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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

Salt: A World HistoryReading this book cemented two things in my mind:

1) The public school system failed me when it comes to geography,

and

2) The French steal.

Wait. Hold on. It’s not fair to make blanket statements like that. I guess I failed myself with respect to geography. There, I feel better.

I expected to learn interesting facts about the history of salt from this book and that is exactly what I got. But it was a little heavy-handed. I mean, I was with Kurlansky when he talked about how salt has historically been an important commodity because of how much revenue it could produce when taxed. Think about it: is there really any meal that you eat that doesn’t contain salt? Do you have a salt shaker sitting on some surface in your home in relative proximity to eatables? You betcha! So when ancient Chinese emperors decided to tax salt as a way to finance their army, they were on to something. And when various rebellions and coups caused emperors to come to power who didn’t tax salt, it took them very few years to realize that taxing salt = force needed to stay in power. So salt = power. Follow Kurlansky? I did!

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Posted by on July 10, 2011 in Book Reviews, History / Politics

 

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Five Minutes with James Klise

James Klise

James Klise

James Klise is a high school librarian in Chicago who published his first book, Love Drugged, last September.  Not only did he launch his book at one of our most successful store events (back in the olden days, kids, when you could touch books in a store before buying them), he was also a regular customer, stocking his school’s library from our shelves.  We were lucky enough to catch up with him at Printers Row Lit Fest last month, and he agreed to answer some questions for our blog.  If you haven’t checked out our review of Love Drugged yet, you can find it here.

[Booksellers Without Borders]: Why should anybody buy your book?

[James Klise]: LOL at this question. Why should anyone pick up my funny, suspenseful, thoughtful, provocative, award-winning novel?

I’ll give you a serious answer. Please buy my book so you can donate it to a local high school library. It’s rare to find a selection of teen novels with gay characters in bookstores, and so we rely on libraries to get them into the hands of readers. But most school libraries are strapped for cash. Speaking as a school librarian, I can tell you that donations of brand-new YA books are always welcome. Many high school teachers have classroom libraries, so these, too, may be a great place to donate your gently used books when you are finished enjoying them.

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Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel

Shiver Me LettersIf you need a fabulous Alphabet book  — this is it!  It is fun to read, well-paced and brilliant. It should be in every kindergarten classroom and is a perfect gift for any 3-6 year old.

“R,” roared the captain. “R’s not enough. We need other letters to help make us tough. “Let’s sail far away to find ABC’s. Bring me back D’s, E’s, F’s, and some G’s.” “R,” cried the crew. “R, we agree! Let’s look for an A and a B and a C!”

And so the adventure begins. Each capital letter is cleverly found and the text is in brilliant rhyme.  I highly recommend this book.    *****

 

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The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore

The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell MooreI love babies. Seriously. I think my biological clock started ticking when I was three. It doesn’t matter if it is one I know or don’t: If I see a baby, I want to kiss, hug, and take care of it. I have no qualms with changing poopy diapers, being spit-up on, or dealing with the ridiculous whims of a sleepy-yet-fighting-sleep infant. So when I tell you that The Arrivals had me reconsidering my love of children, you can imagine the kind of problems the parents have to deal with because of their children. Excuse me, their adult children.

Lemme ‘splain:

William and Ginny = empty nest-ers but minus the sadness and the lack of things to do/feelings of  uselessness. William spends most of his time taking care of a beautiful garden, watching baseball games, and sneaking out for the occasional ice cream sundae. Ginny is part of a book club and enjoys the peace (not silence) that cocoons her home since her children left. That’s not to say that William and Ginny don’t miss their children. Just that they are happy with where life has taken them.

Enter chaos. On various dates at the beginning of Summer, Lillian (with her own two children), Stephen (with his totally workaholic and preggo wife), and Rachel swarm home all looking for the same thing from their parents: to be taken care of and coddled while also being made to feel like accomplished, independent adults. Hu-wah?! Is that even possible? No, people. And when you ask for the impossible with haughty entitlement, you are on a one-way plane to Sleaz-ville, party of YOU.

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