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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stuart Sutcliffe/The Lost and 5th Beatle's Artbook

The above book is something I am very excited about, and I don't see it at other stores, except for us of course!

"Stuart Sutcliffe: A Retrospective" is a catalogue out of the Victoria Gallery & Museum in Liverpool, England. Sutcliffe, if by a chance you are not part of the Planet The Beatles, was sometime called the Fifth Beatle. He was a close friend of John Lennon's and actually was the first bass player for the Beatles.

Sutcliffe had that beautiful James Dean mystique. Incredibly handsome and moody, he was a really good painter. He died super young and serves as a shadow in Beatles lore and history. Down below are some images of Sutcliffe and his work:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

At Last! Criterion DVD's at Book Soup

Book Soup is now carrying the entire line of Criterion DVD’s. Yes, as you shop for your favorite book you can now purchase film masterpieces by one of the most respected DVD companies in the world. It’s a beautiful marriage between the book and the classy cinema.

And you can mix and match for instance you can purchase any of these DVD’s by Jean-Luc Godard and our various books on Godard,

"Forever Godard" Edited by Michael Temple

"Band of Outsiders" by Jean-Luc Godard

"Masculin Feminin" by Jean-Luc Godard

Or Godard's masterpiece with Brigitte Bardot, "Contempt" matched with Alberto Moravia's insanely genius novel "Contempt."

Or how about an evening of Marquis de Sade with Pasolini's masterpiece "Salo" and after you can read the original source for the film, "120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings."

Or how about the classic film "Rashomon" by Kurosawa with the original and magnificent book by Akutagawa. How many stores can be told?

Or for your existential moody types we have Robert Bresson's severe yet beautiful "Mouchette" and the novel of the same name by Georges Bernanos

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If you ever need non-union actors for your commercial...

Books + Innuendo is back!

Hello all. We know you were beginning to doubt that the illustrious archives of Books + Innuendo would ever all see the light of day. We are working hard on it. And so, here is another episode. It is a mystery- it was recorded many moons ago, so many that this author (in fact one of the hosts) has no memory of what we talked about, only that we had better title recall this time than we did on the first show.

Eventually we'll have them all out and the episodes will be timely and recorded within a week of posting, just like the author podcast is.

It will be a beautiful day. Tell us how you love the show and the day might come a little faster.

Click the magic orange square to subscribe, if you aren't already a stark raving fan who signed up months ago.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Heather Armstrong on It Sucked and Then I Cried.

Thanks so much to Heather Armstrong for being such a fun author and for drawing such a huge crowd to her signing of It Sucked and Then I Cried the beginning of this month.

Heather was kind enough to take a little time out before her signing and chat with me. We had a special visitor with us... General Manager Charles' dog Maggie fell in love with Heather and had to be in on the interview, but she had an itch she had to scratch a few times-- see if you can spot her. Click the magical orange square below to sign up and listen. We are also on iTunes as the Book Soup Podcast if you prefer to subscribe that way.


The Enchanted April: My annual reading delight.

In the early 1920s, Elizabeth von Arnim set herself a challenge: to write a book that was a universally happy story without being simple or insipid. Having recently ended an affair and, several years before, a marriage, she needed a story that would boost her spirits and hopefully do the same for those who read it.

The result shows that art is sometimes the best thing that comes out of difficulty. So many of us are swamped with difficulty and uncertainty during the current economic state, that it feels more appropriate than ever to turn to this delight of a story.

Who doesn't want to hear Lottie as she transforms from a shriveled and scared creature to a beacon of hope?

"If you wish for something hard enough, it happens," she says. And now, more than ever before, we want to believe her.

We only have one copy of this book in the store. I challenge a reader to come down and snatch it up because I promise that this one will be a read that you want to come back to. I can't think of another book that I read every year. Each time it reminds me to think hopeful thoughts and to be open to the best possible outcome.

This is something that all of us can learn from.

Read it this month. We can order more...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Richard Wagner; Father of Modern Music? Mad man Revolutionary? Grandfather of Nazi thought ? A life of contradictions.

