Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Officer's Log No 42: Holidays Around the Corner

The Haunted Bookshop has stocked up on some new items, for your reading and having fun pleasure.

Nialle just ordered a whole bunch of brand new games, so we have some old favorites like Scrabble and Parcheesi, and new hits like Apples to Apples, Settlers of Cataan, and Carcasonne. For the people in your life who love the Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot series (and if you've ever been present in-shop when a game is going on, you know the hilarity that can result), we now have Munchkin, by Steve Jackson Games, illustrated by the one and only Jon Kovalic (if you are unfamiliar with his comic strip Dork Tower, then you owe it to yourself to click the link and indulge in some silly, geeky humor).

W e have one brand new puppet in stock, a very cute puppy dog, who makes a great compliment to the orange tabby kitten puppet. Personally, I like the puppy more; it's the perfect size for smaller kids just learning the puppets, and great for adults, like me, who have small hands. It's cute, and, if you make it shake, its ears make rattling noises. There are tiny beads in the ears of a lot of the puppets now, like the large floppy rabbit, and most of the dogs. That way, when you make the dogs shake (as real dogs do when wet), their ears flop. It makes them even more fun. The puppets also make good stand ins for teddy bears, if you've got some (little or big) kids to buy gifts for. And who doesn't like a teddy bear*?

* or a rabbit, or a dog, or a cat, or a ferret**...

** the ferret is my personal favorite of all the puppets.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

National Book Award Winners 2011

The National Book Awards were announced last night. Here are your winners:

Fiction: Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones

Nonfiction: Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

Nikky Finney, Head Off & Split

Young People's Literature: Thanhha Lai, Inside Out and Back Again

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Officer's Log No 41: Ideal Wintry Mix

We experienced our first taste of winter in our little city yesterday morning, with the not-entirely-unexpected rain mixed with wet flaky snow. It was warm enough that the white stuff didn't stick, but that didn't stop me from thinking about how winter in Iowa tends to bring out everyone's inner bibliophile. There are several local coffee shops in Iowa City who have artificial fireplaces inside, and cozy chairs scattered throughout, comfortable enough to curl up with a book and a good cup of coffee, and just let the world go by.

While the Bookshop doesn't have a fireplace (flames + books = bad), we do have comfy chairs, and two fuzzy purring machines (also known as cats) who are happy to serve as warm reading companions. Sometimes, in fact, they are the ones seeking heat, and sometimes customers get a furry companion who really just wants to share the customer's warmth. Whatever it is, cats, winter, and books just go together.

During the winter, if you stop into the shop, or just wander past at night, you'll see the cats curled up in their beds (of which there are four scattered about), or even occupying the lap of an unsuspecting customer (or Nialle, if she's at the desk. You will likely see Logan instigating his own form of occupation). They love to curl up with customers, or burrow under the few blankets in the shop, or even just find the tallest shelf and doze off.

My ideal wintry day? Come in to work, make sure there's tea at hand, and, while elbow deep in books, find a cat who wants warmth, and attention. They are quite helpful this time of year, and that's partially what makes them such great companions to have around.

They're also just the right size to curl up with as you're reading a book. The purrfect (sorry) reading buddy.

Until next time fellow bibliophiles.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

First Officer's Log No 40: The Spooky Season

Halloween is upon us once again. The Spooky Season, All Hallow's Eve, Trick or Treat Night, and all that jazz. I don't have four weeks worth of spooky stories to share with you this year, but I do have four spooky books that I think everyone should read, especially around this time of year.

The spooky classics are always in fashion. Doesn't matter the time of year, the class, or the busy schedule, there's always time for a good, old fashioned ghost or horror story.

I stumbled upon a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde the other day and couldn't help thinking that it's one of those classic stories that everyone knows, but doesn't get talked about nearly as much as, say, Dracula. Jekyll and Hyde is the classic 'good vs evil' tale, a murder mystery, and a story about the proper friendships between good men, and how they disintegrate. It's ultimately a tragedy, but it maintains its ability to unnerve and spook, even 125 years later.

Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera is primarily known for the musical based upon the text. I read recently that the musical is actually more famous than the novel, originally published between 1909 and 1910. The thing is, it's a great scary story, one that has a "ghost", a beautiful woman, the man who loves her, the opulence and splendor of the opera world, and the terrible, truly awful things that the "ghost", the Phantom, does to get what he wants. He's one of the greatest villains in literature, and one of the great monsters of film. The musical makes him fluffy and almost sympathetic; the novel shows you a man capable of horrible things, who takes pleasure in doing them, and ensures that others will suffer as he has suffered, regardless of the cost.

Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray is a story that looks at the horrors that a man can unleash upon the world, and the price he must pay to redeem such a life, even if that life is beyond redemption. Dorian Gray is one of those novels that can speak to every decade since its initial publication, in 1890. It speaks to decadence, to immersion in the pleasures of the self, the ultimate in selfish desires. Dorian, himself, is a man who lives life to the fullest, but at the cost of many others' happiness. Wilde created a story that can be twisted to the decade, can speak to the pursuit of "happiness" in each decade, and perhaps even speak to the horrors of every day life, regardless of the time when one is reading it. In our time, perhaps it speaks to love of technology, love of the small pleasures, the lack of commitment to living, the fear of suffering because others make all the decisions... Dorian Gray speaks on many levels. It's why it's still one of my favorite books.

Last, I'd pick a real classic: Beowulf. I know, I know, you're looking at me, and thinking 'really, really?' Consider though: the monsters, Grendel and his Mother, are described vividly. The monsters are as much a part of the tale as Beowulf, himself, is. The monsters have a presence, and they are remembered. It's an old story, a classic story, and I think that the monsters have something to do with it. Consider it the next time you need a truly great monster story.

