New Releases to Close Out July!

by Jessica on July 28, 2015

We’re ending July with a bang with these new titles! Come on over and check ’em out for yourself!


Kitchens of the Great Midwest
by Ryan Stradal

This is a staff favorite! We’re so excited for the release!
J. Ryan will be here to discuss and sign on August 12th at 7pm!
Plus, we’re having a potluck in his honor so bring a dish to share! 

When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine and a dashing sommelier he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter starting with pureed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience.
Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.

by C.J. Box

Twenty miles across the North Dakota border, where the scenery goes from rolling grass prairie to pipeline fields, detective Cassie Dewell has been assigned as the new deputy sheriff of Grimstad-a place people used to be from, but were never headed to. Grimstad is now the oil capital of North Dakota. With oil comes money, with money comes drugs, and with drugs come the dirtiest criminals hustling to corner the market.

In the small town resides twelve-year-old Kyle Westergaard. Even though Kyle has been written off as the “slow” kid, he has dreams deeper than anyone can imagine. He wants to get out of town, take care of his mother, and give them a better life. While delivering newspapers, he witnesses a car accident and takes a mysterious bundle from the scene. Now in possession of a lot of money and packets of white powder, Kyle wonders if his luck has changed.

When the temperature drops to 30 below and a gang war heats up, Cassie realizes that she may be in over her head. As she is propelled on a collision course with a murderous enemy, she finds that the key to it all might come in the most unlikely form: an undersized boy on a bike who keeps showing up where he doesn’t belong. Because a boy like Kyle is invisible. But he sees everything.

Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships. Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly. Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Disney Little Golden Book
by Diane Muldrow

Have you forgotten how to see the magic in the world around you? To get that childlike sparkle back in your life, look no further than timeless Disney Little Golden Books Featuring illustrations from classic favorites such as “Cinderella, Frozen, Dumbo, Peter Pan, The Lion King, Snow White, Finding Nemo, Sleeping Beauty, ” and “Cars, ” this inspirational hardcover collection helps readers of all ages rediscover the enchanting power of Disney and those Little Golden Books with shiny foil spines that we all grew up with The perfect gift, this book will have you clapping for Tinker Bell and more.

On Writing
by Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski’s stories, poems, and novels have left an enduring mark on our culture. In this collection of previously unpublished material letters to publishers, editors, friends, and fellow writers Bukowski shares his insights on the art of creation.

On Writing reveals an artist brutally frank about the drudgery of work and canny and uncompromising about the absurdities of life and of art. It illuminates the hard-edged, complex humanity of a true American legend and countercultural icon the “laureate of American lowlife” (Time) who stoically recorded society’s downtrodden and depraved. It exposes an artist grounded in the visceral, whose work reverberates with his central ideal: “Don’t try.”

What Pet Should I Get? 
by Dr. Suess

A never-before-seen picture book by Dr. Seuss
This never-ever-before-seen picture book by Dr. Seuss about making up one’s mind is the literary equivalent of buried treasure What happens when a brother and sister visit a pet store to pick a pet? Naturally, they can t choose just one The tale captures a classic childhood moment choosing a pet and uses it to illuminate a life lesson: that it is hard to make up your mind, but sometimes you just have to do it
Told in Dr. Seuss’s signature rhyming style, this is a must-have for Seuss fans and book collectors, and a perfect choice for the holidays, birthdays, and happy occasions of all kinds.
An Editor’s Note at the end discusses Dr. Seuss’s pets, his creative process, and the discovery of the manuscript and illustrations for “What Pet Should I Get?”


The Golem of Hollywood
by Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman

The #1″ New York Times” bestselling author of the acclaimed Alex Delaware novels and the award-winning #1 international bestselling author of “The Genius “combine their extraordinary talents for one of the most unusual and unnerving thrillers of the year.
Detective Jacob Lev has awakened dazed and confused: it appears he picked up a woman the night before, but can t remember anything about it. And then suddenly, she’s gone. Not long after, he’s dispatched to a murder scene in a house in the Hollywood hills. There is no body, only a head. And seared into a kitchen counter is a message: the Hebrew word for justice.
Lev is about to embark on an odyssey through Los Angeles, London, and Prague, through the labyrinthine mysteries of a grotesque ancient legend, and most of all, through himself. All that he has believed to be true will be upended. And not only his world, but the world itself, will be changed.

