The American Wife
by Taya Kyle

The widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle shares their private story: an unforgettable testament to the power of love and faith in the face of war and unimaginable loss and a moving tribute to a man whose true heroism ran even deeper than the legend

In early 2013, Taya Kyle and her husband, Chris, were the happiest they ever had been. Their decade-long marriage had survived years of war that took Chris, a U.S. Navy SEAL, away from Taya and their two children for agonizingly long stretches while he put his life on the line in many major battles of the Iraq War. After struggling to readjust to life out of the military, Chris had found new purpose in redirecting his lifelong dedication to service toward supporting veterans and their families. Their love had deepened, and their family was whole, finally.

Then, the unthinkable. On February 2, 2013, Chris and his friend Chad Littlefield were killed while attempting to help a troubled vet. The life Chris and Taya fought so hard to build was shattered. In an instant, Taya became a single parent of two. A widow. A young woman facing the rest of her life without the man she loved.

Chris and Taya’s remarkable story has captivated millions through Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster Academy Award-winning film American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as Chris and Sienna Miller as Taya, and because of Chris’s bestselling memoir, in which Taya contributed passages that formed the book’s emotional core. Now, with trusted collaborator Jim DeFelice, Taya writes in never-before-told detail about the hours, days, and months after Chris’s shocking death when grief threatened to overwhelm her.

And yet throughout, friendship, family, and a deepening faith were lifelines that sustained her and the kids when the sorrow became too much. Two years after her husband’s tragic death, Taya has found renewed meaning and connection to Chris by advancing their shared mission of “serving those who serve others,”particularly military and first-responder families.She and the children are now embracing a new future, one that honors the past but also looks forward with hope, gratitude, and joy.

American Wife is one of the most remarkable memoirs of the year a universal chronicle of love and heartbreak, service and sacrifice, faith and purpose that will inspire every reader.”

Daddy, Stop Talking!
by Adam Carolla

Last Will & Testament of Adam Carolla

I, Adam Carolla, being of beaten-down mind, declare this to be my Last Will and Testament. I revoke all wills and addendums previously made by me. (You guys never did listen, anyway.)

Article I

I appoint the rest of the world’s unappreciated dads as Personal Representatives to administer this Will. I bequeath to them the right to crack a couple cold ones in the garage after working their asses off all week and ask that they be permitted to watch all the porn they like and not have to change diapers and get dragged to every preschool “graduation” and PTA meeting.

Article II

To my wife, I leave a safe-deposit box, the sole content of which is a note reading “Get a job. I’m dead,” and my best wishes on trying to keep up with the unending demands of our houses, cars, dog, and kids.

Article III

I devise, bequeath, and give my kids this book, Daddy, Stop Talking. Since you guys were the death of me, I leave you these pages of wisdom. But no cash, cars, or property. You’ve got to earn those. On that note, I further demand that the following message be placed on the marker of my grave: “You’re All on Your Own Now. Enjoy.”

by Nick Offerman

The star of Parks and Recreation and author of the New York Times bestseller Paddle Your Own Canoe returns with a second book that humorously highlights twenty-one figures from our nation’s history, from her inception to present day—Nick’s personal pantheon of “great Americans.”

To millions of people, Nick Offerman is America. Both Nick and his character, Ron Swanson, are known for their humor and patriotism in equal measure.

After the great success of his autobiography, Paddle Your Own Canoe, Offerman now focuses on the lives of those who inspired him. From George Washington to Willie Nelson, he describes twenty-one heroic figures and why they inspire in him such great meaning. He’ll combine both serious history with light-hearted humor—comparing, say, George Washington’s wooden teeth to his own experience as a woodworker. The subject matter will also allow Offerman to expound upon his favorite topics, which readers love to hear—areas such as religion, politics, woodworking and handcrafting, agriculture, creativity, philosophy, fashion, and, of course, meat.

Our Souls at Night
by Kent Haruf

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Their brave adventures—their pleasures and their difficulties—are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

Radiant Angel
by Nelson DeMille

“A soft breeze fluttered the white, blue, and red Russian flag in front of the U.N. mission. I remember when the Soviet hammer and sickle flew there. I kind of miss the Cold War. But I think it’s back.”

After a showdown with the notorious Yemeni terrorist known as The Panther, John Corey has left the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and returned home to New York City, taking a job with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group. Although Corey’s new assignment with the DSG-surveilling Russian diplomats working at the U.N. Mission-is thought to be “a quiet end,” he is more than happy to be out from under the thumb of the FBI and free from the bureaucracy of office life.

But Corey realizes something the U.S. government doesn’t:
The all-too-real threat of a newly resurgent Russia.

When Vasily Petrov, a colonel in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service posing as a diplomat with the Russian U.N. Mission, mysteriously disappears from a Russian oligarch’s party in Southampton, it’s up to Corey to track him down. What are the Russians up to and why? Is there a possible nuclear threat, a so-called radiant angel? Will Corey find Petrov and put a stop to whatever he has planned before it’s too late? Or will Corey finally be outrun and outsmarted, with America facing the prospect of a crippling attack unlike anything it’s ever seen before?

Prescient and chilling. DeMille’s new novel takes us into the heart of a new Cold War with a clock-ticking plot that has Manhattan in its crosshairs.

The Water Knife
by Paolo Bacigalupi


Paolo Bacigalupi, New York Times best-selling author of The Windup Girl and National Book Award finalist, delivers a near-future thriller that casts new light on how we live today—and what may be in store for us tomorrow.

The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river all for itself. Into the fray steps Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust.

When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist, who knows far more about Phoenix’s water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky.

As bodies begin to pile up and bullets start flying, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt, and dirtier than any of them could have imagined. With Phoenix teetering on the verge of collapse and time running out for Angel, Lucy, and Maria, their only hope for survival rests in one another’s hands.  But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

June 9th Paolo will be joining us to discuss The Water Knife! 


The Book of Life
by Deborah Harkness

The #1 New York Times bestselling series finale and sequel to A Discovery of Witches andShadow of Night

Fans of the All Souls Trilogy sent this highly anticipated finale straight to #1 on the New York Timeshardcover bestseller list. Bringing the series’ magic and suspense to a deeply satisfying conclusion,The Book of Life is poised to become an even bigger phenomenon in paperback.

Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

In the Kingdom of Ice
Hampton Sides

New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides returns with a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age

In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans, although theories abounded. The foremost cartographer in the world, a German named August Petermann, believed that warm currents sustained a verdant island at the top of the world. National glory would fall to whoever could plant his flag upon its shores.

James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric and stupendously wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world’s attention by dispatching Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Now he was keen to re-create that sensation on an even more epic scale. So he funded an official U.S. naval expedition to reach the Pole, choosing as its captain a young officer named George Washington De Long, who had gained fame for a rescue operation off the coast of Greenland. De Long led a team of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters, carrying the aspirations of a young country burning to become a world power. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of “Arctic Fever.”

The ship sailed into uncharted seas, but soon was trapped in pack ice. Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew abandoned the ship. Less than an hour later, the Jeannette sank to the bottom,and the men found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies. Thus began their long march across the endless ice—a frozen hell in the most lonesome corner of the world. Facing everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition battled madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival.