So there you have it! Four classic scary stories, with ghosts, ghouls, monsters, and abominations, all ready for you to curl up in a warm blanket, to get lost in their tales. Definitely sounds like my idea of a great holiday.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Man Booker Award 2011

Julian Barnes was just announced as the winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, proving that the fourth time is the charm (look at the smile on his face!). Barnes has been nominated three times previously, and won for his novel The Sense of an Ending.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Between the cats and the books, every time I come in here, the studying just doesn't get done." - A customer, quite content to make friends with Nierme

Nobel Prize in Literature 2011

The winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2011 is Tomas Tranströmer, a Swedish poet. We'll be sure to keep an eye out for his work filtering into the shop.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Iowa Poetry Prize Winners Announced

The 2011 Iowa Poetry Prize winners have been announced. Thanks to our friends at the Iowa City Press Citizen for the heads up, and congratulations to the winners:

- Joseph Campana for "Natural Selections"

- Kerri Webster for "Grand and Arsenal"

Both works will be available from the UI Press in 2012.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Officer's Log No 39: Reckless Recommended Reading

When someone recommends a book to me, it tends to go on my List of Books to Read. Sometimes I get to it, but, more often than not, I don't, because too many other books come my way. However, Nialle mentioned a book that caught my attention: Reckless by Cornelia Funke, the author of Inkheart. Intrigued by the premise - a young man has to save his brother from a curse while immersed in a fairy tale type world - I grabbed a copy and started reading.

Two days later, I was done, and... wow. It wasn't quite what I expected. The story is a familiar enough one, but the world that Funke has built is outstanding, with fairy tale elements popping up, and fantastical races all acting as independent nations. There are some heavy metaphors in this story, especially with regard to the racial dynamics of the world. Nialle explained it as a thinly veiled pre-World War I world, and by the novel's conclusion, I could see it.

The story itself is fast-paced, with little exposition, allowing the reader to experience what happens as the characters do. The main character is a loner who prides himself on his ability to read people, even when he's terribly wrong about their intentions. Jacob Reckless lives up to his name, in his every action, word, and thought.

It's the world itself that draws the reader in, with its complex politics, schemes, and wonders hidden beneath the beginnings of industry. It's a stellar book, one that I was tearing through from the first. I intended to read just a few chapters, and before I knew it, I was half-way done. It's a stunning piece of young adult fiction that might actually sit better with adults. I highly recommend it.

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Officer's Log No 38: Events, Events, Events!

Soooooooooooooo.... rumor has it that there's a shindig going down at the Haunted Bookshop on 9 September, to celebrate the remodel and the grand reopening. Not to mention 7 years under Captain Nialle's leadership. Yes, that is right, the USS Haunted Bookshop will be setting sail (or flight) for an exciting 8th year with Nialle as owner, and zipping ahead into our 3rd year at our new home on the corners of Market and Linn Streets in Iowa City's Northside neighborhood.

We're celebrating the awesomeness that is Nialle and the bookshop in early September, but mark your calendars! There's more events to come!

Banned Books Week is 24 September through 1 October this year. Check back for updates on little things we might be doing to promote literacy. You never know when a section might suddenly become 'member only' or 'forbidden' during the last week of September... Keep your eyes open.

Also happening on 1 October is the Northside Oktoberfest. This is the first time this event has happened, and I confess that I'm not as informed as I should be about it, but their website is filled with updates, calendars, and all sorts of good information about the festival. There will be music, a beer garden for grown ups, and a soda garden for kids.

There may also be a Captain and a First Officer walking about with puppets strapped to our backs, selling them and conversing and carrying on in our generally silly way.

Busy month ahead!

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hugo Awards 2011

Hello, all! Your First Officer is here to present you with hi-flying Science Fiction inspired madness in the form of the 2011 Hugo Award Winners!

Best Novel: Blackout / All Clear by Connie Willis

Best Novella: The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

Best Novellete: "The Emperor of Mars" by Allen M. Steele

Best Short Story: "For Want of a Nail" by Mary Robinette Kowal

And, just for fun, here's an added bonus -

Best Related Work: Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O'Shea, published by Des Moines, Iowa's very own Mad Norwegian Press

Congratulations to all the winners and the Mad Norwegians!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Officer's Log No 37: The Book Madness Commences...

My book list has thinned itself out, and just as quickly, it resumes its towering stance, and mocks my fruitless efforts to whittle it down to a manageable state of affairs.

I have finally caught up on two of the book series I was devouring, Karen Traviss' excellent Gears of War military science fiction novels (seriously, Traviss is an incredible writers. Check her out. Go, go, go!) and Anton Strout's Simon Canderous books, which are urban fantasy mysteries with bureaucracy and a firm tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Having caught up on these two series allows me to look at all the rest. What I come to the conclusion of with regard to my book collection is that a number of the books on my shelves are titles that I simply don't read.

I have found this to be the true test of the bibliophile's spirit: I make lists of books that I'll want to read; sometimes, should I find the book for a reasonable price, I will procure it and add it to the ever-growing horde. The issue is when I get to that book's place in the Towering Would-Be Inferno, I find that my interest has waned or vanished altogether, thereby making that book a waste of space.

And I hate that.

It's truly the test of the bibliophile's spirit and interest when a book is taking up space, desiring to be read, and yet the reader has no interest.

It's not the first time this has happened to me. I've taken to reacquiring some books I fondly recall from childhood only to go back and read them for a few pages before relegating them to the 'Nostalgia' pile. It's a sad state of affairs when the bookseller can't even get into an old book.

Perhaps that's why the book list thins. I find that my reading time is valuable to me, and if I can have the time to read, I want to read something worthwhile. Even if I deign to read something that could be construed by myself and others as 'junk food fiction' (I have no shame about my love for this genre, and all it entails [mysery, science fiction / fantasy, trashy YA]), I still am somewhat picky: the book can be all kinds of bad for me, but I still want it to taste good.

Junk Food Fiction = spicy hot chocolate from the Java House (hot chocolate, cinnamon, whipped cream, cayenne pepper, and a chili pepper placed in the cream). It's delicious, terrible for me, and I'll probably regret it later, but it sure tastes good at the time.

So, despite my reading time being valuable, I haven't spent it reading classics this summer. I intended to attack the Russian novelists, but found my attention being grabbed by other novels and writers, most of whom were not classics, and suffered that terrible burden of still breathing. My intention was to continue my summer attempt at reading the major works of a certain country's writers; this didn't happen. So Dostoyevsky will probably be devoured sometime in November; I was informed that this is a good month in which to read dead Russians.

Book lists are unique to each person; I've seen countless people wander through the shop with lists in hand, either on paper or on a phone. Some people fill their reading lists with long dead Germans and Brits. I fill my reading list with contemporary politics, military history, and the odd urban fantasy vampires-are-bad-guys-oh-my novel.

And sometimes there's a contemporary political military history novel with vampires as the bad guys. That novel was called 'The Nymphos of Rocky Flatts' by Mario Acevedo. It's hilarious.

Hey. Don't judge.

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles.

