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Nick’s Pick for November

posted on November 1, 2015 at 10:42 pm by Brad Craft

zinkWhen an author wins the Nobel Prize and I’ve never heard of her, I consider that an invitation to dive into her works. It was like diving into a tank of sharks. I’m still stunned. I feel like I’ve been beat up, slapped and punched, but I learned so much that I can’t stop going back for more.  This year’s Nobel winner Svetlana Alexievich is the real deal. Simple and straightforward, her words do what words are supposed to do. You can’t help flinching and gasping about once a page in ZINKY BOYS: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War. It’s intense stuff. But I can’t stop reading it because it is so bluntly honest and perfectly composed. Her carefully orchestrated voices capture something very close to the essence of human experience. She has made me drop other good books half-finished. She’s made me change my entire promotion for this month. I’m in awe of the power of her writing.

zinky1

ZINKY BOYS: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War

by Svetlana Alexievich

Regular price $18.95

20% off at University Book Store

Our price: $15.16

 

NOBEL WINNER RECORDS THE SURVIVORS’ STORIES

svet

Zinky boys were the dead teenagers sent home in sealed zinc coffins from the Afghanistan War. This year’s Nobel winner, Svetlana Alexievich, has interviewed those who survived, the amputees who lost more than limbs in the war that broke the faith of Russians in their country.

 

For each of her “collective novels,” told in the real words of real people, Alexievich interviews 500-700 people. She’s spent thirty years exploring conflict and its aftermath, recording thousands of individuals from Chernobyl to Kabul.

 

This book about the Russian national trauma that consumed a generation is a monument to suffering and courage, with an impact far exceeding any novel or film. Meet the surviving civilians and sergeants, the medics and mothers and private soldiers, and let them tell you “what it was really like over there.”

 

Come discuss the book with us!

Nick’s Book Club

University Book Store

4326 University Way NE

The Bookstore Café

Monday, November 30, 6 pm

 

I just got my hands on a copy of her VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL and that will be my next book. This woman’s intensity and honesty are addicting. She’s such a straight shooter. I shudder to think what I don’t know about the Chernobyl disaster. I’m about to find out. — Nick

Rolling Out the Red Carpet

posted on February 26, 2014 at 2:52 am by Jenny Oleinik
Oscar himself guards the staircase at our U-District store.

Oscar himself guards the staircase at our U-District store.

Now that the Winter Olympics have concluded–and can I say bravo to Sochi on that epic celebration of Russian literature in the closing ceremony?–it’s time to turn our attention to the 86th Academy Awards. The lights! The dazzle! The pageantry! And, most importantly, the books that made so many of these movies possible from the start.

 
This year’s nominations stem from a bunch of great reads, and we’ve listed the majority of them, along with their respective book titles, below. Read the book and see the movie (or switch the order, if you so prefer). Lights, camera, action!
 
12 Years a Slave (Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Directing, etc.) 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northrop. Solomon Northup was a free-born African American who lived between 1808 and around 1863. Twelve Years a Slave is Northrup’s memoir (as told to and edited by David Wilson) of his experience being kidnapped and sold into slavery for twelve years in Louisiana before regaining his freedom. Northrop’s book was a bestseller when it was first published (just a year after Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin) but then slumped into a a century of obscurity before it was “re-discovered” in the early 1960s. The movie 12 Years a Slave is not the first film adaptation of the book, though: in 1984, Solomon Northrup’s Odyssey (later released as Half Slave, Half Free) was aired on PBS.
 

WolfWallStreetThe Wolf of Wall Street (Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Directing, etc.) The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort. Having not read this one myself, I will pass the baton to Publishers Weekly: “Belfort, who founded one of the first and largest chop shop brokerage firms in 1987, was banned from the securities business for life by 1994, and later went to jail for fraud and money-laundering, delivers a memoir that reads like fiction. It covers his decade of success with straightforward accounts of how he worked with managers of obscure companies to acquire large amounts of stock with minimal public disclosure, then pumped up the price and sold it, so he and the insiders made large profits while public investors usually lost.” And a follow-up from Kirkus Reviews: “Entertaining as pulp fiction, real as a federal indictment […] a hell of a read.”

