(For those of you who read the e-newsletter today 9/16 I am still writing reviews. I'm rusty! More tomorrow and the weekend!!!)
Kelly bought The Fountain in January 2008 after managing it since 2000 and she has been a professional independent bookseller since 1989.
Kelly is currently serving a third term on the board of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and works regularly with the American Booksellers Association serving on various committees and is a regular speaker at bookseller gatherings on topics ranging from brand building to utilizing the newest technologies for bookstores.
In 2019 she was awarded a scholarship to the Turin Book Festival where she addressed Italian booksellers on the topic of Amazon's effect on the American bookselling market and the potential threats posed by Amazon on international markets in the future.
She loves to talk to folks about books, audiobooks, and the book business, food and bev, business and management theory in general (a real geek about that, actually), cats, overproduced action movies, and life in general. Just ask!!
She's an omnivore of a reader, rarely refusing to at least try reading any category of book. Unfortunately, we also suspect she eats them.
For more on Kelly's history with Fountain and Fountain history in general, see this great article in Richmond Magazine online!
There is nothing I don't love about this book! Tragic and funny in turns...sometimes on the same page. Late 1960's McKinney, Texas: a 10-year-old Clarke's mother dies in mysterious circumstances leaving him and his younger brother motherless with an alcoholic father. While trying to solve the mystery of her death, he is watched over by her ghost who is stranded between this world and who knows what, also confused about how she died. This big-hearted book is a quick read full of loss and redemption, old Hollywood, and the aching powerlessness of childhood as well as a sweet portrayal of its innocence. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough!
"I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both." That is just one of the passages from Flamer that just broke my heart in half. This graphic novel is loosely based on the author's childhood camp experiences of being the target of racism, homophobia, and his own self-loathing. Parts of it are super gross because most 14 year old boys are super gross a lot of the time. (Well, they are.) Aiden Navarro's journey to self-acceptance is raw and realistic and beautifully illustrated by the author.
If Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Confederates in the Attic had a literary love child that somehow managed to be more strange than both of them put together, it would be this book. Natchez, Mississippi is a town almost entirely defined by its contradictions. Rich white families dress up in hoop skirts and Confederate uniforms for balls that celebrate the Old South, yet it is also a town open-minded enough to elect a Black, gay mayor by a 91% margin. Richard Grant has a unique perspective as an Englishman on the bizarre history and continued conflicts and compromises made between its varying factions divided by race, class, and traditions. Nothing is glossed over. No one is romanticized. People are portrayed as multidimensional and the reader is given a front row seat at this claustrophobic, surreal drama of one community's confrontation with the legacy of slavery.
Such a difficult book to describe! Delighted it is in paperback now! A young, transgendered doctor named Ry is falling in love with a mad scientist Victor Stein who is currently leading the world debate around AI and conducting some rather interesting experiments of his own. I go way back with Winterson as a reader: her debut Oranges are Not The Only Fruit is in my top 100 reads of all time and then she lost me for awhile in the past few years when her work became more experimental and less story-driven. It was interesting, but felt cold to me. This is the Winterson I adore: bold, raunchy, brilliant, brainy, and laugh-out-loud funny all in one go. Great for an alternative Halloween read or something to spice up your book club. Just a great, strange and sexy read!
I met this author at a conference in January 2020 and somehow just unearthed the book from a pile in September. I don't read a lot of poetry. I feel like I'm not "smart" enough for it sometimes. Then I find a collection like this and realize maybe I'm just reading the wrong poets. I have read these poems over and over in the past two weeks and am still finding layer upon layer of depth and nuance. Petrosino explores her identity through using formal sonnets to erasure poetry created from the text explanations of her DNA testing results, highlighting only the words from the "What Your Results Mean" that actually mean something to her as a Black American living in the Upper South. She explores what it meant to be a young woman of color in the ivy league univeristy system. Some of the poems that I have been going back to most often are her explorations of her complicated relationship with Monticello, the politics of plantation tourism, and her family connection to the Free Smiths of Louisa County. A must read for anyone looking for a deeper understanding of Virginia history and anyone who may be looking to read poetry for the first time or the first time in a while. Petrosino has produced a collection accessible to the beginner with the deep sophistication of subject matter and form of a contemporary master that can be appreciated by the person who reads poetry regularly as well.
Even with access to her email and social media accounts, the author's investigation into her sister's alleged overdose and death yield heartbreaking truths, but very few confirmable facts. We share her building frustration as the narrative unfolds and the disappearance of troubled musician "Atlantis Black" reveals more and more confusing details: Craigslist ads seeking companions, police reports, frantic and incoherent Facebook posts, images of a woman with a handgun. Her body was found in a Tijuana hotel room, but the body was never positively identified. This is a memoir of two siblings' frightening childhood and what it makes them as adults. It is also very satisfying as a true crime read. The author is also a poet and the writing is spare and haunting and cuts like a knife.