Friday, August 12, 2011

You know it's an ACE night when

"You're okay? Okay, well, I have to get back. Antony just died, and I'm hoping they'll let me play Cleopatra's death." - Customer speaking into cellphone

Sunday, August 7, 2011

First Officer's Log No 36: Ack!ademic Leanings and Readings

I took something of a cue from Jon and sat down to take a look at my bookshelves, or, rather the two bank boxes, five cubes, and one reluctant desk shelf that amount to bookshelves in my apartment. My scholarly tomes (did I really just say tome?) are relegated to one bank box, wedged up against the corner of the living room beside the DVD tower, packed full of movies and video games, while the second bank box contains untold papers, almost all articles, academic scribblings, and at least two half-photocopied books that I couldn't find in physical form outside of a university library.

It astounds me, to a degree, to realize how ridiculously complicated I made my academic life when I was a Real Academic, as opposed to the Amateur Post-Undergrad Academic that I am now. That is to say that I still view the entire world through academic eyes, as well as possessing a tendency to critically evaluate all of my entertainment as though it were a liberal artistic specimen to be hacked to pieces during a long, drawn out debate amongst fellow students, and then repaired with a pen and a great deal of patience.

I suppose, then, that when I examined the cubes in my room that contain books, I wasn't entirely surprised to find that they are mostly filled with urban fantasy novels, several paperback mysteries, a number of classics, some contemporary Serious Fiction, the odd poetry collection, and several volumes of Nietzsche and Aquinas. There's also some film and literary criticism that I picked up on whims throughout the years, because, apparently, at some point, I reached the Point of No Return when it came to books: if it's interesting or likely to hold my attention, then I'll buy it, read it, and probably shelve it away until such time as I can pass it on, read it again, or pack it away for a rainy day.

The truth is that I used to have a collection of about 800 books. While not a staggering number, it's a big enough number to show that I had quite the book addiction. When I moved out of my parents' house, I must have whittled that collection down to about 300 books, which quickly became 150 due to the presence of friends, libraries, and a pesky little brother who kept nabbing the best books for himself.

The collection has grown somewhat in the past 3 years, and has evened out at about 275, by my last count. It's curious, since I haven't owned a proper bookshelf in years, that I can still find what I'm looking for. I have a good feeling for where the book might be, and I suppose that I classify my book cubes to a degree. I know that most of the 'junk food fiction' (mysteries, urban fantasy, et cetera) are on the left hand side, and the more serious stuff is on the right. There are also piles of history books around the bed. I don't need shelves. I just stack them neatly, according to point of interest. Hence why all the military history is within arm's reach of the bed.

Books are an addiction, ask anybody in the store. The fun part, though, of this particular addiction, is that you get to explore, have adventures, solve mysteries, and appreciate other lives, all from the comfort of your bed or your favorite chair. It's why books are fantastic, and why even an ac(k)ademic like me (I now owe the pun jar a quarter) can learn to look past the book-as-specimen and just appreciate the book as a book.

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

First Officer's Log No 35: This Summer...

... I intended to lead a charge on Russian literature for my (sort of / I hope I can keep it up) Annual Summer International Fiction Reading List. Sadly, it didn't ever really pan out. I had a few picked out, and they just never got read. About the only Russian reading I did was read up on Catherine the Great, who was quite the fascinating lady. And that was the extent. I think I'll have to try harder in the future. Or choose literature that I will force myself to dive headfirst into.

As far as my summer's reading list has gone, I've been diving through quite a bit of nonfiction, as per the usual. This fall's crash course has been decided, and a reading list is slowly being compiled. Otherwise, every time we buy a bunch of theology or criticism, Nialle and I both start in with the "Mine!" "I'll fight you for it!" "... Fine..." back and forth.

This summer has been quite the adventure around the shop. The expansion has been completed, the layouts redone. Since the last of the bookshelves we had for sale went to their new home, Anna redesigned the windows in the children's room, so we have puppets galore. Stay tuned for more puppet madness!

We're buying a lot this time of year, and we're getting it out as fast as we can. Stop by and check out the new stock, the new layout, and don't forget to pet a cat.

Your First Officer will strive to be more up to date with this little blog in the future.

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Run-on Sentience #1: Stuck in the Middle With You; or, (Book)marked for Life

Here we are, gazing in gaping wonder at the vast, pregnant frontier and untapped virgin resources of The Haunted Bookshop's new weblog--or “blog” as the kids are calling it. We're like pioneers! For generations, we have been supplicated by blows from the carpal-tunneled hooks of internet pirates, who, together with marketing departments, have made the internet an overbearing tempest of “Free! Free! Look at me!” demands, an engulfing bit torrent of sleaze and depravity and addiction. We could have built the city of Atlantis; instead, we built an Atlantic City.

Well no more! The hardy and the intrepid (to say nothing of the self-glorifying) have tread a new path toward the inland internet, where we will live off the land; raise upright, respectful families; dress modestly; share recipes for various types of non-greens-based salads; and do other such things as shall establish--wait, wait . . . what? 2008? This blog has been around for three years? On an internet timescale, that puts us well past WWWII. New superpowers have emerged, and advertising campaigns have budgetarily bloated into an in-your-face space race. The roofs of our sod houses sport satellite dishes. Our oxen have been slaughtered, spiced, and smoked, and long since eaten and forgotten. Our horses died and were subsequently beaten.

At any rate, this column at least is new. We're calling this “Run-on Sentience” because I, Jon, your good friend and humble narrator, will use it as a forum to ramble on at length about literature, poetry, and other things in some way related to what we do at the Haunted. Hmm . . . in my excitement, I seem to have skipped something.

Amuse, o muse, and help me chronicle--
Engorge my gut and over-stuff my crop
With art of airy Saint McGonagall--
In prosody foie gras Th' Haunted Bookshop.

There. The muse has been notified of intent. Things are official.

I recently had occasion to look over the books on my shelves--the occasion being that summer term ended, and the dust in the house had gotten so thick that I was expecting to find Buzz Aldrin's boot-print. During my cleaning, I realized that they broke down into three categories: The Pile, being the great unread masses; The Shelved, those individuals of such merit that they were not resold after having been read; and The Dishelved [Note to Nialle: I owe pun jar one quarter.], the books which, for one reason or another, fell out of favor before they had completely said their respective pieces.