With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In The Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.

Secret Walks
by Charles Fleming

“Secret Walks: A Walking Guide to the Hidden Trails of Los Angeles” is a sequel to the popular “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles,” and features another collection of exciting urban walks through parks, canyons, and neighborhoods unknown and unseen by most Angelinos. Each walk is rated for duration, distance, and difficulty, and is accompanied by a map.
The walks, like those in Secret Stairs, are filled with fascinating factoids about historical landmarksthe original Bat Cave from “Batman,” the lake where Opie learned to fish on “The Andy Griffith Show,” or the storage barn for one of L.A. s oldest wineries. The book also highlights the people who made the landmarks famous: the infamous water engineer William Mulholland; the convicted murderer and philanthropist Colonel Griffith J. Griffith; Charles Lummis, who walked from Cincinnati to Los Angeles to take a job on the L.A. Times; and tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney, who dug canals to drain the marshes south of Santa Monica and create his American Venice.
Written in the entertainingly informed style that has made “Secret Stairs” a “Los Angeles Times” best-seller, “Secret Walks” is the perfect book for the walker eager to explore but tired of the crowds at Runyon Canyon or Temescal Park.”

Your Fathers, Where Are They?
by Dave Eggers

From Dave Eggers, best-selling author of The Circle, a tour de force of dialogue and dark humor, coursing emotions and tight control. Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?  is the formally daring, brilliantly executed story of one man struggling to make sense of his country, seeking solutions the only way he knows how.

What do you do when you’re full of questions: what happened to missions to the moon? Why spend a trillion dollars on war? Where did America go wrong? If you’re Thomas, a young man nursing migraines and a lack of direction, this calls for drastic action. To find some answers, Thomas kidnaps a NASA astronaut and brings him to an abandoned military base on the edge of the California coast. Then the questioning begins. The answers must be honest. The back and forth might even hurt. It might get uncomfortable. But eventually the truth will emerge.


Introducing Catie Disabato!

by Jessica on May 20, 2015

Hello there! We have a whole slew of really fun things popping up around the store these days. One of those things is a wonderful little book by Catie Disabato called the Ghost Network. Trust us you’re going to want to check out this debut! This one is published by our friends at Melville House too so it’s a double win!

We have an end cap display up in our Book Department right now that not only features the book but also a little fanzine that Catie made about Molly Metropolis! Each fanzine is numbered and they are limited (each one is numbered!) so when you stop in to grab the book don’t forget to pick up the fanzine!

About Catie Disaboto:

Catie Disabato writes criticism and commentary for Full Stop, This Recording, The Millions, The Rumpus, and others. She lives in Los Angeles.
To read more from Catie you’re going to want to check out her Tumblr HERE!

About the Ghost Network: 

One minute insanely famous pop singer Molly Metropolis is on her way to a major performance in Chicago, and the next, she’s gone.

A journalist who’s been covering Molly joins the singer’s personal assistant in an increasingly desperate search to find her, guided by a journal left behind in her hotel room, and possible clues hidden in her songs—all of which seem to point to an abandoned line in the Chicago subway system.

It leads them to a map of half-completed train lines underneath Chicago, which in turn leads them to the secret, subterranean headquarters of an obscure intellectual sect—and the realization that they’ve gone too far to turn back. And if a superstar can disappear without a trace . . . what can happen to these young women?

Suspenseful and wildly original, The Ghost Network is a novel about larger-than-life fantasies—of love, sex, pop music, amateur detective work, and personal reinvention. Debut novelist Catie Disabato bursts on the scene with an ingeniously plotted, witty, haunting mystery.


What’s New on the Book Block This Week?

by Jessica on May 19, 2015

We’re still coming down off the great list of new releases from last week BUT that’s not stopping us from showcasing what’s new this week! Maybe you’ll find your next great read in the list below!!

What’s New in Hardcover:

by Brooke Dojny

Creamy Clam Chowder. Portuguese Caldo Verde Chowder. Northwest Salmon Chowder with Leeks and Peas. Double Corn Summer Chowder. Brooke Dojny offers 57 recipes for chowders of all kinds — some made with seafood, some with meat, and some with just veggies — plus side dishes, salads, and desserts to round out the menu. Whether you’re looking for a hearty meal on a cozy winter evening or a fresh gumbo perfect for a summer lunch, you’ll turn to this delicious collection again and again.

by Steve Inskeep

A thrilling narrative history of two men–President Andrew Jackson and Cherokee Chief John Ross–who led their respective nations at a crossroads of American history

Five decades after the Revolutionary War, the United States faced a constitutional crisis. At its center stood two men, former military comrades locked in a struggle that tested the boundaries of our fledgling democracy. Jacksonland is their story.

One man we recognize: Andrew Jackson—war hero, populist, and exemplar of the expanding South—whose first major initiative as president instigated the massive expulsion of Native Americans known as the Trail of Tears. The other is a half-forgotten figure: John Ross—a mixed-race Cherokee politician and diplomat—who used the United States’ own legal system and democratic ideals to oppose Jackson.

Representing one of the Five Civilized Tribes, which had adopted the ways of white settlers—cultivating farms, publishing a newspaper in their own language, and sending children to school—Ross championed the tribes’ cause all the way to the Supreme Court. He gained allies like Senator Henry Clay, Chief Justice John Marshall, and even Davy Crockett. In a fight that seems at once distant and familiar, Ross and his allies made their case in the media, committed civil disobedience, and benefited from the first mass political action by American women. Their struggle contained ominous overtures of later events, such as the Civil War, and set the pattern for modern-day politics.

At stake in this struggle was the land of the Five Civilized Tribes. In shocking detail, Jacksonlandreveals how Jackson, as a general, extracted immense wealth from his own armies’ conquest of Native lands. Later, as president, Jackson set in motion the seizure of tens of millions of acres in today’s Deep South, the “Jacksonland” of our story. Jacksonland is the work of renowned journalist

Steve Inskeep, cohost of NPR’s Morning Edition and author of the critically acclaimed Instant City. Inskeep offers in Jacksonland a heart-stopping narrative masterpiece, a tragedy of American history that feels ripped from the headlines in its immediacy, drama, and relevance to our lives. Harrowing, inspiring, and deeply moving, Inskeep’s Jacksonland is the story of America at a moment of transition, when the fate of states and nations was decided by the actions of two heroic yet tragically opposed men.

The Knockoff
by Lucy Sykes

An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.

When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired “the gray hairs,” put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can’t tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve’s reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop—hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and “fun” means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice—pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.

by Richard H. Thaler

Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans predictable, error-prone individuals. Misbehaving is his arresting, frequently hilarious account of the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.

Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying a clock radio, selling basketball tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words, we misbehave. More importantly, our misbehavior has serious consequences. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.

Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behavior, Thaler enlightens readers about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world. He reveals how behavioral economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything from household finance to assigning faculty offices in a new building, to TV game shows, the NFL draft, and businesses like Uber.

Laced with antic stories of Thaler s spirited battles with the bastions of traditional economic thinking, Misbehaving is a singular look into profound human foibles. When economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers, and policy makers are both profound and entertaining.”

