You are here

lizabernard's blog

Cursed Titles

Submitted by lizabernard on Sun, 11/10/2019 - 6:56am

A current attention-grabbing trend in titles is to add expletives - often written as in the comics with *#$% symbols. While this might have been a good idea once or twice, it is now overdone.

I’m not against a well-timed curse - when I hammer my thumb or a bus cuts me off on the highway - but if every other word is an obscenity, they lose their punch and are annoying.

books w curse wordsAnd not just one category of books has jumped on this bandwagon. I can site examples of memoirs, parenting titles, current events, psychology, art, humor - Go the F**k to Sleep, Sh*t My Dad Says, Recipes and Sh*t, Assholes: A Theory - you get the idea.

As a buyer for the store, the abrasive book jackets affect my selections. I might pass on a book that would otherwise be of interest if I felt more comfortable displaying it. How do we place a stack of books in the front of the store that scream an obscenity without being offensive?

I was taught that constant swearing indicated a lazy mind. Can’t an industry that prides itself on wordcraft be a bit more creative and a little less obscene? - Liza

Psychic Reading?

Submitted by lizabernard on Wed, 10/30/2019 - 7:19am

crystal ballWe would love to have a crystal ball to foresee what size audience will be interested in an author event, but alas, we must rely on past experience and educated guesses…

Carefully tracking reservations for Helmuth Caspar von Moltke’s talk, we were confident we would have room for everyone at the bookstore. On Friday, five days before the event, we still had a third of the seats to fill. Then the Valley News ran a wonderful piece by Nichola Smith on the book and we ended Saturday with enough people interested to fill the store twice and then some!

So the scramble began! It is not as simple as deciding to change locations. Is there a venue available? Can we afford the rental fee? Is the author willing to speak to a larger gathering? Can we get more books? Is there staff to facilitate off-site? And if we can move the reading, how do we let everyone know?

This week we were happily able to make all the parts come together. - Liza

P.S. A word of thanks is due to the Valley News for featuring regional writers, books, and events. This week proved once again how important a local daily print paper is!

The Subtle (or not so subtle) Art of the Subtitle

Submitted by lizabernard on Sat, 10/19/2019 - 6:32am

Subtitles have gotten longer and perhaps more creative of late. Often they are used to expand on a title, as in “Last Letters” posted above. The title alone could be on a novel, but add “The Prison Correspondence between Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, 1944-45”  and we know precisely what the book is about. Or they clarify a catchy title such as the listings above for Farming While Black and Walking to Listen.

solitude & companyIn her June Washington Post article, Rachel Kramer Bussell notes several intriguing examples of this trend including Solitude & Company: The Life of Gabriel García Márquez Told with Help from His Friends, Family, Fans, Arguers, Fellow Pranksters, Drunks, and a Few Respectable Souls by Silvana Paternostro.

If sometimes subtitles seem like a “key word” list so search engines will pick them up, Bussell had this confirmed by Todd Stocke at Sourcebooks. One of their new titles  Sex, Teens, and Everything in Between sports the subtitle The New and Necessary Conversations Today’s Teenagers Need to Have about Consent, Sexual Harassment, Healthy Relationships, Love, and More.

Lithub also ran a piece by Mary Laura Philpott about subtitles. She claims they are like a middle name - useful for identification but not always used. She reminds us that Eat, Pray, Love is subtitled One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia. And Mary Shelley’s masterpiece is actually Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus, perhaps to offer a clue about the novel’s themes.

The function of giving a book a title and subtitle is to provide a handle by which readers can discover - and remember - the writing. Mostly I enjoy the descriptive phrases added on the book jacket to pique interest or add information but I fear the trend toward essay length subtitles does not give us readers much credit.

The opposite of too long a title is one that consists of a common word or phrase that too easily slips the mind and doesn’t really say anything about the content. But that musing is for another day… - Liza

Fun Squared!

Submitted by lizabernard on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 5:50am

n sq 9.28.19The Norwich Square is humming with activity! Kids are playing in the “little house” replica of the bookstore building. Neighbors are catching up outside the Post Office. 

Norwich Knits has new hours that include “Knit Night" on Thursdays until 8 pm. That is the same evening the bookstore is open late, so you can stop by for a book or card to go with your yarn. They have a great line-up of classes coming up including a special Fall Craft Day Camp for kids this Friday, October 11th which is an in-service day at Marion Cross.

Friday is the day that Norwich Wine and Spirits has extended hours. So convenient for grabbing a bottle of wine on your way to dinner with friends.

Zuzu’s is chock full of creative new treasures: clothing, jewelry, pottery - for yourself or others as gifts.

Always cheerful with folks, sipping, eating, chatting, and generally enjoying themselves, Blue Sparrow Kitchen is the place to start your day and maybe even return for lunch!

This is a special community - we count ourselves fortunate to be part of it. - Liza

Fall News & Notes...

Submitted by lizabernard on Sun, 10/06/2019 - 7:06am

d salait w storywald
It's shaping up to be a busy autumn for authors around the Upper Valley and we've been wondering how best to get the word out.  

We usually send a newsletter every other week but in October the list of great events way too long to keep track of, so look for weekly updates this month. 

Please let us know how this works for you. Would you prefer a longer list less often? Do you enjoy the book recommendations that come with the News & Notes? Your feedback is appreciated as we look to find the balance between cluttering your inbox and letting you know about all the great literary happenings we are excited about.

Hope you can join us for one or many of the upcoming readings. Remember, we're always happy to arrange to have books autographed if you can't attend an event. - Liza

P.S. I just had to share the photo of illustrator Doug Salati with a young reader that Beth captured at the StoryWalk for Lawrence in the Fall on August 28th! We have one more StoryWalk scheduled for this year in November: Tomie dePaola's magical tale of When Everyone Was Fast Asleep.