The first two estates, I am certain, are inevitable in the governance of literary affairs; being natural opposites, they must exist in some proportion wherever men live with books. Even at the erudite and ignorant extremes, where one type or the other predominates, both are categorical necessities. Say “these” and “those”, “warm fuzzies” and “cold pricklies”, “butter-side uppers” and “butter-side downers”. You are defining each in relation to the other. They go together like love and marriage, which, in turn, go together like a horse and carriage. Ask the local gentry. Erm, anyway, in my case, Sartre and Sophocles wait to join the ranks of Salinger and Nabokov among the masterworks which I have blundered through like a blind man in the Louvre.

Which brings us to the third batch, those tormented souls stuck in unending transition, on a voyage of the damned between the unread nation that doesn't want them and the island of completion which won't accept them. What is to become of them? They seem an unnecessary kind of refugee class of book, axolotls in a neotenic purgatory, half devel--you know what? I'm gonna dial down the noir melodrama.

Am I the only one who winds up with stacks of these bookmark traps? It's not that they are outright rejected; such books I resell or drag to the knacker. It's not that they are all left half-leaved for the same reason, either. Don Quixote I quite prefer to take in episodes, and it has survived about eight moves without being lost or sold. I was cruising through Anna Karenina like a clipper, until I hit a sandbar about 250 pages in, in the shape of two chapters about Levin cutting grass with a scythe. As The Bard, Elvis, reminds us, “Wise men say, 'Only fools Russian.'” [Note to Nialle: two quarters.] Dubliners, I've been told, I started at the wrong end, the beginning. It seems the dead are the most welcoming in Dublin. Les Fleurs du Mal? More like, “Le's bore dem all.” Atlas Shrugged? So did I.

Oh, right, and Tales of Love by Julia Kristeva, which I am supposed to be reading for a class I am supposed to have completed in the spring term. And that is where we hit upon the real trouble with these books, all the “supposed to” and “should” that they bring, all the anxiety and psychic drag. They are neither books to look forward to in anticipation nor ones to recollect in fondness. They are the books which receive a sidelong glance. “I say, Honorea, how did those books get in here? I shall have to have words with the doorman.” They are the books which threaten to embarrass us whenever we have company, for they might necessitate a shameful clarification: “Actually . . . I never finished it,” or “Ratched does what to McMurphy?” or “I'm halfway through, but I found out that Netflix lets me stream The Next Generation. You remember that one where the evil oil monster kills Tasha Yar on the Bonanza sound-stage planet? Yeah, that episode is awful.” It's not merely that we haven't finished these books; it's that they haven't finished their work on us. Like Lilliputians, in a great horde they can tie us down.

The solution is apparent, even if it is merely a reiteration of these same anxieties: we must eliminate this third class of books, either make honest women out of them or send them back home to live with their parents. We can't keep stringing them along, insisting that a few cold winter nights or a weekend by the pool in Santa Fe really meant something, when we haven't checked in to see what's happening in months. I should quit with that analogy before it gets out of hand. My plan is to identify those very few individuals, such as my good friend from La Mancha, to whom I am ready to devote regular, steady resources toward completion, and to privilege them with priority treatment. All the rest will be stripped of their bookmarks and discharged from service until such time as they may be called upon again. Henceforth, there are only two outcomes: completion and triumph, or abandonment and death. . . . well, resale when possible.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What not to put in a book blurb, part 7890487639046707

ALI: Actually worse than "utterly readable." Yeah. It said "absolutely readable."
NIALLE: If you plot it on a curve, it approaches infinite... being in English?
ALI: There was even one that said "unbearably readable."
NIALLE: What does that mean? It's so not incomprehensible that it hurts? ...No, I know what it means. You know all those people with smooth brains? This is like a waffle iron!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Will you guys quit wielding rodents and get back to work??!!" - Nialle, to Ali and Ross, who were facing off with a tiny white rabbit and a squirrel, respectively

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"I can't cuddle with a gastropod!" - Nialle, RE: tiny snail puppet

Thursday, June 16, 2011

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2011

This year's winner is Colum McCann for his novel Let the Great World Spin.

The IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is the largest prize awarded to a work of fiction published in English, or translated into English. Nominations are submitted by libraries around the world.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adventures In Bookselling: Typewriters

Some months back a gentleman brought us an old IBM electric typewriter and left a business card with us, desiring to know who acquired the typewriter, so he would know that it would go to a good home. It eventually went to a young man in January of this year.

Yesterday, that young man brought the typewriter back in, saying that as much as he loved writing on it, it just didn't suit his needs. He hoped we would find a better new home for it.

Today, a young man walked up to the counter with a book in hand. Offhandedly, he inquired about the typewriter, sitting on top of a bookcase, asking if we would be willing to part with it. So we asked Nialle, who laid out the rules for the typewriter - 1) he had to promise to write a short story or poem on the typewriter, and send us a copy of that work; or 2) upon completing the work, bring the typewriter back to us.

Turns out that this young man had written a book to be published in November of this year about the history of IBM design engineering from the 1940s to the 1970s. He teaches at Oberlin College in Ohio, and when we explained the terms, his face lit up, and he uttered those wonderful words: "You're serious?"

So we wrapped the typewriter up in a plastic bag (it is monsoon season in Iowa City) and he told us how it would be used in his class this fall, and possibly in a museum exhibit sometime in 2013. He was also able to tell us the name of the engineer who designed the particular IBM typewriter model we had. We asked him to send us pictures, which we will happily post here and on the shop website.

And this, gentle readers, is why we have the best jobs ever.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

These Things Really Happen...

"Why donate my body to science, when I can have it turned into writing implements?" - Ross

Followed by:

"Use your tarsals and phalanges to make a primitive form of typewriter." - Nialle

This conversation followed a previous one for a hypothetical coffee chain called Cthulhu Coffee (because Nialle put tiny Cthulhus into a Vincent Van Gogh coffee mug... long story). Possible drinks for the Cthulhu Coffee chain include:

- The Arkham Americano
- Shoggoth Green Tea
- The Re-Animator (the Cthulhu Coffee version of the depth charge, black coffee with 2 shots of espresso)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 Nebula Award Winners

Attention, Science Fiction and Fantasy fans, the 2011 Nebula Awards have been announced. Sorry for the delay in updating, but here are your winners for this year:

Best Novel: Blackout / All Clear by Connie Willis

Best Novella: "“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky

The Ray Bradbury Award (for outstanding dramatic presentation): Inception.

