Archive for July 2006

RCB Club Meets Again (August 1)

July 31, 2006

antonia.JPGAs you have likely heard, the River City Books fiction book club meets on the first Tuesday of every month. Sue de Malignon, moderator of the club, politely reminded me to remind you that, yes, in fact, that means the group will gather at 7 p.m., tomorrow night (Tuesday, Aug. 1) in the comfortable downstairs meeting area at RCB.

The book to be read is a classic — My Antonia by Willa Cather. Cather (1873-1947), the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of more than 15 books, was one of the most distinguished American writers of the early 20th century.

From the book’s inside cover: “In this powerful and astonishing novel, Willa Cather created one of the most winning yet thoroughly convincing heroines in American fiction. Antonia Shimerda, the daughter of Bohemian immigrants, not only survives her father’s suicide, poverty, and a failed romance, she triumphs with high spirits.” If you’d like to learn more, visit the appropriate page on the handy River City Books Web site.

For those who like to plan ahead, the book club’s September pick is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

For more information about the book club, contact Sue at 507-646-7754 or


Snapshots from a Crazy Day

July 28, 2006

pirates-fan-use.jpgThey came early. They came often. Like the heat, they came in waves. Crazy Daze, downtown Northfield’s annual celebration of special deals and summertime fun, was another blast this year.

Speaking of the weather, everyone was talking about the temps but the first half of Thursday was extremely pleasant. Those of us who arrived early in order to take full advantage of the deals to be found along Division Street were fortunate to also find a terrific morning.

family-use.jpgBy late afternoon the sun had, of course, reminded us that it had not turned down its amplifier. But by that point I had already slammed a Grundy’s burger as well as nibbles from the Lions and Tiny’s. Seemed everywhere people had a cool treat from Cocoa Bean, the Hideaway, Blue Monday, or elsewhere. I had also bumped into several friends and took advantage of the bargain tables along the street.

something-good-use.jpgOf course, I tended to take breaks from the heat under River City Books‘ big tent ’o bargains. There was more clothing at lower prices than usual and I have never seen more remainder books — both in terms of quantity and selection. People were eating them up. I know it took me a couple of hours to get through them all — and to decide which ones to purchase.

Store manager Jon Lee also did something unique this year by having a sale during the sale. That is, after 5 p.m. remaining bargain books were discounted again; placed on sale for an extra 25-percent off the already low price. Wow. It presented an interesting dilemma for the early shopper: do you risk leaving this bargain alone until after five? In the end, one could have filled a bookshelf by spending less on the books than on the shelf.

crowd-use.jpgI also managed to snap a few shots, some of which are included in this post. Hope you enjoy them. Click on each photo to enlarge.

Thanks to all those who spent so much time making the day such a fun one. Always appreciate the occasions when Northfielders gather in mass. So how many “daze” till Winter Walk?

The Bargain Books Are Coming!

July 26, 2006

remainders2.jpgIn the dark of night Tuesday I snuck into River City Books and managed to capture this unauthorized photograph. It’s a bit grainy — not Big Foot grainy, but still you can see what lengths I had to go to show just how many bargain books are being piled up in anticipation of Crazy Daze on Thursday.

As you can see, there are so many books that a dolly needed to be used in order to haul them all around. I’m telling you, there are going to be stacks and stacks of great deals. Currently, they are being sorted and arranged for the big unveiling, which will be bright and early tomorrow morning.

Crazy Daze is one of my favorite days of the summer. There’s so much to see and do and as I roam around a crowded Division Street on days like this one I realize how great it is to live in a city that has a viable downtown — one with food, entertainment, homes, businesses and successful retail stores. River City Books may be my favorite, but it’s not the only one I frequent and support.

Hopefully the rain will hold off till Friday — it always seems to loom on this particular day of the year — and that patrons and owners alike have their best Crazy Daze yet.

Another Source for Book Talk

July 25, 2006

spoken_word_logo.jpgDon’t know about you, but I really enjoy reading and listening to author interviews. Among other things, you learn about the writing process and the back-story of different projects — books as well as movies and plays — that many of us are already reading and talking about. Plus, sometimes you hear an author talk about his or her work and the discussion turns you on to a book you weren’t otherwise considering. Heck, it’s why author events are often so worthwhile.