Spotlight on what??

Submitted by lizabernard on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 8:06am

remember balloons

We enjoy creating displays around the store. Themes such as Valentine’s Day and Back to School are obvious. Sometimes we collect books around a subject: Monarch Butterflies or Women in WWII were popular. Other selections are more esoteric: once we filled a window with the many, many novels and history books with a photo or painting of a woman walking away from the from the viewer!

learning the hard wayThis week we created a display of books related to Alzheimer’s prompted by the upcoming Upper Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s which takes place on September 22nd. (For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Association.) We  included books about coping with the disease such as Learning the Hard Way: A Caregiver's Struggle With Alzheimer's by Hanover resident, Donna Grant Reilly. Other titles like The Remember Balloons may help children understand when a grandparent is struggling. 

Next week’s special display will feature Banned Books with the theme “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark. Keep the Light On!” What an eclectic collection THAT promises to be. Harry Potter, Captain Underpants, The Hate U Give, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the Holy Bible have all been banned!

Stop by soon, you never know what our creative booksellers will spotlight: Foxes?! - Liza

Autumn changes... 

Submitted by lizabernard on Wed, 09/04/2019 - 7:19am

sara w toteAs of September 1st, the Norwich bag ordinance is in effect. Plastic bags are banned and we are required by law to charge at least a dime for any paper bag we hand out. Remember to bring your tote bags, especially on those rainy days! And check out our new reusable totes - made with recycled materials - with the bookstore logo.

On the book front, we have long considered offering a Signed First Edition subscription service but couldn’t figure out how to choose titles that would satisfy our diverse readers. Interest in a signed David McCullough might not appeal to those who want an autographed Louise Penny. So we created a new program to get the word out about signed first editions that are available for preorder. If you are interested in a brief quarterly email, please let us know.

After a series of monthly newsletters for the summer, we are returning to our regular schedule of updates. The gatherings in Canaan and Strafford featured wonderfully eclectic writers: novelists and cartoonists, journalists and poets. This fall will be filled with events for a myriad of interests for all ages!

Time to go back to school and familiar routines… - Liza

The Joys of Binge-Reading!

Submitted by lizabernard on Tue, 07/09/2019 - 10:20am

Penny forwarded me a piece from the New York Times, “Why You Should Start Binge-Reading Right Now” by Ben Dolnick that I found both unsettling and comforting.

I have been concerned with my recent inability to “settle” with a book, but now understand that it has more to do with not carving out time to read than the array of writing in front of me. Ten minutes - or even a half hour - before bed is not enough time to get into the flow of a narrative.

After an evening’s power outage, Dolnick rediscovered the pleasures of reading for a longer stretch:“ book after book, if you do push on through one chapter break, and then on through the chapter break after that, something amazing happens. Subplots that would once have been murky to the point of incomprehensibility (what was the deal with that dead sea captain again?) step into the light. Little jokes and echoes, separated by dozens or even hundreds of pages, come rustling out of the text forest.”

camp w book & wineMy ideal vacation is to settle in with a bag of books in a peaceful spot - in the summer by a lake or even on the back porch, in the winter in a cozy chair by the woodstove. And yes, binge-reading. My promise to myself is an hour of uninterrupted reading every day - a mini-vacation from daily tasks. Time to shut off the computer and open that book! - Liza

PS I encourage you to seek out the entire article - I cannot link it here because of the paper’s paywall.

In the Spotlight...

Submitted by lizabernard on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 6:45pm

penny & liza at vital communities dinnerAt the end of May, Penny and I were honored by Vital Communities at the Heroes and Leaders Dinner. It was a humbling and exciting evening. There were a dozen of us in the spotlight, including farmers, business executives, coaches, and performing artists from all corners of the Upper Valley.

We were being recognized for the role the Norwich Bookstore plays in our community and for the individual contributions we each offer to try to repay your support.

The event was a grand reminder of the vibrancy of region, how strong and diverse the fabric truly is. We feel fortunate to be part of it and thankful to Vital Communities for creatively weaving the disparate threads from 69 towns in two states together with their various programs and services.

The keynote speaker, Jenny Levy, explained that Vital Communities grew out of what we can think of as the Rabbi Hillel category of leaders. He was a first-century Jewish scholar who posed the question, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?”

Both Vital Communities and the Norwich Bookstore are celebrating 25 years! I wonder what the next 25 look like. Who are the heroes and leaders of the future? - Liza

Exploring diversity!

Submitted by lizabernard on Tue, 06/04/2019 - 7:27am

field tripLast week, we had the honor and pleasure of hosting fifth graders from the Ottauquechee School. They are studying diversity in children’s literature and took a field trip to the store to pick out books for their library.

I gave a short presentation on how we select books for the store using the “Mirrors and Windows” concept: Does the book reflect back to readers a setting or situation that they can relate to? Does the book expose readers to a different world so they might better understand others?

I talked about how diversity or a current issue is sometimes the main topic of a book. Other times, diversity topics serve as more casual plot lines. For example, in Mascot, the main character is adjusting to his new life following a car accident. He was a basketball star and now gets around in a wheelchair. In contrast, in A Snicker of Magic, one of the main characters uses a wheelchair and the reader doesn't even know this for seven pages after he is introduced. It just is.

Then the students set out to find books that met their criteria. For me, it was like a fast-paced quiz show. Do you have historical fiction with Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindi characters? (Homeless Bird) Books about real women heroes? (lots!) Graphic novels about disabilities? (El Deafo) One boy was pleased that I recommended The London Eye Mystery, which is solved by a child whose “brain works differently.”

The kids were great! I had fun watching them discover picture books, graphic novels, biographies, and fiction chapter books. A wonderful way to start my day! - Liza


Subscribe to RSS - lizabernard's blog