The Andre Norton Award (for outstanding young adult science fiction and fantasy): I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Is curmudgeon a sound effect?" - Jon, to Nialle

Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 Edgar Awards

The 2011 Edgar Awards were announced on 28 April, 2011.

Steve Hamilton, a prior winner for A Cold Day in Paradise, won his second Edgar for Best Novel for The Lock Artist.

Bruce DeSilva won the Edgar for Best First Novel for his debut, Rogue Island.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Your intentions are dishonorable!" - Sir Alistair Hornsby (the garden snail puppet via Nialle) to Ross, who threatened to use a cat as a towel

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2011

The Pulitzer Prize winners were announced earlier today, and Jennifer Egan's "A Visit From the Good Squad" has been named the Pulitzer winner for fiction for 2011. Congratulations!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Patrick Rothfuss

AUTHOR EVENT - APRIL 21 - 7:00pm.

Patrick Rothfuss, the author of The Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear will be here to sign, read, and A some Q's. Arrive early to ensure seating; this event is likely to draw a substantial crowd.

Besides having made the New York Times bestseller list and having drawn praise from The London Times, The Onion AV Club, Ursula K. LeGuin, Orson Scott Card, Robin Hobb, Anne McCaffrey, and many (many) more, Rothfuss routinely receives such accolades as "The fantasy world has a new star" (Publishers' Weekly).

Facebook users, click here to confirm your attendance and to invite your friends. Spread the word! This event is on Thursday next, and we want to make sure everyone who wants to be here knows to be here.

(Click here to read the wonderfully kind things Pat and his fans have to say about independent bookstores - and also to read his transcript of our hilarious scheduling call.)

Author Event Signing: Patrick Rothfuss - 21 April 7PM

Mr Rothfuss recounts the story of how this came about far better than I can (and I'm kind of squeeing about the whole thing, mind you), but this thing, it's really happening here. Nialle and I will definitely be here for it. It's short notice, but spread the word, bring your friends and your books. This is going to rock.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First Officer's Log No 34: Updates, Updates, Everywhere!

Due to some confusion, let it be known that the Haunted Bookshop is NOT - repeat NOT - going out of business, buying another bookstore, or having any kind of closing sale. We are simply expanding. It's exciting, exhausting, insanity-inducing, and other such things. We gained 1000 square feet, and we're making the most of it. Progress have reached the point where we now have a specific Children's Room, complete with a brand new puppet rank to hold our furry friends, a wrap around stage, and two quite cozy chairs. A couch is in the future!

Nialle, Anna, Jon, Ross and a host of others have been working like crazy to build new bookcases, shift sections into their new homes, and make everything move smoothly. As of today, History has been relocated, and US History and Military History have their own rooms. European, African, Middle Eastern, Oceania, and the Isles all have moved to L-shaped wrap around rooms. Graphic Novels, Cookbooks, and Crafting have also shifted to new locations. Nialle and Anna are hard at work building the new religion room as I type this out.

Some sections have temporary homes until we can relocate them permanently, including Business, Economics and Music. If you can't find what you're looking for, just let us know. It's every changing.

Literature, as Nialle says, is not going anywhere, but it will eventually be gaining 4 big cases, so that is exciting. Literature is expanding!

I'm not sure what the plan is for the back room containing Science, Genre Fiction (Sci Fi, Mystery, Horror), Psychology, Medicine, and Sports. Art will be moving from its current home in the step down area, but I don't know when that will be, nor am I sure where exactly it's going. It's an ever changing, ever shifting game of musical books and shelves.

If you haven't been by the shop yet, our hours are the same as always, 11 - 7 every day. Do pardon the bookcases up front, but aside from the general sense of time-and-spatial displacement, and the occasional hammering and circular sawing needed to make bookshelves fit, the shop is the same as it's always been.

It's just a bit like a rather epic game of Tetris these days. Fear not. It is temporary.

Until next week, fellow bibliophiles!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Press Citizen Interviews Prairie Lights' Paul Ingram

The Iowa City Press Citizen has a nifty feature where they interview a local person of interest. This week, that person is Paul Ingram, the long time book buyer for Prairie Lights, the local new independent bookstore. It's a brief interview, but if you ever get the chance, go and chat with Paul. He'll give you endless recommendations and probably sell you a few things too.

Personal note from Ali: Paul is the reason I started reading Denise Mina. If Paul tells you to read something, trust him. He knows what he's talking about.
"Time isn't allowed to pass until I'm done with it!" - Nialle

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Trees don't belong in cans." - Ali, referring to pine-scented spray cans

Sunday, April 3, 2011

First Officer's Log No 33: Construction, Construction Everywhere And Many Books To Read

Nialle and the crew have begun construction on the new expansion to the shop. We have a Children's Room now, and it is very exciting. The cats are quite impressed as well... as impressed as cats can be, because they seem to enjoy hopping around and exploring the empty hand built pine cases as much as helping with the shelving. That is, cats are helpful by getting in the way and sitting on the shelf where books need to go.

Ah, cats.

Room is being made, progress as well, and our fabulous volunteers and co-workers are making the new addition pretty spectacular. We should be moving on to History in the next few weeks, making more room for US History and Military History, with bigger, sturdier cases, and 1000 more square feet of space. The space was bigger than I thought, and seeing it for the first time was kind of mind-blowing - you just never realize how much space is in one storefront until you see empty floors and shelves.

Ultimately, the move is bittersweet. Real Records is gone, and I miss the jazz and alternative pop / rock music piping in through the dividers. Craig and his crew brought something quite special to this space, and it was nice to share a book shop and a music shop, drawing people in to check the best of both worlds. However, it gains us so much more space, an opportunity to truly make this a massive, unique used book shop, right in the historic Northside District of Iowa City.

Bitter? Yes, because we've lost a great neighbor and a friend. Sweet? Yes, because we get to grow and redesign the layout and show Iowa City the best of what we can offer. It's a great opportunity, like so many things, and it's going to be a step in the right direction. I have a good feeling. It's bittersweet, but still good.

Until next week, fellow bibliophiles.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Good decisions club. Be a member." - Sydney, to Logan

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Introducing: Gabriel


Gabriel the Snail is happy. He's really happy. He loves surprises, plays hide-and-seek with little kids by ducking into and out of his shell, doesn't mind explaining why he sniffs things with his antennae or what makes him a "gastropod," and even keeps a sense of humor about occasionally ending up in the French regional cookbooks section.