Peru: The Bookbook
by Gaston Acurio

The definitive Peruvian cookbook, featuring 500 traditional home cooking recipes from the country’s most acclaimed and popular chef, Gastón Acurio.

One of the world’s most innovative and flavorful cuisines, Peruvian food has been consistently heralded by chefs and media around the world as the “next big thing.” Peruvian restaurants are opening across the United States, with 20 in San Francisco alone, including Limon and La Mar.

Acurio guides cooks through the full range of Peru’s vibrant cuisine from popular classics like quinoaand ceviche, and lomo saltado to lesser known dishes like amaranth and aji amarillo. For the first time, audiences will be able to bring the flavors of one of the world’s most popular culinary destinations into their own kitchen.

The Scarlet Gospels
by Clive Barker

The Scarlet Gospels takes readers back many years to the early days of two of Barker’s most iconic characters in a battle of good and evil as old as time: The long-beleaguered detective Harry D’Amour, investigator of all supernatural, magical, and malevolent crimes faces off against his formidable, and intensely evil rival, Pinhead, the priest of hell. Barker devotees have been waiting for The Scarlet Gospels with bated breath for years, and it’s everything they’ve begged for and more. Bloody, terrifying, and brilliantly complex, fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed by the epic, visionary tale that is The Scarlet Gospels. Barker’s horror will make your worst nightmares seem like bedtime stories. The Gospels are coming. Are you ready?

by Neal Stephenson

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic–a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years

What would happen if the world were ending?

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remains . . . Five thousand years later, their progeny–seven distinct races now three billion strong–embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.

What’s New in Paperback:

Hope to Die
by James Patterson

Detective Alex Cross is being stalked by a psychotic genius, forced to play the deadliest game of his career. Cross’s family–his loving wife Bree, the wise and lively Nana Mama, and his precious children–have been ripped away. Terrified and desperate, Cross must give this mad man what he wants if he has any chance of saving the most important people in his life. The stakes have never been higher: What will Cross sacrifice to save the ones he loves?

Widely praised by the greatest crime and thriller writers of our time, Cross My Heart set a jaw-dropping story in motion. Hope to Die propels Alex Cross’s greatest challenge to its astonishing finish.

Michael Jordan: The Life
by Roland Lazenby

The definitive biography of the most legendary basketball player of all time.

Drawing on personal relationships with Jordan’s coaches; countless interviews with friends, teammates, family members, and Jordan himself; and decades in the trenches covering Jordan in college and the pros, Roland Lazenby provides the first truly definitive study of Jordan: the player, the icon, and the man.

When most people think of Michael Jordan, they think of the incredible moments so ingrained in basketball history that they have their own names: The Shrug, The Shot, The Flu Game. But for all his greatness, there’s also a dark side to Jordan: a ruthless competitor, a gambler. There’s never been a biography that balanced these personas-until now.



Monday Mentions!

by Jessica on May 18, 2015

Happy Monday!! Let’s go deep in our souls this Monday and explore some recommends from our Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality Sections. 

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief 
By Lawrence Wright

I loved it! Mystery, danger, adventure, and of course, Tom Cruise! This book has it all. A fascinating read all-around. I recommend it to anyone interested in the founding of a modern American religion.

Recommended by Kyle

Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year 
By Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato is wise beyond her years. She has created this book of daily reminders to be kind to yourself and to stay excited about life. Great gift for all ages.

Recommended by Chelsea

Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness
By Mark Epstein

All of what I love about this book won’t fit here. To be not long-winded: It is a writing that provides true relief to those of us who shudder at feelings of emptiness and/or inadequacy. Instead of tools to banish such uncomfortable states, Epstein offers the Buddhist approach: allow it all, tolerate it all. Yet he is also a psychotherapist and therefore weaves his chapters with first-hand hope and expertise about how to accept like Buddha and confront like a well, like a therapist.

Recommended by Jeeyeon

Angels in My Hair
By Lorna Byrne

A soul-stirring memoir by a humble rural Irish woman gifted with angel communication. She recounts the trials of growing up poor amidst civil unrest and being labeled “retarded”. The support of these powerful energies was her saving grace, and their love and peace radiate from the pages. You’ll feel and envision them for days.

Recommended by Regina


Towards the end of May we are so excited to host Jacqueline Suskin!! She has a new book out titled, Go Ahead & Like It. We were able to ask her a few questions about how she got started writing poetry and how the Poem Store came about as well as a little look into what Go Ahead & Like It is all about. Enjoy her answers and we hope to see you at her event on May 27 at 7pm!

A Little Bit About Jacqueline: Jacqueline Suskin is a writer, performance poet and artist based in Los Angeles. She is the author of two books, the latest entitled Go Ahead & Like It available April 28, 2015 from Ten Speed Press of Penguin Random House. Known for her ongoing work with a piece she calls “Poem Store,” Suskin composes on-demand poetry for customers who choose both a topic and a price in exchange for a unique verse. Poem Store has been her main occupation since 2009 and has taken her around the country with her typewriter in tow. Suskin has been featured in New York Times, T Magazine, LA Times, Time Out LA, as well as other publications and has performed at events for various organizations including Art Basel, Los Angeles Contemporary, Art of Elysium and SF MOMA. Recently she collaborated with fashion brands Alice + Olivia and Nasty Gal, finding endless ways to bring poetry into the mainstream.



6 Questions with Jacqueline Suskin

Let’s start at the beginning! When did you start writing poems? What drew you to poetry?

I’ve been writing poetry ever since I was a little kid. For some reason I was drawn to the written word before I even knew how to properly create letters. My parents were always reading to me, taking me to plays and such. So from the very beginning of my life I was filling up notebooks with my own cryptic language. 

When and how did you start the Poem Store? What were the initial ideas behind that?

Poem Store started in 2009 when I met artist Zachary Houston in Oakland, CA. He had been typing poems for years and asked me to join him one day at a street fair. Initially it was just a writing exercise for me. It wasn’t until I started typing in Arcata, CA at the Farmers’ Market that I realized I’d developed a career as an on-demand poet.

Go Ahead and Like It has such a beautiful and simple message behind it and something I think all of us can relate to. Can you talk a little bit about the idea for turning it into a book?

I’d been writing lists of likes for about ten years before I started this book. A friend in college gave me a list of his likes as a note when we were first getting to know one another. Without really noticing I started making lists all the time. My journals were full of them. Years later I looked through my heaping collection of things that I like and I felt really inspired. If this was such a beneficial practice for me all of those years, it could surely be helpful for other people. After I had that idea the book came to me in different phases, but always with the underlying tone of a how-to-guide, an instructional and helpful tool that would offer up a method in which to celebrate the small things that make life so meaningful.


Is there a part of the book that is your favorite or that you find the most inspiring for other people?

My favorite part of the book is the section called “Dig Deeper, Ask Why.” I really enjoy the further exploration this section provokes: the idea that liking something can be very simple, and yet if we choose to discover why we like the things that we like we can uncover our depths. People seem drawn to the answers this section provides because it speaks directly to the social media question. The connection between liking things on the internet and liking things that one writes out on a piece of paper is important. In this section I ask my readers to go deeper than the click of a button, to explore why they click in the first place, and to ask themselves what does it mean to actually like something. Everyone seems to get really excited by this concept because I think it’s lacking in the social media forum.

