All weekend at both Book Culture locations there will be 20% off store items, not including coursebooks, periodicals, or short discount items.
Come in tomorrow morning for out traditional Bagel Breakfast
With Broadway in full bloom and Morningside Heights edging into summer, the streets are bustling and our doors are open. The Book Culture staff enjoy springtime for the opportunity to again bring a book outside and spread their toes in some grass. And, don’t forget, we are having our Spring Sale this month, starting Friday May 17th and lasting through Sunday, May 19th. It is the close of the semester and the perfect time to sell back your textbooks to receive store credit towards a book you’ve been waiting to start.
In the past few weeks the store has been busy, which is great(!), and I have not had the opportunity to update about the great things that have been happening; most notably, our Poetry Open Mic Night.
Book Culture held an Open Mic Night to celebrate National Poetry Month and it was a hit. There were so many early responders to read that I was nervous we wouldn’t be able to fit them all in, but it worked pretty perfectly. I was joined by Columbia University student, editor-in-chief of Quarto, and and former InterPublications Alliance’s chair, Rega, to help announce the readers. She was fantastic, I had so much fun talking with her about the event and her enthusiasm only added to the excitement.
There were around 20 people who joined to read, and even more to watch. The readers consisted of a mix of Columbia Students, Book Culture employees, neighborhood faces, as well as eager artists from outside the immediate area.
One of the readers, Yolande Brener, posted (more promptly than I) a wonderful piece about the event on her blog.
Many of the readers came with personal stories from which their poetry has risen. Catherine, one of the readers, expailed the origin of one of her poems being a photograph of her brother holding the carcass of a lamb demonstrating how he held it, then proceeded to read her poem inspired from this moment and the language around the image she holds onto. Ms. Brener read a poem called “Moon,” which she wrote as a younger woman about her brother. The sentiment these personal poems brought to the audience was powerful, especially in the case of Denise Janssen’s poem and the experience that prompted it. She read a poem called “Liberation,” which addressed the issues of gun violence in our country, and spanned a significant length of time. “Liberation” was speaking specifically to the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Ms. Janssen definitely made a statement with her piece and her story.
Passion was certainly not missing from the event. With poems entitled “Obsession” by Nathan Proctor, and short, epigramatic poems like “Actual Conversations” by Moira. T. Smith, there was a great amount of intensity which presented itself in laughter and murmurs of agreement and praise.
I wish I had time to mention everyone and how great of a job they did reading, but instead I’ll say: Thank you all for making our reading a success. Due to the feedback we received from you and the audience we will be scheduling more readings soon! Thank you all again.
Join us on Wednesday, May 1st at 7pm for a reading and discussion of James G. Basker’s American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipation.
James G. Basker, Professor at Barnard College, has edited the first anthology to take the full measure of a body of writing that spans nearly two centuries and, exceptionally for its time, embraced writers black and white, male and female. Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, and Olaudah Equiano offer original, even revolutionary, eighteenth century responses to slavery. With the nineteenth century, an already diverse movement becomes even more varied: the impassioned rhetoric of Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison joins the fiction of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Louisa May Alcott; memoirs of former slaves stand alongside protest poems by John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Lydia Sigourney; anonymous editorials complement speeches by statesmen such as Charles Sumner and Abraham Lincoln.
Stop in the store on Thursday, May 2nd at 6pm for the launch of Making Samba: A New History of Race and Music in Brazil given by the author, Marc A. Hertzman.
Making Samba: A New History of Race and Music in Brazil tells the story of the events that made samba wildly popular. It starts with an Afro-Brazilian musician named Donga in 1916 when he registered sheet music for “Pelo telefone.” From there, Brazil’s cultural landscape was shaken. The success of Donga’s song created controversy over ownership and the reputation of Brazil and it’s people. This text addresses issues of race, gender, national identity, and the history of Afro-Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro. By tracing the careers of Rio’s pioneering black musicians from the late nineteenth century until the 1970s, Marc A. Hertzman revises the histories of samba and of Brazilian national culture.
Book Culture’s Annual End of the Semester Sale starts Friday, May 17th and will last through Sunday, May 19th.
At the end of the Columbia’s spring semester, Book Culture will be holding our Spring Sale where all products are 20% off. The usual limitations will apply; the 20% discount will not apply to coursebooks, periodicals, or short-discounted items. Saturday, May 18th, we will hold a bagel breakfast for all our customers. On the second floor, a breakfast buffet will be set up with bagels and coffee to snack on while you browse for your summer reads.
