Our Blog Has A New Home!

boxDear friends,

We are excited to announce the launch of Book Culture’s brand new and improved website, which also features a new home for our blog! We are keeping our wordpress space until archived posts can be transferred to the new site, but we hope to eventually transfer everything over to the new blog.  So be sure to look out for new posts at bookculture.com/blog or follow us on twitter and tumblr for updates.

                                                                                            -Book Culture

February 3, 2015 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

Je Suis Charlie

je suis

In answer to why we have put the posters in our window with Je Suis Charlie.

We must stand firm in defense of free speech. It is one thing to not sell or read or ally ourselves with what we see as destructive imagery or language, it is another to say nothing when there is a fundamental attack on free speech. Book Culture is in the publishing business and as such we are obligated, without equivocation, to support that right.
We are not defending “Charlie Hebdo” or any idea or publication no matter how offensive or acceptable to us. We are defenders of the right to free speech.
Standing for the rights of only ourselves, our views of what is acceptable, proper, meritorious or warranting the right to publication, is not standing for the right at all. We are committed enough to stand up for the right to free speech for others. This is the commitment we must make if we are to uphold free speech as a right.
It is perfectly right and just that somewhere at the far edges of decency where Charlie Hebdo and super right wing literature exists we find ourselves deeply offended. We can see the devastating effect that inciting anger can have in Rwanda or Bosnia or Nazi Germany for example and we can make sense of the idea that some of this stuff ought to be censored.
But it is only in those places where censorship has won that day that we see the awful results of living in a place where the fundamental rights are not guaranteed to all. Every genocide in history has come in a land without the right to free speech.
We stand with Charlie Hebdo now because free speech has been attacked, and those attackers are asking for our complicity.

Je suis Charlie means we believe in democracy, human rights, the right to dialogue and the power of ideas and writing over violence and coercion. Je suis Charlie means that we will not review the content of our book shops to ensure we are not offending someone. Je suis Charlie means that as coworkers in the business of publishing and books we support, above the ideas themselves, the right of those ideas to be published. Je suis Charlie means that we’re booksellers and it’s a badge of honor. I say- wear it well.

In 1988 Salman Rushdie had published Satanic Verses in England and was almost immediately condemned and threatened with death because in an Ayatollah’s view it was blasphemy. Penguin in New York almost withdrew the publication and when it was eventually published the major chains and many smaller bookselling outlets didn’t offer to sell the book because they were afraid. Many indie booksellers, including the founders of your shops, did sell it. Because we were one of the few outlets that did, we put a mountain of 500 copies in the front of the store and sold 800 copies in a weekend because people didn’t want to be threatened and have their rights infringed upon. Another of the stores that did in Berkeley, Cody’s, was bombed. The question of offensiveness in the book was without question.
If the few outlets that sold the book didn’t what would that say about our democracy, about our commitment to the first amendment?
Where would we be without the first amendment?
We never have issues of free speech when the material being defended is without critics and universally regarded as culturally beneficial or innocuous.
We only have to defend free speech when it is being attacked, that is the nature of the right. If we don’t defend others rights to free speech we cannot claim it for ourselves.
As booksellers, as independent booksellers, we are committed to free speech. It is what we do. We offer a place to criticize governments, religions, ideas, each other. We do not condone or agree with all the ideas, nor do we purvey language that we do find hurtful or denigrating to others without merit.
We do however stand firm on the right to Free Speech.

Chris Doeblin

January 17, 2015 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Meet the Staff: Cody Madsen

Cody Bio (4)

I’m originally from a small town in California outside of Yosemite National Park in the Sierras. I’ve worked in bookselling for 8 years. In college, I worked seasonally at a small independent in my hometown. I came on as a manager for Book Culture in August of 2013.

What is your role as a Manager for Book Culture?
I’m the Event Coordinator for Book Culture, and help with managing the periodicals, floor managing, and help coordinate web content. I’m a semi-pro gift wrapper, and I also occasionally wear shorts and flip-flops.

How did you come to join the Book Culture family?
I moved to NYC in September of 2011 for graduate school. While waiting to board my plane in California, I sent an email to Book Culture to see if they might be hiring. On a layover in Denver, I received a reply from Chris asking if I could come in for temporary work for the coursebook rush. I got to Manhattan around 3am Sunday morning, and by 11am I was working for Book Culture. I’ve been here in some capacity ever since.