This year the Los Angeles Opera opens the first of the long anticipated Ring OF The Nibelung, Wagner's epic 16 hour masterpiece based on the Norse mythology of gods, swords, dragons, gold, magic rings, giants, dwarfs and man. This four part 'musical drama' opened last month with the first night, Das Rinegold. This month Die Walkure opens. Followed next season by Siefried and Gotterdammerung. In 2010 it will be shown as Wagner had intended it to be, as a festival that goes for four nights.
I have long been a Wagner enthusiast and when I heard that Das Rinegold was premiering I bought tickets and took my good friend Scoobs Von Rothstien who had never attended the opera before. My friend Scoobs is a young baseball fan and, like so many Americans was raised on rock and roll. He had never heard a symphonic orchestra live either but he wanted to see what Wagner's music was all about being of German lineage and having heard his music in movies and the like. He was very excited to go so off we went.
Wagner's musical dramas vary from your usual Italian or French fair, it is what Wagner described as a 'total work of art' (Gasamtkunstwerk). A dramatic experience that pulls together all the theatrical arts into one experience. The Ring is not for the A.T.D. It is approximately 16 hours long, divided by four very long operas. I took Scoobs as my guest to the first opera which is the shortest one of the four. I had no idea as to how he would receive it. Two and a half hours with no intermission, in German, is a big order even for seasoned opera goers let alone someone who has never attended the opera before. If nothing else it requires a strong bladder. But all my opinions were justified when one of the first things he said when we were leaving was '...lets get tickets for the next one'. I guess he liked it and why not? It's a fascinating medium, done in the classical ancient Greek idea of story telling of mythology and social comment. It is a work of art so big on so many levels that it becomes a lifetime study for those so inclined. I cannot count the many books just written on The Ring alone.
But for any Wagnerian however there is a troubling mix of emotions in this composers profile. Some years back a friend and I were at dinner and the conversation, after a couple of bottles of wine, came about who, of all the great artistic figures in history, who would we invite for dinner? Oscar Wilde for sure, Gertrude Stein, oh yes! Mozart sounded like fun, as Ringo Starr too and perhaps Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain. Great company! But Wagner? Not at my Table!
When one is as dedicated to the musical dramas of Wagner one must be very careful to separate the politics of the man and his art. But there are so many contradictions to this idea that it is hard to feel that anyone really can pidgin hole Richard Wagner correctly.
Whether one is a Wagnerian or not, it cannot be denied that he was a vehement antisemitic. In his early years he published a pamphlet call 'Judiasm in music' where he ranted on about the pollution of Jewish culture in the music world of Europe in the 1840's.
Now anyone who knows about classical music cannot deny that Wagner was one of the greatest composers of the nineteenth century, leading the way for later composers into the twentieth century. Heavies like Mahler, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Richard Strauss where all influenced by Wagner. Some will go as far as to claim him 'the father of modern music.' Yes I know that it is a long shot from Tristan and Isolde to AC/DC but somehow we can understand the progression (however hard that may be)
But what about the man who claimed that one day Europe would purge with fire the decadent Jewish infiltration into European culture, and what of one of his biggest fans 50 years after the composers death actually attempting to fulfill Wagner's ideas? And it certainly was taken literally about purging by scorched earth, how frightening, how demonic! How would Wagner have received Hitler anyhow? It is kind of hard to realize all this dreadful legacy as well as powerful and massive music carried out from a man who barely stood five foot two in height.
And what of the fact that when Wagner first produced his Ring of The Nibelung at Bayreuth he choose Hermann Lievy to conduct it? Hermann Lievy was a Jew! Why would, if he thought so strongly about Jews in music would he choose a Jew to premier his Ring? Of course Hermann Lievy was probably one of the greatest conductors of his age. But what about all this Jews in Music stuff?
This also from a composer who was greatly influenced and taken under the wings in his younger years by Felix Mendelssohn who was also a Jew and, of course, a great composer as well - To be continued.
Book Soup has an array of biography's and other books on Wagner and the Ring as well as other classical composers. There are also books on Jazz, Rock and Country in it's very extensive music section. If you cannot find a book, our staff will gladly special order it for you.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to... "

Fashion! Okay, okay "... thoughts of love," so wrote Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1842. But fashion should not be too far behind why?