Long Way Home
by Louise Penny

While Gamache doesn’t talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache’s help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. “There’s power enough in Heaven,” he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, “to cure a sin-sick soul.” And then he gets up. And joins her.

Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Quebec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have. The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence river. To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it the land God gave to Cain. And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul.

Magnificent Vibration
by Rick Springfield

After stealing a mysterious self-help book called “Magnificent Vibration: Discover Your True Purpose “from a bookstore, Bobby calls the 1-800 number scribbled inside the front cover, only to discover that he has a direct line to God. This launches Bobby on an unlikely quest, serendipitously accompanied by Alice, his breathtakingly sexy and exceedingly sharp travel companion. Together the pair sets out to find some combination of spiritual and carnal salvation–and possibly save the planet.
By turns hilarious, poignant, over-the-top, and deeply meaningful, “Magnificent Vibration” is a highly original tale about the biggest questions one man–or mankind–has ever asked.

See you in August!! 




Kids’ Week – Recap!

by Jessica on July 27, 2015

Last week (July 20-24) we hosted our Annual Kids’ Week! We had a blast the whole week. In case you missed it or just want to relive those days check out the recap below! It’ll be hard to wait a whole ‘nother year for the Kids’ Week but I think we can do it.



The Summer of Love

by Cara on July 26, 2015

Article by Yvonne

It is the perfect time to soak up the sun and listen to some great music. Since it is July and the summer is still in full swing, I decided to make a post to celebrate.

Celebrate the Age of Aquarius and let the sunshine in with these Molly and Rex Smiling sun folders. The folder features a brightly shining sun, with rosy flowered cheeks, whose rays are alternating textile and floral patterns. This set comes with an assortment of sticky notes to help you stay organized with things to do, receipts, bills, banking, and more.

Brighten someone’s day with these vibrant saffron Vera Wang jeweled daisy fold-over notes and envelopes. The detailed pattern of the florets and rays of the daisies are subtly embossed. These come in a set of 10.

Also featured are the Asian Daisies Note card set from Iota. Splashed all over the front, are daisy patterns in bright, fun, contrasting colors. They are accompanied by curved-flap envelopes that come in two tones.

And don’t forget to write your notes with our Daisy pens, which are wrapped in soft velvet ribbon and come in an assortment of colors, such as sunshine yellow, fuchsia pink, and amethyst.

Re-experience The Beatles Revolution with the Beatles no. 1 singles box, which comes with 27 note cards and envelopes, one for each Beatles single. The note cards feature the name of the single and artwork from various albums is featured on the envelopes, which also includes a track list on the flap. Each set comes in a flip-open box.

Also featured is The Beatles 1964 pencil set, which includes 8 standard no. 2 pencils. Each pencil has the name of a popular Beatles song, including “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Twist and Shout.” On the back are images from ticket stubs for their concerts.

We carry the Yellow Submarine wrist watch from Acme Studios. The design was created at the request of Paul McCartney. It does not require batteries. Instead, it has a built in mechanism that you can wind. The watch is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces. It has a soft silicone band and features a submarine being chased by a whale as the second hand.

Finally, show everyone your love of music with these turntable boxed notes from William Arthur, featuring an illustrated image of a turn table and music note in a speech bubble.


Article by Waylon Bacon

A pencil is just a pencil, right?

According to some, no. Just as there is a large community of pen collectors, the humble pencil also has a group of passionate advocates who run websites, argue on message boards, and have strong opinions on what combinations of lead and wood create the best experience.

At the top of the pile is the Blackwing 602 Pencil, commonly referred to as “the best pencil ever made.” Much like the now defunct Parker 51 Pen, the Blackwing has taken on a legendary status, in part because it is no longer produced, but also due to its highly specific design.

I only recently became aware of its existence because we started carrying a revival of the pencil in March. I noticed a few regulars regarding the pencil with a certain amount of reverence. Reading the back of the box, I was intrigued by this: “The Blackwing 602 Pencil was favored by many Oscar, Grammy and Pulitzer prize winners throughout the 20th Century. After they were discontinued, fans began paying as much as $40 per pencil to seize unused stock.”

