Thursday, April 24, 2014

Once We Were Brothers

Once We Were Brothers is the compelling tale of two boys and a family who fight to survive in war-torn Poland, and a young love that struggles to endure the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for a moving and powerful tale of love, survival, and triumph of the human spirit.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hemp Bound

Kevin Coolidge

Are you ready for America's new billion-dollar industry? Well, it's not really new. It's hemp. Hemp Bound shows us how hemp can change our diet and farms, restore our soil, and wean us from petroleum.

Hemp isn't marijuana. It's not psychoactive. It's fibers are among the strongest, it's seed oil is more nutritious than flax, and it's potential is waiting to be tapped. The United States imports millions of dollars of hemp from Canada. Shouldn't American farmers be growing it?

For almost eighty years, it'd been illegal to grow industrial cannabis--even though Betsy Ross wove the first American flag out of hemp fabric, Thomas Jefferson composed the Declaration of Independence on it, and colonists paid their taxes with it. Is there anything more American than hemp?

Doug Fine takes us on a journey to see the men and woman who are testing, researching, and pioneering hemp's reemergence in the twenty-first century. You'll wonder why we ever stopped cultivating this crop. Maybe soon we will see fields of hemp from sea to shining sea...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day

Kevin Coolidge

Today is Earth Day. Earth Day was started in 1970, and is celebrated every year. It's now celebrated in more than 192 countries to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

Long before "Being Green" was mainstream, there was The Lorax First published in 1971,this classic by Dr Seuss starts in the future and narrates the past. The reader sees the bareness of the land first, and then learns the causes for the damage to the environment.

It's a cautionary tale stated simply and powerfully about the nature of greed and environmental destruction. Still, Dr. Suess does not make this story into a gloomy one.

He gives us hope. The Once-ler tosses down a seed to the boy; the one last remaining Truffula seed. With this one seed, Dr. Seuss shows that it is not too late. Hope does not need to be lost. Possibilities remain...

""UNLESS someone like you...cares a whole awful lot...nothing is going to get better...It's not."

All You Need is Kill

Kevin Coolidge

When the bullets start flying, it's only a matter of time. Another day, another death, for Keiji. He dies everyday on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again. On his 158th reiteration, he receives a message from a mysterious ally. Is it the key to his escape, or his final death?

I read All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka over five years ago. It was suggested by one of my favorite science fiction writers writing today, John Scalzi. He calls it "Science Fiction for the adrenaline junkie. Reads fast, kicks ass, and keeps on coming. Buckle up and enjoy."

Well, that was enough for me to give it a read, but it also has great cover art. The author is Japanese(with a solid translation by Alexander O. Smith) and there is a soldier dressed in cybernetic armor in a Japanese anime-like style. You shouldn't judge a book by the cover, but I do appreciate good cover art.

Hollywood saw the potential of this book, and bought the movie rights several years years ago. It's undergone a name change to Edge of Tomorrow and with a slated release date of June 6, 2014. It will be starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.

Hmmm, at least Tom won't be a foot shorter than the main protagonist in this movie*

*Tom also played Jack Reacher, a character created by Lee Child who is around six foot six in his books.

Monday, April 21, 2014

World Book Night Again!

Read the Printed Word!
Three things happened recently to inspire me to write a new column on World Book Night: one, I got an email from the WBN organizers telling me that 14 book givers would be picking up their book boxers at From My Shelf this year; two, I went to find the article I wrote for last year's WBN only to realize that two years have flown by; and three, I was speaking to a fellow Chamber of Commerce member about national literacy programs we are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with, and found myself explaining, once again, about the wonders of WBN.

Many community members, Gazette readers, business owners, teachers, and parents in our area may not know about World Book Night, even though it is the third year Tioga, Potter, and Bradford Counties have participating "givers", even though they themselves are well-read and put a high value on the importance of reading. You yourself may have missed any references to WBN over the past two years it has been celebrated in the US, and in our region, simply because we lead our lives at such a breakneck pace, bombarded by information, always hearing little blurbs about this cause or that. It is precisely because of this frenetic pace, this overload of information which too often leads to a contradictory disconnect, that World Book Night is so wonderful. If you remember other missives about WBN, then bear with this short review, or better yet, share it with someone who doesn't know about it, and discuss some of the books, or the subject of community literacy. If you'd like more details about this, the third annual World Book Night USA, then read on. 

WBN began in the UK & Ireland in 2011, migrating to the US the following year. For each year's WBN celebration, 20 to 35 authors and publishing houses agree to donate all the expenses and royalties on a specially-printed WBN edition of their books. Givers apply months ahead of time, selecting their top three choices from the list of 30+ WBN selections for the coming year's donation night. On April 23, 2014, those givers – over 30,000 people from coast to coast as well as Alaska and Hawaii – will go out in their communities armed with twenty free copies of a book they are enthusiastic about sharing with people who currently don’t read much. The goal of World Book Night is to start conversations about books, between people who have been inspired by books, with folks who may think books don’t have much to say to them. Like the “one book, one city” programs sponsored by libraries, World Book Night gives us an opportunity to foster community literacy, communication, and the kind of conversation that comes out of people talking about a story that touches them.

In looking over this year’s list of thirty books, it is obvious how the choices match the mission statement for “accessible” stories: many aren’t “literary classics” in the traditional sense, but are instead contemporary books with appealing plots, intriguing characters, and realistic dialogue, across a broad spectrum of topics. (This is not to say that we shouldn’t read, or wax enthusiastic, about “literary classics”, which is one reason these works are taught in school.) World Book Night seeks to appeal to non-readers or light readers who need other books, or places besides school, to draw them in to quality writing and the joy of books.