Who among us does not remember an outfit or The outfit the man in our life wore on the first date, first meeting or one that impressed us the most? I do.

It was nothing fancy, see it does not have to be fancy. He walked into the restaurant where I was meeting him and a friend. And my heart skipped a beat. He wore an aqua blue short sleeved polo shirt and jeans. The color of the shirt set off his almond-café con leche skin to the point of drinkability. The polo shirt was fitted just so, the short cuffs hit his shapely arms at the right spot where is Aztec tattoo peeked out - his muscles looked so yummy and his pecks, well...you get what I am saying. I am not going to get into the jeans just now, it would be too much. So yeah, in the spring a well dressed man turns a young girls fancy to...him. If he makes a little effort on what he dons.

Modern Menswear by Hywel Davies is a good place to get some ideas or just enjoy sartorial stylings of lovely men.

So you may not wear the oversized-doted number the gentleman in wearing on the cover but do not let that throw you.

Featuring everything from the American in Paris Rick Owens to avant-garde designers you may have never heard of, okay so you may not have heard of Rick Owens either, but...did I mention you need to get this book?

Menswear is often overlooked Fashion Week's media focus is on womenswear but innovations, boundry-breaking styles are occuring in fashion in menswear as we speak. It will shape the way men and women dress in the future, this book is a wonderful introduction to where these designers creativity may lead us in the future.

In addition to finished looks the book also discusses the creative process and trends (not always a bad word) in color, texture and the like. There are classic timeless styles and more innovative contemporary works, Modern.
The book is now available in paperback with a new cover (not sure why) maybe the publishers think this guys looks like President Barack Obama?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Much belated Interview with Allison Bechtel

I interviewed the amazing writer and graphic novelist Allison Bechtel before the holidays when her compilation Essential Dykes to Watch Out For came out. We are sold out of signed copies, but the book is still fantastic. You should buy it.

And as for the timing, better late than never, yes? Click the fun orange square to subscribe and get started with fabu author interviews, coming at you as often as we can make it happen. Starting now.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Haruki Murakami

Two years ago, Haruki Murakami called out to me from every corner of New York City. I spent a lot of time wandering Manhattan and Brooklyn picking up used books from guys who set up tables selling their entire libraries. Treasures and trash. Forlorn novels tossed out of tenement windows, pages yellowed and fused. I lugged my growing backpack of books into subways and bars and cafes. Everywhere I went strangers came up to me and whispered Murakami. Then they vanished.

Eventually I took the hint. I picked up a copy of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, payed full price and everything. I walked and read. Strange things happen to you when you read Murakami. You find that you're in Tokyo. You find that you are routed in the real world of skyscrapers and trains. You look for your missing cat. You drink beer. You meet a lot of strangers who seem to understand you better than you do yourself. You shrug it off and delve into japanese history, take longer walks. Cats begin to speak. Your sex-life gets very, very interesting. The stories in the news directly effect you. Violence knocks at your door. Mysteries grab your arms and pull. Ghosts appear. Eventually you come to grips with the fact that the place you are in can by no standard definition be called reality.

The way I got into Murakami was something perhaps only Murakami would write. I'm very glad I got into his world. It is stunning, shocking, lovely and haunting.

I recommend Kafka on the Shore for starters, though, you really can't go wrong.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Business Books to read now: Napoleon Hill

Many of us have seen Napoleon Hill's classic, Think and Grow Rich, sitting on shelves in bookstores when we browse the business section. (For those of us who do browse that section--- I am a big fan, but many people never get outside fiction for browsing so for those of you, bear with me).