 

bookthiefThe Book Thief (Music – Original Score) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The Book Thief has been a must-read since its publication in 2006. Narrated by death, it tells the story of Liesel, a foster child in 1939 Nazi Germany. She discovers an insatiable love of reading that she shares with her foster father, her neighbours, and the Jewish man hiding in her basement. Though categorized as a teen book, it has become an international bestseller with readers of all ages and has spent over 375 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. It is one of those books that gets passed from reader to reader and has become a staple for book clubs nationwide. Zusak was recently awarded the 2014 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime contribution in writing for young adults. Even if you don’t see the movie, this book is a wonderful choice.

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects) — The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien. Well this one seems pretty obvious, don’t you think?

 

Captain Phillips (Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role, Writing – Adapted Screenplay, etc.) A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephen Talty. In A Captain’s Duty, Captain Richard Philips tells the story of the hijacking of the container ship MV Maersk Alabama and his experience as a hostage to Somali pirates before he was rescued. Tom Hanks’ acting in the role of Captain Phillips was, as is typical for Hanks, fantastic. While the film focuses mainly on Phillips’ experience, the book alternates between his ordeal and the experiences of his family in Vermont as they faced a different kind of emotional turmoil. A Captain’s Duty received starred reviews from both Booklist and Publishers Weekly.

 

mayor cover for webInside Llewyn Davis (Cinematography, Sound Mixing)The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir by Dave Van Ronk. The Seattle Times says this book is “[a] delightful, keenly-observed, cantankerous autobiography…which, if you love ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ you owe it to yourself to read.” In it Van Ronk, one of the founding individuals of the 1960s folk music revival, gives a firsthand account of his experiences and encounters with soon-to-be famous Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and more. According to the New York Review of Books blog, Inside Llewyn Davis “extensively mines Van Ronk’s remarkable posthumous memoirThe Mayor of MacDougal Street (seamlessly compiled from interviews by Elijah Wald; Da Capo, 2005) for scenes, anecdotes, and details of background, and its protagonist, Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac) sings songs closely associated with Van Ronk.”

 

The Great Gatsby (Costume Design)The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Whether you loved or hated the film–and it was definitely a dividing movie–almost everyone can agree that the novel by Fitzgerald is one of the all-time best American classics. If you haven’t read it yet, now is as good a time as any.

 

The "Before they were Oscars..." display set-up at our Mill Creek branch.

The “Before they were Oscars…” display set-up at our Mill Creek branch.

Saving Mr. Banks (Music – Original Score) Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers. Okay, so it’s not based on Mary Poppins so much as the woman who wrote it and Walt Disney’s determination to bring it to cinematic life, but I still think it belongs on this list. Another title that might be of interest is Mary Poppins She Wrote: The Life of P. L. Travers by Valerie Lawson. Booklist says: “It turns out there was a lot of the difficult Travers in Poppins. […] This meticulously researched but overlong biography may help restore a diminished literary reputation, but its unsparing portrait of an exceedingly unsympathetic human being will win Travers no new posthumous friends.” Biography fans ought to appreciate this one, especially those who were annoyed with the inaccuracies portrayed in the film (as charming as it was).

 

room on the broomRoom on the Broom (Short Film – Animated)Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson; illustrated by Axel Scheffler. This short is based on the classic picture book created by the same duo who wrote and illustrated another bestselling kids’ favorite, The Gruffalo. Learn more here about the animated short, the original book, and a new game app that’s available.

