Blog

Get with the Programming

“An understanding of computer science is becoming increasingly essential in today’s world. Our national competitiveness depends upon our ability to educate our children—and that includes our girls—in this critical field.” —Sheryl Sandberg

There's no doubt that computers, and all kinds of technologies, are here to stay—and will continue to evolve rapidly over the coming years. Why not give your kids a leg up and help them learn to communicate with, use, and learn from the technology that surrounds them daily? Learning to program is, in many ways, like learning a new language—a skill proven to help developing minds become more adaptable learners and people! With schools, summer camps, and tutoring services increasingly incorporating programming skills into their lessons, and more and more publishers printing great books to help, there's no reason not to give it a go. Here's a few recommended books to help your kids get started! You can find them all in our activity and workbook section of our children's department.

Image result for 9780794535742

WAMC's Roundtable Book Picks

Our bookbuyer, Mark Ouillette, will be speaking on WAMC's Book Picks segment of Joe Donahue's Roundtable! He'll be chatting about his most anticipated new books this season. We hope you'll tune in on August 16th at 10am but if you miss it, just stop in! We're stocking the books, and, of course, Mark and all the booksellers here are always happy to recommend our favorite books!

For those who missed it on air, you can listen to it here: http://wamc.org/post/book-picks-book-loft

Literacy for Pokemon

What do games and books have in common? They both offer so much for the imagination!

If you're having fun with Pokemon Go these days, stop in and show us a picture of one you catch in our store to get 10% off your purchase! One of our very own booksellers, Catherine, had fun with some of our ethereal visitors lately. Need more Pokemon fun? Check out the graphic novels, and sticker, activity, and fact books located in our children's comics section. 

Frequent Buyer Program

We've often been asked if we've got any kind of membership program, and, up until now, we never have. But we have so many wonderful, loyal customers and we'd like to treat you to something special every once in a while!

So stop, buy, and ask for your member card! We'll punch it every time you buy a full-price book and after purchasing ten, you'll get your eleventh book at 30% off. We'll also soon be featuring exclusive deals in the store just for members. Sign up for our newsletter to stay appraised of all our special deals!

Have any questions or feedback? Just let us know! And in the meantime... let's get reading!

Summer Reading Challenge!

Ah, summer reading, that cool, sweet, happy thing! This summer we're introducing our Summer Reading Challenge for kids ages 17 and under to help them get into the reading mood.

When you buy a children's book this summer, ask us for a Reading Challenge Bookmark where you can record the titles you read over the summer and turn it in between August 15th and September 1st to collect your prize! Books that qualify must be at the individual's appropriate reading level. For those who cannot read read, parents may read to the child, but they must be chapter books, not picture books.

  • Read 5 books and get one free paperback book (we'll choose one for you we think you'll like).
  • Read 10 books and, in addition to your free paperback book, you'll also get another book that hasn't yet been released to the public! These advance copies of books are usually exclusive to industry insiders, but we think a great reader deserves a special treat. Again, we'll choose one we think you might like.
  • Did you like one (or more) of the books you read? Write a review! Turn in the review with your reading challenge bookmark and your phone number, so we can let you know if your review has won a surprise Writer's Award! We'll also post winning reviews in the store and on our site (with your consent).

So what are you waiting for??

Let's dive into some good books this summer!

 

Superheroes, from the Page to the Screen

With Captain America: Civil War in theaters right now, and the whole host of superhero and DC and Marvel universe films that have been dominating the box offices these past few years, we'd thought we'd take a moment to remember where all these heroes got their starts: on the written (and illustrated) page!

On-screen superhero adaptations have been around since their comic book forms became popular, in the 1930s and 40s, starting with Saturday film series for kids. By the 60s, with the gradual decline of the Saturday serials, heroes expanded into new territory, starring in American B movies and even taking on comedic and satirical tones. But our current sci-fi/fantasy themed and action packed heroes' adventures are mostly built on the backs on the explosive popularity of Star Wars in 1978 which spawned dozens of new superhero films in the following decades. Since the resurgence of the comic book in the early 2000s, this boom has only increased, and it certainly can't hurt that our filming technology is so much better now than ever before. Nostalgia also brings us constant remakes and sequels. But this isn't all a one-way road! When new movies are released, new comic books and graphic novels are too, sometimes with the new illustrations taking on the visages of the film's actors. Some movies, TV shows, and even video games will spawn their own books, though they weren't originally adaptations at all.

