We don't usually address our beloved customers billboard-style like this, but things are kind of crazy right now as we count down to Christmas, so we wanted to be clear:

If there's something you want before Christmas, don't just place an order online. Visit in person or give us a call to find out if it will be ready in time.

Most books show up on our site as available in 1-5 business days, but there's considerable variance. Many of those books are right here on our shelves and can be ready in an instant, while some need to be shipped from one of our warehouses. If you're at all concerned about gifting in time, it's best to talk to us directly for an exact quote about availability. Around here, man is still faster, more responsive, and mightier than the machine.

Happy holidays!

Once finding the perfect gifts are checked off your list, the big holiday activities left to do are in the kitchen. If you have a sweet tooth even half as bad as mine, that means it’s time for some serious baking. 2014 was a good year for cookbooks, especially when dessert is the task at hand. 

Whether you’re hosting a big family gathering, a holiday work party, or just eating Chinese food and going to the movies this month, I guarantee you can make it a memorable December with just one of the recipes from these master chefs. I warn you though, if you’re on a diet the scrumptious pictures will make you crazy....continued

We don’t often encourage you to watch something rather than read, but we’re doing it now. In the end, of course, the thing we want you to watch is going to encourage you to read. And encourage you to encourage others to do the same. Let’s let Roger tell you about it:

A natural, isn’t he? He should be—he’s been hawking books for more than thirty years, after all ... continued

The pressures of giving the perfect gift are in full force now, and we’re cheering you on. With limited time on the clock, we often see people grab something, anything, just to cross off one more thing on the list. If you want to put some extra thought into your gifts but haven’t enlisted our in-store help yet (and we are here and at the ready), maybe a quick glance at some of our best reading lists from 2014 will help. 

Our obvious gift-giving lists came out this week; those general but oh-so-surefire favorites of the year. If you didn’t see our December newsletter, click here to browse our best of fiction, nonfiction, children’s, and teens. It’s also very worth your while to browse our extensive gift selection. But if it’s something quirkier or more specific you desire, spend a few minutes with some of our suggestions from the past year....continued

November means the same old end of the year lists are due. Best of the year, holiday gifts, and so on. We’ll have those for you in the next few weeks, not to worry. There will be plenty of opportunities before the end of 2014 to reminisce on the reading highlights that have stuck with us. But for a brief moment before Thanksgiving hits, let’s take a glimpse forward into the future instead of looking back. 

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton arrives in the store on January 6th, but it’s already causing a major rumble in the publishing world. In the same way that the 2008 debut novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski gained a following long before its publication, Scotton’s freshman effort is already the talk of insiders in the publishing industry. Like Wroblewski, Scotton worked on his novel for over a decade while working in a completely different field, as a technology executive. An unlikely author, past the age of young writers the entertainment world likes to hype, Scotton had no platform or experience navigating the publishing industry.

What’s remarkable is how his book became a top priority for the marketing and publicity team at Grand Central Publishing....continued

I took a trip toward the end of this past summer and forgot to bring my razor. I could have easily bought a replacement, but it hardly seemed worth doing at the time. Thus was my August Vacation Beard born. Hey, free souvenir, right?

I kept the beard when I got home without thinking about it very much. For me, inertia was justification enough, but other people seemed to need a reason for the change in my appearance. How could I go from shaving regularly to not shaving regularly? So I had to say something.

When September rolled around, I told people I was sporting a Playoff Rally Beard. It almost worked, too. The Mariners were in the race until the very last day of the season, which hasn’t happened for over a decade. That excuse kept me going for another thirty days, and then I coasted. October became Halloween Beard month. “I’m going to be a lumberjack,” I said. I put on a flannel shirt and jeans–done.

