"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, January 26, 2015

Liked the movie? Read the book!

Red carpet hoopla aside, we all know that movies are the real stars of the Oscars. But with so many award-winning book-to-movie adaptations, it can be an exciting night for book lovers too. The fast-approaching 87th annual Academy Awards is no different, with plenty of spectacular movie nominations beginning first as spectacular books (some might even surprise you). This year Wes Anderson’s "The Grand Budapest Hotel," inspired by The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig, leads the nominations (along with "Birdman"), so we’re especially excited to be hosting author Matt Zoller Seitz next month to sign and discuss his companion book to the film, which takes readers behind the scenes of Wes Anderson’s imaginative production. That said, we’ve collected the rest of the Oscar-nominated books below and highly suggest you give them a read.  
  • "Inherent Vice" (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson), based on Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon 

  • "Still Alice" (dir. Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland) based on Still Alice by Lisa Genova 
  • "Gone Girl" (dir. David Fincher), based on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (dir. Peter Jackson), based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Our lives begin to end the day our we become silent about things that matter." 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so you have to ask yourself: What are you doing today to help others? It’s what Dr. King himself believed was life’s most urgent question. And while it’s clear that our world in 2015 is still far from perfect, at Book Soup we recognize that change begins with our daily decisions, interactions, and routines. So what better way to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy than by finding a way to give back to your community? We’ve got some booklover-friendly ideas for those of you in the L.A. area to volunteer your services today and everyday.

1) Donate your old books: Downtown L.A.‘s The Last Bookstore is the largest remaining used bookstore in California and it runs Re-Book It, a free book donation pick-up service with service anywhere in L.A. County (and sometimes elsewhere in Southern California too). No book is ever thrown away and donations help local libraries, charities, hospitals and The Last Bookstore itself. Visit Re-Book It or The Last Bookstore online for more information. 

2) Volunteer for 826LA: 826LA in Echo Park and Mar Vista is a nonprofit organization that provides after school tutoring and writing workshops to help support students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills. There’s need for a lot more than just teachers and tutors too, so to find out exactly what you can do check out their Volunteering 101.

3) Become an adult literacy tutor with Los Angeles Public Library: Not really a “kid person”? No problem. You can share your love of reading with an adult in need through the LAPL's adult literacy program. Note: This community service is available throughout all LAPL branches, so you're not excluded no matter where you live.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Look Ahead at the Books of 2015

2014 was a great year for reading. We were moved by some astonishing debut novels from writers like Catherine Lacey (Nobody is Ever Missing) and Eimear McBride (A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing), plus the film releases of Gone Girl and Inherent Vice allowed us to revisit some literary favorites at the cinema. But whether you’ve made it through the massive to-read pile on your nightstand or not, 2014 has rolled cruelly on. It’s 2015 nowthe Year of the Green Wooden Goat Sheep. Ok, so I don’t know what that means exactly, but still. There’s a whole bunch of great new books to anticipate this year. Listed in no particular order, here are a few of the 2015 releases that I JUST CAN’T WAIT to read (SPOILER ALERT! They are all written by ladies): 

1) Binary Star by Sarah Gerard (Two Dollar Radio) - Two Dollar Radio consistently publishes work that the pushes the boundaries of contemporary fiction, and Sarah Gerard’s new novel sounds no different. It’s a dizzying, devastating roadtrip tale about illness, addiction and modern culture that defies literary classification.

2) The First Bad Man by Miranda July (Scribner) - This is the debut fiction novel from the artist, writer and filmmaker who gave us No One Belongs Here More Than You. I expect it to be both totally weird and wonderful. 

3) Savage Park: A Meditation on Play, Space, and Risk for Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted, and Afraid to Die by Amy Fusselman (Houghton Mifflin) - Fusselman is a seriously underrated contemporary writer. If you like Rebecca Solnit and Cheryl Strayed, then you’ll probably love Amy Fusselman. And you’re in luck because she’s reading at Book Soup next month!

4) The Remains by Annie Freud (Picador) - Inspired by Freud’s visit to an exhibition of Sung Dynasty artworks and also illustrated by the poet herself, The Remains is said to explore what’s left when everything seems broken or lost.  

5) Naked at the Albert Hall: The Inside Story of Singing by Tracey Thorn (Virago) - Don't even get me started. Tracey Thorn is just the coolest and I can listen to her moody lady croons for hours on end. This book is part memoir, part exploration of the art and power of singing (cue “Missing”).

6) After Birth by Elisa Albert (Houghton Mifflin) - Hey, throw around the term “afterbirth” in any form and you’re sure to get my attention. Plus, Lydia Davis has only words of praise for this book, which seems like reason enough to pick it up. 

7) The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (Graywolf) - DISCLAIMER: I already read an ARC version of this, so I know it’s good. For lovers of cult classic Bluets, Maggie Nelson does not disappoint with her latest meditation on queer family-making and “good enough” mothering.

