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Morning Notes

Submitted by lizabernard on Wed, 02/05/2020 - 5:48am

Every morning as I sip my tea, I scan the Norwich listserv as well as Pomfret’s (where I live). My copy of the Valley News arrives later in the day. 

I have added Rob Gurwitt’s Daybreak to my collection of daily information: “No spin, just news that connects you.” I appreciate the tidbits that Rob offers much more than the scattershot and often snarky and negative Facebook postings. 

depaola drawingAnd each day a Tomie dePaola drawing pops into my inbox. Sometimes the image is humorous; often it marks an author or artist’s birthday. National and religious holidays are noted. Today it was a vintage post from February 4, 2016 - “Thank a Postal Carrier Day.” 

For the first nine days of each month there is a separate email with a simple message of peace. The novena includes the gentle instruction “Think and say the word, or think and say 'Peace.'" The drawing is simple, a leaf or frond for each of the nine days and the word “peace” in a different language.

depaola - paxIn this tumultuous world, I look forward to these missives from Rob and Tomie. What are the recurring bright spots in your reading life? - Liza

January Update

Submitted by lizabernard on Sun, 01/26/2020 - 12:31pm

The fun parts...

Phew! I just delivered the reports for filing our taxes to the accountant. Now I can focus on the fun part of running a bookstore: books, authors, and events!

We are busy scheduling exciting author visits to the store and are bringing books to readings and lectures throughout the community.

And we are pleased to partner again with the Blood Donor Program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Though “Give a Child Another Chapter” officially ends this week, you can still participate if you make an appointment to donate blood in early February and mention the program.

staff 2020So far, the new books for 2020 range widely -- fun and heartwarming to political and controversial. Always a variety to choose from… Stop by and see what's on display.

The calendar is still in flux - even for February - so stay tuned! - Liza

(I had to post the picture from a wonderful potluck feast we celebrated with our significant others at Penny's warm and welcoming home. We have a great team!)

Mid-December Update

Submitted by lizabernard on Thu, 12/19/2019 - 5:41am

dan & angelsMountains of cartons filled with books arrive daily, keeping our shelves full. Wally the Wordworm in back in stock. Jigsaw puzzles have been replenished after a busy Thanksgiving. Wrapping paper and ribbon supply is holding up though holiday cards and calendars are getting low.

There is still a little time to order books! We will place orders from our warehouse partners through Monday, December 23. These are supposed to be next-day delivery, so fingers crossed that things go according to plan, but no promises...

It has been an interesting couple of weeks. Our phones were down for several days and are still not completely reliable. FedEx and UPS are struggling to keep up with deliveries so some special order books have arrived later than expected. Our website went dark at one point, but was quickly restored. Even Mother Nature has thrown a few snowballs!

To balance these challenges, we were visited by Angels and an Elf to spread word of the 19 Days in Norwich that is raising funds to support the Haven. The Book Angels have delivered hundreds of books to local children and young adults thanks to the generosity of this community. Staff has been fortified with homemade soup and cookies. Other treats - muffins, fruit, chocolate - have been delivered by friends of the store.

This holiday season has been full of good cheer, great conversations about books, and lots of laughter in the store - along with speedy gift wrapping at the front desk!

We will be open from 9am until 3pm on Christmas Eve and are closed Christmas Day as well as Boxing Day to give our hardworking booksellers a much needed rest. The bookstore will be open 9am to 6pm Friday, December 27 and Saturday, December 28 and we look forward to meeting your visiting family and friends.

Wishing you and yours an enjoyable holiday season. - Liza

PS Breaking news: Sabra Field is printing a calendar for 2020! They will be available the last week of December. Best to get your order in right away.

Thanksgiving Weekend

Submitted by lizabernard on Tue, 11/26/2019 - 5:21am

holiday dispalyRunning a bookstore can be challenging in our ever-changing retail landscape. What books will be reviewed? Which author’s novel will be a breakout bestseller? Did the publisher print enough copies? Will our staff picks interest you? Do we have the perfect game/toy/book in the series for your niece/uncle/grandson? Can we get that special order book in time? All those questions are on the “big exam” aka the “holiday season” that officially begins Thanksgiving weekend! 

Plaid Friday is a local twist on Black Friday. Instead of solely looking down at the bottom line, independent stores like ours look out at our community and the wonderfully various interests and connections among us. We love it when we get to meet that brother we helped you choose a novel for his birthday or that granddaughter we have been mailing books to for years.

Small Business Saturday was declared to remind you that small businesses are the heart of our region. We support schools and local nonprofits. We offer authors an opportunity to connect with readers and vice versa.

Slow-reading Sunday is our own creation to address our personal need to take a break during this busy season and nurture ourselves by curling up with a good book.

Cider Monday is the brainchild of a fellow bookseller in NH to respond to the Cyber Monday craze. Stop by, see what is new, and have a glass of cider and a treat. Of course, if you prefer to shop online, you can still support local indie stores like ours - Cyber Monday or anytime - at 

We are thankful for your support throughout the year. As always, we have worked and studied the publishing landscape so that we will have the right books for you for the holidays and beyond. Come put us to the test! - Liza

P.S. Stop by to pick up a copy of the "How to Give a Book" Holiday Catalog if you missed it in the Valley News on November 23rd.

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


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