Mieko Kawakami's deep dive into the daily vexations of existence for contemporary Japanese women moved me in a way that no book has for a very long time. The story follows three women (two sisters with a large age difference and one of their pre-teen daughters) , their deceased mother and grandmother, and various female friends and work colleagues. With this broad sample we are able to piece together a grim picture of what it is like to be a woman in Japan today and in the recent past. The writing itself is spare and vibrant with tiny details which put you immediately and intimately in each scene which makes the emotional blows, when they happen, all the more devastating. Just as in real life, you're just minding your own business, going out to eat or whatever (reading a book), and it slaps you in the face with a horrifying revelation, an ugly confrontation, an unwanted intrusion from the past. I had to put the book down after several passages to just absorb the breathtaking moments of clarity for myself and the characters. As each one traverses impossible pains to achieve self-acceptance and some peace, we share in their joy at claiming their futures for themselves. Exceptional reading for book clubs and sure to be in my top 5 of 2020.
Four college friends decide to resurrect the Brown Sugarettes Mastermind Group they formed while in school to try to acheive the goals they had set for themselves ten years before but never realized. All four are successful in their own ways, but very far away from their dreams. They revive the group and support each other through tumultous relationships, addiction, financial uncertainty, and betrayals. Recommended for anyone who needs a fantastic story about the power of women's friendships with a heavy dose of hot, realistic, modern-day romance in the mix. Everyone will have a character they favor the most. I loved the sections featuring Kara the sommolier best and a great place to start a book club would be who related to which characters the most and why. Now go buy one for yourself and three of your girlfriends and start talking! :)
When I am blue, I read philosophy.
I'm not the brightest bear or the bear with the longest attention span in the forest, so I like my philosophy to be accessible, relevant to current events, and, ideally, spiked with a little humor. This little gem did all those *and* had illustrations!
Deftly translated from the French by Willard Wood, the latest offering from Patrick Boucheron is a revelation! Machiavelli was, well, Machiavellian. Wasn't he? A real jerk. Not a good guy. His name synonymous with being a horrible tyrant. His teachings the inspiration of unspeakable acts from the battlefield to the boardroom.
But what if your worst enemy got to tell the story of who *you* were? What would that look like?
Boucheron examines source material, records of his life from several sources, and, most importantly, and the totality of his writing of which the infamous The Prince was only a small part and possibly satire. Who knew?
The Lesson is a spectacular first contact novel set in St. Thomas. The Ynaa have been living among us for years, but have only recently made themselves known to humans. They bring many gifts, but any resistance or aggression from the humans is met with wrath that is ruthless and out of proportion. This is a complex, but easy-to-read novel that reminds me of Ursula K. LeGuin. Issues of race and sexuality are dealt with a grace and intensity unusual in a debut novel, particularly from an author so young. I was intensely moved by this story, completely swept up in it. I can't wait to read more from this author!
Patty, Fay, Magda, and Lisa are four very different women working in a department store in 1950's Sydney Australia. This is a book about women's friendship, the difficulties of being a woman in that era, the small cruelties of aging, and the uncertainties of youth.
It's a very difficult book to describe, but I enjoyed it immensely, and give it often as a book to cheer people up. It's short and is perfect for book clubs. Great if you've been in a reading rut or are having trouble finishing books.
Chronicling the lives of the Galvin family, Kolker tells the stories of their 12 children born from 1945 to 1965, six of whom suffered from debilitating, and in some cases fatal, schizophrenia. By revealing the almost unbelievable misery of this one family, he is also illustrating the many faces of psychiatry and mental health treatment over history from relatively benign, if ineffective, treatments to what we would now consider torture. He also exposes the psychiatric drug industry for the greedy, uncaring, opportunistic practices that have been the standard for decades. This look at schizophrenia and its effect on individuals, families, and societies is inspiring as it is disturbing and I hope its publication helps to accelerate change in the mental health industry and the hearts and minds of the public at large.
I hardly know where to start with my need to talk about this book! Reproduction is a love story spanning three decades from the early eighties to the 2000s starting in the city of Toronto, a city of vast differences in wealth and cultures. The unlikely couple (Edgar, a rich, idle German and Felicia, a poor 19-year-old immigrant from the West Indies) meet and start an unconventional relationship with lifelong consequences for them both. Don’t let the 550 page count fool you: the writing-style is the opposite of weighty and dense. It is mischievous and funny, while still being moving and full of stunning revelations about “how strangers become family”. Simply breathtaking!
There are tons of great grilling books out there, but this is my new favorite. After a lively, informative, heartfelt introduction, Moore introduces us to 17 grill masters from all walks of life and styles of grilling. You are introduced to each person, how they came to grilling and then some recipes from each. The second half of the book is recipes divided by course and all of them are different and delicious! There is a lot to love about this cookbook. Moore clearly loves his craft and the people who practice it. His personal story with grilling is detailed in a beautifully written foreward about his parents and extended family. This would make a marvelous family gift or Father's Day gift!