Where does this all leave us in years to come? Some claim that these glory days of superhero movies will fade and die, much like the old Westerns genre. Others argue that Westerns died out for reasons specific to its cultural portrayals, so as long as the superhero industry keeps their characters and stories evolving with the times, they could stay a powerhouse for a long time-- a goal that can only be helped by continuing to take their cues from the written word!

Whether you're into superheroes or not, we'd definitely recommend a look at our recently expanded Graphic Novel section. With graphic nonfiction, like memoir, biography, and history, funny and smart webcomics turned book collections, subtle and beautiful illustrated novels, and more, there really is something for everyone! First-timers to the genre can look to our favorite Staff Picks for some guidance:

 

It's Raining Poetry!

Of all the "National Something Months", April's Poetry Month seems to be the least advertised. Even the most dedicated of artists and readers may overlook this time of the year. But what better time is there for poetic artistic expression than when the sky opens up, flowers bud and bloom, and nature starts to sing again? And if you're not a die-hard poetry reader already, what better time to dip your toes in something new, discover a fresh perspective, and find a new true love?

If you're not sure how to get started, stop by to check out our Staff Picked poetry books, and for those particularly wary, start with our discounted poetry section! In the mean time, perhaps Grant Snyder's work below may help enlighten both the first-timer and the staunch devotee.

 

 

The Ordinary, Extraordinary Heroine

In a recent response to a need for better female protagonists, the "strong female character" trope quickly proliferated by the hundreds, if not thousands, in many books, particularly blossoming in young adult fiction targeted at teen women. But it seemed that almost as quickly, the tide turned on the movement, condemning many of the resulting characters as being unrealistic and flat, without nuance or emotion. What good was it to have a female lead who subverted stereotypes by showing her strength, if she seemed made of cardboard? Or if she was pushed so far in the other direction that she simply ended up in the male stereotype camp, violent and bloodthirsty?

It seems the perfect balance between emotional, mental, and physical strength and weakness can be difficult to pinpoint. Some authors known for their heroines have commented on the pressures felt to make their women "just right"-- hitting the "Goldilocks zone" of storytelling, if you will. Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season and The Mime Order (the first and second, respectively, in a planned seven book series, and both Staff Picks here at The Bookloft), once said that she sometimes still struggles letting her protagonist, Paige Mahoney, cry. And in an interview last year, she said, "Complicated women are still treated like they’re a curiosity. Joss Whedon spoke in 2006 about how often he was asked why he wrote strong women. His conclusion was 'because you’re still asking me that question'. Almost a decade later, writers are still being asked the same thing. Philip Pullman tweeted that he was being asked the same thing 20 years ago. We don’t keep marveling at 'strong male characters' – when will women no longer surprise us with their strength?"

Recently, Feminist Frequency, an organization dedicated to examining the portrayal of women in pop culture and in popular media like video games, movies, and books, launched a campaign to create an educational video series called "Ordinary Women: Daring to Defy History". Their intention is, in many ways, a response to Shannon's question. During Women's History Month (going on right now, by the way), accomplished women throughout history are lauded as extraordinary, as if the only cause for their success is because they were, possibly by some fluke, somehow superior to the average woman. By shining a spotlight on the ways everyday women have shaped and transformed our world throughout history, they will attempt to take the "surprise" factor out of women's accomplishments, and rescue them from the obscurity to which they are so often relegated.

Whether they're fictional characters, historic figures long gone, or your daughter, your wife, or the woman working the check-out line at your local grocery store, every ordinary woman is capable of extraordinary things. Or, to think of it in another way, in the words of Doreen Cronin, via her lovely new kid's book, Bloom“'They will never believe that an ordinary girl could do such an extraordinary thing,' Genevieve worried. 'What would I tell them?' 'Tell them there is no such thing as an ordinary girl,' said Bloom.”

