Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Lover Interview #1: Cinnamon Dokken

Cinnamon Dokken opened A Novel Idea Bookstore in downtown Lincoln as a college senior in 1991. In 2006, she opened a branch shop—A Novel Idea Bookstore, Chapter Two—in the Book Town of Brownville, Nebraska. Her web site,, has virtual tours and information about book collecting. Currently, she is working to build her online bookselling business and has recently attained membership in the Independent Online Booksellers Association. She and her fiancé, Jon Carlson, have spent the past several months renovating a circa 1900 house in Lincoln’s Near South Neighborhood. Between them, they have two children—Isabel (5) and Aidan (4).

What is your favorite book (or current favorite)?

I've been captivated by non-fiction lately - The Worst Hard Time, Band of Brothers, Undaunted Courage, John Adams, etc. etc. Reading about what others have accomplished despite great hardship inspires me to put full effort into my own life. I've also been reading LOTS of children's books to my 5-year-old daughter, Isabel. Kate DiCamillo and Beverly Cleary are current favorites. It's fun to revisit some of the books I read as a child with the new perspective of a parent. I have a huge amount of admiration for children's book authors who don't write down to kids but, rather, lead them to new levels of thinking. (And there's just nothing like reading a funny book to a laughing kiddo.)

What is your favorite book store (other than yours)?

I have to say that, although San Francisco and Portland and New York are all home to some quality bookstores, Nebraskans have it pretty darned good. Bluestem Books, here in Lincoln, and Jackson Street Booksellers, in Omaha, are excellent stores. Being located in the Midwest doesn't lower us any.

I'm also looking forward to the opening of The Antiquarium in Brownville, where we have our second shop. Tom's doing some extensive renovations in Brownville's old public school building, and hopes to open in a month or two. Despite Brownville's population of 148 dear souls, it has 4 bookstores. It's a book-lovin' town!

Do you have a favorite book cover?

Several, actually. I love the old cover of Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress - the one with the red shoes. I also love most of the covers of the trade paperbacks currently being published by Black Lizard, which is part of Vintage. Very sexy Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The covers also have a matte finish, which makes me just want to pet them. Gorgeous. There's really nothing that compares to the cover art of vintage paperback mysteries and sci-fi, though. Some of the old Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason mysteries) covers are hilarious.

Do you have a favorite book-related website/blog/social networking

I think your site is pretty special! ;)

What are you reading now?

Pitifully little, as my home-remodeling projects are demanding most of my attention lately. I just picked up a copy of Kurt Andersen's novel, Heyday, which I'm looking forward to. He hosts my favorite public radio program, Studio 360, and will be in town for the Nebraska Writers' Conference in June. I'm very excited about that! I've also been dipping into something called, For the Love of Books: 115 Celebrated Writers on the Books they Love Most. It's gratifying to see how people are influenced and affected by books. It reminds me that what I do helps people explore and discover—and engage in the world. It feels really good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Julie Hecht book out!

Happy Trails to You: Stories by Julie Hecht.

I am so excited! I loved both Do the Windows Open (this is one of the few books that as soon as I finished it I immediately went back and started it all over again) and The Unprofessionals.

In this new collection of stories, Julie Hecht reclaims the darkly funny, existential territory for which she is known: "People say 'Good morning,' but don't believe them. It's just something to say." The uniquely eccentric narrator reappears in Happy Trails to You and recounts her perplexed engagements with our society and the larger world—whether she's attempting to withdraw money from a bank machine, worrying about Paul McCartney, or seeking a nonexistent place of calm on Nantucket, where nail guns and chain saws have replaced the sounds of birds singing.

