Mar 1, 2009

The Sunday Salon - Book Buying

The Sunday Salon.comI didn't have a very good reading week (a clear case of a post-excellent books funk), so today I'm going to tell you about three books I ordered and the reasons why I ordered them:

First, Atlas by Katrina Vandenberg. John Green made me do it. A poem from this book is quoted at the opening of Paper Towns, but that wasn't the reason why I got it. The reason was that twice now John Green has made me cry by reading poems from this book during his live shows. This is a rare thing. Not because poetry doesn't move me, but because normally it doesn't move me right away. I usually need to spend time with a poem, to let it get it inside me, before I can feel its emotional impact.

And this is one of the reasons why I rarely read poetry these days. Because it requires me to slow down, and the knowledge that life is short and there are more great books out there than I'll ever be able to read is always at the back of my mind. But you know, not devoting time to books that really do deserve my time is also missing out. This is the only one of the three books I'm going to tell you about that has already arrived, and let me tell you, it so deserves me time. This is lovely, lovely stuff. Sadly I couldn't find any of the poems I wanted to share with you the most online, but I did find these two, which will give you an idea of her style.

Then comes Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. I've been meaning to read Sara Zarr for a while, but the reason why I caved at last was this: First, Priscilla posted about Largehearted Boy. Largehearted Boy is an excellent bookish music blog that I subscribe to, but I hadn't spent time there exploring the archives in a while. But thanks to Priscilla I did, and I found this guest post by Sara Zarr in which she talks about the playlist for Sweethearts.

She picked some excellent songs, but one in particular, Casimir Pulaski Day by Sufjan Stevens, happens to be my all-time favourite song. It stole the spot from Let Down by Radiohead, which had held it for something like eight years. Anyway, one of the main reasons why I love that song is the lyrics, and Sara Zarr says, "He’s (usually) so restrained, musically, without sacrificing complexity---I aspire to write prose like that." Which sealed the deal, really. If she aspires to write prose like that, then she's definitely an author I ought to be reading.

And last but not least, I ordered We Never Talk About my Brother, Peter Beagle's latest short story collection. And you should too. I'll tell you why: because Peter Beagle is an absolutely brilliant writer who has struggled financially all his life. This is beyond unfair. Did you know he's celebrating 50 years as a writer this year? 50 years. Half a century. And it all began with A Fine and Private Place, which was not a promising debut, but an absolutely brilliant book. Anyway, I discovered via Peter Beagle's newsletter that the sales of the first edition of his new collection can make a big difference for his career. Here's what the newsletter says:
Want to help us reach a goal? Tachyon's first printing of We Never Talk About My Brother was only 5,500 copies. Conlan Press is trying to sell out the entire run by March 31st, to make Tachyon go back to press for a second, bigger printing immediately, and to show the distributors and chain buyers that control bookstore placement this is a title they need to get behind in a big way.

If you love Peter S. Beagle's work, and want to see as much wonderful new stuff coming out this year as possible (graphic novel of The Last Unicorn, anyone?), please go to Conlan Press and buy Peter's new book ASAP. Doing so will make a huge difference in Peter's fortunes, and help show the publishing world how much more attention he deserves.

Here's the official 5,500-copy Unicorn Horn. We're at 112 copies sold right now — will you help fill the Horn to the top before the target date?
I can't think of better reasons to get this book. It will make a difference! It's Peter Beagle! It has an introduction by Charles de Lint! You know you want it. I ordered a copy, and to help matters along a bit further I'll also include a second one in next week's giveaway. But more on that tomorrow.

One last thing: today is March 1st (wow, already?), which means that the Try Something New Mini-Challenge has officially begun! Thanks to everyone who signed up. Have you and your partner decided what to read yet? How are things going?

Even though the challenge begins today, people can still sign up. If anyone signs up now and still doesn't have a pair after a couple of days, please get in touch with me and I'll be your pair. And if more people sign up after that, hm, maybe someone else could take them as a second pair? I should have given this more thought, actually, but it's just that I didn't want to have an official sign up period and then close it after a while.

Anyway, I'll draw the winners of the first giveaway, open to all participants, two weeks from today. Then at the end of the month I'll put up another Mr. Linky for people to link their wrap-up posts, and I'll draw the names of the winners of the final giveaway from there.