Perhaps that might help authors take the guesswork out of creating great females characters. But, when in doubt, (step 1) think of a character, then (step 2) make them female. It really shouldn't be so hard.

 

Feeling inspired to find some great, balanced heroines? Stop by our Goodreads page and browse the books filed under our ever-growing list of "Recommended Female Protagonists". Or check out our latest newsletter, in which we tell you why some of these lovely ladies are our favorites.

Sweet Treats for your Sweetheart

Do you know what's almost as good as reading a really good book?

Eating a really good chocolate!

And there's definitely nothing better than doing both at the same time...

Not only do we have a huge assortment of wonderful books (as always!) to pick out from for your valentine(s) (or... yourself), but our ever popular stock of locally made Berkshire Bark has recently expanded too! They've developed even more maddeningly delicious chocolate bar flavors, like our new favorite, Peppermint Crush (just kidding, we still think you're number 1, Pretzological, our love).

Check out our favorite book/chocolate pairings and find your (and your loved ones') happy place.

 

CocoaNutz & The Forever Girl by Alexander McCall Smith

It may be cold and snowy out here, but in the pages of this novel by the bestselling author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, you'll be swinging in a hammock, enjoying the sun, the breeze, the surf, and-- let's not forget the only thing that can truly make the scene complete-- a lovely tropical coconut! This chocolate, laden with sea salt, roasted almonds, both milk and dark Belgian chocolate, and coconut chunks and chips, will have you leaving this cold dark world behind-- and diving right into this good book!

 

 

Jumpin' Java & Dancers Among Us by Jordan Matter

What's more everyday than a shot of caffeine and a burst of energy? Channel your inner dancer with this revitalizing chocolate while perusing Jordan Matter's gorgeous and inspirational photographs and stories of the dancers among us.

 

Tropical Heat & Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Hoffman fills the pages of her newest work with an island's magic and color in this stunning tale of what it means to walk the tightrope between tradition and independence, love and logic. This scrumptiously spicy chocolate will pair perfectly with this book's island setting and unforgettable love story.

 

White Lightning & Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Picture this: Grey skies pouring sheets of rain down upon the Scottish moors; horses, their riders pursued, pounding through the heather, sounding like rolling thunder; a flash of lightning illuminating, just for a second, tall, immovable, ancient standing stones; a gut-wrenching jolt and you appear... in the eighteenth century. Sound like fun? You'll feel positively wealthy being able to munch on some luxuriously white chocolate studded with lemon, cashew, and ginger while you read about Jamie and Claire's trials and tribulations during the  the second Scottish uprising.

 

Midnight Harvest & A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Get ready for a delicious witching hour with Deborah Harness' bestseller and this melt-in-your-mouth dark, rich chocolate treat.

 

Peppermint Crush & These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

This classy heroine is as cool as peppermint to her companion-- but can she really be blamed? After crash-landing on a mysterious planet and finding herself stuck there with just one taciturn guy for company, their quest for a way back to civilization (if they survive at all) is plagued by their haltingly evolving relationship. You'll need this Peppermint Crush as sustenance for this thought-provoking page-turner!

 

Mocha Buzz & The New York Times Presents Coffee Shop Crosswords

What could be more satisfying than sitting down with your morning hot mug of coffee, a great crossword puzzle, and a bite of coffee-infused chocolate on the side? Talk about a GOOD MORNING!

 

Kickn Nutz & Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Self explanatory. (Sorry, we couldn't resist.)

 

For the Birds & Birds of Pandemonium by Michele Raffin

​Michele Raffin's story of rescuing exotic and endangered birds by turning her own home into an impromptu shelter (now markedly less impromptu as her project has evolved into a full-fledged organization) will feel all the sweeter for keeping this seed-filled chocolate to hand as you read. You won't sprout wings by the end of them, but you'll certainly walk away feeling, not only deliciously full and healthy to boot, but also enthralled by these incredible creatures. Don't miss out on Pandemonium Aviaries' live stream where you can see the breath-taking birds strutting about in all their multi-colored opalescence.