Appalled by life in our times, the narrator recounts innumerable artifacts from a now vanished America (civility, idealism, Elvis Presley, well-made appliances). She is also exquisitely attuned to the absurdities of our culture; her acute observations illuminate every subject, from the dangers of microwave ovens to the disappearing ozone layer. With deadpan wit, the author reveals the truths of a new century. Happy Trails to You is a radically distinctive work of American fiction.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Launch 2.0

This video is great. It's Dennis Cass, author of Head Case (a book I really need to get. He did a signing at Lee's a while back that I'm very sorry I missed).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Remembering a fellow book lover

Kirt Card
September 9, 1949 - May 12, 2008
I first "met" Kirt back when I worked at the University Bookstore at UNL. This was way back before the wide wide world of webs, when all we had for reference were publisher catalogs and the multi-volume Books in Print (hard copy only). And the occasional helpful personal contact: sometimes a bookseller at another store, maybe a UNL faculty member, or sometimes a staff member at a publishing house. I had called the University of Nebraska Press a couple of times trying to track down regional titles and ended up talking to a guy named Kirt. It quickly became apparent that not only was this guy intimately familiar with the UNP list, but he knew a ton about regional titles in general. And to top it all off he was incredibly friendly and patient. Soon I started calling UNP and asking for Kirt whenever I had an oddball question or couldn't remember (again) where to get that Weeds of Nebraska book. I even told new employees, as part of their training, to call him if they had questions about regional titles.

In September of 2000 I started working at UNP. It had been a while since I'd worked at the bookstore so I hadn't talked to my pal Kirt in a while. I was excited to finally meet Kirt in person—I think I kind of freaked him out by being all spazzy fangirl. I was surprised by how quiet and shy he was in person. I was lucky enough to have worked with him for a few years. He was just as friendly and patient as a coworker as he had been on the phone. Also, as Erica writes, he made some very memorable contributions to our food days! We all miss him greatly.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I finished Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I read it as an ebook from eReader on my Treo. It was recommended to my by my pal Amy and I loved it. I'd probably already be done with the next book in the series, Pretties, if I could find it as an ebook.

Why oh why make the first available as an ebook, but not the rest?
"Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license--for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world--and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thirty Tables of Contents

The Design Observer's Thirty Tables of Contents, including one by UNP (Ronell's Telephone Book, designed by Richard Eckersley):

With this in mind, we offer this book, compiled on the occasion of AIGA’s Twelfth Biennial National Design Conference in Denver last year. In it, we have choosen to narrow our sights to the written word, considering what we read next, how we move from one chapter to the next, and how we navigate through a single volume. Often overlooked by serious bibliophiles, the humble TOC is our portal into a world of knowledge. In the realm of the printed word, it heralds what comes next, a verbal proscenium with its own peculiar prose and typographic conventions.

In this book, we have gathered together thirty Table of Contents pages from our personal collections. On the surface, the selection may elude standard organizational conceits: why a design collection that also includes poetry and fiction? Why Philip Larkin and not Billy Collins, Ayn Rand and not Philip Roth, Paul Rand and not Jan Tschichold? Like “next” itself, there’s no intentional logic or over-arching plan: we just found these examples engaging, the discrepancies between them even more so.

For more of Richard's work, check out, a site created by Sam Eckersley (Richard's son).

New episode of Titlepage

Featuring Simon Winchester, author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Watch it here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What does this say about me?

I actually like almost all of the songs on Hell's iPod. I'm not saying they're good, just that I like them: Muskrat Love, Chevy Van, Billy Don't Be a Hero, and Seasons in the Sun!

Notable exceptions:
  • Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey" which, if you really listen, is quite clearly a man confessing to murdering his wife

  • everything and anything by Rupert Holmes. Holy mother what a creep.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I finished Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman

I liked it. It made me I wish I had watched The Wire, though. Also, I missed some of the secondary characters, like her family, Crow, etc. I found the new characters (the TV people) kind of boring. Whitney was great as usual.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My Library of Congress

The new site launched a few weeks ago. From the site:
New exhibitions enhanced by interactive technology offer a chance to encounter rare and unique items, such as the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, the Gutenberg Bible, the 1507 Waldseemüller map that first named America and Thomas Jefferson’s recreated library.
My current favorite part is The Declaration of Independence: From Rough Draft to Proclamation
Students analyze Thomas Jefferson’s “original Rough draught” of the Declaration of Independence, compare its text to that of the final document adopted by Congress, and discuss the significance of wording differences.
You can thank HBO's John Adams for my renewed interest in American history.