Saturday, June 20, 2009

Six Things You Didn't Know About Green Apple Books

I was trying to put together one of those famous Facebook lists of 25 things you didn't know about etc., but I could only think of 6. Leaves room for a sequel. So here are six things you (most likely) didn't know about Green Apple:

1) The notorious Jim Jones was once kicked out of the store for acting like a bigshot.

2) The building where our main store is located used to have a third floor, but it was removed after the 1906 earthquake.

3) Used book buyers have found guns, money, naked photos, live scorpions, and plenty of other oddities in boxes of books that customers have brought in for sale.

4) Margaret Cho worked here, once upon a time.

5) A scene from the Julia Roberts movie Dying Young was shot in front of the store, with Julia walking in and out of the Chinese apothacary shop next door. Margaret Cho tried relentlessly to get into the background of the shot, but I don't know if she can be seen in the final cut.

6) Occasionally we tidy up the store a bit, and have even been known to use a broom and/or a vacuum cleaner.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Board Games

In addition to the plentiful book (and music...and movie) selection at Green Apple, we also have quite an array of board games and puzzles. Here are four board games which I think you might enjoy!

Munchkin is a card game which harps pretty hard on roleplaying games. All you've gotta do is kill monsters and grab magic items! This is a fast-playing, silly game which will have all participants laughing in no time (utlize this laughter by stealing their stuff while they're giggling). For 3-6 players, $24.95

For all of the cat lovers out there, comes The Crazy Cat Lady Game! The goal: to collect the most cats when the first Crazy Cat Lady returns home after running her daily errands. On her journey she might visit the Pet Store, do some grocery shopping or visit the Animal Shelter, but no matter where she goes, she's always looking for more cats! For up to four players, $19.95

Pentago is one of my recent discoveries and upon it's arrival in my life, one of my favorite games. It's a fast and fun strategy game which is simple, yet sophisticated. The goal of the game is to create a row of five marbles in any direction, but the mind twsting part is that you will also twist one of the four game blocks as part of your move. This creates a constantly changing game. For two players, $27.95

The Last Night on Earth is not for the faint of heart. It's a fast-paced game of brain-eating Zombies, small town Heroes and horror movie action. Players take on the role of either the Heroes, working together to make it through the night; or the Zombies, unending waves of undead spreading over the town like a plague. Featuring a modular board and multiple different scenarios that drastically change the course of the game, Last Night on Earth is designed to create a cinematic feel as the story and game unfold. So put down that popcorn, grab your shotgun, and hide your brain...The Zombies are coming and this could be your Last Night on Earth! For 2-6 players, $49.95

Love to say "I told you so!"

No neener-neener-neener here - I'm just thrilled that one of my favorite books from last year has found new legs this month with both a paperback release, and an exciting honor that has only been bestowed upon four other titles ever, San Francisco's 'One City One Book'. Of course the book I'm referring to is the fantastical romp, Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst. I enjoyed this so much that I chose it to be a 2008 Green Apple Book of the Month, and also loudly touted it during my regular book review segment of the KFOG Morning Show. In a nutshell, it's the story of a rookie cop in Colma who (with the aid of the ghosts of San Francisco's past) helps a famous film director steer his wayward son on the right path. It's like Office Space done by Dashiell Hammett, with a quirky love story thrown in for good measure...

Our friends at the San Francisco Public Library select a single title for their One City One Book program, which (in their words) is ". . .an annual citywide literary event that encourages members of the San Francisco community to read the same book at the same time and then discuss it in book groups and at events throughout the City." Sounds like a wonderful idea, especially when you can chat your love for this one on Facebook, as well as live and in person.

Congratulations to Doug Dorst and his perfect summer read, Alive in Necropolis. Have you read it? What did you think? Got any other suggestions for the One City One Book program? Throw down your comments wonderful readers, and be the next one who gets to say "I told you so!".

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Farm City: bees & chickens & goats. . . Oh my!

Here’s the story of the woman who convinced me to raise chickens in the Sunset (like three-year-old twins isn’t hard enough). Actually, Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter is much more than that. It’s a great book: inspirational, bold, funny, sometimes outrageous.

I should back up. Novella Carpenter moved to an, um, “very affordable” part of Oakland from Seattle a few years ago. Next to her apartment was a vacant lot. She planted a few plants, then got some bees, then chickens and turkeys and rabbits, pigs, goats. Oh my. Now she’s a bone fide urban farmer, not some backyard enthusiast.

She has hippie roots: her parents were back-to-the-landers in Idaho. And she’s more willing than I am to let livestock into her home. So slaughtering her first “game bird” wasn’t quite as harrowing as it might be for many city-slickers, but it was tough (as was the meat—she still had much to learn).

The book traces her journey and that of the vacant lot as Novella learns the ins and outs of farming in Oakland, from dumpster diving for scraps to feed the animals to “harvesting” her own rabbits, from loading horse manure into a borrowed truck to buying baby pigs at auction.

As I said, it’s inspirational. My wife and I had been toying with the idea of raising a few laying hens in our Sunset backyard, and Novella’s experiments inspired us to pull the trigger and go for it. (The verdict is still out for us; we’re in between cute fuzzy chicks and having eggs, so it’s a waiting game.)

Novella goes way further than most people can or want to, of course. What is she thinking raising pigs in Oakland? But at a publicity party for the book’s launch, I got to try some salumi made from her pigs, and while I didn’t exactly taste the Oakland terroir, it was darn yummy, and I much enjoyed reading about her learning processes.

This book has a rich cast, populated by other lively Oakland characters, Novella’s (amazingly patient) boyfriend, and her livestock. Her voice is no-nonsense and earnest and self-effacing. Overall, this book is a great read for anyone at all interested in food.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer Reading

Kevin H. pointed out one of the benefits of being involved in bookselling in his last post, and while being inundated daily with the best new releases can be exciting, it can also be exhausting trying to play catch-up.

No matter how many highly-touted debut story collections you read, or how many hefty histories you plough through, there's alway something else greedily demanding your attention. (Ahem.) The book reviews and blogs, customer requests and co-workers' recommendations, and a full shelf of advanced reading copies in our breakroom all add up to an almost feverish pitch - I've got to keep up! The bedside stack soon topples over under the deluge of the latest "must-reads," so that last week's must reads are quickly forgotten. Appropriate, I suppose, for our age of short attentions.

When I take a moment to collect myself, I realize that there's no need to rush. Books, despite the sometimes hysterical rhetoric about their imminent demise, will be around for a while yet. (Hopefully, I will as well.) Indeed, patience often provides its own pleasures. With this in mind, I have decided to dedicate my summer reading to classics that I have overlooked, have been meaning to get around to, or that are too intimidating. Or, hell, that are just too big.

First up, Sentimental Education, which I bought while in an excited state after reading Madame Bovary and yet have let collect dust on my shelves for almost 10 years now. (Madame Bovary is, of course, a must. For those with a taste for the bizarre and erudite, The Temptation of Saint Anthony is a marvel - and completely unexpected. If you are really into Flaubert, I recommend his Egyptian journals, which reveal among other things his distinctly 19th century fondness for prostitutes.)

Maybe Flaubert's "lesser" works are no longer fashionable, but 150 pages has convinced me of the psychological acuity of his depiction of the follies and joys of youth (often one in the same thing). Without giving anything away, the story follows the fortunes of Frederic Moreau, whose passion for an older married woman, the lovely Madame Arnoux, provides the hook upon which Flaubert hangs an at times tender and pessimistic satire of his culture, which feels surprisingly modern.


Now, care to share your summer reading?