What do you hope people will get out of the book?

I hope people will be reminded that life is full of details that are inspiring, that each day offers up an infinite source of meaning and that in any situation we can find beauty. The small things are the accessible things that link us to the greater picture. Often the world is too large, too painful, and too demanding, but if we can focus in on the tiny aspects that bring us joy we will discover that our ability to like things, to delight in life, is truly unlimited and this is worth celebrating!

Lastly, what’s next for Jacqueline Suskin?

I’m working on two new projects. One is a book of poetry about California. The other is a follow-up to Go Ahead & Like It. This book will explore the concept of digging into the past to discover a rich source of self-appreciation. We do so much in our lives, we move to new places, we get new jobs, we meet new people, we recover from illness and loss. I feel that looking back on life doesn’t have to be a painful experience, but another outlet for celebration and joy. My goal is just to create accessible work that helps people appreciate the wonder that is life.


Local Author, Jason Squire Fluck is on deck for this month’s Local Author Day (May 31, 4pm). We’re so excited to have him be a part of a day that we love month after month. Jason was kind enough to do a guest blog post for us about Jon Fixx. Read on and make sure to mark your calendars for May’s Local Author Day!

To find out more about Jason and Jon Fixx visit the Official Jon Fixx website HERE.
If you’d like to purchase a copy of Jon Fixx you can do so through our website HERE or stop into Vroman’s! 

A Different Kind of Hero

In a recent interview, I was asked if I intentionally created Jon Fixx to offer up a new modern-day hero archetype to the literary landscape: a man who is openly fragile, sensitive, emotionally available, willing to shamelessly shed tears over a woman. The simple answer was, “No, that was not my intention.” Then, later, after mulling over the question, and considering who Jon Fixx is and how he behaves, I realized that the more accurate answer would have been “yes.” But not because I wanted to create a new archetype—the initial reason I answered “no,”—but rather because I wanted to pull back the curtain on how the disaffected “male macho” response to heartbreak is generally portrayed in film, television, and literature.

When I was growing up, one of the biggest shocks of my life was how much it hurt to be in love or, rather, to fall out of love. I read voraciously as a child and was allowed to watch as much TV as I wanted, but none of this reading and television prepared me—a young man—for heartbreak. I knew what breakups looked like on TV and how they were portrayed in the novels I read. Women cried. Women called their friends to vent, to discuss, to gain clarity, to feel solidarity. Men, on the other hand, did none of these things. Men were stoic, unaffected, often apparently unfeeling, off to the bar for a drink and a new number.

But the truth is more complicated. In reality, men have feelings as deep and varying as women do, but we are taught that it is taboo, unseemly, to share our feelings openly or force others to witness our breakup machinations.  In effect, if we hide the heartbreak, it doesn’t exist.

My first breakup, then, was far more jaggedly painful than I was prepared for, as was every one after that. I figured I was an outlier, more damaged than my buddies, that possibly something was wrong with me. But I got older, matured, and I paid attention. As years passed, I watched my close male friends, how they handled their misanthrope, how they mourned their love lost. And I realized I wasn’t an outlier, that my feelings were neither unusual nor unexpected. My buddies were going through the same things. I witnessed my male friends completely distraught over the lost love of a woman and how that loss manifested itself in their erratic behavior.

So, I took the manifestation of this experienced heartbreak to the extreme, creating a young man who wears his emotions on his sleeve, who finds it almost impossible to withstand the tidal waves of being dumped, who cries openly when his girlfriend tells him she’s fallen in love with another man. In many ways, Jon reacts to his breakups with the manner and characteristics generally attributed to a woman. His emotions drive his decisions, and he feels so intensely that he often goes to extremes that many men would be embarrassed to admit to but may, in fact, take. He so badly wants to be in love that he doesn’t know what to do when he doesn’t have a muse with whom he can share his feelings. He doesn’t hide his tears, he’s not embarrassed by his emotions, and he has no problem telling his partner how he feels. For many women, he’s almost too available.

But does all this mean that Jon is cowardly, weak? Far from it.

Jon Fixx is a complicated man. He writes real life romance stories for a living. When a couple is on the way to the pulpit, or when an anniversary milestone is on the horizon, a couple’s 50th for example, Jon is brought in to memorialize their love in the form of a Hollywood-style romance that shines light on the highs, glosses over the lows, and takes a little fictional liberty to make the story interesting for anyone outside the couple. Jon is very good at what he does, and he is well respected by those who hire him.

When the novel opens, Jon is emotionally incapacitated, having been recently dumped by the love of his life. He is incapable of writing anything even remotely related to successful love affairs. But then the head of the New York Mafia comes calling and gives Jon no choice. Literally. He—at first—hopes just to do the job and be done. But Jon finds compelling reasons to dig deeper and become more involved than he expected. He does not back down from the Vespucci story he unravels and actually—almost knowingly—compels the story forward. He can handle himself. Jon is certainly not your average novice detective.

I invite you to get the book, read Jon’s story, and discover the other characters that make Jon who he is. I think you’ll enjoy all of them.

P.S. I want to give a shout-out to Segun Oduolowu for introducing this topic in our interview.


This Weeks Tuesday Newbies!!

by Jessica on May 12, 2015

Some of the new kids on the block this week!


The Book of Aron
by Jim Shepard

The acclaimed National Book Award finalist—“one of the United States’ finest writers,” according to Joshua Ferris, “full of wit, humanity, and fearless curiosity”—now gives us a novel that will join the short list of classics about children caught up in the Holocaust.

Aron, the narrator, is an engaging if peculiar and unhappy young boy whose family is driven by the German onslaught from the Polish countryside into Warsaw and slowly battered by deprivation, disease, and persecution. He and a handful of boys and girls risk their lives by scuttling around the ghetto to smuggle and trade contraband through the quarantine walls in hopes of keeping their fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters alive, hunted all the while by blackmailers and by Jewish, Polish, and German police, not to mention the Gestapo.

When his family is finally stripped away from him, Aron is rescued by Janusz Korczak, a doctor renowned throughout prewar Europe as an advocate of children’s rights who, once the Nazis swept in, was put in charge of the Warsaw orphanage. Treblinka awaits them all, but does Aron manage to escape—as his mentor suspected he could—to spread word about the atrocities?
Jim Shepard has masterfully made this child’s-eye view of the darkest history mesmerizing, sometimes comic despite all odds, truly heartbreaking, and even inspiring. Anyone who hears Aron’s voice will remember it forever.

Jim Shepard will be here on June 11 at 7pm!! 


Dry Bones
by Craig Johnson
Wyoming’s beloved lawman must solve his coldest case yet when a T. rex skeleton surfaces—along with a dead rancher—in Absaroka County

Longmire, the TV adaptation of Craig Johnson’s New York Times bestselling Longmire Mystery series, has ratcheted up demand for the Wyoming sheriff’s written adventures. Dry Bones is certain to join Johnson’s most recent Longmire novels when it shoots onto the New York Times hardcover bestseller list.

