Tag Archives: bookstore

Book Abandonment, and Why It’s Okay


Readers often feel a sense of guilt when abandoning a book. It could be simply that we’re not quitters, determined to finish a project or task no matter how unenjoyable. We’ve committed to this book, checked it out at the library or paid good money for it at the bookstore, and we are damn well going to finish it. Even if it’s the last thing we do.

Maybe we’re also competitive or, if you will, gluttonous. We want to read as many books as we can get our hands on. We’ve told ourselves we were going to read X amount of books this year (I’m currently behind on my personal 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge). If we can simply push through this book, it’s one more toward that goal, but in doing so, we end up slowing ourselves down.

The reasons we choose to give up on a book vary. It’s naive to assume that because you like a book everyone else you know will too. Reading is subjective. Sometimes your favorite blogger or Goodreads reviewer will fail you.

Here are a few reasons it might be time to let a book go.


Repost: A Post-Holiday Book Shopping List

The new year is around the corner, and the holidays are coming to an end. If you’re anything like me, I’ll bet you have a few gift cards to spend. My post-holiday shopping list consists mainly of books, as well as some more warm clothes to get me through the rest of winter.

During my time interning for Dark Discoveries Magazine, I read a lot of dark, short stories. Aside from that experience, however, I haven’t read much in the horror genre. My father’s a pretty big Stephen King buff. When I visited him on Christmas, the shelves in his living room were filled with many of King’s books. I left with a stack of them, along with a few old collections of poetry.

First Edition Cover (Credit: Doubleday)
First Edition Cover (Credit: Doubleday)

1. The Shining by Stephen King

Even if you haven’t heard of Stephen King or read The Shining, the title should sound familiar, as Jack Nicholson starred in the 1980 film version. Or maybe a friend screamed “Here’s Johnny” while pretending to chase you with an ax, and that’s all you know about the film/book. You had no idea why they kept calling themselves Johnny, because your parents wouldn’t let you watch a movie about a man who gets more than a tad stir crazy and, well, I won’t give it away. But now you know. You’re welcome.

2. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep is the sequel to The Shining and was just released earlier this year in September. The book follows a now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the young boy protagonist in the first novel) as he attempts to save a young twelve-year-old girl in a fight between good and evil. Judging by what i’ve heard from others, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to read The Shining before starting Doctor Sleep. Even if you’ve watched the movie, give the book a read. Movies often leave parts of the novel out, and in the case of a psychological thriller like The Shining some things are difficult to transfer to the big screen.

(Credit: NorthJersey.com)
(Credit: NorthJersey.com)

3. Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez

Tim Z. Hernandez is an award-winning poet and author. His writing is beautiful. You can read an excerpt of Mañana Means Heaven here to check it out for yourself. A big draw to Hernandez’s book for me is that it features a little writer some of you may have heard of: Jack Kerouac. If you’ve read On The Road, you may remember the “Mexican girl” that Kerouac has an affair with in California. Her part in the novel only spans fifteen pages, but Hernandez spent years searching for Bea Franco, the real-life “Mexican girl” from Kerouac’s novel. Mañana Means Heaven is the result of that search and Hernandez’s conversations with the elderly Franco.


The Bookstores of Berkeley: Moe’s

Berkeley has more bookstores than a lot of other places I’ve traveled to. While Taiwan had a pretty big bookstore in the densest part of Taipei, it seemed that every other corner of Berkeley had a hidden treasure trove of books waiting to be discovered. When we were heading to different conference activities like our tour of Stanford or our tour of the San Francisco Bay at night, I saw at least another half-dozen bookstores that I didn’t have time to visit.


I would have been more heartbroken about these lost book-shopping activities, but the tour of the San Francisco Bay at night was gorgeous. I was able to make one more stop at a bookstore, called Moe’s, during a Sunday street fair right down the street from the Berkeley campus.


While wandering past the street performers and admiring the chalk art random people were asked to leave on one section of road, I found a pile of poetry books that instantly attracted me to the front of Moe’s store.


I walked past the smooth jazz sounds that had enchanted the two giant pink stilted ladies and the heavens opened up to reveal a four story bookstore for me to play in. My Sunday was going to be a fun-day.

The Bookstores of Berkeley: Shakespeare & Co.

As stated in an earlier post, I spent some time up in Berkeley, California, at a conference. I took a short flight up the coast of California and lugged my stuff into the dorm I’d be sharing for my stay and then I was free until the conference started the next day.

On our cab ride in from the airport, I saw something magical. I saw a book store. I wanted to go there, so after grabbing some pizza, I did. It was called Shakespeare & Co.


Of course it was the name that first drew me to this bookstore, but once inside, it was the books that drew me to this book store.


This store had a great collection of used books to choose from, including a section of rare books that I just wanted to touch. So I did.