The choices for World Book Night USA, 2014, include female and male authors, target both young adult and adult audiences, and were published as early as the 1800s and as recently as 2012. They and their authors have won several awards; some have been made into movies and TV shows; a couple are regularly banned from school curricula or libraries; a couple have been dismissed by academics as “just popular fiction”; some have been touted by talk show hosts or TV book clubs. These books cover every topic from the barrios of Puerto Rico to forest fires, from the Kindertransport to endangered owls in Florida. Chosen from every genre from memoir to short story anthology, fairy tales to the science of plant reproduction, there truly is something for everyone. We, as readers, can honor the donations and efforts of all involved by reading these books ourselves, and joining the conversation. To see a list of the books for World Book Night 2014, as well as the ones from earlier years, visit Technically, the spots for givers this year have all been filled, but if you are interested in helping distribute some of this year's books to reluctant readers in our community, contact us at From My Shelf immediately!!!

Kasey will be giving this book out this year:

International Dark Sky Week

Kevin Coolidge

The nighttime sky is truly a wonder to behold. April 20-26 is International Dark Sky Week. We are lucky that Wellsboro is just a short drive from Cherry Springs State Park, which has some of the darkest skies on the East Coast. In June, of 2007 Cherry Springs was named an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.

There are regular stargazing and educational programs for the public at the park. Many stargazers think they need a lot of expensive equipment, but you can get started with a simple pair of binoculars. If you are just getting interested in astronomy, you might want to consider reading Binocular Stargazing by Mike D. Reynolds.

Backyard astronomy can be easy and fun. I'm going to make myself a big bowl of popcorn, drag my Barcalounger into the backyard and catch a FREE midnight show…

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Unicorns Are Jerks

Kevin Coolidge

Here's the cold, hard sparkly truth. Unicorns are Jerks, not all unicorns of course. It's all how you raise them. That's why I recommend Raising Unicorns by Jessica s. Marquis.

As a potential unicorn farmer, you will face many challenges. It requires more planning than most businesses. It's a common misconception that unicorns are docile creatures. If a unicorns routine is disrupted, it's not pretty.

When unicorns receive the wrong training. They go bad and become jerks, really big jerks.They talk and text in the movie theater. They are judgmental of your taste in music, and they never replace the toilet paper roll.

When you point out their behavior, they act like you are the jerk. That's why you are going to need planning to make your unicorn farm profitable. You need this book, and some red licorice...

Unicorn meat, it tastes like happiness

As opposed to unenchanted bandages...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Things Overheard at the Bookstore

Kevin Coolidge

"There are too such things as vampires," says a young boy

"No. They are only in the movies and books," answers the father

"Then why is there a vampire hunting kit over there?"

"OK, you got me. I wasn't going to tell you until you were older...."

The night is dark and full of shadows, and some of those shadows are the thirsty undead. I grew up with vampires that had bite, not the type that sparkled in the sun and still go to high school? Remember high school? I couldn't wait to get out. I sure wouldn't go back.

I also know that it's a world wide problem. Sure, every culture has its demons, spirits, and drinkers of blood, even islands are infested. We sold this vampire kit to the Guernsey Islands in the English Channel. I hope it brings an end to a few fiends.

This kit comes with a big hardwood stake, two empty vials. You can either fill them with holy water, or with sparkles if it's one of those New Age vampires. There's also a diary so you can record your victories or the habits of suspected vermin.

Friday, April 18, 2014

We don't just sell BOOKS; we sell memories.

Read the Printed Word!
My first customer in the door this morning was a stylish, fifty-something tourist. She said, "I heard from the woman at the Diner that you sell used books."

I told her, yes, we sell new and used books, mixed in together.... they're organized by genre in the bookstore, then by age group and occasionally a few other subcategories.... and I asked her what she was looking for.

She told me she was looking for "an old book called 'Wynken, Blynken, and Nod'" .... I told her we don't have any used copies of that one; we sell it too often and no one trades it in. She looked crushed, until she realized I was going to show her where the NEW copies are.

Her son and his wife are having their first baby, you see. "I always read to my kids growing up, of course," she said. "But the last thing we read, every night, before bed.... oh, I'm going to tear up now," she apologized, although I don't know why. I get it. We all get it, here. There are certain books, certain stories or poems, that are woven with important memories and rituals in our lives, that they tug deep. And we want to share them.

The new grandma-to-be wants HER son to be able to read "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" every night to HER new grandson, and carry on this lovely tradition.

I love that Wellsboro has the statue of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, and has therefore helped to keep this wonderful poem-lullaby in print. But even more, I love that books have that power in our lives, and that, as booksellers, as owners and purveyors of an indie bookstore, we get to be a part of that passion, that power, that joy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Splendor in the Grass

Kevin Coolidge

Don't judge a book by its cover. You might miss a good story. You've heard it before. We all have. Of course it's also a metaphor for life.

All kinds of people like to read. Maybe you think you know what somebody likes to read just by looking at them. Chances are you would be wrong.

When Hobo, our bookstore cat, died in January, we received several heartfelt sympathy cards, but perhaps the one that touched me the most quoted a stanza from "Intimations of Immortality," by William Wordsworth more commonly known as "Splendour in the Grass".

It was sent by a man who enjoys the classics. Many might not think a younger man with visible tattoos would enjoy reading, let along appreciate the romantic poets. You would be wrong.

There's no escaping death in our world, but we look beyond the loss. Perhaps we will remember the sunshine, the wind, and the splendor in the grass...

“What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.” – William Wordsworth