He's also one of the most famous puppets at the Haunted. He gave an interview for local access television last year while helping out at the Iowa City Book Festival and has been known to make guest appearances at coffee shop poetry slams, the kids' table at family dinners, pride parades, and other colorful events. He does a really weird impersonation of Kermit the Frog for extra giggles - and Gabriel is all about giggles. His laugh spreads like a yawn, overtaking whole crowds and leaving them watering at the eyes and sighing joyfully.

Seriously, though, Gabriel's best day ever was the day his little cousins came to live with us. Dan, Mike, and Cass love it when Gabriel gets out their favorite toys - four strips of cloth in four different colors - and they all tie the strips on like headbands and pretend to be pizza-snarfing, unconventional weapon-wielding turtles. Personally, I don't get it, but their routine never fails to leave people in stitches, especially if they can get NICO the rat to put on RALPH's bathrobe and act like a more cynical version of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Kids these days, right? But I can't help laughing with them, even if I don't understand. Because they are just so incredibly happy, and the world needs more of that.


All Haunted Bookshop puppet profiles reflect the personal ideas and opinions of the Haunted Bookshop crew exclusively and, while the pictures of the puppets are copyright Folkmanis, Inc., none of these profiles are sponsored, endorsed, encouraged, or approved by Folkmanis, Inc.; they are strictly for the amusement of regular bookshop guests who have come to know how Haunted crew develop characters for puppets.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

PEN / Faulkner 2011

17 March, the PEN / Faulkner award for Fiction was announced with Deborah Eisenberg winning for The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg. Eisenberg was previously known for her collection of stories Twilight of the Superheroes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Annual A-List Contest Has Begun

We're Competing badge

Folks, please vote for your favorite independently, locally owned businesses on KCRG's A-List site this year. We particularly recommend any of the indie bookshops, The Cat Clinic of Iowa City, Home Ec, Oasis, Hamburg Inn, Motley Cow, r.s.v.p. - good neighbors all, and invaluable parts of our community.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Officer's Log No 32: Big Changes In Store

Happy spring, Iowa City and book lovers galore. The sun is shining, the snow is all gone, and the spring cleaning has begun, which means we at the Haunted Bookshop have a bunch of new stock to share with our regulars, including a massive amount of Loeb Classical Library editions, quite a few gorgeous new art books, lots of fictions, mystery and science-fiction, and a whole host of other subjects.

We're also planning a big move.

Our friends at Real Records have decided to close down their storefront, so we will be taking it over, and gaining even more room. Big changes are in store for the store, with the children's sections and art room to make some drastic moves, as well as our work area, which will occupy the center of the front room, giving us better ways to serve you as both buyers and sellers. We have big plans courtesy of our Captain Nialle, and I suspect an adventure awaits us as we orchestrate our move.

If you'd care to volunteer to help us out, we'll be posting info on Facebook when we need people, and we'll keep you posted here on our trusty blog. Make sure to check in regularly. We're looking forward to the changes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More New Inventory!

We have a treat for you today!

Yesterday and today have brought in several Loeb Classical Library volumes, including works by Homer, Virgil, Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch, Ovid... oh I could go on and on (and there may have been excessive excitement on my part upon seeing some of these... but I admit nothing). We got the Big Ones of classical history, both green / Greek works and red / Roman works.

The Loeb editions are dual text, with Greek and English facing in the green books, and Latin and English facing in the reds. These will not last long (Nialle and a few others have already snatched the ones they wanted), so come visit us and check out the beautiful books.

I admit, I've never seen so many Loebs at one time. Nialle says it's unlikely we'll see this many again anytime soon. So come on in and check them out.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Inventory!

Spring Break is upon us. Need something new to read? Lots and lots of new books have arrived in the past week.

We have a heaping piles of new Judaica, some gorgeous International Collector's Editions in literature and science, oversized art books including some beautiful (and rare) collections of Picasso and Van Gogh, and, fresh today, lots of near-new graphic novels, including favorites by giants like Alan Moore and Frank Miller.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"I live for the indignant yo-yo face!" - Ali

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Daily Iowan Article 2: E-Books, with Nialle Interview

Check out today's Daily Iowan article about e-books and small independent bookstores, featuring an interview with our very own Nialle.
"I want them to make a teeny tiny dinosaur. Birds are too far removed. I want a theropod."
- Anna, first thing in the morning

Sunday, February 27, 2011

First Officer's Log No 31: March Looms, Spring Follows

It is that time of year again, the time of year where the ground is soggy, the trees are shivering in their leaflessness, and the snow keeps filtering in and out, as if it can't decide whether or not that rodent in Pennsylvania was bluffing. In the spirit of these days where we can't be sure what's what as far as the weather goes (this is Iowa, after all), it's time to start planning for a garden, if you have the opportunity to have such a thing. Or a family vacation, or a solitary get away, or something that gives you the opportunity to flee the formerly frigid frontier.

For gardening enthusiasts, we have a whole case of gardening and botany related books, everything from flowers to trees, how-to books on making ponds and tiered gardens, and even the odd professional thesis on the flowering plants of Iowa and what makes them grand. We have a great little Iowa-centric nature section back with the gardening books, as well. So if you're looking for good ideas for your own little piece of gardener's paradise, come on by and we'll see if we can give you some good insights.

For all of our vacation-itching friends out there, those who need books to take with them, we're chock full of recommendations this time of year. If you're planning a weekend getaway, a good mystery never hurts, and Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Club Dumas is a gem of a book, eerie, mysterious and smart. I confess I lost my copy years ago in France, leaving it in a hotel room. Mercifully, I had a back up book with me, which leads me to my next suggestion.

It's never too late to start with the classics, and JRR Tolkien's The Lords of the Rings is as classic as they come. Said book kept me company for two weeks in France and Spain, and I read it twice while traveling by bus and train, from place to place. It's a story with everything: a rich world, great characters, stories within the greater story, a phenomenal mythology, heroes, villains... it's the kind of story that becomes classic because it draws so much of itself from classic stories, like The Odyssey and the great world mythologies. If you've never read it, or if it's been awhile, there's something for everyone within this truly modern classic.

The Club Dumas and The Lord of the Rings. Two great stories for the eager reader, and two great stories that won't fade away any time soon. Check them out and start building your list for your vacation or your weekend getaway.

Until next week, fellow bibliophiles.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Check It Out! We Made the News!