What are your areas of expertise?
I read a little all over the place. I studied cultural anthropology in school, so I can speak to that body of work. I read more contemporary fiction now, with a Tennessee Williams play thrown in every couple of books. I enjoy ‘History of the Book’ books. I read samples of most of the magazines we stock, so I can recommend the heck out of a number of those titles.

What are you currently reading?
I’ve been reading The World According to Garp for a while with some friends from college. It’s definitely something. I also recently just read Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones. I’ve started to read more stories, fiction and nonfiction, told from the perspective of non-American women. Some of my favorite authors in this vein are Chinelo Okparanta, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margery Wolf, and Lisa See. I also follow APOGEE and Hello Mr. magazines for their writing.

What’s your favorite part of working for a bookstore?
The community. Bookselling seems to attract wonderful, insightful, collaborative people. I’ve made lifelong friends through my work in bookstores, and for that I’m especially grateful. My quality of life has been forever enriched. (The discount, advanced copies, and BEA are nice perks, too.)

January 16, 2015 at 3:00 pm Leave a comment

Q&A and Reading with MB Caschetta

We are thrilled to have MB Caschetta launch her debut novel, Miracle Girlsat our Columbus store this Sunday, January 18th, at 3pm.  MB Caschetta is the recipient of a W.K. Rose Fellowship for Emerging Artists, a Sherwood Anderson Foundation Writing Award, and a Seattle Review Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in the Mississippi Review, Del Sol Review,3:AM Magazine, New York Times, and Chronicle of Higher Education, among others.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to share her work with us and hope you enjoy the Q&A!

miracle

How did you come to write Miracle Girls?

I was actually writing a very different novel when Miracle Girls emerged and took over. It’s been quite a long and unexpected process; I’ve been writing the novel since my last book (a short story collection) was published in 1996. It’s not at all the novel I expected it to be, which is kind of amazing. And it took me on a kind of surprising spiritual journey, which is a lofty way of saying it was rejected a lot! The lesson I learned about novels (and maybe life) is that you have to accept it on its own terms. Resisting just makes for a lot of unhappiness and road blocks. Mostly, this book has taught me to go with the flow and to not give up hope. It’s a happy ending for me, since the book has been so graciously received with wonderful reviews from Kirkus and People Magazine.

Do you have a personal favorite book of all time? If so, can you share it and tell us why?

I have so many favorite books, it’s difficult to say. My favorite book of all time is probably a tie between Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which I somehow read in part in Russian in college, though I couldn’t do that now, and Nabokov’s Lolita. But more importantly my current favorite book is Elizabeth McCracken’s new short story collection, THUNDERSTRUCK. I think I’m going to read it a second time. I feel like I loved the experience of reading it so much that I went too fast. I think I can take it in more deeply on a second read.

What’s next? Any upcoming book projects in the works that you can tell us about?

I am writing a non-fiction book about the experience and the cultural phenomenon of disinheritance. A few years ago I published a personal essay in the New York Times about having found out as a surprise that I was disinherited by my father (nyti.ms/vmZcxa). It’s been a difficult book to write; I am on a third draft, and still struggling to get the right even-handed tone and a voice that is more deeply my own. My family is unhappy about my writing on the topic, so that adds another layer of complication. Like Miracle Girls, though, it feels like a book I have to write: I have no choice in the matter, since it won’t leave me alone otherwise. After that, though, I hope I get to write a fun book. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

January 14, 2015 at 2:42 pm Leave a comment

Q&A and Reading with Paula Rizzo

At our Columbus location on Thursday, January 15th, at 7pm, broadcast journalist Paula Rizzo will launch her latest book, Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed.  Introducing Rizzo will be Patty Chang Anker, author of Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave.