Happy reading, everyone. I hope you have a great week.


  1. I've never read Sara Zarr either, but should. Annie read Sweethearts not too long ago, and she really loved it.

    I love poetry! But I know just what you mean about needing to spend time with it. In fact, my normal way to read poetry is to just leave a book of poetry on my nightstand. And then to read a poem here and there. I generally don't read more than one or two at a time, because just like you said, they need time to settle. Often I'll read one right before I lay down to sleep...then it can settle in there and play around in my head in that weird drowsy time. Sometimes I'll read the same poem every night for two weeks straight...because I feel it has something more to say to me or because I'm confused by it or simply because I love it so. I hate to "analyze" poetry though...I prefer that it just talks to me in whatever form that takes. Anyway, the same volume of poetry will can sit on my nightstand for months and months before I finally feel it's time to move on...which means that I don't get a ton of poetry read. But at least I feel I get my money's worth out of what I do read. :)

    Oh, and Nymeth, what on Earth am I going to do with you?!! You know, of course, that I now feel like I should really go buy Peter S. Beagle's book. Obviously, as that was your intent. ;) But just yesterday, after a trip to the bookstore where I bought 4 more books (three of which are your responsibility, I might add!), I swore I would not buy ANY books for at least one whole month. (I wanted to say 3 months, but I was trying to be a bit more realistic.) So now, what is a girl to do?!! *sigh*

  2. I read Story About a Girl by Sara Zarr awhile back and didn't particularly like it. I hope this one is better!!

  3. I think I need to meet Debi too! Because she describes how I read poetry generally- at night, when it's quiet, and nothing is distracting me, I read one or two and then thinking them over, fall asleep. Though I had to remove Birthday Letters from my nightstand, the poems were too passionate and not appropriate for bedtime!!! lol they need full daylight and some time to work through his themes of love and anger and loss. I love that you write about poetry and how it makes us slow down, which may be one reason it doesn't get read much - our culture isn't geared for slowing down, for the most part.

    Also, like Debi, I just bought 6 books on Friday, and promised my husband no more for a little while, and now I HAVE to support Peter Beagle, who I had no idea was struggling - how could this happen to someone who does write such important books in the fantasy world? - and *hugs* to you for promoting him and telling us all about him so we can help out.

    Happy Sunday reading, Nymeth! see you tomorrow for The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop! and I finally found some of what I wanted to send you! :-D

  4. Thanks for the mention, Nymeth! I've spent more time on Largehearted boy and downloaded more music this past week than I care to admit.

    These books sound wonderful, all of them. I'll add the first two to TBR, but I may have to break my no-buy rule and purchase the Peter Beagle collection. I'm not familiar with his work, but I absolutely trust your taste (oh, in music, too!), and I cannot stand to think of a fine writer struggling for so long.

    Enjoy your Sunday!

  5. I had no idea that Peter S. Beagle is not as successful (monetary-wise) as he should be! While his latest book is definitely not available here as of yet I just bought (well, my sister bought it for me) A Fine and Private Place awhile back and somehow I hope that helps.

    I enjoyed The Last Unicorn and I think I remember Neil Gaiman campaigning hard for him also in his blog way back. Maybe you could mention it to him.

    I used to drop by Largehearted Boy way back but for the past couple of years I haven't visited his site. Hahaha! Oh well.

  6. I can't believe it's March already either. Where has the time gone?

  7. If you need someone to have two partners, I'll do it. You know where to find me!

    I have never read Peter Beagle before... I really should remedy that! I don't know if a short story collection is the best idea for me, though. That's cool that it is introduced by de Lint, though. I really need to read some from him, too!

    I hope you have a good week and get over your 'reading slump'. I'm really excited about the manga you suggested. I am going to go start reading it after I finish my blog rounds.

  8. These all sound interesting! I don't read a lot of poetry but I do like to read it once in awhile. Enjoy your books!

  9. Sounds like some excellent books. I hate the post good book funk too. Nothing else seems to measure up for a while, but the good ones are worth it.

  10. Great books Nymeth, I like the sound of Sweethearts. We Never Talk About my Brother sounds great, I like the cover.

    I'm joining your challenge!