So much fun! This screamingly funny take on the vampire-next-door genre will have you turning the pages at breakneck speed! Hiding in plain sight between the grisly action and the offbeat humor is a sweet and heartfelt tribute to the tough and tender nature of Southern women. Hendrix's characters will stop at nothing to defend their families and friendships from being destroyed by this sly and dangerous invader! Not even an all-powerful supernatural being is any match for a bunch of Southern book club women. I can't say I'm surprised.
I found a lot to love in this application of Kon Mari method to work. I am finding it especially comforting at this time when I am working mostly from home as many of you are. It is a very slow process as, by nature, I am a slob and my surroundings are usually chaos. Little by little, I feel gently guided by Kondo and Sonenshein to eliminate clutter from my workspace and in my e-space. (Oh, My Enemy Email Inbox!) I am taking it easy on myself and going very, very slowly with this, but I am already seeing some results. It's also shortening some of my meetings and eliminating others altogether. Very short book also available in Libro audio and ebook. If I can apply some of these methods, anyone can.
I adore Frog and Toad and they bring back comforting memories of childhood for me. The first Frog and Toad book was published when I was about 3. This hardback gift book is a wonderful value at $12.99 and portrays the highlights of what it means to be a good friend along with quotes from the original texts and Arnold Lobel's distinctive and soothing sepia-toned illustrations. This would make a lovely gift for a child, of course, but I love giving it to adult friends having tough times to remind them we have each other.
I almost regret reading this, it was so good. It was so exceptional, it took a solid week for me to be ready to read anything else. I just kept picking it back up and re-reading. I finally had to give it to another bookseller on staff so I could move on. And now I can't sell it for months. That's not very fair. Chiang's stories are the reason I read. Each one is a perfect cut gem. It's as if by the act of reading, you become light and pass through the gems and feel yourself reflected, refracted, split apart and turned into someone new. Each story makes your brain all bendy, even the ones that feel like they have existed for hundred of years. You'll find fantastic tales of time travel, meditations on the true nature of consciousness, even thoughts on parenting. Elegant without seams, I highly recommend this collection to fans new and old.
Reading a new book by George Singleton is like running into an old friend from your past, striking up a conversation, and later wondering why on earth you don't spend more time with them because they are even funnier and smarter than you remembered and they just make you feel good! The stories in Staff Picks are like that: clever in surprising ways but never precious or pretentious. They are filled with incredibly screwed up people from all walks of Southern life instantly recognizable to those of us who grew up in small Southern towns. These nutjobs are real, y'all. You will laugh out loudly, so take care where you choose to read this collection. You might also shed a tear or two. I did. Singleton is one of the few writers who can pull off profane and profound in the same paragraph. He's one of my favorites. Enjoy!
This is such a great little graphic novel! With lines like "Who do you think you are? Gilliam Shakespeare? Stephen King Crab?", how could I resist?!? Squizzard (a squid) and Toothy (a vegetarian great white shark and gentle giant) are best friends, but Squizzard is kind of a jerk. He's selfish and bossy and Toothy has finally had enough. With a lot of sea puns along the way and a few ocean wildlife facts, this is a terrific read and would be a great book for both the bullied and bullies to start a conversation about how to stand up for yourself and how to be nice. Vibrant color illustrations by the author add to the drama and hilarity immensely.
I can't think of a more necessary book right now. I don't have kids, but I have been emailed and called and approached on social media by parents who are desperate and tormented by their needs for information about how to talk to their child about issues like COVID, racism, gender identity, violence, climate change, bullying, immigration, sharing explicit photos, seeing something disturbing on YouTube, you name it. I don't have to see their tears to know they are there. This book is up to date enough to include the pandemic, but universal enough to cover subjects of concern for as long as there have been parents and kids. Clear, concise, honest solutions as well as "red light" what *not* to do examples and scripts are in every section. Such a needed book.
I don't want to talk about too much about what's *in* Allie Brosh's autobiographical, illustrated essays as much as how it made me feel. If I revealed too much about what happens to the author and her family through the book, I'm not sure you'd want to read it. It is truly a collection of horrible events heaped upon a person already beaten down by chronic anxiety and depression that would floor even the most emotionally "normal" person. The frenetic art and the spare writing combined to make me feel each painful reflection on her own flaws, loneliness, and grief in the face of these tragedies. But I'll tell you something else: I laughed so hard I cried repeatedly while reading it. No one is better at exposing the laughable absurdity of life while also getting to the raw horror of it. The ending was beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful. I don't think I can recommend any book more highly, especially for those who suffer from anxiety or who are going through dark times and need a "book friend" to guide us through.