Finding enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished and allow for some downtime can be a struggle, and it has only gotten harder in the past five years. It’s no wonder so many of us are stressed, overextended and exhausted. The Institute of American Stress has discovered that 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did five years ago, and 54% of all American employees feel overwhelmed, according to a study by the nonprofit Family and Work Institute. Listful Thinking: Using Lists to Be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed is the book that will give you your life back. Author Paula Rizzo is a television and web producer from New York, and she has applied the tools and techniques that have made her successful at work to the art of list-making. Listful Thinking can be applied to anything in life and almost all situations.

listful

How did you come to write Listful Thinking?
I’ve always wanted to write a book but I never thought it would be about lists! I’ve always been a list maker and a bit of a procrastinator. But my job as a news producer quickly taught me to be more efficient with my time. I wasn’t using the same time-saving tips at home that I used to get things done at work and I noticed a lot of things would fall through the cracks. So when I was looking for an apartment in NYC I created a checklist of all the things I needed to pay attention to. Much like I would at work when I go out on a shoot and need to interview someone. I will write out all the questions I need to ask and do a lot of preparation beforehand. When I did this, it was so much easier to find a great apartment! A friend wanted my list and suggested I start a blog because as she said not everyone thinks this way. So I did and ListProducer.com was born. That was the start of the Listful Thinking journey.

What are you currently reading?
Choose Yourself by James Altucher

Do you have a personal favorite book of all time? If so, can you share it and tell us why?
Oh this is such a hard question. For me this changes all the time. I’m always falling in love with new books. I have a list of course!

Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to the publication of?
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I’m a big fan of hers and she always comes up with ideas that make you really look at your life and choose to make it better.

Any upcoming book projects in the works that you can tell us about?
I’m still updating my blog ListProducer.com regularly. I’ve created an online PopExpert course based on the book that I’m really excited about. And I’ve been narrating some of my blog posts for the time-saving app Umano, which has really been fun. And I do hope another book or a series comes along at some point.

January 9, 2015 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment

Q&A With Lynn Lurie

In early December, we had the chance to hear Lynn Lurie read from her latest novel, Quick Kills, alongside Atticus Lish.  We would like to thank her for participating in the event and taking the time to answer a few questions about her personal reading and writing.  If you haven’t check it out already, be sure to also read our Q&A with Atticus Lish.
IMG_20141210_191428086_HDR

How did you come to write Quick Kills?
Quick Kills was the result of fragments of images that came to me. Photographs I had once taken but had lost. I tried to resurrect some of the scenes and began writing a narrative to link the pieces into a coherent whole.

lurie

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading I Am China by Xiaolu Guo.

Is there anything you are looking forward to the publication of?
If Fleur Jaeggy were to write another novel to be translated to English I would be very happy.

Any upcoming book projects in the works that you can tell us about?
I am scribbling down things and have no idea where they will lead. Most likely a novel as I am not adept at short stories. I would love to write something funny.

January 7, 2015 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

Meet the Staff at 112th: Devon Dunn

Now that you have met some of the wonderful people who work at Book Culture on Columbus, we are ready to introduce the staff at Book Culture’s 112th store! There are quite a few of us, so look forward to many more posts, reading recommendations, and exclusive insights into the workings of an independent bookstore.

Devon Bio

What is your role as a Manager for Book Culture?
In addition to all the usual managerial duties, I’m also responsible for stocking and curating our sidelines, cards, and other non-book products you see at 112th. As a buyer, I try to find fun and interesting products that fit with Book Culture’s aesthetic that I feel will appeal to our customers. It’s a great experience–especially when I can connect with other independent/local companies to bring unique stuff to Book Culture.

How did you come to join the Book Culture family? 
I moved to New York last March after several years in Boston where I worked as a manager and assistant buyer for a locally-owned retailer. When I interviewed with Book Culture, it seemed like an instant perfect fit: independent store, wonderful book selection, and one of the managers at the time even grew up in my hometown!

What are your areas of expertise?
I studied Russian Literature and Translation in college, so I have a lot of Slavic authors who are favorites of mine, and I’m always happy to debate the merits of different translations (for anything, not just Russian-language stuff). Other than that, I’ve been really into reading more female authors, as well as books about Nature, Environment, Urban Foraging, and Cookbooks.

What are you currently reading?
Elena Ferrante! I picked up My Brilliant Friend because I’d heard so much about it, and now I’m eagerly devouring everything she’s written. If you’ve been debating whether or not to read her stuff, do it!

What’s your favorite part of working for a bookstore?
Hands down it’s getting to work with people and products I enjoy. In the age of Amazon, if you’re in a book store, it’s by choice–because you like the atmosphere and comradery that these spaces offer. It’s great to know that I have something in common with pretty much everyone who walks in the door.

January 7, 2015 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

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Book Culture is an independent community bookstore with two locations in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City on 112th street and 114th street and Broadway. Visit us online at www.bookculture.com

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