When the largest, most complete fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex ever found is discovered in Absaroka County, it appears to have nothing to do with Walt—that is, until the Cheyenne rancher who claims her is found face down in a turtle pond. As a number of parties dispute the ownership of the priceless remains, including the family of dead rancher Danny Lone Elk, the Cheyenne tribe, Wyoming’s Deputy Attorney General, and a cadre of FBI men, Walt must recruit undersheriff Victoria Moretti, Henry Standing Bear, and Dog to investigate a sixty-six-million year-old cold case that’s heating up fast.



The Familiar, Vol. 1
by Mark Danielewski

From the author of the international best seller House of Leaves and National Book Award–nominated Only Revolutions comes a monumental new novel as dazzling as it is riveting. The Familiar (Volume 1)ranges from Mexico to Southeast Asia, from Venice, Italy, to Venice, California, with nine lives hanging in the balance, each called upon to make a terrifying choice. They include a therapist-in-training grappling with daughters as demanding as her patients; an ambitious East L.A. gang member contracted for violence; two scientists in Marfa, Texas, on the run from an organization powerful beyond imagining; plus a recovering addict in Singapore summoned at midnight by a desperate billionaire; and a programmer near Silicon Beach whose game engine might unleash consequences far exceeding the entertainment he intends. At the very heart, though, is a twelve-year-old girl named Xanther who one rainy day in May sets out with her father to get a dog, only to end up trying to save a creature as fragile as it is dangerous . . . which will change not only her life and the lives of those she has yet to encounter, but this world, too—or at least the world we think we know and the future we take for granted.

(With full-color illustrations throughout.)


Hold Still
by Sally Mann

A revealing and beautifully written memoir and family history from acclaimed photographer Sally Mann.
In this groundbreaking book, a unique interplay of narrative and image, Mann’s preoccupation with family, race, mortality, and the storied landscape of the American South are revealed as almost genetically predetermined, written into her DNA by the family history that precedes her.
Sorting through boxes of family papers and yellowed photographs she finds more than she bargained for: “deceit and scandal, alcohol, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs, dearly loved and disputed family land . . . racial complications, vast sums of money made and lost, the return of the prodigal son, and maybe even bloody murder.”
In lyrical prose and startlingly revealing photographs, she crafts a totally original form of personal history that has the page-turning drama of a great novel but is firmly rooted in the fertile soil of her own life.

A Lucky Life Interrupted
by Tom Brokaw
From Tom Brokaw, the bestselling author of The Greatest Generation, comes a powerful memoir of a year of dramatic change—a year spent battling cancer and reflecting on a long, happy, and lucky life.

Tom Brokaw has led a fortunate life, with a strong marriage and family, many friends, and a brilliant journalism career culminating in his twenty-two years as anchor of the NBC Nightly News and as bestselling author. But in the summer of 2013, when back pain led him to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, his run of good luck was interrupted. He received shocking news: He had multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable blood cancer. Friends had always referred to Brokaw’s “lucky star,” but as he writes in this inspiring memoir, “Turns out that star has a dimmer switch.”

Brokaw takes us through all the seasons and stages of this surprising year, the emotions, discoveries, setbacks, and struggles—times of denial, acceptance, turning points, and courage. After his diagnosis, Brokaw began to keep a journal, approaching this new stage of his life in a familiar role: as a journalist, determined to learn as much as he could about his condition, to report the story, and help others facing similar battles. That journal became the basis of this wonderfully written memoir, the story of a man coming to terms with his own mortality, contemplating what means the most to him now, and reflecting on what has meant the most to him throughout his life.

Brokaw also pauses to look back on some of the important moments in his career: memories of Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the morning of September 11, 2001, in New York City, and more. Through it all, Brokaw writes in the warm, intimate, natural voice of one of America’s most beloved journalists, giving us Brokaw on Brokaw, and bringing us with him as he navigates pain, procedures, drug regimens, and physical rehabilitation. Brokaw also writes about the importance of patients taking an active role in their own treatment, and of the vital role of caretakers and coordinated care.

Generous, informative, and deeply human, A Lucky Life Interrupted offers a message of understanding and empowerment, resolve and reality, hope for the future and gratitude for a well-lived life.


The Millionaire & the Bard
by Andrea Mays

Today it is the most valuable book in the world. Recently one sold for over five million dollars. It is the book that rescued the name of William Shakespeare and half of his plays from oblivion. “The Millionaire and the Bard” tells the miraculous and romantic story of the making of the First Folio, and of the American industrialist whose thrilling pursuit of the book became a lifelong obsession.
When Shakespeare died in 1616 half of his plays died with him. No one–not even their author–believed that his writings would last, that he was a genius, or that future generations would celebrate him as the greatest author in the history of the English language. By the time of his death his plays were rarely performed, eighteen of them had never been published, and the rest existed only in bastardized forms that did not stay true to his original language.
Seven years later, in 1623, Shakespeare’s business partners, companions, and fellow actors, John Heminges and Henry Condell, gathered copies of the plays and manuscripts, edited and published thirty-six of them. This massive book, the First Folio, was intended as a memorial to their deceased friend. They could not have known that it would become one of the most important books ever published in the English language, nor that it would become a fetish object for collectors.
“The Millionaire and the Bard” is a literary detective story, the tale of two mysterious men–a brilliant author and his obsessive collector–separated by space and time. It is a tale of two cities–Elizabethan and Jacobean London and Gilded Age New York. It is a chronicle of two worlds–of art and commerce–that unfolded an ocean and three centuries apart. And it is the thrilling tale of the luminous book that saved the name of William Shakespeare “to the last syllable of recorded time.

Andrea Mays will be joining us for an event on May 21 at 7pm!! 

by Bengie Molina

The inspiring true story of the poor Puerto Rican factory worker, Benjamin Molina Santana, who against all odds raised the greatest baseball dynasty of all time: Molina’s three sons–Bengie, Jose, and Yadier–have each earned “two” World Series rings, which is unprecedented in the sport, and his story is told by one of them, Bengie.
Of all the great baseball families in history–the DiMaggios, the Alous, the Griffeys–only one has produced three brothers who each won a World Series ring. Amazing, each brother in this remarkable family–Bengie, Jose, and Yadier Molina–has actually won “two.” Now, from Bengie Molina, two-time World Series champion and winner of two consecutive Golden Glove awards, comes “Molina, ” the story of his extraordinary family and the man behind it all: Bengie’s father, Benjamin “Pai” Molina Santana.
No one in the town of Dorado, Puerto Rico, knew baseball quite like Pai. Laboring in a factory by day to provide for his family, he still managed to make it to the local baseball field every afternoon to teach his sons and the other boys in town the art and spirit of baseball. By teaching commitment to family, respect for the game, and loyalty to team, Pai’s three sons defied the long odds against them. Several other boys from the town of Dorado under Pai’s tutelage (including Edgar Martinez and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez) went on to have distinguished careers in the major leagues as well. No other father in the history of baseball–or any sport–can say the same, much less take credit for shaping these athletes into the champions they became.
One morning in 2008, Pai died suddenly at the age of fifty-eight, while chalking the very field where he had taught his sons to play baseball. It was not until after Pai’s death that Bengie began to discover the truth about the kind of man his father truly was. He learned that Pai had rejected his only chance at a professional career so he could remain with his wife and raise his three sons instead. As Bengie uncovered more about Pai he began to understand just how integral his father’s values were to his successful career and that our greatest accomplishments in life are not the awards we win for ourselves but the difference we make in the lives of others.

