Saturday, July 10, 2010

He loves us (yea, yea, yea!)

One of the first customers at Green Apple this morning was Paul McCartney's production manager, in town for Mr. Sir's concert tonight at AT&T Park.

To hear him tell it, "Paul loves your store - he said I had to come by and check it out." Apparently, the biggest Beatle shops at Green Apple every time he comes through San Francisco! Maybe we'll see him today after his sound check?

By the way, we no longer have that signed first edition of Eclipse in the rare book case - it's on its way across the pond to someone's wife...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tune In, etc. . .

Well, it's a cold and foggy day in the Richmond District, so it must be summer in the City. And if you're the kind of reader that can turn pages while wearing mittens, I suggest that not only do you keep reading this post, but that you dust off your hi-fi and tune it to KALW next Wednesday the 14th at 11:00AM, when I'll be a guest on 'Your Call.'

That's right, I'll be taking my dulcet tones on the road (and hoping that KFOG doesn't get too jealous) to help folks find just the right book(s) to read this summer. I've got a healthy stack already, but if anyone has a suggestion that I should pass along over the airwaves, please leave a comment below.

Here then are the details: Wed. July 14th on KALW 91.7fm ((or KUSP 88.9fm in Santa Cruz) or streaming here) from 11:00am - 12:00pm. And yes, I'll be taking toll-free calls: 866-897-TALK. But please be nice...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Why should anyone steal a watch when he could steal a bicycle?" - Flann O'Brien

I've never stolen a watch or a bicycle, nor - knockonwood - have I had either stolen from me, but Flann O'Brien is the perfect man to introduce a new display shelf on our (previously referred to) landing, in praise of bicycles.

It's easy to overlook the ubiquity of the bicycle in the Bay Area, or to take for granted our generally bike-friendly city, but having spent a year in central Illinois, where, upon taking my bike out for its inaugural ride through the corn fields, I was shouted at from a car: "Haven't you heard of a sidewalk?" I can assure you that I am more than happy to be biking in a city with bike lanes, fellow riders, and drivers who are (sometimes) aware. All the more so because that question hurled from a minivan came on a road that didn't even have a sidewalk to ride on, if I were so inclined.

While our modest selection of bicycling books doesn't claim to be comprehensive, we're happy to be able to recommend to readers and bikers some titles that speak to the joy of pedaling:

I read Tim Krabbe's The Rider in one breathless sitting and have since found myself obnoxiously recommending it to anyone interested in road bike racing or excellent journalism. I've never had much ambition or desire to be a racer, but Krabbe, a former chess-player-turned-rider, recounts a grueling 150km race through the Cevennes mountain range so convincingly, with such obvious passion, that I found myself tempted to start practicing climbs on my own.

Flann O'Brien's Third Policeman is, in addition to being a fundamental text in the television series Lost, an incomparable masterpiece of Irish literature, madcap and surreal, full of absurdity and the source of such delightful passages as this:

The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles...when a man lets things go so far that he is more than half a bicycle, you will not see him so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at kerbstones.
Then there's Pedaling Revolution, Clark's staff pick. I can't do justice to the glory of Clark's shelf-talker and its addendum, so I'll invite you to come into the store to see it for yourself.

Rounding out the display is the ever-useful SF Biking and Walking map, with its sweat-saving routes; the Moon Bay Area Biking guide, a great resource for planning short or long rides; and David Herlihy's lavishly illustrated history, Bicycle. Herlihy is also the author of one of our current bestsellers, The Lost Cyclist, a gripping account of the search for a cyclist who attempted an around the world ride in the late 19th century.

And, of course, everyone's favorite cheese-loving rodent, Anatole, whose primary means of locomotion is, naturally, the bicycle.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

BUSTED BANK just compiled a list worth taking a glance at- The Forbes Fictional Fifteen. Though I've just become privy to the knowledge of the list's existence recently, it is apparently one that Forbes compiles annually. It features the fifteen most wealthy fictional characters that they could come up with, though this year is especially exciting with six new additions to the previous, as if the economic crisis and slow climb back to stasis had perhaps hit the world of the imaginary as well. Hmmm.

It's funny trivia, the back accounts of the unreal. Bruce Wayne is wealthier than Jay Gatsby, though not NEARLY as loaded as Scrooge McDuck, but you know who's richer than all of 'em? Who else but Carlisle Cullen, a vampire in the bestselling Twilight series? Makes sense I guess. I mean, vampires live for however long they want and have time to amass fortunes beyond fortunes. More importantly I'm sure though, is that the character was penned by Stephanie Meyer, one author that certainly has a taste for the grandiose. I mean, one of her novels has a vampire giving a cesarean to girl who's pregnant with a super-strong psychic baby! Why shouldn't the Howard Hughes of the undead be rolling around somewhere between the pages?

Okay, anyway, check out this list. It's a laff.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Walk a mile in the shoes of another

Says Martin, a fine Green Apple bookseller:

One of the great joys of working at Green Apple lies is the fact that the store has been in the same location since its opening. As it has grown , it has absorbed other rooms in the building, taking on a second floor and an annex as the need arose. This organic growth gives the store its wonderful back rooms and stairs, nooks and crannies—but it also means that some great sections can be slightly hidden and easy to miss.

One such section is “Belles Lettres," which contains essays and memoirs, and is tucked in the upper southeast corner of the store, near the end of the reference section. Thus it does not get much in the way of casual browsing. However, there are some great books in this section, including some lesser-known titles by favorites such as George Orwell, Flannery O'Connor, and Chuck Klosterman.

Recently I have been reading a fair amount of memoir. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, an account of her year spent in prison, is one of the best memoirs I've read in a long time. It is an incredibly honest book, as Kerman, who admitted her guilt after being arrested, comes to terms with her (indirect) complicity in the drug trade. Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley and The Mercy Papers by Robin Romm both deal with the loss of a parent (in Buckley's case, both parents within the span of a year). Funny In Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas is an old favorite of mine, dealing with growing up in the US as a child of Iranian immigrants. This is a fun book (I’ve heard that Jimmy Carter is a fan of this one as well).

So the next time you have some browsing time in Green Apple, spend some time in some of the less traveled sections. There are treasures waiting to be found.
(photo by Robin Allen)