Saturday, January 9, 2010

Thanks, Book Angels

Every December we set up a little Christmas tree at the front of the store and hang little paper angels upon it and solicit donations from our customers. For the last several holiday seasons, the recipient of this largess has been BookPALs. BookPALs is run by members of the Screen Actors Guild, and they undertake projects to promote literacy. The local chapter does regular readings in schools and family homeless shelters in San Francisco. The books our customers purchase to donate all go to kids in these shelters. We at Green Apple give all of the money collected (not just the profits, mind you) in trade for the volunteers to pick out even more books.
Well, Green Apple customers came through again this year, with over 70 books and more than $300 in trade for the BookPALs. Customers often say that it is nice of Green Apple to do this, but seriously, it's our customers who do the heavy lifting. We just make it easy. So a big thank you to all of you book angels, and if you're interested in reading at a shelter, the contact information is on the BookPALs webpage.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Green Apple Books and Music (and MAGAZINES)

Green Apple is known far and wide for our wonderful selection of new and used books; at this point, that much seems to (thankfully) be a given. You've heard from us lately about our musical CDs (and the fact that they have been on sale) as well as DVDs (of which ~500 are currently on sale at 50% off!), but I'm wondering how many of you know that we also stock well over 1000 titles in our magazine section. Now that's a lot of mags!

Fresh out this week is an amazing issue of my favorite food mag, Saveur. This is sure to be an invaluable addition to any home chef's library, as the editors have put the readers on task for their annual Saveur 100 issue. From the introduction: We asked for your ideas, your inspirations, your favorite food finds. And you answered, from every corner of the world, on every imaginable culinary subject, from family recipes to treasured cookbooks to time-honored tips. The result is a saveur 100 unlike any other. Thanks to you, this year’s roundup is richer, tastier—and bigger—than ever. No dixie-whistle here, as this issue certainly rocks!

At only $5.00, this is a bargain, if just for the spread on a dozen interpretations of the Bloody Mary. My favorite, The Heirloom Bloody Mary is illustrated above, but the receipe can be found here! And there are 99 more things to be thankful for in this perfect periodical...

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I was doing a bit of maintenance in the graphic novel section the other day when I stumbled across not one but four wayward used copies of Dan Clowes' ICE HAVEN, which just so happens to be a particular favorite of mine. If you missed this gem back when it came out, now is the time to drop by and pick it up on the cheap from Green Apple.

Coincidentally Blog Flume posted THIS article about the ICE HAVEN just a few weeks ago, punched up with a few pictures to help illustrate the points that the original reviewer was making. Pretty cool. Check it out if you haven't already, both article and book. Certainly worth the time if you ask me (and you just did).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Presenting our 2009 best-sellers

Always a fun exercise around the new year here: checking out what sold best last year. 77 new books sold over 75 copies each. The #1 item was McSweeney's Panorama. Should we count a literary journal's one-off newspaper as a book? Either way, we sold 273 in a matter of days and probably could have sold 500 or more if we'd had it longer.

The top ten books of 2009 at Green Apple are:
10) The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, a 2006 book about the American food system that's a favorite of many staff members (and customers, clearly)

9) If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland, a 1938 manual for writers that has been on our staff favorites display for a very long time

8) The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, a French novel in translation

7) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, the first in a crime trilogy by the late Swedish author

6) City of Thieves by David Benioff, the paperback edition of our June 2008 Book of the Month

5) The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, the Indian novel that won the 2008 Man Booker Prize

4) Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, a splendid book about a Syrian immigrant in NOLA during and post-Katrina (and we currently have signed copies!)

3) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, the 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by a Dominican-America author

2) Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, my personal favorite book of 2007, a quiet yet powerful novel

1) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, the self-explanatory sensation (which is on hand despite what our site says--I'm working on it).

Come in and start elevating your next favorite book to best-seller status. We have, oh, tens of thousands to choose from.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's the...Book of the Month!

In his introduction to El Monstruo, John Ross starts small and immediate as he describes his room in the crumbling Hotel Isabel where he has lived since the disastrous earthquake in 1985 that left Mexico City leveled in the same way the 1906 left San Francisco.

Ross starts out small but there is nothing small in his history of Mexico City. In fact his tale of the down-and-outs, the prostitutes— those who make up his teeming city— is more of a love affair with a haggard and desolate lover; much like Bolaño’s Chile or Saramago’s Portugal.

This book consumed me. It made me yearn for and recoil from Mexico City all at once. It is the literary and historical heartbeat of a city that always seems on the brink of destruction but somehow lives on.

It is beautiful and heroic tribute to this incredible city.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Palpitations and Secretions

From Wikipedia:

The word critic comes from the Greek κριτικός (kritikós), "able to discern", which in turn derives from the word κριτής (krités), meaning a person who offers reasoned judgment or analysis, value judgment, interpretation, or observation. The term can be used to describe an adherent of a position disagreeing with or opposing the object of criticism.

A review is an evaluation of a publication, such as a movie (a movie review), video game, musical composition (music review of a composition or recording), book (book review); a piece of hardware like a car, home appliance, or computer; or an event or performance, such as a live music concert,a play, musical theater show or dance show. In addition to a critical evaluation, the review's author may assign the work a rating to indicate its relative merit.

Okay, terms defined, assuming everyone's okay with Wikipedia. Let's talk about critical response to literature. Specifically, reviews in the form of a blurb. I've recently been keeping a pretty close eye the blurbs printed on books as I shelve here at Green Apple, often (and sometimes to my chagrin) chuckling over absurdity in them. They are most often laced with awkward metaphors, comparison, and ridiculous alliteration. Sometimes they are totally nonsensical, but other times they go so far as cut down the art of literature itself. A fine example being in a previous entry we had posted, around the time Dan Brown's most recent slab was released. The book was touted as bringing "sexy back to a genre that had been left for dead." If anyone out there read The Lost Symbol, can you maybe explain the what of that statement to me?

A testimony as such kind of blows my mind. They're weird, I don't understand them, and apparently they aren't an all too uncommon tactic in promoting a book either. Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child's Dance of Death has printed on it- "A rare second book in a trilogy that actually improves on the first..." Wait, seriously? A book so compelling that you actually want to finish the story?! I guess it must take two authors. Move over 2666!

In all seriousness though, I'm having trouble understanding this trend. Is there another art form that approves genre-disparaging ad tactics to promote itself? Film? Graphic design? I've certainly never seen an article on a MOMA exhibit proclaiming anything like that. I mean, what if they did? "Not since Goya have we seen such a pulse pounding tour de force!" (yuck). So what gives? If print is supposed to be a dying format, why promote it in such a self defeating way? Wouldn't you want to punch up the idea of interest in the art form itself rather than pushing just one end all be all? Is this promotion at all?

Today I went on a quest to pick out some book titles that feature some real treasures of the terrible blurb world. I'm going to bite my tongue so to speak as far as further commentary goes, but keep in mind the definitions proffered;
reasoned judgment or analysis, value judgment, interpretation, or observation. Enjoy.

New York Times Book Review on Red Dragon

-Kirkus Reviews on Dance of Death

Glamour on The Two Mrs. Grenvilles

Kirkus Reviews on Wild Fire

Etc, etc, etc...