Throwback Thursday: The Literary Pranksters Who Made Fools Out of Us

It turns out, the literary world has a pretty killer sense of humor—something readers everywhere found out after April Fools Day. Lemony Snicket and Malcolm Gladwell went head to head after accusing each other of plagiarism. Snicket provided all of the evidence for said plagiarism on his website:


As you can see, Gladwell clearly stole numerous text from Snicket’s latest book File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents for his book David and Goliath. But it gets worse:


Gladwell even plagiarized an illustration from Snicket’s book with the above photo (also known as Exhibit B)—Snicket’s circled all plagiarized text and images in red for your benefit. But, who are we kidding, the offense is blatant and obvious.


In Other Words Bookstore: The Real Super Bowl Highlight

On Sunday, I fought the urge to bring a book to a friend’s super bowl party. I participated and watched the game (even though I had no clue what was going on). I am not going to discuss the commercials, which, as almost every news outlet so observantly pointed out, were kind of disappointing this year. The highlight of the game? For me, that would have to be the live tweets from the women at In Other Words, the feminist bookstore here in Portland made famous by Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen on the show Portlandia. The bookstore took over Portlandia’s account during the game.

In between sips of cider (my drink of choice…pretty bad ass huh?), I checked Twitter for In Other Word’s hilarious updates. Here are the best “highlights” in chronological order:





The Science Behind a Successful Novel

(Credit: deschutesbrewery.tumblr.com)
(Credit: deschutesbrewery.tumblr.com)

Publishing scares people, or, at least, those of us foolish enough, as some would say, to aspire to enter the industry. People fear that e-books will take over, that things will never be the same, or that print is dead. But when I enter my local bookstore, Powell’s in this case, that’s not what I see.

Late at night, even during the week, the voices of voracious readers, spending hours searching for the perfect book to get them through the next rainy day, fill the stacks. As someone who has only begun to dip her toes into the world of publishing, what scares me is the unpredictability of it all. Not of the platform the book will take shape in, but of how to define the success of a book at all–of how to make sure your book stands out. Because let me tell you, I spent over two hours in Powell’s only just last week. I headed inside to purchase a copy of The Shining, but when they didn’t have one available in hardcover, I searched for something else. I must of picked up dozens of books, leafing through their pages and reading the blurbs on their covers. Even though I love reading, I am somewhat meticulous about selecting books. After all, I’m a grad student with a tight budget.

Eventually, I selected Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. I’d like to think there was something that drew me to The Book Thief, because otherwise, the choice seems so random. Truly, I knew hardly anything about the book, other than that it was on the reading list of a Young Adult literature class at PSU, that it was made into a movie, and that it involves a person who steals books (a fact I astutely picked up on). Surely, if publishers could discover the science behind a successful novel–behind what it is that draws readers to certain books over others–they’d scramble over each other to get their hands on it.

Recently, scientists at Stony Brook University in New York have discovered just that, the math, if you will, behind a bestseller. The algorithm these scientists created can predict with eighty-four percent accuracy whether or not a book will become a commercial success. In publishing, where the success of a book is often a crap shoot, predicting success with eighty-four percent accuracy is astonishing.

Many factors were considered while creating the algorithm, like “interestingness” and style of writing. Hundred of classics from Project Gutenberg were downloaded and analyzed, and then the findings were compared to the actual historical success of those novels. Several trends became apparent. Books that were deemed successful contained more nouns and adjectives, and they used more conjunctions like “and” or “but.” Books that did less well relied more on verbs and adverbs.


The Last Bookstore in Downtown L.A.

This weekend I got to go to The Last Bookstore and, holy heck, I love it. As previous readers will note, I have a thing for bookstores where I want to travel the world and buy a book from each.

This lovely big store made my day.
(Credit: Amanda Riggle)

This wasn’t a bad start. I didn’t get just one book though, oh no. The Last Bookstore is known for its dollar book catacombs, where books are sometimes organized by genre, or by color, or by country. Needless to say, I was up there for hours (I think two and a half was the final agreed upon time I spent perusing books).

I believe my final count on books was thirty. Yes, that’s right, I bought thirty one-dollar books. Why? Because who can say no to dollar books! I got books on linguistics, books on Shakespeare, books on British Literature, books on history, books on naturalism, books on poetry and, of course, books on politics, because I can.

Fred was a gentleman and carried my books out for me. I think a total of 5 in that pile aren’t mine. Note to dudes: Don’t take an English Major to a bookstore on a date unless you have strong arms like Fred.
(Credit: Amanda Riggle)


Bookstores Worth Visiting Europe For

After my college career officially ends with (hopefully) a PhD, I want to take a backpacking trip to Europe and explore the wonders and charms of all the exciting bookstores that continent has to offer.

That’s right, I said it, bookstores. And when I say backpack, I mean this:

Ah yeah, look at the rolling capabilities on this baby.

Because I’m going to buy way too many books to carry on my back.

My bucket-list of European bookstores starts with Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France, not just because of the name, or the fact that I love wine and cheese, but, well, because this:

It would feel like I’m reading a book in a beautiful hobbit hole.