 

Pretzelogical & Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

There's something so compelling about a good Sherlock Holmes story, with it's twisty plot turns and the rich, sweet satisfaction of a mystery solved (and the desperate yearning for more, of course). Pair it with the most popular Berkshire Bark of them all, featuring salted pretzel and caramel in milk chocolate, and you'll never want to stop reading (or eating) again.

 

Sampler Box &  The Best American Short Stories of 2016 edited by Lorrie Moore

For those who can't make up their mind, try a gift sampler pack which include four of our bestsellers: Midnight Harvest, Tropical Heat, White Lightning, and Pretzological. Pair it with the definitive short story sampler and you'll have a choice of flavors for every story!

Read It Before You Watch it!

Every year, dozens of movies based on books are released, and 2016 is certainly no different. Of course the quality of the adaptations always vary (we like to say that you should never judge a book by its movie!), but here are a few books that we're especially hoping will be well-adapted when they hit the big screens this year. In the mean time, let's keep our fingers crossed and if you haven't read any of these yet... now is the time!

If you liked Divergent (speaking of which, it's third and final installment, Allegiant, will also be premiering this year), and the whole slew of young adult dystopian books/movies that have become so popular in the wake of The Hunger Games, here's another one for you. For some, that may not be your go-to genre, but this was actually Staff Picked by co-owner Ev, who was surprised to find how much she liked it: "Because I avoid post-apocalyptic fiction like, well, like the plague, I had no intention of reading The 5th Wave. It wasn't even on my reading radar. That is, until I started noticing rave reviews and a publisher sales rep gave it an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Well, I thought, as a respectable bookseller, I should at least flip through it to see what all the hoopla's about... and I was hooked at the prologue! The 5th Wave may not be a literary masterpiece, but it's one terrifically engaging, heart-pounding page-turner! Unsettling, thought-provoking, unexpectedly touching at times... I finished it in one 5 hour reading frenzy (and cannot wait for the sequel)!"

Here's another Staff Pick, this time from Ellyne, who calls this satirical novel "an eye-opener"-- and all the critics agree! The San Francisco Chronicle calls it "a bracing, fearless and uproarious satire of how contemporary war is waged and sold to the American public"; the New York Times, an "inspired, blistering war novel…Though it covers only a few hours, the book is a gripping, eloquent provocation.” And The Washington Post chimes in on a similarly exultant note too: “A masterful echo of ‘Catch-22,’ with war in Iraq at the center. …a gut-punch of a debut novel…There’s hardly a false note, or even a slightly off-pitch one, in Fountain’s sympathetic, damning and structurally ambitious novel.”

The movie will have an all-star cast that includes Vin Diesel, but you're definitely going to want to read the book first!

 

Our in-house Harry Potter fan, Zazu, along with millions more around the world of course, is looking forward to this one. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, based on a book on Hogwarts students' reading list, will take place 70 years before Harry Potter reads the book in school and will focus on the adventures of it's author, Newt Scamander, in the magical world within New York City. Thankfully, the screenplay was written by J.K. Rowling, so we're not too worried.

 

 

 

This movie, due out October 7th, stars Emily Blunt and is being compared to the wildly successful Gone Girl. Ev Staff Picked this "deftly plotted, un-put-down-able, hold-your-breath-with-dizzying-dread novel of riveting psychological suspense. Intending to read 'just a few more pages' at bedtime one recent sub-zero January evening, I ended up finishing the book at 2:30 A.M. (At that point my hands had been freezing for hours, but I hadn't been able to stop reading long enough to go turn up the heat!)"

 

 

 

Roald Dahl's film adaptations have a pretty decent track record, with good movies based on Matilda, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so this excellent story will hopefully be joining their ranks when it comes out this summer. Directed by Stephen Spielberg and produced by Disney, the movie will tell the tale of a girl introduced to the wonders and perils of Giant Country.

 

 

 

 

Through the Looking-Glass will star the same cast (which includes Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway) as the most recent remake of the classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and looks to have the same wacky humor and vibrant environment, too. We have several different editions of these two companion books, and it seems like there's always more coming out, from Zazu's Staff Picked edition perfect for "younger children with its picture book format" and whimsical illustrations to this inredible new one illustrated entirely by Slavador Dali-- what a perfect combination!

 

 

 

 

Pages