8) In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (Knopf) - Are you there God? It’s me, Adriana. I’m an “adult” now, but I never really got over the horrifying upset of female puberty. Thankfully, Judy Blume is publishing her first book for adults in 15 years and I’m sure it will make us all feel a little less utterly alone, just her like her YA books did once. 

#1 for #2 is a new, semi-regular series that focuses 
on the preferred bathroom reading materials
of Book Soup staffers and customers. 

#1 for #2
episode 1
Book Soup's assistant manager 

What's your go-to book when you're using the little boys' room?


Harold and the Purple Crayon is essentially a story of consequences. Harold draws something with his magical purple crayon that inevitably creates a dilemma that he must overcome. The sensation and ultimate satisfaction when purging [waste] couples nicely with this story. I liken it to going to the Chinese Theater and sitting in the seats that vibrate. One doesn't need the other in order to be facilitated, but combine them and you have a next level experience. 

BONUS QUESTION: What do you know about the First World War (AKA "The Great War" and "WWI") apart from it being partially instigated by the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand?

Let's see, it was the first war to utilize toxic gasses as an agent of death and destruction. It also left Germany's economy in a shambles, leaving the country in a desperate state of dire straits, and making them vulnerable to Hitler's genocidal regime. That and a surprising shortage of working toilets (little known fact).    


That sound indicates the end of round one. Thanks for reading, and be sure to tune in next time, when Zane Morris discusses martial arts and self-control.

Unrelated link: Instructions to make and use a grappling hook!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Book for Every Resolution

Happy New Year, you beautiful bags of friendship!

Here’s hoping you got everything you wanted for whatever holiday you celebrate (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Feast of Sweet Satan, Lebron James’ birthday, etc.), and that you didn’t fall into an open manhole and break your femur. (How does that always happen to you?)

In either case, we’re here for you, amigos… Our new resolution-themed window has everything you need to either a) keep your lucky streak going, or b) get your life back on track while your leg heals:

Hot mama! Look at all those potential resolutions! You’re probably wondering how we came up with them.
Would you believe that we consulted a pool of bespectacled social scientists, dubiously-licensed life coaches, honorary doctors, and weathered ship captains (who seemed taciturn and irascible at first, but proved to have kind, caring hearts buried deep beneath their gruff exteriors and bright yellow rain jackets)? Not buying it? Good instinct. Our graphic designer and assistant manager actually came up with the list while eating spicy tacos and talking about that scene in “Harry and the Hendersons,” where Harry has to go back to the – oh wait – that’s probably a spoiler, huh? (If you want to find out more about the scene, email our assistant manager.)

Okay, where were we? Ah yes – your new Book Soup-approved resolutions... Here they are in all their glory - each bold, each brave, and each linked to a pertinent book that will keep your cat's pajamas as wet as a whistle, or however the expression goes:




 "Get out of here, Harry! GO!"    



Yazoo! If those links don’t get your hemoglobin pumping, I don’t know what will!

Well, what’re you waiting for? Do you really want to redesign your apartment, kill your spouse, and/or start a big ol' revolution, or what? Don’t let these become another batch of passionate resolutions that get discarded by February, like a delicious chocolate-covered Snickers bar that you buy in January and discard by February!

Make sure that this year is different! - Like Henry Ford always said, “Who cares if you fell in a stupid manhole? Dust yourself off, arm yourself to the teeth with books, and build your future with suicidal gumption and butterscotch dreams!”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas for Her

Gentlemen! Look no further than the Book Soup holiday catalog. We've got what you need for your lady who loves to read...

1) Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham - $28.00

 “Lena Dunham” is not a person anymore. In the few years since “she” has skyrocketed to fame, her name has become a discursive lodestar around which a constellation of buzzwords has gathered: Millenials, Feminism, White Privilege, Twentysomethings, Oversharing, $3,000,000 advances, and on and on. What’s often lost in this flurry of passionately glib chatter is the fact that she’s an honest to god artist. And aside from being a bang-up filmmaker with a powerful vision (when is she gonna make her next movie anyway?), she happens to be a warm and generous writer prepared to confront the most embarrassing and endearing aspects of herself in the interest of making you feel, dear Reader, less awkward and alone.

2) Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood - $25.95

Fresh off the triumph of her MaddAddam trilogy, Atwood releases this collection of nine stories. Revolving around themes like lost love and getting older, each of these tales is a gem which could fuel a novel-length book if Atwood had felt so inclined. She kept them short, though, which means we get to enjoy even more of her wonderfully realized characters and settings.

3) Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers and Swells: The Best of Early Vanity Fair edited by Graydon Carter with David Friend - $29.95 

From 1913 through the Jazz Age, Vanity Fair served as a hub of American culture. Featuring essays by legendary writers ranging from Gertrude Stein to Langston Hughes, this celebratory collection shines a spotlight on a pivotal time in American history. It provides fascinating insight, all with a wink and a smile. This book is perfect for Gatsby fans, jazz enthusiasts, and/or prohibitionists.