But then I hit a wall. After the trick-or-treating was over, would I have to break out the Barbasol? Casting about for a new rationale, I did what I always do when I’m looking for answers and turned to the bookshelf. Lo and behold, I found my cause. November’s is the Beard of Book Promotion, with three titles in particular to support....continued

Clothing is important enough for everyone (except for a handful of ecdysiasts) to wear every single day of their lives, but it’s not something that’s usually considered worth discussing. Sure, friends can chat about it while they shop, and maybe an author can dwell on the sumptuous costumes of her characters if she’s writing historical romance, but asking “What are you wearing?” is not a fit topic for “serious” conversation or “serious” writing.

That question that can sound altogether mundane or totally creepy, depending on the circumstances. (Not as creepy to my ears as the one that gets asked on red carpets,”Who are you wearing?” but still.) A subject that’s somehow too boring and too erotically fraught at the same time? How is that possible? Oh right, because sexism. Clothes are a woman thing, so even though they’re almost as ubiquitous as oxygen, they’re pushed to the periphery.

Not always, though. There are a couple of recent books that treat clothes with respect without forgetting to have fun while they do it....continued

It’s been raining constantly here; enough to put our power out for nearly two days. I crawled under the covers when the sun went down and used the early bedtime to point a flashlight at two meaty new novels. The darkness put me in the mood for something morally complex, and with both Ian McEwan’s and Sarah Waters’ new books, that’s exactly what I found. 

McEwan is a writer I particularly admire for the depths of his characters. His new book, The Children Act, is about a family court judge facing both a marital crisis and the toughest case of her career.

Jack, Fiona Maye’s husband of more than thirty years, has asked her permission to embark on an affair. She refuses and sends him packing, presumably into the arms of his lover. Turning her attention to her work, she takes on the case of Adam Henry, a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness and leukemia patient whose family adamantly refuses to let him receive a blood transfusion that will save his life. She visits Adam in his hospital bed and discovers they have a strong connection. Despite his determination to die for his faith, she rules against the family and forces him to have the transfusion....Continued

I once dressed for a masquerade party as a character from Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Tyrone Slothrop is—well, I’m not sure if he’s the protagonist, a linchpin, a point of focus, or what. In any case, he’s an army lieutenant deployed in Europe during World War II, and at various points in the novel he tries to impress some girls with the world’s most garish shirt, plays the legendary 10th-century German swine-hero Plechazunga in a folk festival, and passes himself off as the comic book superhero Rocketman. These are among the less bizarre things that happen to him, but you have to start somewhere.

So there I was, in military fatigues and a Hawaiian shirt, wearing a cape bearing a large letter “R,” with a hornless Viking helmet on my head and a rubber pig nose strapped to my face ... continued

(Our store journal keeps you posted on books we're excited about, our literary musings, and other reading-related rambles. If you like, you can sign up to receive our posts by email.)

We hear endless conversations about books in our store, but there is one literary debate that can never rest. Even fifty years after its publication, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein still fires people up with passionate opinions. As evidence, I present to you this recent article that appeared in The New York Times. People are still hotly debating the meaning of the book. Is the tree selfless or self-sacrificing? And is the boy reasonable or selfish? Most importantly, what are my kids going to think of the tree and the boy?

The messages we take away from children’s books has been on my mind. Overnight, my twin babies have turned into walking talking two-year-olds bursting with personality. All of a sudden, they have opinions about what we are and are not going to read. They will throw a book across the room if I make a suggestion of something they find distasteful. For some reason, Goodnight Moon is a victim of constant rejection lately. Can anyone explain how that’s even possible? Are we reading it the wrong way?

Along with all these strong displays of preference comes a noticeable application in real life. Thanks to Leslie Patricelli’s Yummy Yucky, I now know exactly which foods on their dinner plate are acceptable and which they find revolting. Thanks to Alice Schertle’s Little Blue Truck, every time we see a blue truck on the road my son screams “Beep! Beep! Beep!” at the top of his lungs. And so on—the point being that they are taking away more than just “pat the bunny” from their reading material these days....Read More