New Arrival: Out on the Wire

Out on the Wire

In our new arrivals this week is Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel, a nonfiction graphic novel all about narrative radio. From the back of the book:

Go behind the scenes of today’s most popular narrative radio shows and podcasts, including This American Life and Radiolab, in this graphic narrative.
Every week, millions of devoted fans tune in to or download This American Life, The Moth, Radiolab, Planet Money, Snap Judgment, Serial, Invisibilia and other narrative radio shows. Using personal stories to breathe life into complex ideas and issues, these beloved programs help us to understand ourselves and our world a little bit better. Each has a distinct style, but every one delivers stories that are brilliantly told and produced. Out on the Wire offers an unexpected window into this new kind of storytelling—one that literally illustrates the making of a purely auditory medium.

Our price is $8.50. Find it in our contemporary culture section.

The Magic (or is it stunning skill?) of Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks is able to miraculously take a few historical facts and weave them into lyrical, beautiful, complex fabrics, stories so well-imagined that it’s truly difficult to believe they are not true.  The facts remain unaltered, but the stories she creates around them are lovely, heartbreaking, fascinating, and surprising.  She is a genius of historical fiction.


I just finished reading Caleb’s Crossing, based on the seminal fact that in 1665, a young man from (what we now call) Martha’s Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College.   Using only this fragile structure, Brooks tells a story narrated by Bethia Mayfield, the local minister’s daughter, about her life on the small island and the life of her childhood friend, a Wampanoag named Cheeshahteaumauk, or Caleb, as he comes to be known by his English neighbors, and it is as much a lesson in the paternalism and chauvinism of the 17th century as it is the story of Bethia and Caleb’s lives.   $8.10 at The Book Shop.


Brooks’ novel March won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and is the only one of her novels I have yet to read.  It tells the story of Mr. March, absentee father of the March daughters in Little Women, during the civil war.


Another tremendous literary victory is The People of the Book, telling the fictional story of Hanna Heath, an Australian book conservator who is responsible for restoring an Illuminated Haggadah (the order of service for a Seder). Told in reverse chronological order, the story follows the Haggadah through time as it travels across Spain, Sarajevo, Vienna, and into Hanna’s purview hundreds of years later.  We learn its origin, its illuminator, its owners and caretakers across centuries, each with his or her own story of trauma, deprivation, and triumph. At the end of the book I felt I had seen grace being granted.


In Year of Wonders, written from the point of view of young Cornish widow Anna Frith, who, recently having lost her husband in a lead mining accident, agrees to rent a room to an itinerant tailor.  He unknowingly brings with him, and sews into the clothes on which he works, the bubonic plague.  The community agrees to quarantine itself from the outside world, instigating a sure but insidious rise of paranoia, accusations and blame that take as much a toll on the village as does the plague.


Last but not least, Brooks’ most recent novel The Secret Chord, based on Biblical text, gives a wildly imagined, intriguing biographical account of King David, as told by his fictional seer and advisor, Natan.  If you think it sounds boring to read about the iron-age Middle East, you will be proven pleasantly and stunningly wrong.

Behind the scenes–the next step

After we have chosen the books we want to buy, each book is entered into our computer and on-line inventories. We also scan a picture, for on-line shopping, of books that don’t already have a stock picture. Then the books are moved to the cleaning table. Here is Katherine Ann entering books into inventory, and moving books from the “to be entered” stack over to the “to be cleaned” table.



Behind the Scenes

We thought our readers might be interested in knowing what happens to their books after we buy them. Our books are carefully chosen, in like-new condition, clean, they’ve been entered into our computer and online databases, and carefully shelved so they’re easy to find. They don’t go right from your box or bag to the shelf! Here’s what we do (more entries coming up):


The first thing we do when you bring your books in is look at each book to determine if it’s a book we want to buy. Is it in like-new condition? Is it timely? Do we already have it? How well has it sold when we’ve had it before? Here’s Jenny choosing books to buy.

Novels of THINGS


Novels about THINGS

The Why of Things by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop – $7.50
The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields – $7.50
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman – $8.00
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber – $8.40

All of these novels are categorized in our General Fiction.

New Arrivals: Aqua Blue


We’ve noticed a trend of lovely aqua blue cover designs on novels in our new arrivals/bestsellers display lately!

Aqua Blue Novels

The Rocks by Peter Nichols – $13.95
The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez – $7.50
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman – $8.00
Fifty Mice by Daniel Pyne – $9.45

All of these novels are categorized in our General Fiction.



With a great new batch of steampunk novels in stock this week, we’ve put together a steampunk display in the front of the store! Authors include James P. Blaylock, Felix J. Palma, K. W. Jeter, David Barnett, and Lavie Tidhar.

Steampunk refers to a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery (source: Wikipedia).

The following is an excerpt from Steampunk 101 on Abe Books:

In spite of its vintage feel, steampunk as a literary genre is relatively new, with roots that barely reach back to the ‘70’s and acquiring a name only as recently as 1987. But the seeds of steampunk can be traced back to the 19th century, when Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley and others were writing about steampunk-ish themes, paving the way for a variety of modern incarnations.

Included in our display are related nonfiction books on steam trains, early aviation, Victorian scientists/inventors, and so on.

Our selection of steampunk novels are normally located in our Sci-Fi/Fantasy section.


New Arrivals: Craig Johnson


A nice bunch of Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire mystery-western novels has arrived this week.

The A&E television series Longmire is based on these popular novels.

You can check out our ever-changing inventory of Craig Johnson books by browsing in-store or by visiting our online shop.