It is a quaint title, and the fact that it is closing in on a century since it was published brings up concerns that it might not apply to today's reader. I have been making my way through the book and am amazed at how well it speaks to the economic period of transition that we are currently experiencing. The language that is out of date is that which refers to cultural attitudes of the time. However, once we set aside the more backward social conventions, it is clear to see that Hill's close connection to Carnegie and other extremely successful businesspeople of that time can be a source of inspiration and guidance today.

The aha that came for me while reading this is that many of the current positive thinking gurus who are promoting practices and get-rich schemes along the lines of the secret have clearly been reading Hill and translating it to a contemporary audience. It is interesting to go back and read the original source, as it feels like some of what he was trying to communicate has been lost in the translation.

Enjoy! If you have thoughts or experiences with this book, please feel free to share below. Any thoughts on other Napoleon Hill titles, such as The Law of Success, are especially welcome.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sympathy for the Devil

I just finished reading a book and was more than a little creeped out by what I previously would have believed to be misplaced compassion. That's one hallmark of a good writer, building a bridge between the reader and the character. Despite how despicable that person may be. So here's my list of a few books that have inspired me to be at one with some "bad" people.

Columbine by Dave Cullen
The Columbine shootings were horrifically appalling and unforgivable, that should go without saying. This book impartially reports the events leading up to the massacre, as well as the fall out. The two perpetrators, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, come off more differently than I initially would have expected, the first, psychopath, the latter, an unbelievably depressed kid. My final impression was to wonder what could have been, and to lift some of my own judgment from the parents, who I previously would have held to blame.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The other week I declared that I could boil the essence of War and Peace down into four sentences. While I haven't gotten around to doing that, I will sum up another tome of Russian literature into half that amount:

A bright kid decides to kill someone to prove to himself that he is indeed a superior being by committing the perfect murder, which only proves he, surprise!, is not actually that clever. Then he starts to feel bad about what he's done, kind of.

The several hundred page version is way more fun to read than my summation. And a little, you know, deeper.

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
When forced to pick a favorite novel, this is my default choice. I don't believe in favorites, but this is Vonnegut at his best: smart, funny, sad, and concise all at once. No sentences that go on for days. The main character, Howard W. Campbell, Jr. is a Nazi. Maybe. In any case, he's going to be hanged as one. But wait, he was an American spy. Who did he help more, the Germans or the Americans? Where did his loyalty lay? Love, identity, nationality, racism, truth, anything that means anything, it's all in here. Now that I think about it, it might just really be my favorite novel after all.

Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy
Culla impregnates his sister (forcibly?), won't let her leave the house, and then kills their baby. He's pretty hate-able until some horsemen start hunting him. And then for whatever reason, I kind of didn't want him to die an agonizing death.

Paradise Lost by John Milton
And here it comes, sympathy for the devil. The beginning is so good, you kind of wish the last two-thirds-ish were rewritten with Lucifer finally sticking it to that jerk, God (please don't send me religious hate mail). In all seriousness, Satan is way more fleshed out, interesting, and human than Adam and Eve who read like God's dull, little muppets.

A good bad character can really haunt you. They seem so much like us, and we can even see their sins as necessity in their situation. We've all had our share of transgressions, and that ability for evils, no matter how small, can burden us with lasting guilt. Even after confessions, apologies, or forgiveness, the guilt doesn't go away because we wonder what worse we might do, if we felt we had to.

Looking for a new craft? Try Kyuuto! Wooly Embroidery!

This week's craft book is a luscious treat from Chronicle Books: Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts: Wooly Embroidery. Many of us craftsters have tried the usual needlework arts already: cross stitch, needlepoint, and basic embroidery. If you are feeling a little blah with your needle and colored thread, this book will take you to the next level.

The range of projects also makes for innovative application of familiar skills. Ever think of cross-stitching on a stole? I didn't either. Other fun options include adding a lame stitch inside a traditional back-looped embroidery to add a little sparkle.

I mean, how cute is this?

Get your tookus out of the chair and pick up a new crafty treat. I dare you.