The Quartet
by Joseph Ellis

From Pulitzer Prize–winning American historian Joseph J. Ellis, the unexpected story of why the thirteen colonies, having just fought off the imposition of a distant centralized governing power, would decide to subordinate themselves anew.

We all know the famous opening phrase of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this Continent a new Nation.” The truth is different. In 1776, thirteen American colonies declared themselves independent states that only temporarily joined forces in order to defeat the British. Once victorious, they planned to go their separate ways. The triumph of the American Revolution was neither an ideological nor a political guarantee that the colonies would relinquish their independence and accept the creation of a federal government with power over their autonomy as states.

The Quartet is the story of this second American founding and of the men most responsible—George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. These men, with the help of Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris, shaped the contours of American history by diagnosing the systemic dysfunctions created by the Articles of Confederation, manipulating the political process to force the calling of the Constitutional Convention, conspiring to set the agenda in Philadelphia, orchestrating the debate in the state ratifying conventions, and, finally, drafting the Bill of Rights to assure state compliance with the constitutional settlement.

Ellis has given us a gripping and dramatic portrait of one of the most crucial and misconstrued periods in American history: the years between the end of the Revolution and the formation of the federal government. The Quartet unmasks a myth, and in its place presents an even more compelling truth—one that lies at the heart of understanding the creation of the United States of America.




by John Waters

A cross-country hitchhiking journey with America’s most beloved weirdo

John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads “I’m Not Psycho,” he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash?
Before he leaves for this bizarre adventure, Waters fantasizes about the best and worst possible scenarios: a friendly drug dealer hands over piles of cash to finance films with no questions asked, a demolition-derby driver makes a filthy sexual request in the middle of a race, a gun-toting drunk terrorizes and holds him hostage, and a Kansas vice squad entraps and throws him in jail. So what really happens when this cult legend sticks out his thumb and faces the open road? His real-life rides include a gentle eighty-one-year-old farmer who is convinced Waters is a hobo, an indie band on tour, and the perverse filmmaker’s unexpected hero: a young, sandy-haired Republican in a Corvette.
Laced with subversive humor and warm intelligence, Carsick is an unforgettable vacation with a wickedly funny companion–and a celebration of America’s weird, astonishing, and generous citizenry.

by Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl is a born storyteller. Through her restaurant reviews, where she celebrated the pleasures of a well-made meal, and her bestselling memoirs that address our universal feelings of love and loss, Reichl has achieved a special place in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers. Now, with this magical debut novel, she has created a sumptuous, wholly realized world that will enchant you.

Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.

To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love.


Everything I Never Told You
by Celest Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing,Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

Celeste Ng will grace our event space on May 15 at 7pm! 



Did we Mention it was Monday???

by Jessica on May 11, 2015

It may be Monday but that means you can just work on adding books to your to-read pile instead of actually working…well don’t tell your boss that! To help you in that courageous endeavor browse our Staff Picks for the week! 

My Mom is a Fob: Earnest Advice in Broken English from Your Asian-American Mom 
By Teresa Wu, Serena Wu

This book is hilarious. No Asian American kid is ecstatic about his/her fresh-off-the-boat giveaways. And if one’s parent (mom here) has an aspect of fobiness, we probably were sometimes embarrassed (or mortified). But this book shines a bold and unapologetic light on the Asian mom in America situation. I’ve never felt so proud.

Recommended by Jeeyeon

Gerald’s Game 
By Stephen King

One of my favorite King stories and one I always recommend. The story; a couple decide to rekindle their marriage in a remote cabin in the woods. Bondage occurs then one of them dies leaving the other bound, alone, naked and with no way to escape. Excellent read that takes you through the pain of being restrained while you spouse’s dead body rots on the floor next to you.

Recommended by Guy

In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing 
By Walter Murch, Francis Ford Coppola

Murch explains the editing theory he developed while working on films like The Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now. Part theory, part history, this is required reading for film buffs and artists.

Recommended by James Roland

Study of Pose: 1,000 Poses by Coco Rocha
By Coco Rocha, Steven Sebring

If you are into fashion, dance, modeling, and photography, this book is for you. Use it on set for some spontaneous inspiration or for your own personal reference. Sometimes we forget all the amazing things our bodies can do.

Recommended by Chelsea

By Anthony Horowitz

Nothing is as it seems in this novel. With the death of Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes the crime world of London is thrown into disarray. But a new kingpin arrives and begins causing mayhem for Scotland Yard. Can Scotland Yard and its allies stop the mysterious character before it’s too late? Find out today!

Recommended by Mycah




On May 18th, debut author Leslie Parry will be reading from her book, Church of Marvels. It’s a fascinating book with equally fascinating characters that is sure to grab your attention. Though, she may not reside in Pasadena anymore we are very excited to welcome home such a wonderful writer.

A Little About Leslie: Leslie Parry is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has received an O. Henry Award, a National Magazine Award nomination and an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2013. Raised in Pasadena, California, she now lives in Chicago.

We had the pleasure of asking Leslie 6 questions about her research, her writing and her process. Read on and we hope to see you in the crowd on May 18th! If you’d like to learn more about Leslie please visit her website HERE.


6 Questions with Leslie Parry

Congrats on Church of Marvels! How does it feel to have your first novel out in the real world where people can pick it up and read it? How long was the process from initial idea to completion?

Thank you very much. I have to say, I’m very excited to be discussing my first book with Vroman’s – the very place that helped forge my imagination! I grew up just four blocks away (the guilty party that depleted your Nancy Drew stock in the 80s).

I had the initial idea for this book about ten years ago. I wrote a flurry of sketches and vignettes – just trying to figure out who these characters were, and how they saw the world around them. Then I put everything away in a drawer, discouraged, uncertain what to do. About five years ago I dug it out again and began in earnest to craft a story. When you’re writing a book – especially a first book – there’s no guarantee it will ever be published  (or even read! except by a dragooned boyfriend), so you have to find joy and purpose in the process itself. The fact that the novel is out, being read by both friends and strangers, is rather mind-boggling. And the publishers and booksellers have been so supportive. The book doesn’t belong to me anymore; it belongs to the readers – and that’s very gratifying.

This subject matter is so intriguing! Where did your original inspiration stem from?

Before I even set out to write a novel, I spent a lot of time walking around New York, thinking about its secrets and ghosts, wondering about my own family’s early immigrant experience in America. Over the course of one summer I saw a sideshow at Coney Island, read Nellie Bly’s Ten Days in a Mad-House (a personal account of being institutionalized at Blackwell’s insane asylum), and found myself exploring the Lower East Side on foot with my sister. There was a kind of synthesis, something you can’t really plan or explain. And while it isn’t necessarily the centerpiece of the book, I’ve always been interested in the normal, workaday lives of show people – perhaps because I’m from the Los Angeles area.

What did the research for Church of Marvels look like?