What is it about the Blackwing that makes it so unique? Why did it then, and continues to now, fascinate people?

There are many terrific articles on the subject, a few of which I have linked below. But the basic story is this:

The Blackwing was first introduced in the 1930’s, and immediately stood out from the competition due to its highly stylized design. It features a body painted dark grey (as opposed to the standard yellow of most pencils), a flat eraser housed in a metal bracket for easy extension and replacement, and a soft lead that required half the pressure with which to write. It was both very much a product of its time, in that writing instruments were often heavily designed and ridiculously specific, and utterly unique in that this was the type of innovation normally reserved for pens.

It immediately became a hit with artists, who appreciated how easy the soft lead made writing and drawing, and that the flat shape of the eraser kept the pencil from rolling off desks. The pencil was heavily used by animators at Disney, and later such notable figures as Steven Sondheim and Quincy Jones. But the Blackwing was also an expensive pencil to both make and sell, and as interest in writing instruments as objects (as opposed to tools) changed, the Blackwing’s sales began to decline, and the pencils were eventually discontinued by early 1998.

At the same time however, the internet was just starting to become a fixture in households all over the country, and with it came ways for collectors and fanatics to find each other. When they did, the stories of the Blackwing grew and grew, until it had become a legend by the middle of the 00’s.

This brings us to the present. Sensing that the reputation of the Blackwing might be enough to turn a profit, Cal Cedar began to work on doing a reissue of the pencil. The first attempt was in 2010. Although it was warmly received, purists complained that the new Blackwing took so many liberties with the original design that the reissue was pointless. Therefore, a new version was issued in 2011. Although the reissue has been divisive (as there are still some differences between this new Blackwing and the original version) the pencil itself has generated an enormous amount of interest; partly because of its notoriety and history, but also because it’s a genuinely great pencil.

Elizabeth Montgomery using the Blackwing on an episode of, “Bewitched.”

I bought one almost as soon as we got them here in the Vroman’s Pen Department, attracted to both its history and the promise of a great writing (or in my case, drawing) experience. It didn’t disappoint; the lead is indeed very soft, and you will find yourself using less pressure than normal to get it to write. The feel of the black paint on the body of the pen is matte, meaning that after long term use the pencil won’t get slick in your hands like the standard, yellow pencils.  Additionally, the shape of the eraser makes for a much more accurate approach, and the fact that you can continually pull up the eraser as it is worn down gives it much more life.

If you want to try one out for yourself, you can purchase them at the Vroman’s Pens and Stationery department, for $2.95 (individual) or $25.95 (box of 12). It’s worth it, not just for the experience of what might be the only GREAT pencil ever created, but also because a bit of history has been brought back to life; to write with one of these things is to step into the shoes of some of the 20th century’s greatest creative minds. Although it takes more than a pencil to write something like ‘West Side Story,’ it’s fun to pretend that you’re at least halfway there with a trusty Blackwing in your hand.

There are a number of websites on the subject of the Blackwing 602, which are far more detailed than this blog. IF you’re interested in finding out more, here are three links to get you started:

A terrific history of the pencil and its influence on pop culture from the Hollywood Reporter:

The Boing Boing review of the most recent addition of the pencil, which we are now carrying here at Vroman’s.

And lastly the definitive website on the subject,, with everything from history, to specific differences between the originals and the reissues, and gobs and gobs of old advertisements dating from the pens inception all the way to its rebirth in the 21st century.


Go Set A Watchman – Out Today!!

by Jessica on July 14, 2015



by Vromans Upstairs on July 13, 2015

Vroman’s is lucky. Lucky to have a big space, a loyal customer base, and the cash flow to take a few risks. Of course, it’s not so much luck as good business sense and a reputation cultivated over 120 years, plus a demonstrated interest in giving back locally and being what any good indie bookstore is and should be—the heart of a community.

Luckily for me, I get to feel lucky here, too. As the manager of the Children’s Department, I get to hang out with kids daily. I know what they’re reading, and I get to see them grow up as they stop by week after week to talk books. They stand with a parent waiting patiently (most of the time) at the desk and shoot these hopeful glances as they ask for the next recommendation. Trying to stay a step ahead of them and always have that next perfect book for exactly that kid is overwhelming at times (I only manage to read maybe two adult books a year now, because dang, these kids read FAST). But the feeling you have when they loved a book you introduced them to really can’t be overstated.