4) Yes Please by Amy Poehler - $28.99

We want to sit at her table! Who wouldn't want pearls of wisdom from the funniest person in Hollywood? She's part advice counselor, part raconteur, and ALL laughs! It's filled with funny stories from her life, too. Hard to believe this is her first book. We'll say yes, please, to the audio book as well.

5) Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found by John Maloof - $80.00
Finally! An all encompassing collection of the incredibly evocative street photography from the now infamous nanny whose work was stumbled upon posthumously by a Chicago historian. Featuring never-before-seen content from her journals and recordings, and lovingly compiled by Maloof himself, this monograph is not to be missed.

For even more gift ideas, browse our holiday catalog here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

STAFF REVIEW: Why L.A.? Pourquoi Paris?

Why L.A.? Pourquoi Paris? An Artistic Pairing of Two Iconic Cities by Diane Ratican.

Many cities of the world like to claim their artistic dominance over cultures both historic and pop but rarely do they live up to the hype. No one can argue about either Paris or L.A.'s right to cultural influence but Ratican makes the point that the two cities have so much more in common than most people would first consider. With the humorous and colorful assistance of illustrators Eric Giriat and Nick Lu she brings both cities charms to life on the page. This is a must have for any lover of Paris style and Hollywood panache.

Reviewed by Brein
Artist: Nick Lu
Artist: Nick Lu
Artist: Nick Lu


Tell us why you love Los Angeles and/or why you love Paris in the comments section below. We'll choose a name at random on Wednesday, December 17th. The winner will receive a FREE COPY of Why L.A.? Pourquoi Paris? An Artistic Pairing of Two Iconic Cities by Diane Ratican! The winner will need to pick up their book in store. Good Luck!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas for Him

Struggling with what to gift the men in your life this holiday season? We've all been there. Luckily, any one of these selections from the Book Soup holiday catalog might save you the headache of shopping for your boyfriend, brother, or dad. Whether he's a Civil War enthusiast or diehard Sons of Anarchy fan, we've got a book for you!

1. Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk - $25.95

From the author of Fight Club comes a new character, C. Linus Maxwell, with the devilish and enticing nickname, "Climax-Well." Deliciously deviant and sure to be a pageturner. The tag line reads, "A billion husbands are about to be replaced." Need I say more?

2. Easy Street (The Hard Way): A Memoir by Ron Perlman - $26.99

Ron Perlman has had a long and distinguished career in film, but it hasn't been easy! He earned praise in big hit films and TV shows and still suffered through long periods of unemployment. Such is the life of a veteran character actor from the mean streets of NYC. Still, he scored big in Hollywood hits like the Hellboy films & Sons of Anarchy. Perlman does it his way in this fun romp. 

3. Smithsonian Civil War in 3D: The Life and Death of the Soldier by Michael Stephenson & the Smithsonian Institute - $34.95

Move over, Mathew Brady! Take a seat, Alexander Gardner! Pipe down, Timothy H. O’Sullivan! There’s a new way to experience the Civil War and it’s got one dimension on all of you. With the help of this stereoscopic viewer and accompanying paperback, containing excerpts from actual soldiers’ journals along with detailed descriptions of the 3D images, this is as close as you’re gonna get to the horror and the heroism of the Civil War. Immersive, educational, and really quite neat.

4. Here: A Graphic Novel by Richard McGuire - $35.00

The idea of time and space is relative, an invisible accordion of moments. These footnotes hang with temporal gravity, sticky with significance in the mind that assigns it, but remain singular as an experience. Richard McGuire examines this idea in his brilliant graphic novel (expanded from the comic) Here, focusing on a single space while highlighting multiple points and moments in time the invisible accordion is exposed. Here is considered a groundbreaking work whose influence on comics has been echoed for decades.

5. Drunken Cookbook by Milton Crawford - $10.00

We've all been there, drunk and hungry. It's a special time. A time when Taco Bell suddenly sounds like the best idea ever, and the liquor store suddenly feels like a four star restaurant. In other words, a time of bad decisions, decisions you will pay for the next day. Fear not, salvation has arrived and it's called The Drunken Cookbook, and it runs the gamut of delicious recipes to accommodate all of your drunken food desires. As an added bonus, the recipes come with Milton Crawford's hilarious commentary, considering the readers' intoxication level in conjunction with the difficulty level of each dish. Bottoms up!

For more gift ideas, browse our holiday catalog here.

Don't miss author John Safran tonight!

“Those that have been in my vicinity in the last few months know how much I love this book. I leapt for joy when I saw that John had written a book, and literally rushed home to read it in one sitting. John Safran is nothing less than a journalistic god. He is a man with a mission. That mission is to discover the truth behind the weird, the crazy, and the out of the ordinary. He has pushed the “envelope” far past its capacity. I’ve been following his career for quite a while, and this book is nothing led than amazing. His writing is captivating, delicious, and will have you questioning things you never thought you would.  I give this book five star Champion approval, and guarantee that you will be just as happy with it as I am. Read on, my friends.”

– Sarah Anne, Vroman’s Bookstore bookseller