Archive for November 2008

Bigger-Better Bargain Basement

November 29, 2008

So I went downstairs the other day. Yes, Virginia, there is a downstairs! And, whoa, I was kind of blown away (not an easy trick for a creature who spends his time in wind). I have long known and often taken advantage of River City Books’ bargain basement, finding great books for cheap-cheap-cheap. It has been the answer for me countless times, whether I was after gifts for friends or gifts for, well, yours truly. But what they’ve done down there recently is really freaking cool. They’ve brought in some vertical bookshelves, slid in a bunch of additional tables and filled them all with novels, poetry, reference books, books for kids, DVDs (so many low-priced DVDs!), histories, mysteries and more, more, more! Literally, the store’s inventory expanded by some factor that is beyond my facility with numbers. (A bird who writes … and you expect math, too?). The revamped bargain basement is so impressive it has shifted my entire plan when I zip through River City Books’ front door. Used to be I would go downstairs only after a spell browsing the tables up top. No longer. The basement is now the penthouse — the first place I look for books. Especially when I have my holiday shopping list tucked under my wing.

Go Green, Save Greenbacks

November 26, 2008

rcb-bagsThis year I am thankful for all the good books I have read, all of the good food I have eaten, and all of the money I will save from this day forward. What in a turkey’s name am I talking about? Let me explain: Yesterday I stopped by River City Books and picked up one of their new handy and sturdy shopping bags. While making this purchase I also bundled up as many books as I could fit into that bag and at the register the kindly bookseller took 10 percent off my entire bill! What’s more, every time I bring my bag back to the store they are going to take an extra five percent off the tally. This is five percent, mind you, on top of any sales or bargains they are already offering. Meaning, the 15 percent discount I usually get for buying my book club’s book at RCB suddenly becomes a 20 percent discount. So I always save. I also feel good because when I tote my bag (they have two snazzy styles to choose from; click the pic to enlarge) I stop consuming all those unneeded plastic bags that are jammed into my cupboard as though I might suddenly need 26 of them at a moment’s notice. So this is the ultimate win-win. I save money, I reduce clutter, and I help the environment. Now you know why I am thankful.

Harmon Leon at The Cow Tonight (Video)

November 24, 2008

I can’t believe it, but another day, another big book event. Here’s the skinny: Harmon Leon, author of The American Dream: Walking in the Shoes of Carnies, Arms Dealers, Immigrant Dreamers, Pot Farmers, and Christian Believers, will read from and sign copies of his book at 7 p.m., tonight (Nov. 24) at the Contented Cow. The event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the old neighborhood bookstore. The book is on sale for 15 percent off through the event. Copies will be available for purchase at the Cow.

By the way, Harmon was recently on the Carson Daly show and somehow (I’m not as techno as I look) I was able to add the segment here for your viewing pleasure:

Tail-Wagging Tales

November 23, 2008

I happened to catch most of Karin Winegar’s appearance at River City Books yesterday afternoon — and I am glad I did. Winegar, author of Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform, read from and signed copies of her heartening book while one of the rescue dogs (see above photo) looked on with approval. Winegar shared slices of some of the compelling stories in “Saved” (I, for one, was happy to hear about kind people who reach out to animals in need). She also displayed several of the amazing photographs in the book. If there’s an animal lover on your shopping list I don’t know why you would need to look any further!

One more thing to note: Ms. Winegar was kind enough to sign a few extra copies for the store. Those are on sale while supplies last.

National Book Award Winners Named

November 22, 2008

shadowIn case you missed it, I’m here (as always, right?) to let you know that the National Book Award winners have been announced:

Fiction: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen (Modern Library)

Nonfiction: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed, (Norton)

Young people’s literature: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (Scholastic)

Poetry: Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems by Mark Doty (HarperCollins)

Hey, if you want to pick up one or more of these award-winners, I know you know where to go.

The Joint Was Booked

November 21, 2008

I stopped by River City Books last night and found there wasn’t a spare seat to be found, as popular novelist Lorna Landvik discussed her new holiday book and her latest paperback release. Readers packed into RCB’s cozy downstairs meeting area to listen to Landvik, who read from both books, and pick up signed, discounted copies of those and other Landvik-authored titles. Many authors struggle to present their material — but not Landvik. A trained stage performer, she adds wit, unique accents and colorful personality to her characters’ voices. And she’s especially comfortable telling stories — whether or not those stories come from one of her books. If the idea was to make people laugh … I know I was not the only one chuckling!

Welcome to My Bargain Table Experience

November 20, 2008

olson-doubleI was checking out the River City Books‘ bargain tables — there are so many these days (more on that soon) — and I had a flashback. To last Friday. Let me explain: Shannon Olson was one of the talented female writers who contributed to Riding Shotgun and appeared during Northfield Reads! last week. Well, Olson’s first two novels, both winners, the second a sequel to the first, were sitting there in front of my beak! That’s right. Welcome to My Planet and Children of God Go Bowling are both currently on sale at RCB for $6.99 each. The Star Tribune has called these novels “Fiercely funny” and “a testament to Olson’s significant talent.” And both can be had for under fifteen bucks. That’s the kind of flashback I like to have (as opposed to those I had in college).