Before I started writing anything – before I knew this book would exist – I was reading various historical narratives just out of curiosity (the history of Tammany Hall, the history of garbage, the history of magic lantern shows and early cinema). So, whether consciously or not, a lot of those influences worked their way into the book. When I was farther along in the writing process, I went back and read up on specific subjects: medical practices, pugilism, subcultures in the city in the 19th century. For me, writing historical fiction is like an exhilarating tightrope act – on one hand, I want to bring a sense of authenticity to a world that really existed; on the other, I fully embrace the fact that any novel is (and should be) a feat of imagination.

Did you run into any challenges either in your research or just in the writing itself? How did you overcome those?

Definitely – I went through many drafts. It’s nearly impossible to hold an entire book in your head as you’re writing it. In a way, research was the easiest part – and the best way to procrastinate! Sometimes I wanted desperately to find just one scintillating tidbit of information, one anecdote or detail that would magically unlock the whole book – suddenly everything that had eluded or frustrated me would fall gorgeously into place! All my problems would be solved! But in the end, of course, I had to sit down day after day, hour after hour, and find my own way through. It’s a work of fiction, after all, something conjured up by my own strange brain – and no amount of treasure-hunting was really going to change that. It was very liberating to realize that while research informed the novel, it didn’t have to determine it. Once I allowed myself the freedom to invent smaller histories, to bend a few facts to suit the world of the story, to emphasize and explore the emotional truths of the characters – rather than just tick the boxes for historical accuracy – the story really took off. It became a lot more enjoyable – and, in a surprising way, more real.

Describe your writing process a little in terms of writing four different storylines that are very different from each that then come together.

They began as four different character sketches, initially. Then those sketches became narratives, then the narratives braided together into a novel. I developed a loose outline as I was writing – focused enough to give the story some shape and purpose, but flexible enough to change course if I suddenly found myself in new territory. At first I thought I would write each character’s story independently, in discrete blocks, straight through from beginning to end. But that plan – both for logistical and aesthetic reasons – fell through pretty quickly. It was important to me that the characters, despite their different backgrounds and experiences, all lived in the same recognizable universe. In order to establish that consistency of tone, of voice, I found it better to trade off writing chapters. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so every day I’d just put the outline away and concentrate on exactly what I needed to do that day. I tried to stay present, in the minds and bodies of the characters as they lived on the page moment to moment. In a way, writing multiple characters helped keep writer’s block at bay, too – when I got stuck with one character, I’d go off and follow another.

You’re just getting started with making stops around to various cities with Church of Marvels but are you thinking about or have you thought about what might come after this? And if so can you hint at what it might be?

I have a few projects underway. I don’t want to divulge too much, since everything’s still in the early stages. But I will say that one concerns California. Perhaps even Pasadena. Perhaps even Colorado Boulevard.



Tuesday Newbies!

by Jessica on May 5, 2015

Wowza! Do we have a list for you today! Today is a HUGE release day in the book world and here are a sampling of what’s dropping today in Hardcover and Paperback. Surely you will find something up your alley in this list. Stop in today to explore even more new titles!


The Book Of Joan
by Melissa Rivers

Joan and Melissa Rivers had one of the most celebrated mother-daughter relationships of all time.  If you think Joan said some outrageous things to her audiences as a comedian, you won’t believe what she said and did in private. Her love for her daughter knew no bounds—or boundaries, apparently. (“Melissa, I acknowledge that you have boundaries. I just choose to not respect them.”) In The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief and Manipulation, Melissa shares stories (like when she was nine months old and her parents delivered her to Johnny Carson as a birthday gift), bon mots (“Missy, is there anything better than seeing a really good looking couple pushing a baby that looks like a Sasquatch who got caught in a house fire?”), and life lessons from growing up in the Rosenberg-Rivers household (“I can do tips and discounts and figure out the number of gay men in an audience to make it a good show. That’s all the math you’ll ever need.”). These were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to life in the family that Melissa describes as more Addams than Cleaver. And at the center of it all was a tiny blond force of nature.

Church of Marvels
by Leslie Parry

New york, 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a night-soiler cleaning out the privies behind the tenement houses, finds an abandoned newborn baby in the muck. An orphan himself, Sylvan rescues the child, determined to find where she belongs.

Odile Church and her beautiful sister, Belle, were raised amid the applause and magical pageantry of the Church of Marvels, their mother’s spectacular Coney Island sideshow. But the Church has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in its ashes. Now Belle, the family’s star, has vanished into the bowels of Manhattan, leaving Odile alone and desperate to find her.

A young woman named Alphie awakens to find herself trapped across the river in Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum-sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her husband’s vile, overbearing mother. On the ward she meets another young woman of ethereal beauty who does not speak, a girl with an extraordinary talent that might save them both.

As these strangers’ lives become increasingly connected, their stories and secrets unfold. Moving from the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular human circus to a brutal, terrifying asylum, Church of Marvels takes readers back to turn-of-the-century New York-a city of hardship and dreams, love and loneliness, hope and danger. In magnetic, luminous prose, Leslie Parry offers a richly atmospheric vision of the past in a narrative of astonishing beauty, full of wondrous enchantments, a marvelous debut that will leave readers breathless.

A God in Ruins
by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson’s dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again.

A GOD IN RUINS tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy–would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have.

An ingenious and moving exploration of one ordinary man’s path through extraordinary times, A GOD IN RUINS proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.

Make Something Up
by Chuck Palahnuik

Stories you’ll never forget—just try—from literature’s favorite transgressive author

Representing work that spans several years, Make Something Up is a compilation of 21 stories and one novella (some previously published, some not) that will disturb and delight. The absurdity of both life and death are on full display; in “Zombies,” the best and brightest of a high school prep school become tragically addicted to the latest drug craze: electric shocks from cardiac defibrillators. In “Knock, Knock,” a son hopes to tell one last off-color joke to a father in his final moments, while in “Tunnel of Love,” a massage therapist runs the curious practice of providing ‘relief’ to dying clients. And in “Expedition,” fans will be thrilled to find to see a side of Tyler Durden never seen before in a precusor story to Fight Club.


Reflections from Hell
by Richard Lewis

Reflections from Hell presents decades of Richard Lewis’ “dark comedic premises,” jokes and reflections that are fantastically illustrated by the remarkable art of Carl Titolo. Lewis recounts that he was “blown to smithereens” when introduced to the world of Carl Titolo. Titolo’s visual interpretations of Richard Lewis’ words create a humorous and compelling reflection on modern life and a compelling page turning knee slapper. As Richard Lewis says of Carl Titolo’s art; “though a entirely different medium, it felt like it was stolen right out of my own torment.”

The Upright Thinkers
by Leonard Mlodinow

From the best-selling author of The Drunkard’s Walk and Subliminal, and coauthor of The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking): an account of scientific discovery from the invention of stone tools to theories of quantum physics—a history at once inspiring and entertaining.