Over the past few months, though, we’ve been branching out a bit. We want to reach teens where they live, and that is, at least some (maybe most) of the time, online. So we started a separate Twitter account (@vromansupstairs) and while maybe some teens have met up with us there, the majority of our interactions are with authors. Which is really awesome… but not exactly the direct interaction with teens we had in mind. We also have a YA Facebook page, but anyone who knows the YA crowd knows that Facebook isn’t really their thing. We’re excited to be adding to the Vroman’s blog, but I have a feeling there are mostly adult readers here, and I’m sure those of you who have or know teens understand this struggle all too well. I know, I know, we probably need to do Instagram or Tumblr or Snapchat or or or…

Maybe we will. In the meantime, though, I just received a tangible reminder that we are connecting, that we are doing something right. And it isn’t online.

Four months ago, we started a YA book club. The group voted to call ourselves Mischief Managers (after a Harry Potter t-shirt I was wearing that day), and we meet once a month on a Sunday afternoon sitting on the floor in the YA section. It’s a small group, probably 12 teens who rotate in and out with busy schedules (anywhere from 3-6 at a given meeting so far). We may not have the most academic or even in-depth book discussions, but we have a lot of laughs and can get pretty passionate about our book feelings (all the feels!). It’s very casual. We spend about the first 30-45 minutes talking about what everyone is reading, followed by maybe 20 minutes of actually discussing the book, and ending with an indeterminate amount of time spent on important topics: fanfiction, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, whether or not books should have steamy romances, what was Stephanie Meyer thinking, and can a movie ever live up to its book.

This week, though, I received a really happy surprise. One of the girls from the book club is traveling this summer, and she sent me a postcard from Australia. In it, she says she’s been checking out all the bookstores there but thinks ours is better. She misses our great discussions and digging through the ARC drawers (she’s also one of our teen reviewers). She’s happy that she’ll see us again soon.

That’s it. Such a simple thing. But knowing that a teenager took the time to send a postcard, that she’s exploring the bigger world but missing hanging out at our store and talking about books… that’s something.

It’s lucky.

-Danielle, Vroman’s Upstairs


The History of the Calling Card

by Cara on July 9, 2015

Article by  Eric Villiers

Calling cards, not to be confused with business cards, have a long and fascinating history and can be a useful and fun inclusion in anyone’s social stationery.

It is believed that calling cards first came into use in China during the 1500’s. From there they moved to Italy and then onto the rest of Europe gaining the most prominence in England during the 18th & 19th centuries. Calling cards were originally used by the nobility and emerging middle classes (pretty much any character from a Jane Austen novel). Calling cards had many functions including announcing a person’s arrival to or departure from town, as a means of introduction, a way to further an acquaintance, or to express condolences or congratulations.

A traditional calling card from the 1800’s.

There was a strict etiquette involved in the usage of a calling card. When calling on someone for the first time one would go to the recipient’s home and just leave their calling card with the servant who answered the door. Then one would wait for a reply. If you received a calling card in return then you could proceed to meeting face-to-face. If you received a calling card in return but it was in an envelope it meant that the person did not want to meet with you.

People kept their calling cards in cases to protect them.
This is an enameled case form the 1800’s.

One of the more interesting rituals with calling cards was the turning of the corners of the card. If you were visiting in person (versus sending your servant with the card) you would turn down the right upper corner. For a congratulatory visit you would turn down the upper left corner, and to announce your departure from town you would turn down the bottom right corner. For a condolence visit, you would turn down the bottom left corner.

Nowadays there is much less pomp and circumstance associated with calling cards but they are still very useful. When out for social occasions like a party or networking event handing someone your calling card leaves a bigger impression on the receiver than just simply giving them your phone number for them to enter into their cell phone. Though calling cards are traditionally very simple in look and design, there are still lots of ways to personalize them to reflect your personality and make them stick out in people’s minds. In Vroman’s Pen & Stationery department we have a number of options for creating and personalizing calling cards. Please visit us and let us show you a classic standard with a modern twist.