  11. ...on second thought, its evened out, I dont want to add an odd number!
    have fun with it :o)

  12. I really like your comment about poetry requiring us to slow down, and how can we do that with so many good books out there?! Still, it's good to take time. On purpose. I was thinking of reading a poetry book for your Mini-Challenge, in which Kailana and I are paired, but we've decided on The Book of Lost Things. I'll do poetry on my own as Spring is such a good time to delve in.

  13. ohh i've read sweethearts;:) it wasn't awesome but it was good. I liked it.

  14. I have never heard of Sara Zarr, so will look into her now. Great books - hope you enjoy them. I know what you mean when you read an absolutely fabulous book, it can be really hard to move on to the next book.

  15. That poetry book sounds amazing! That's so sad that Peter Beagle struggles financially.. :(

  16. Thank you for posting on Atlas. I tend to read the same poets over and over which is not bad but sometimes I really feel like I'm missing out on contemporary poets. You are right though it takes time to read a poem. You want to let it marinate for a while :)

    So I saved the links to Katrina's poems and will read them later today.

  17. I loved Sweethearts. It was one of the first books I reviewed on my blog too.

  18. Thank you for Atlas. I have yet to read John Green but must, soon, and will add Katrina Vandenberg to my want list.

    I read poetry to slow down, I helps me get grounded. I even write when I feel inspired. Have a great week.

  19. I've never read Peter S. Beagle, but I've only ever heard good things about him. And if I had a healthy credit card, I'd be ordering the book, because I do love Charles de Lint.
    Thanks for adding to my list ... again! :)

  20. Debi: I remember Annie's review, actually! It sounds like a lovely book. I read poetry books like that too...a poem here, another there, over months sometimes. And it's funny that you mentioned your nightstand. John Green said that he and his wife have had Atlas on their nightstand for something like 3 years, and still dip into it regularly. I understand your dilemma, but I have the perfect solution for you: enter my giveaway tomorrow :P

    Amanda: I've heard both good and not so good things about that one.

    Susan: Yes, you do! Like I was telling her, John Green mentioned having had this book on his nightstand for 3 years. Now that's staying power. You make a good point about our culture's impatience. And about Peter Beagle, yeah, how could that happen? It just baffles me. So unfair. Also, I sent you an e-mail that will possibly make you hate me? :P

    Priscilla: lol, I spent an insane amount of time there too. It's such a great blog. Thank you for trusting me :D He's a wonderful writer.

    Lightheaded: haha, great minds think alike! I did drop Neil a line about this :o And yes, I think he mentioned the whole The Last Unicorn thing back in the day.

    bermudaonion: It honestly feels like Christmas was two weeks ago.

    Kailana: Indeed I do! My reading has been going better this past few days. I think it was Emma that rescued me! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    Samantha: Thanks! I don't read poetry often either, but when I do I tend to enjoy it.

    Kristy: They definitely are!

    Naida: Awww, I didn't mean to discourage anyone from joining! I'm sure someone else will come along, and even if not, I'd love to have you. I really would!

  21. Poetry has always been a mystery to me and I have to admit it...intimidates me!!! I think I may have to request Atlas for the week of my spring break. I'm big into short stories right now so I will honestly think about buying a copy of Peter Beagle's works. I hate it when a great author goes virtually unknown but some of the high profile one's can turn out rubbish year after year and still be on the bestseller lists!!

  22. Bellezza: It is good to slow down, yes. How exciting that you and Kailana are reading The Book of Lost Things! I loved that book. And yes, spring and poetry do seem to go well together :)

    Amy: Hopefully I'll like it too!

    Scrap Girl: I think she's more or less big in YA. And yes, it can be hard to move on!

    Eva: I actually thought of you when I started to read it, because you were looking for poetry recommendations recently. I definitely recommend this! And yeah, it is sad :(

    Iliana: I often feel I'm missing out too. And "let it marinate" - perfectly put! I hope you enjoy the poems :)

    Lenore: I'm really looking forward to reading it. It sounds just like my kind of book.

    Gavin: Indeed you must! I like what you said about poetry grounding you. It does have a way of doing that.

