype, it helps readers choose the advice that fits their schedule, their budget, and their interests, with the understanding that there's never one right way to make a difference. This indispensable resource will grow with readers-whether a novice in green living or a veteran environmentalist-as their interests and needs change over time."

I like this book because it's broken down by degrees. I'm interested in moving from what I do now to be green into a progressively greener lifestyle. I also appreciate the straightforward facts. The bit I read this morning was about organic foods and how they're categorized as such. The book gives tips on the right types of questions to ask to cut through all the mumbo-jumbo and get to the heart of exactly how green foods, products, etc. really are.

Moral Disorder and Other Stories, by Margaret Atwood - "Margaret Atwood's latest brilliant collection of short stories follows the life of a single character, seen as a girl growing up the 1930s, a young woman in the 50s and 60s, and, in the present day, half of a couple, no longer young, reflecting on the new state of the world. Each story focuses on the ways relationships transform a character's life: a woman's complex love for a married man, the grief upon the death of parents and the joy with the birth of children, the realization of what growing old with someone you love really means."

In the tradition of my short story obsession, I nearly bought this book. I have yet to read Atwood's short stories, but I have no doubt they're fantastic.

I also spent some time lusting after The Freedom Writers Diary, The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton, and I decided to purchase The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.

Watch for a review of To Kill a Mockingbird this afternoon or this evening. It's SO GOOD!


  1. Having just managed to complete a book of short stories (not my favourite format) I suppose I ought to be on the look out for another. Trying Margaret Atwood's might be too much to ask though as she isn't one of my favourite writers. Any suggestions for something else? I love the idea of retail reading therapy. In fact, if it wasn't too late in the evening I might even think about joining you. Oh well! there's always tomorrow.

  2. Ooh, I want to go to the bookstore today and look at the new books :)
    I'm trying to be good and stay in, do Sunday Salon, bookbinding and oh yea, chores! Ugh.
    I didn't realize Moral Disorder was a collection of short stories. I need to look into that one.

  3. I do hope you enjoy Sharp Teeth, Andi. I'm anxious to have someone else read it as I really liked it when I read it late last year.

    I currently am reading a book of short stories and enjoying it. I have never been a huge fan of short stories, but I've come to appreciate them a lot more in recent years. I think I finally got over my expectation that they should be shorter versions of novels.

  4. I love short stories: but only a few at the time. I read them in beween, when I'm pondering what to read next, to think about something different. I like Margare Atwood's novels, so will try this short story collection. I love bookshop therapy, in fact I had a go myself yesterday!

  5. Such restraint you show with your book shopping!

    I'm looking forward to your review of TKAM - one of my favorites. I re-read it last summer after many years and it still holds up.

  6. I've been feeling the need for bookstore therapy myself. And I love Books A Million - we don't have them in Michigan, but I go when I'm in Florida.

    Atwood has some new stories out, huh? Maybe I'll check those out.

    I've also got my eye on Jhumpa Lahiri's new book of stories.

  7. Although "Sharp Teeth" isn't a normal read for me, I have been tempted to get it.

    Hope you had fun shopping. Our Books-A-Million closed up. :( I loved how open it was.

  8. I read the Freedom Writer's Diary last summer and I enjoyed it very much. I recommend that you read Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. I liked how his students would pester him to tell them about his miserable Irish childhood instead of learning valuable occupational skills (several of the schools he taught at were vocational type schools). I almost picked up that Atwood book, but I didn't and I don't know why since I like Atwood. I recommend The Edible Woman and Oryx and Crake by Atwood.

  9. Ann, let me get back to you about the short stories. In fact, I may even make up a whole post of my recommendations. I have plenty!

    Iliana, Moral Disorder was sooo tempting. I should've stayed in and not spent money, but it was sooo much fun. ;)

    LF, did you review it? If so, I missed it, and I'd love to know what you had to say about it. As for short stories, once I got over trying to make them a novel, I liked them much more, too. Now I'm hooked.

    Seachanges, they are great for reading between longer books. I can rarely sit down and read a collection of short stories straight through. And I think it would probably be a mistake to do so. Short stories need some time to percolate in my head. :)

    Terri, my restraint usually isn't that impressive. lol I think it was a fluke.

    Becca, we didn't have any BAM stores in TX where I lived before I moved to NC, but now that I'm around them, I really love them. I'm lusting after that Lahiri book, too!

    J.Kaye...sorry to hear that your BAM closed! What a shame. Sharp Teeth is tempting, isn't it? I was a little nervous about the verse style, but after I read a little of it yesterday, I'm sold!

    Fem, I do need to read Teacher Man. I tried snagging it from BookMooch a while back, but for whatever reason the sender never got back in touch with me. Bummer. :(

  10. Hmm. If Sunday Salons include shopping maybe I *should* try and join....

  11. Hi, Andi. You can find my review here.

  12. I picked up the Atwood book recently, too, but I haven't opened it yet. I'm hit or miss with her -- I either adore or loath her novels.


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