Book Culture is celebrating National Poetry Month by hosting an open mic night on April 19th at 7pm. On the second floor of the 112th street location (where we usually hold our events) refreshments will be served and poets will read their work. We are very excited to be getting involved with this great tradition. National Poetry Month is a month long celebration in support of living poets as well as America’s poetic history. Our goal for this year’s Poetry Month is to bring poetry to the public. We are asking members of the community to participate by reading their own poetry. If you or someone you know wants to read their original work, please email email@example.com to guarantee a spot. We ask the readers to cap their performance at 10 minutes. We are very excited to be working with members of our community, including Columbia University student organizations as well as longtime customers, to celebrate local talent and hear the voices of our friends and neighbors.
Melville House is near and dear to Book Culture’s heart. They are located in Brooklyn, a short jump from our stores in Morningside Heights. Melville House was born out of tragedy and innovation. After the 9/11 attacks on New York City, Dennis Johnson, a local fiction writer and journalist, and Valerie Merians, a local sculptor, asked for people to submit poems and prose about the attacks to Johnson’s blog MobyLives. They compiled the work into a collection called Poetry After 9/11. Both Johnson and Merians felt that this text would be representative of the emotions in New York City during this tragic and turbulent time. In order to publish the book they founded Melville House. The collection was a success; it was promoted by new stations and other media outlets. From then on, Johnson and Merians continued publish books from all genres.
Since it’s creation, Melville House has been interested in publishing books centered around current events, domestic and international. Books like Debt by David Graeber have added to and challenged popular conceptions on history. Graeber’s book introduces a new side of history around the evolution of economic systems in the world by including the history of credit systems. It is a short book, but very an important tool to examine and understand our current economic system in the United States and systems around the world.
As a publishing company functioning in today’s digital world, Melville House has worked to find a way of coexisting with the digital format. As well as manufacturing their publications on ebook platforms, they have developed a concept called the HybridBook. The HybridBook takes the best of print and media and fuses them together to enhance their reader’s experience with the text. For example, Willa Cather’s Alexander’s Bridge offers information on the construction of bridges, a central part to the plot. On the back page of the HybridBooks there is a QR code that anyone with a smartphone can scan and gain access to the secondary texts associated with themes presented in the story. These texts are called Melville House Illuminations. They are highly curated and thoughtful editions to the original text. For the five different novellas all called The Duel, the Illuminations offer different insight into the aspects of dueling that are close to the themes of that particular story.
Neversink Library Series focuses attention on overlooked and unappreciated texts from around the world. This series is important to bringing attention to the lesser-known titles from authors well known and obscure. These slight volumes are Melville House’s attempt at keeping these almost-lost texts from disappearing into the abyss of history. Melville House has published authors like Mikhaíl Bulgakov and Georges Simenon. Their newest Neversink title is Mary MacLane’s I Await the Devil’s Coming. This edition features an introduction by Jessa Crispin, critic and blogger. I Await the Devil’s Coming is the diary of a young woman living in Montana in 1902. MacLane is able to produce a brave and challenging confessional story. Although highly popular when it was first published, Mary MacLane’s work dropped into obscurity after she died. Melville House has revived this story; which still stands as one of the earliest accounts of feminism in American history.
Translating texts and bringing international authors to English readers is important to Melville House, especially after their translation of Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone. Their newest translated text is coming out next month. A Short History of Nuclear Folly: Mad Scientists, Dithering Nazis, Lost Nukes, and Catastrophic Cover-Ups by Rudolph Herzog, translated by Jefferson Chase, exposes some of history’s most careless uses of nuclear weapons. Herzog is the author of Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler’s Germany. He uses dark comedy to discuss some of history’s dangerous secrets.
The Melville House Bookstore is located in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. They host author events in their space, as well as doubling as gallery space. The current exhibit is a collaboration between artist Susan Mastrangelo and poet Albert Mobilio called “Motion Pictures.” Fiberglass and cloth figures constructed by Mastrangelo strut and rush throughout a room littered with poems written by Albert. Not having seen the exhibit myself, I can say that Albert Mobilio’s writing is brilliant and original and absolutely worth checking out.