Check out this article from the Daily Iowan's Ryan Cole about the shop. We're a favorite haunt!

Monday, February 21, 2011

First Officer's Log No 30: Spring-ish In the Air: Spring Reading Recommendations

So the season of spring is kind of in the air here in good old Iowa City, it's just a matter of waiting until all the snow melts and the ground regains its solid state, as opposed to its current existence of mud, slick mud, slippery mud and some mish-mash of mud and sand / salt residue. Needless to say, when True Spring is upon us, I shall be rejoicing.

Big changes are in store for the bookshop soon, along with some major moving around. Be not afraid, though, for if you come in and find your section of choice has moved, just ask one of us. We'll be happy to direct you to the section's new home.

In the meantime, some new suggestions for our book hungry audience:

** Kate Griffin's A Madness of Angels, or, The Resurrection of Matthew Swift is a dark(ish) fantasy novel set in modern day London about a sorcerer named Matthew Swift who abruptly wakes up in his old house, only to discover that he's been dead for two years, but is now mysteriously alive. After a harrowing venture into this new world, Swift discovers that not only are at least a half-dozen other sorcerers in London dead, murdered as brutally as he was, but that there is something else alive inside of him, and it wants out.

This is a marvelous story from the get-go, with twists and turns aplenty. Swift's speech shifts from 'I' to 'We' as he moves through the world, unnerving most people around him, while just confusing him. He's a great narrator, and Kate Griffin gives him an easy sense of humor. This is no John Constantine (Vertigo Comics' 'Hellblazer' for those not in the know) arrogant English magician with a punk rock past; Swift is more akin to someone whom Neil Gaiman might create, except that Kate Griffin beat Mr Gaiman to it, and gives him a run for his money on the great character creation train. A Madness of Angels is the first volume in this series, followed by The Midnight Mayor, and a third volume, out later this spring, The Neon Court.

** Christopher Rice's Light Before Day is a harrowing, oftentimes disturbing look at the destructive nature of the methamphetamine trade in southern California, and the effect that drugs have on the small, tightly knit gay communities in Los Angeles. The star of this novel is Adam Murphy, an alcoholic journalist, whose lover mysteriously goes missing on the same night that a military serviceman on leave commits suicide via helicopter crash, taking three other servicemen with him. Adam's investigation into the crash leads him to James Wilton, a mystery novelist who needs a new bestseller, and who might be able to help Adam get what he wants. Along the way, they deal with the drug trade and other sordid activities, eventually revealing a mysterious kidnapping ring that links to the explosion of a meth lab.

It's an all over the place novel, but a good one from Rice, whose first two books A Density of Souls and The Snow Garden easily rank among my favorite books. While his prose can border on the silly at times, Rice is growing as a novelist, and Adam is a great narrator, funny and sarcastic, but also well aware of his own flaws, presenting an refreshingly honest character to mystery fiction. While Rice doesn't play with series, he writes good mysteries with (sometimes) uncomfortable themes, forcing readers to go on deeper into his world, even when sense says they should back off. In that regard, Adam represents the audience, as his sense of self preservation often tries to get the better of him, and usually fails. A strong offering for fans of the more intense mystery genre.

Until next week, fellow bibliophiles.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Anna: "I can't make it fit, Captain!"
Ali: "I'm not the Captain."
Anna: "But you're the ranking officer on the bridge!"
Ali: "I have an alien lifeform growing in my head, I'm not in charge."
Anna: "... Wait! Does that mean I'm ranking officer? AAGH!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For Your Notificiation: Borders Files Chapter 11 - Be Afeared

There's a big bookstore chain in a bit of trouble right now.

On a personal note from Ali: I can't say this is a surprise, as I worked for Waldenbooks for 4.5 years, and Waldens was owned by Borders. It's mind-boggling, though, when you look at how much money Borders owes to publishers. Looking at those numbers should make you concerned about your neighborhood independent store. When big chains like Borders aren't paying their bills, the indie stores end up paying for it.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why you need at least two Magnetic Personalities.

"They're finger puppets and they're magnets. ...I could play with these for years."
"Um, yes, you could."
"Imagine the arguments you could make them have. Like, Tesla against Washington."
"...or Frida Kahlo?"
"Or Galileo and Blackbeard."
"Why would you pitch Galileo against Blackbeard?"
"Because Galileo needs pillaging sometimes."

Unemployed Philosopher's Guild Magnetic Personalities.
Like an anachronistic debate club, on your fingers or on your fridge.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"I am a delicate flower, in a sort of Venus flytrap way." - Ali

Sunday, February 6, 2011

First Officer's Log No 29: Something's In the Air...

It's probably snow. A lot of snow. Per my experience yesterday, everybody has some form of story regarding the Snowpocalypse or Snowmageddon of 2011. All I can say? The walk outside the shop got shoveled by our fearless Captain. That is all.

Also, it's that time of year when the endless amounts of promotions for Valentine's Day appear. Not being that big of a fan of the concept of setting aside one day out of the year where people feel an obligation to proclaim their affection or adoration for their significant others, as opposed to a genuine feeling on all those other days of the year, still, I do sometimes hear people asking for books to give as gifts, or tokens of affection. Poetry is big this time of year, as are puppets and small toys, like train letters to spell out your beloved's name, or a classic boardgame.

Our clientele tend to be romantic bunch, with strong inclinations towards the goofy and the silly, and nothing says romance like a garden snail puppet (see the image above. We call him Sir Alistair Hornsby).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"I will just lie here and make winsome bread noises!" - Nialle

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ali : Anna, why do you have a teeny tiny purse-sized crowbar?
Nialle: [wearing a 'what did I just walk into' face'] A teeny-tiny purse sized crowbar?
Anna: See? [shows Nialle a teeny tiny purse-sized crowbar]
Ali: See, it was a legitimate question.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Officer's Log No 28: Cold Snow, Colder Books

Do you ever start reading a book and realize, at the 3/4 mark that you really, really, really can't find any reason to truly like the main character, and thus you find yourself incapable of even caring what happens to them? I'm having that difficulty with a series I'm currently reading. I find it highly entertaining, exceptionally well written (for a dark urban fantasy with folklore and horror elements), and engaging on an emotional level, but I find myself more emotionally invested in the lives of the supporting cast, not the main character.