    Maree: Like I was telling Debi, you can also enter my giveaway tomorrow!

    Staci: I know, poetry can be intimidating sometimes. I think part of it has to do with how it demands our time and full attention. But the poems in Atlas have all been extremely accessible so far, and I didn't have to make an effort to give them my full attention. They just grabbed me. And that can be so infuriating... it's not even that people don't like good's that they don't hear about them. And the big names write rubbish and still sell because everyone knows they exist.

  23. :) Too late...I already ordered it! And really, that's a good thing, don't you think?

  24. Ok, so I might just bypass putting these on the wishlist and just go order them right now :p They sound really good. And if Sara Zar has Sufjan Stevens as a writing inspiration...well, I have to get that one! Hope it's as good as it sounds! And that poetry has to be mine!

    I hope people support Peter Beagle. He must be a fantastic guy. I'd love to meet him sometime...every time I read one of his books I imagine how cool of a guy he must be. I can't wait to get this short story collection! I didn't even know it was out yet!

    So now I'm off to download Casimir Pulaski Day...if it's better than Let Down then it must be damn good!

  25. Nymeth, somehow I missed the part of your post about Peter S Beagle and found out about it at You Can Never Have Too Many Books. Thanks for publicizing this, he is a fine author and needs to be supported.

    I hope you enjoy Fudoki, have you read The Fox Woman?

  26. I rarely read poetry, but some are so beautiful that I find myself lost into them!!

    I've not heard of Sara Zarr but your mention gives me the chance to look at her books in future! :)

    I'm sorry that I couldn't participate in your mini challenge, although it really sounds fun to me. I've too much on my plate!! Anyway, I just want to tell you again that your idea of this challenge is great and have loads of fun! :D

  27. I haven't read Peter Beagle.. but thanks for clueing us in. Definitely thinking about it.

  28. Debi: Your wallet might beg to differ, but I do think it is! :P

    Chris: Let Down meant the world to me when I was 16 (and in a different way, it still does). Casimir means the world to me in my 20's. They're different songs that mean different things, and probably I shouldn't even try to measure them up against each other, but you know what I mean :P But yes, do listen to's a gorgeous song. Peter Beagle does sound like a great guy. I'd love to meet him too.

    Gavin: He's a fine author indeed. Fudoki is my first Kij Johnson novel (I'd only read short stories before), and so far I love it! Her writing is so great. I'll definitely get The Fox Woman at some point.

    Melody, don't worry, no need to apologize! I really understand, and it's very kind of you to let me know you like the idea anyway :)

    Claire, you're welcome. I highly recommend A Fine and Private Place. Such a brilliant book.

  29. I can't wait to read A Fine & Private Place this year! And even though I haven't yet read it, his new one has gone straight to the top of my wishlist! It does have a very pretty cover. :)

    I'm looking forward to your thoughts on Kij Johnson. I saw The Fox Woman in the bookstore a while back and was intrigued, but it was all beat up so I didn't buy it.

  30. You make me want to go book shopping! I actually did go this weekend while out with my husband and picked up two books, but that doesn't count since the money came out of his wallet. Yeah, so I'm rationalizing. :-)

    I'm not really familiar with Peter Beagle, but I'll definitely check him out.

  31. tanabata: Fudoki was beautiful and brilliant and sad, and I really think you'd enjoy it! Now I want to get my hands on The Fox Woman.

    Literary Feline: Everything makes us want to go book shopping, doesn't it? :P

  32. "John Green made me do it." Hey--justify it anyway you can! I've been very very good about purchases this year so far, but I'm gonna blame the next one on book club [Oscar Wao!]. The book club made me do it! I'm gonna have to sneak in at least The Uncommon Reader, though, and maybe another treat.

    Poetry is tough for me. I do enjoy it and get a lot out of it, but it IS work. And right now I just haven't wanted to work all that hard. I have a couple of volumes on my shelf that I've been meaning to pick up (*really* want to get to Leaves of Grass), but oh the thought!! Anyway, I'm glad that you have found something that was able to touch you. That's what it's all about.

  33. A graphic novel of The Last Unicorn? That so needs to happen. I want a unicorn tattoo of her and that would help me out a lot! Must go and order his new one to help out.


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