 

Philomena (Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Writing – Adapted Screenplay, etc.) — Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, & a Fifty-Year Search by Martin Sixsmith. Philomena tells the true story, as told by journalist Sixsmith, of a pregnant teenager in 1952 who was sent to a convent and forced to give up her son for adoption. Five decades later she decides to find him and, unbeknownst to her, he attempts to find her as well, though they are now an ocean apart. Dame Judi Dench, who is nominated for a best actress award in this film, writes, “The extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman […] Philomena’s tale is special. […] It reveals a remarkable human being with astonishing fortitude and a truly humbling willingness to forgive. […] I hope Philomena’s heroic search and her courage in allowing her story to be told will bring comfort to all who have suffered a similar fate.” (Dench has written the foreword to the newest edition of the book that is now available.)

 

lone survivorLone Survivor (Sound Editing, Sound Mixing)Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson. Lone Survivor is a non-fiction account of Luttrell’s experience in Afghanistan under Operation Red Wing in which he and other Navy SEALs were to observe a local village and capture or kill a Taliban leader. An encounter with local residents, however, turns their mission treacherously violent as they find themselves surrounded and greatly outnumbered by Taliban warriors. Film rights were obtained in 2007, the same year that the book was released. According to The Washington Post, “If you’re looking for a true story that showcases both American heroism and Afghani humanity, [this] may be the book for you.”

 

Blue Jasmine (Actress in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Writing – Original Screenplay) — This drama, written and directed by Woody Allen, tells the story of a fall from wealth to poverty by a Manhattan Socialite. Though not specifically based on a book (note the nomination for best original screenplay), it has been heavily compared to Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire. Some critics believe Allen was directly inspired by the play, citing similar plot and characters, though not all critics agree. Regardless, the two leading ladies in Allen’s film have previously been associated with Williams’ play, and a comparison of the two would certainly bring about a lively conversation about comparative art.

 

OsageAugust: Osage County (Actress in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role)August: Osage County by Tracy Letts. This play, an American black-comedy drama, premiered in Chicago in 2007 and then received  Pulitzer Prize in 2008. It focuses on the strong-willed and disjointed women of the Weston family who reunite after a family crisis in their hometown of Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The film adaptation features a star-studded cast (including Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both with Oscar nods for their roles). The play itself is three hours long while the film is just around two hours. According to our own used book buyer, Brad Craft, “If you want to experience the full disfunction of this family, you owe it to yourself to read the play. A lot more drinking, drugs, and fighting–all of the fun.”

 

As always, happy reading! (And watching.)

Unforgettable Bromances

posted on October 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm by Brad Craft

Unforgettable Bromances

Here’s another rather brilliant display of seemingly unlikely… associations, from our resident book-display-diva, Seija.  She was inspired by the publication of the new Simon and Schuster book from Chris Matthews, Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked.  That most unlikely of working relationships set her to thinking.  The result?  A whole table’s worth of masculine collaborations, rivalries, bands, comrades and big boy closeness.

Tip and the Gipper: When politics Worked

Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked

As you can see, she had a lot of great new books with which to work.

Among the likelier pals, we have Fidel & Gabo: A Portrait of the Legendary Friendship Between Fidel Castro and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, by Angel Esteban & Stephanie Panichelli, from Pegasus Books.

Fidel & Gabo

Fidel & Gabo: A portrait of the Legendary Friendship Between Fidel Castro and Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Also, for the sports fans, Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age, by Wall Street Journal sportswriter, Allen Barra, just out from Crown Archetype.

Mickey & Willie

Mickey & Willie

 

For music lovers, and Beatles boys, from Running Press, we have When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles’ Rise to the Top, by Larry Kane.

When They Were Boys

When They Were Boys

 

And the last bromance for special mention, From Crown, and science writer, Sean B. Carroll, comes Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize, the new book on the friendship of novelist, Albert Camus and scientist, Jacques Monod.

Brave Genius

Brave Genius

Barely scratched the surface, of course, of our “Yo, Bro” here.  If you want to see the rest, you’ll have to stop by the bookstore while the bromance lingers on.

Dude, seriously, check ’em out.

Still more Bromances

Still more Bromances