Three Big Events, Five Short Days

November 17, 2008

I don’t think the schedule has ever been this impressive. In fact, I know the schedule hasn’t ever been this impressive. On the heels of two great author events last week, our friends at River City Books will bring in — over a span of five days starting this Thursday — a witty national bestselling novelist; a renowned journalist with heartwarming stories; and a hilarious writer who is more daring than the rest of us.

There’s plenty of reason to be excited about this heavy-hitting lineup:

mountThursday, Nov. 20: Lorna Landvik. The bestselling author of “Patty Jane’s House of Curl” and “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons,” will appear at 7 p.m. at River City Books for a reading and book signing. Landvik will discuss both the recently released paperback edition of her acclaimed novel The View from Mount Joy and her new holiday book Tis the Season! “The View from Mount Joy” is the story of Joe Andreson, a teenager who moves to Minneapolis with his widowed mother and falls under the spell of Kristi Casey, a cheerleader who will prove to be a temptation (and torment) for the rest of Joe’s life. Heartfelt and witty, “Tis the Season!” is a holiday novel of redemption and forgiveness that shows that down and out doesn’t mean over and done — and that the things we need most are usually closer than we know.     

savedSaturday, Nov. 22: Karin Winegar. The author of Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform will read from and sign copies of her book at 1 p.m. in the store. Winegar, a Carleton College graduate and an award-winning journalist who has written for such newspapers as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Star Tribune, will bring two rescue dogs with her to the event. “Saved” is a beautifully illustrated tribute to rescued animals that profoundly affected the people who saved them.

Monday, Nov. 24: Harmon Leon. The infiltration journalist and author of The American Dream: Walking in the Shoes of Carnies, Arms Dealers, Immigrant Dreamers, Pot Farmers, and Christian Believers, will perform and sign copies of his book at 7 p.m. at the Contented Cow in an event co-dreamsponsored by River City Books. In the satirical and poignant “The American Dream,” Leon draws upon his experiences of adopting personas and disguises (see “The Harmon Chronicles” and “Republican Like Me”) to infiltrate the various institutions of everyday life, living among a diverse range of subcultures and learning about their unique vision of life. Click here for video of Leon’s recent appearance on the Carson Daly show.

The books are on sale for 15 percent off before and during the respective events, which are free and open to all. If you want signed copies but can’t attend, give the store a call or stop in and I am confident they will make it happen.  

Greetings, Cards

November 15, 2008

cards1I was down at the old neighborhood bookstore last night and I saw something that really got me goosed, er, um, jazzed (I’m nothing if not sensitive about bird biased language). River City Books now has a bigger-better selection of greeting cards.

There are Christmas, Chanukah, birthday, anniversary, blanks (I like the blanks!), and on down the line. There are two racks full near the register and another display at the entrance. River City has carried greeting cards in the past, but nothing as snazzy as these new ones. There are some really high quality cards in the mix, cards that have been hand silk-screened or hand letter pressed.

And none too soon, either. With the holidays on the horizon I am especially grateful because though I would just as soon skip the card part of gift-giving Mrs. Raven will not allow us to give a gift sans a card. This means I would have to make another stop and, frankly, I am much too lazy to do that.

Now I can pick up a book — or a gift certificate; nothing wrong with those! — and a card and be done with it. I mean, and have a nice, presentable gift for someone I care deeply about.

Seriously, next time you’re there, check these babies out. My picture doesn’t do ‘em justice.

Northfield Reads! Celebrates Mom

November 12, 2008

shotgunMom. She’s underappreciated, wouldn’t you say? I know mine is. Oh, the stuff she had to put up with from … my siblings. OK, maybe from me, too. Once or twice.

Well, there’s a great book out that celebrates Mom — Riding Shotgun: Women Write About Their Mothers — and Northfielders have the chance to hear from a handful of the acclaimed writers who contributed to the anthology. Minnesota authors Faith Sullivan, Sheila O’Connor, Heid Erdrich, Wang Ping and Shannon Olson will read from and discuss “Riding Shotgun” as part of the Northfield Reads! communitywide book club. This free event, which will include a book signing, will be at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 14, in Great Hall on the Carleton College campus.

In “Riding Shotgun,” a group of literary women offer personal and universal stories that provide windows into the influential mother-daughter moments that shape lives. In true tales of candor and insight, the writers reflect on the women who raised them, revealing hard work and hardship, successes and failures, anger and love.

Northfield Reads! is a communitywide book club sponsored by River City Books, the Carleton and St. Olaf bookstores, the Northfield Public Library and Monkey See-Money Read. The public is invited.  Hope to see you — and your mother — there!

Of course, the book’s on sale for 20 percent off at RCB. Copies will also be available at the event. 


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