In this fascinating and illuminating work, Leonard Mlodinow guides us through the critical eras and events in the development of science, all of which, he demonstrates, were propelled forward by humankind’s collective struggle to know. From the birth of reasoning and culture to the formation of the studies of physics, chemistry, biology, and modern-day quantum physics, we come to see that much of our progress can be attributed to simple questions—why? how?—bravely asked. Mlodinow profiles some of the great philosophers, scientists, and thinkers who explored these questions—Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein and Lavoisier among them—and makes clear that just as science has played a key role in shaping the patterns of human thought, human subjectivity has played a key role in the evolution of science. At once authoritative and accessible, and infused with the author’s trademark wit, this deeply insightful book is a stunning tribute to humanity’s intellectual curiosity.

When the Balls Drop
by Brad Garrett

A refreshingly candid and wickedly funny look at life’s second half from “Everybody Loves Raymond” TV sitcom star and comic Brad Garrett.
In this no-holds-barred book of comedic and personal essays, Brad Garrett waxes hilarious–and irreverently honest–about the gaffes, challenges, and ultimately the joys of middle age as he advises us on how to best approach the dreaded “second half” of life.
Ranging in topics from genetics to genitals, weight to women, and dating to diarrhea, Brad leaves no stone unturned in this laugh-out-loud look at getting older. With pieces such as “No Scales in Heaven,” in which Brad points out the essential pointlessness of overthinking diet and exercise, and “Celebrating Your E.D. (erectile dysfunction) During Your Mid-Life Crisis,” the star comedian encourages you to forget the overwhelming concerns that accompany middle age and to welcome the laughs–even if you have a fifty-fifty chance of throwing your back out in doing so.
Penned in Brad’s signature witty, conversational, no-nonsense style that has cemented his status as an icon in the comedy industry, this autobiographical book will teach you the most important thing: that, no matter what, we’re all in this together. So embrace it.

When to Rob a Bank
by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the landmark book Freakonomics comes this curated collection from the most readable economics blog in the universe. It’s the perfect solution for the millions of readers who love all things Freakonomics. Surprising and erudite, eloquent and witty, When to Rob a Bank demonstrates the brilliance that has made the Freakonomics guys an international sensation, with more than 7 million books sold in 40 languages, and 150 million downloads of their Freakonomics Radio podcast.

When Freakonomics was first published, the authors started a blog—and they’ve kept it up. The writing is more casual, more personal, even more outlandish than in their books. In When to Rob a Bank, they ask a host of typically off-center questions: Why don’t flight attendants get tipped? If you were a terrorist, how would you attack? And why does KFC always run out of fried chicken?

Over the past decade, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have published more than 8,000 blog postson Freakonomics.com. Many of them, they freely admit, were rubbish. But now they’ve gone through and picked the best of the best. You’ll discover what people lie about, and why; the best way to cut gun deaths; why it might be time for a sex tax; and, yes, when to rob a bank. (Short answer: never; the ROI is terrible.) You’ll also learn a great deal about Levitt and Dubner’s own quirks and passions, from gambling and golf to backgammon and the abolition of the penny.

The Wright Brothers
by David McCullough

Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright.
On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot.
Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did?
David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, tells the surprising, profoundly American story of Wilbur and Orville Wright.
Far more than a couple of unschooled Dayton bicycle mechanics who happened to hit on success, they were men of exceptional courage and determination, and of far-ranging intellectual interests and ceaseless curiosity, much of which they attributed to their upbringing. The house they lived in had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but there were books aplenty, supplied mainly by their preacher father, and they never stopped reading.
When they worked together, no problem seemed to be insurmountable. Wilbur was unquestionably a genius. Orville had such mechanical ingenuity as few had ever seen. That they had no more than a public high school education, little money and no contacts in high places, never stopped them in their “mission” to take to the air. Nothing did, not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off in one of their contrivances, they risked being killed.
In this thrilling book, master historian David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers’ story, including the little-known contributions of their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them.



All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant “New York Times” bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (“San Francisco Chronicle”) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, “All the Light We Cannot See” is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (“Los Angeles Times”).

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki & His Years of Pilgrimage: A Novel
by Haruki Murakami

New York Times #1 Bestseller
A New York Times and Washington Post notable book, and one of the Financial Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Slate, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, and BookPage‘s best books of the year

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the long-awaited new novel—a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan—from the award-winning, internationally best-selling author Haruki Murakami.

Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.

The Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a New York Times bestselling novel about two unforgettable American women.   Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.   Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.   Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.   As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.   Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.   This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

The Madwoman in the Volvo
by Sandra Tsing Loh

In a voice that is wry, disarming, and totally candid, Sandra Tsing Loh tells the moving and laugh-out-loud tale of her roller coaster through the change. This is not your grandmother s menopause story. Loh chronicles utterly relatable, everyday perils: raising preteen daughters, weathering hormonal changes, and going through the ups and downs of a career and a relationship. She writes also about an affair and the explosion of her marriage, the pressures of keeping her daughters off Facebook while managing the legal and marital hijinks of her eighty-nine-year-old dad, and a despairing withdrawal to a tiny cabin where she combined wine and Ambien, paralyzing her arm into a claw. In one outrageous chapter, a hormonal Loh finds herself trekking to her preteen daughter s school to confront a ten-year-old bully half her size. In another she attempts to subsist on only zero-calorie noodles and the occasional fat-free yogurt in a hopeless effort to vanquish added midlife weight.

In The Madwoman in the Volvo Loh speaks hilariously and honestly about her life as a mother, a daughter, and an artist. She recounts her journey through a tumultuous time of life, trying to maintain appearances during an epic hormonal and that means physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual change. The upbeat conclusion: it does get better.”

Not My Father’s Son
by Alan Cumming

Dark, painful memories can be put away to be forgotten. Until one day they all flood back in horrible detail.

When television producers approached Alan Cumming to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show, he hoped to solve the mystery of his maternal grandfather’s disappearance that had long cast a shadow over his family. But this was not the only mystery laid before Alan.

Alan grew up in the grip of a man who held his family hostage, someone who meted out violence with a frightening ease, who waged a silent war with himself that sometimes spilled over onto everyone around him. That man was Alex Cumming, Alan’s father, whom Alan had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade when he reconnected just before filming for Who Do You Think You Are? began. He had a secret he had to share, one that would shock his son to his very core and set into motion a journey that would change Alan’s life forever.

With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as the celebrated actor of film, television, and stage. At times suspenseful, at times deeply moving, but always incredibly brave and honest, Not My Father’s Son is a powerful story of embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.

The Snow Queen
by Michael Cunningham

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author of The Hours

“Michael Cunningham’s best novel in more than a decade.”–Megan O’Grady, Vogue

It’s November 2004. Barrett Meeks, having lost love yet again, is walking through Central Park when he is inspired to look up at the sky; there he sees a pale, translucent light that seems to regard him in a distinctly godlike way. At the same time, in Brooklyn, Barrett’s older brother, Tyler, is struggling to make his way as a musician–and to write a wedding song for Beth, his wife-to-be, who is seriously ill. While Barrett turns unexpectedly to religion, Tyler grows increasingly convinced that only drugs can release his creative powers, and Beth tries to face mortality with as much courage as she can summon.

Michael Cunningham follows the Meeks brothers as each travels down a different path in his search for transcendence, demonstrating a singular understanding of what lies at the core of the human soul. Beautiful and heartbreaking, comic and tragic, The Snow Queen proves again that Cunningham is one of the great novelists of his generation.