Last night for the first time I heard a program — The Spoken Word — some of you may have listened to before. I downloaded the show via iTunes (it’s an NPR-type program, but I don’t believe it’s broadcast locally; though I could be wrong — it’s happened before) and the particular program I caught included a long interview with Richard Russo, the fine writer of two books I have read recently, Empire Falls and Straight Man. Russo’s won a Pulitzer and the nature of the interview had to do with his work on several films, some based on his novels.

One thing I like about The Spoken Word is that it serves to promote Book Sense bookstores and usually highlights some Book Sense picks.

Anyway, I have added a link to The Spoken Word Web site to the “Book Notes” links list on the right-hand side of the page. Just in case you’d like to check it out. And if you discover a new read, I know a good place to find it.

It’s Going To Be Crazy

July 24, 2006

As you may have heard, Thursday’s a pretty big day in downtown Northfield and my sources inside River City Books tell me that the bookstore is planning to join the party in a big way.RCBlogos.jpg

Many in the surrounding area have come to expect RCB to have a plethora of bargain books on sale during Crazy Daze and, well, this just may be the biggest year yet for book bargains. I camped out across the street (no truth to the rumor I just really like the lattes at Blue Monday) and I have seen so many remainder orders enter the store in the last two weeks that I have run out of wings to count them on. There’ll be more books and a greater selection of titles.

You’ll find dozens of great reads at such low prices that you can buy a handful and still have money left over for a burger from the Northfield Lions Club (one of my favorite during Crazy Daze, I’ll admit), a cool treat (take your pick) and have your face painted in pretty colors.

Bargain books will be conveniently displayed on tables under a tent outside the store, starting at 7 a.m. and continuing all day and well into the late evening, past the time of the opening concert of the Vintage Band Festival, another event I’m excited about. Though the books are only on sale while supplies last. So the earlier you shop the greater the selection.

But that’s not all. You’ll want to pop your head inside the store as well because selected clothing — including T-shirts and sweatshirts — will be on sale at deeply discounted prices. There will be racks both inside and outside the store with most items on sale for 25 percent off or more.

In short, the savings at River City on Thursday will be as crazy as you want them to be.

A Revolutionary Read

July 21, 2006

paine.jpgIn this space I try to appeal to the masses. When I pick books I dwell on those most likely to tickle the fancy of a large segment of folks. That is, I strive to be inclusive. I am, after all, a big tent kind of bird.

But I just read a great book I want to tell you about even though it may not soon be on the Book Sense bestseller list.

Thomas Paine and the Promise of America by Harvey J. Kaye adeptly traces the revolutionary spirit that runs through American history and this country’s foremost and oft overlooked founding father, Thomas Paine. Showing how Paine turned Americans into radicals — and how we have remained radicals at heart ever since — Kaye presents the nation’s democratic story with wit, subtlety, and passion.


Fresh Bargain Books Have Arrived

July 19, 2006

lucky-girls2.jpgOK, so, no, I’m not here to announce that Stephen King is coming. Or Garrison Keillor. In fact, I do not have news of another famous author bound for Northfield, as was the case each of the past two days. But, hey, I still have something positive to say. You know I do.

So here goes: A fresh batch of remainders has just arrived at River City Books! In fact, RCB’s supply of bargain books is staggering at the moment as the crew of booksellers prepares for the annual Crazy Daze onslaught. No need to wait until July 27, however, as you can find great deals right this very minute (provided you’re reading this during business hours; if not, we’ll be open in the morning).

For example, this afternoon I was in the store and snapped the included photo of Lucky Girls by Nell Freudenberger. This is a critically acclaimed collection of five stories set in Southeast Asia and on the Indian subcontinent — each one bearing the weight and substance of a short novella — narrated by young women who find themselves, often as expatriates, face to face with the compelling circumstances of adult love.

As you can see for yourself, this creative and interesting book, available in paperback, is just $5.99 at River City.

So that’s some pretty good news in its own right, wouldn’t you say?