This was the calling card of Kaiser Wilhelm, giving us an example of a card with a royal title.


It’s July! And we just came off of a wonderful weekend in celebration of July 4th! We hope everyone played it safe and had a great adventure. But now let’s get back to business. It’s time to talk about what is new this week and what we can dive head first into. Fortunately, for us some great titles are being released in Paperback today! Perfect accessory to fill up your beach bag with.


A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
by Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter, thirty-ninth President, Nobel Peace Prize winner, international humanitarian, fisherman, reflects on his full and happy life with pride, humor, and a few second thoughts.
At ninety, Jimmy Carter reflects on his public and private life with a frankness that is disarming. He adds detail and emotion about his youth in rural Georgia that he described in his magnificent “An Hour Before Daylight.” He writes about racism and the isolation of the Carters. He describes the brutality of the hazing regimen at Annapolis, and how he nearly lost his life twice serving on submarines and his amazing interview with Admiral Rickover. He describes the profound influence his mother had on him, and how he admired his father even though he didn’t emulate him. He admits that he decided to quit the Navy and later enter politics without consulting his wife, Rosalynn, and how appalled he is in retrospect.
In “A Full Life,” Carter tells what he is proud of and what he might do differently. He discusses his regret at losing his re-election, but how he and Rosalynn pushed on and made a new life and second and third rewarding careers. He is frank about the presidents who have succeeded him, world leaders, and his passions for the causes he cares most about, particularly the condition of women and the deprived people of the developing world.
This is a wise and moving look back from this remarkable man. Jimmy Carter has lived one of our great American lives–from rural obscurity to world fame, universal respect, and contentment. “A Full Life” is an extraordinary read.

Tickets are still available for our Jimmy Carter signing on July 30!
Click HERE for more information. 

A Paris Affair
by Tatiana De Rosnay

From the internationally best-selling author of SARAH’S KEY comes an irreverent yet heartfelt collection that examines our most intimate and forbidden desires

Does a fruit taste its sweetest when it is forbidden? Is that which is prohibited always the most pleasurable? In this passionate and perceptive collection, Tatiana de Rosnay paints a portrait of the most forbidden of loves, in many different shades–sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous, sometimes heartfelt, always with a dry wit and an unflinching authenticity. A PARIS AFFAIR is an enjoyable “undressing” of intimate delights, where laughter mingles with compassion and the heartbeats of illicit desire.


by Rainbow Rowell

From Rainbow Rowell, the “New York Times” bestselling author of “Eleanor & Park” and”Fangirl,” comes this heart-wrenching – and hilarious – take on fate, time, television and true love.

Landline “asks if two people are ever truly on the same path, or whether love just means finding someone who will keep meeting you halfway, no matter where you end up.

Some Luck
by Jane Smiley

National Book Award Nominee
A Best Book of the Year: “The Washington Post,” NPR, “USA Today,” “San Francisco Chronicle,” “Financial Times,” “The Seattle Times,” “St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” “BookPage
1920, Denby, Iowa: Rosanna and Walter Langdon have just welcomed their firstborn son, Frank, into their family farm. He will be the oldest of five.
Each chapter in this extraordinary novel covers a single year, encompassing the sweep of history as the Langdons abide by time-honored values and pass them on to their children. with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic changethrough the early 1950s, we watch as the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis. Later still, a girl we d seen growing up now has a little girl of her own.
The first volume of an epic trilogy from a beloved writer at the height of her powers, “Some Luck” starts us on a literary adventure through cycles of birth and death, passion and betrayal that will span a century in America.


Summertime – And the Livin’ is Easy!

by Jessica on July 2, 2015

It’s officially summer and though the temps are on the rise (and aren’t callin’ it quits anytime soon) we still can’t help ourselves by getting in the spirit. Beaches, BBQ’s, vacations, road trips. We love it all! We have a new summertime display up right near the back parking lot entrance with some amazing summertime picks. Everything from patriotic decor for your 4th celebrations (and beyond) to candles to make your home smell just like you remember summer to be.

I’ve highlighted a few here to spark your interest but you should just stop in
(we have AC, ya know!) and take a look around.