Perhaps it's because the writer is a talented one who knows how to write teenage boys. She writes this particular one so well, highlight all of his ignorance, foolishness, general nastiness and hormonal fluctuations, that I find myself infinitely grateful that my teenage brother has none of these qualities (or at least none that I witness). The issue is that teenage characters have a very difficult time impressing themselves upon me as characters whom I should feel anything for. I was a teenager once, and I didn't much care for the experience, so call me crazy but I don't necessarily like reading about them.

Granted, this particular character is nowhere near as unlikable as Gillian Flynn's narrator in Dark Places, but I still have a hard time getting invested in him. Perhaps it's because the character is a teenager, and most of the books I've read involving teenager as characters just don't appeal to me. Also, I find that, lately, the books I've been reading all involve characters who are just unpleasant people, to the point where if there is a redemption factor, by the time it appears, I no longer care.

I suppose that I've become used to seeing characters who have at least some redeemable qualities, as opposed to characters who just don't have any. I look at the main character in the series I'm currently reading, and the fact that from the get-go in volume one, he declares that he is a monster. At first, it was intriguing, and now, the whole 'I am a monster' gig just screams attention getting behavior... just like a teenager boy. The fact that by volume 5 I'm no longer really caring what happens to him speaks volumes. That he doesn't seem interested in changing his outlook or exploring any kind of 'good' qualities he has isolates him further from my interest.

As a reader, I like being able to feel something for a character, whether appreciation, love, hate or indifference, but plain old distaste isn't one of the emotions I want to associate with a character. Redemption isn't a must in literature of any kind for me, but having at least something to relate to, or something to like about a character is an unspoken requirement. I'm not demanding that characters be truly good or evil, nor am I requiring that writers go out of their way to make characters one way or another. All I'm asking is that writers create characters whom I can at least feel one way or another about. Regardless of whether I feel positively or negatively, if the author has given me a reason to care, then they have done what they set out to do in writing their story. That's a pretty hard thing to do, but a writer who does it well has already taken the big steps in the right direction of their craft.

* * *

The most recent experience I had with a character who achieved true redemption in any kind of media was in a video game. It involves a character who turns to a forbidden practice of magic in order to get what he wants most, but ends up causing more pain and destruction because of his action. When he is given the opportunity to atone, he genuinely takes it, and seeks to do good with his life, despite the distrust associated with him. When he is encountered for the final time, the character is truly trying to help people, to use his abilities for good, not evil, and has redeemed himself in the eyes of his former friend, even if the price he was forced to pay was initially more than he could take.

In this regard, strong writing and acting come into play. The player sees a character go from naive and foolish to mature, confident and respected, while earning those last three. Jowan, the character, evolves into a responsible adult, by accepting what he has done, choosing to own his mistakes and not hide from them, and ultimate uses his talents to protect those who need him. In this regard, a video game story actually redeems a character more than a novel could.

This game's story made me care about a character who is quite minor in the long run, but who lingers because of the power of his story. I cared; I genuinely liked his character, and the initial betrayal came as a shock. When he is redeemed, I felt happy, a sense that finally, someone in fantasy writing has truly learned from their actions and can move on, a stronger, better person for their mistakes, no longer afraid, and leaving the reader (player in this case) eager to see where their path takes them next.

* * *

Until next week, fellow bibliophiles.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


The Haunted Bookshop's book buyer is not in the shop on Sundays, so Sundays, we can't take your books.

First Officer's Log No 27: Musings

Someone asked me today if I was reading anything, and I had to admit that the answer was no. I actually haven't had any interest in reading a book for a couple of weeks now. I stare at my bookshelf every few nights and think that I could start to read one of the novels that I've picked up over the past few months, but then I realize that I'm no longer interested in this or that subject, and I'd rather spend my time with something else.

I spend all my time around books, and each time I hear about a new book I should read, or some new book is given an award, I read up on it and find myself making an uninterested face at best, or wrinkling my nose at the worst. Come to think of it, a lot of things I've heard about that are winning awards make me wrinkle my nose.

I'm not sure what it is. I love to read, I've never made a secret of that, but I've just kind of lost my interest. The only things I have read lately are The Economist magazine and maybe the newspaper when I'm waiting for a sandwich in one of our local shops. All The Economist can tell me is that it's getting harder and harder out there, and all the papers can tell me is stuff that I've already read that morning on the internet newsfeed that cycles across my browser.

I'll have to keep poking around. Maybe change up my taste in books, hope for something new and interesting to waltz my way. If I'm lucky, maybe something will click.

Until next week, fellow... well, maybe not this week since I'm not much of one this go around.

:ahem: Until next week, bibliophiles.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"I have reached the point in pie shake delirium where I am talking about buying bridges off of cats."
- Customer; he and his friend had just consumed a pie shake at Hamburg Inn and were in quite silly moods

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Awards of 2011: The American Library Association Awards

Hello, folks, and welcome to another year of the Haunted Bookshop keeping you up to date on the newest news in the world of book awards, as well as our individual blog posts to keep you informed of shop news, cat news, and Iowa City, the World's Third UNESCO City of Literature.

This time around, we're giving you the heads up on the ten books chosen for the Alex Awards for 2011, chosen by the American Library Association as the best books for young adults. Without further ado, here we go.

* The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To by DC Pierson

* Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray

* Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

* The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni

* The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

* The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel by Aimee Bender

* The Radleys by Matt Haig

* The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel by Alden Bell

* Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue

* The Vanishing of Katharina Linden: A Novel by Helen Grant

Keep an eye out for these books to come in the shop. In the meantime, we've just gotten a whole bunch of young adult fiction, everything from classic Lois Lowry to some more contemporary fantasy, like Stuart Hill (the Icemark series is really quite good, with a fantastic female lead in the first novel). So if you're gearing up for some new things to read before spring semester classes start up, come stop by the Haunted Bookshop and see what we've got in stock.

Happy reading and congratulations to the winners of this year's Alex Awards!

2011 Award Winners: American Library Association, Part 2

This one I just found and thought it was awesome, and that is the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which is presented to an author or illustrator whose work has made an outstanding and lasting contribution to children's literature.

This year, which appears to be the debut year for this award, is awarded to Tomie dePaola, best known for his Strega Nona books, and his colorful, distinctive art style. He's also adapted a number of American Indian legends and Italian folktales into children's books.

On a personal note, Tomie dePaola was always one of my favorite illustrators and writers when I was a kid, so I'm really excited to see him winning an award from the ALA.