Monday, February 28, 2011

We heart Jonathan Evison

Tomorrow night at 7:30pm, Jonathan Evison will be speaking about his book, West of Here, at our store. Booksellers have been raving for months about Jonathan's book, West of Here. It's a bold book that draws on the American experience. Set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington, half of the narrative focuses on the town’s founders circa 1890 while the other half shows their descendents in 2006. The novel becomes a kind of conversation between two epochs, one rushing blindly toward the future and the other struggling to undo the damage of the past.

Here's one of our fav quotes from New West reviewer Jenny Shank,
"Without ever getting preachy about it, in West of Here, Jonathan Evison has wrestled many of the West’s most pressing contemporary issues—such as environmental degradation, the challenges facing Native Americans, and loss of distinctive local businesses in small towns—into one humdinger of a story."

Several booksellers from our store got to meet Jonathan last fall at the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association Trade Show. While there, Jonathan read this awesome and totally heartwarming poem to us. After reading the poem, you'll be able to see why he's one of our favorite authors and we hope he'll become one of yours, too.

A Bookseller’s Love Story by Jonathan Evison
For thirteen years I've been stocking the shelves at The Book Cathedral,
and it is my love story.
You will probably not remember me by my name,
but call me Ishmael.
Or Tom Jones, or Tom Sawyer, or Elmer Gantry, or McTeague,
or The Idiot, if you like.
You may not remember me for my wispy hair, or brick-shaped loafers,
nor for the wealth of cat hair clinging to the seat of my faded dockers.
I distinguish myself by my love of books,
and by never using the search function--I've no need of it.

Ask me who's between Allende and Sherwood Anderson,
and I shall tell you without pause, Martin Amis,
between Sartre and Schulberg, Saunders,
and at the end of the line, you'll find Zusak,
unless of course we're out, in which case you'll find Zafon.
Blindfold me and spin me around in circles,
then set me straight and run my fingers down the spines,
and I'll tell you when we get to Proust, or the shorter novels of Melville.
Ask me where to find Silas Wegg and I shall point you to Dickens.
Ask me where is Oskar and I'll tell you
he's banging his tin drum between Golding and Graves.
And if it's Sancho Panza you're after, you'll find him chasing windmills
with Quixote just to the left of Chaucer.

Ask me All About Lulu.
Ask me For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Ask me where A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or What Makes Sammy Run,
and I shall tell you without hesitation, that the answer to the universe
is 42. Or that it's never too late to have a happy childhood.
Or that A Good Man is Hard to Find.
Or that The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
Or that You Can't Go Home Again.
I will show you the beating heart of Ragtime,
drag you kicking through Hard Times, In Our Time, to Places I've Done Time.
Through The Age of Innocence, The Age of Reason,
to The Winter of Our Discontent.
You'll meet The Sleeping Father, The Time Traveler's Wife,
The Bigamist's Daughter, and Wittgenstein's Mistress.
I'll lead you to the Shining City,
beneath The Sheltering Sky, past Lions and Shadows,
to The Dark Side of Guy de Maupassant-and if it pleases you,
to the very Heart of Darkness, itself.
I will tell you The History of Love,
The Brief History of the Dead.

I will tell you The Secret Life of Bees. I'll tell you A Tale of Two Cities
that will make All the Pretty Horses whinny and All the King's Men weep.
I will explain The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,
How the Dead Dream, and The Way of the Pilgrim.
I will talk Of Mice and Men, Of Time and the River, of Leaves of Grass,
until finally, at the end of night, when The Moon is Down,
the sun will also rise, and everything will be illuminated.

Now, ask yourself: where else are you gonna' get this kind of service
but an indie bookstore?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lisa Napoli Interview

Lisa Napoli will be visiting Boulder Book Store to hold a signing event for her book, Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth on Tuesday, March 8, 7:30 pm.

After reading her book, we had a few questions about Bhutan and her experiences there, and she has graciously answered them for us!

Q: What is your current philosophy on how to live life?
A: To look at everything as an opportunity, and to help other people by giving. And I don't just mean financially.

Q: After directly interacting with the Bhutanese and living in their culture, do you agree that Bhutan is indeed the Happiest Place on Earth?
A: There's irony in my title, but you have to read the book!

Q: Do you think that Gross National Happiness (and also, Bhutanese culture and tradition) will become obsolete with the increasing westernization of Bhutan?
A: No, I think it'll become more institutionalized, which sort of defeats the purpose but also will hopefully inspire people to seek balance, which is ultimately what GNH is all about.

Q: What do you think are some important lessons everyday Americans can take away from the Bhutanese culture?
A: Community, spirituality, and respect for natural resources.

Q: What advice do you have for ordinary people who are in a rut, but do not have the means to travel as you did?
A: I'm an ordinary person too--who was given an amazing opportunity, which I took. Open your eyes to the world around you, in your immediate surroundings. Walk around where you live, look at it with the eyes of an outsider, and see where you can help. The minute you start thinking of other people and not just yourself, your whole perspective changes. And the minute you start thinking of what you have, instead of what you don't have, that changes everything, too.

Q: Do you have any travel tips?
A: Pack light and don't over-schedule. Or rush.

Q: What was your favorite part about Bhutan? Least Favorite?
A: Most favorite: that every day was a wonder, with a close second just looking at the people and the sky.
Least favorite: Red hot chili peppers.

Q: What kinds of philanthropic acts have you done recently or plan to do in the future, and what kinds of people or organizations would you like to help the most?
A: I am working with friends to raise money to build a library in the Mongar district of Bhutan, through READGlobal. It's called I also gather friends every month to cook dinner at the Downtown Women's Center, a shelter for women. I also just like to help people when they ask me, for big things and small, for people I know and people I don't.

Q: You mentioned that most of the Bhutanese dishes you tried were too hot for you to eat. On the other hand, were there any dishes you tried that you enjoyed?
A: The traditional snack that's made out of pounded maize is delicious and addictive. I also love the Bumthang Swiss cheese, Red Panda Beer, and K5 Whiskey. But those are not dishes. ;) Chanterelle mushrooms grow all over and I loved making scrambled eggs with them.

Q: Many job interviewers tend to ask the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Hypothetically, would you answer the same question asked by an interviewer in the same way that you answered your acquaintance?
A: Yes, but I'd be as polite about it as possible. I'd say, "I'd hope to still be learning and growing and experiencing the world around me," and be all vague if they pressed me for specifics!

To find out more about Lisa and Radio Shangri-La, visit Lisa's website here. Featured are pictures of Bhutan and her personal blog, as well as updates on her future events.

You can read an excerpt from her book here (It includes the preface and first chapter).

Also, hear her speak more about her book with author Simon Winchester in the video below:

Until next time!
Love, the BBS Interns