Bookloft's blog

Tales for the Wanderer

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Every year around this time, we get to play host to a large (well, larger than usual) number of hikers, as thru-hikers find themselves trekking the Appalachian Trail portion that runs through Great Barrington. We love to see the hikers go out of their way to stop in here and pick up a good book for the journey! Whether you’re hiking or not, we’ve got more than a few ideas of great books to put you in the mood for some good old fashioned wandering…



Summer Reading For Kids

It’s August! What? How did that happen?? That means there’s only a month left to get your kids’ to read their summer reading assignments! Hopefully, this isn’t a problem (everyone loves reading… right?), but it’s always worth going the extra mile to make sure a child chooses a book that will really interest them. The better they like this book the more they’ll look forward to the next!

So stop by and take a look at the bookshelf we’ve set up exclusively comprising of children’s summer reading books. Included are books that are on local school lists- required and recommended. Plus, some of our booksellers' favorites from our own school days…! Can’t figure out what to pick? Just ask! We love helping you and yours find just the right book.

Here are just a few recommended summer reads that also happen to be Staff Picks!




My Month with Middlemarch

Don’t expect any staff picks from me this month: I’m 200 pages into Middlemarch and predict that it will take me another couple of weeks to finish. People are put off by the length of this book; we’re just not in the habit of reading lots and lots of words in what is sometimes a reiterative style. It helps to remember that the book was published in installments and that the author got paid by the word.  Eliot uses all those words to build her characters and her story really does flow once you get the rhythm.

If you don’t, however, want to join me in reading Middlemarch, you might want to try Marine Park: Stories due out July 29th. I read it as an advance and was wowed by this 23-year-old’s acuity. I guess I lied: I do have a staff pick for July and I think you’ll love these stories. If you are unfamiliar with this neighborhood on the edge of Brooklyn, you’ll...Hey, I’m not getting paid by the word!





The Reluctant Dust-Off

As I was packing up for a recent writing retreat, I was determined not to weigh my bag down with books, so I reluctantly dusted off my barely used e-reader and downloaded a few instead. I’m a longtime reader, and a writer by vocation, and I love real books now as much as I did when I was a teen. I love the feel of them, the smell, the weight, the way my eyes track and catch on the serif font as I read across the page then blink to hit the invisible carriage return to bring me to the next satisfying line. Sometimes I run my finger across the paper and trick myself into thinking I can actually feel the letters in bas-relief. So when I say reluctantly, I mean it.

Now I have to confess: there was something unexpectedly delightful about the stretch of e-reading I did on my retreat. During my time away, I spent my writing hours doing something I rarely do anymore: writing longhand in a hardcover notebook. And the movement from the “analog” experience of pulling a pen across the thick paper line after line, to pressing a tiny rectangular button to activate the slick, smooth screen of my e-reader was, I admit, pretty darn cool. I confess also to loving the function that allows me to look up a definition of a word with the light press of my finger (I’m not going to tell you which words they were—I have my pride), though I’ll never shed my oversized Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary.

E-books and e-readers aren’t for everyone, and when space on my nightstand and messenger bag allow for it, I will always reach for the real thing. In the meantime, though, I will finish the books I downloaded (see below)—and who knows, maybe I will keep my e-reader dusted off, just in case.

Laura Didyk, Bookloft Bookseller 


Bad Boy: My Life on and off the Canvas by Eric Fischl

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare

Happy Graduation!

Tis that time of year again! The time of the incomprehensibly flat hats, very expensive pieces of paper, sweltering robes, speech-making, tear-shedding, hug-induced all-body numbness, and best of all... gifts! It’s the end of an era, and as a family member or friend of a soon-to-be grad, it’s your job to give a gift that is worth giving to someone with such a shiny new status. Granted, the hugs and the tears will probably be the best gift, but, sadly, it’s hard to tie a ribbon on those. Books, on the other hand, are ideally shaped for ribbons and wrapping! So here are some of our suggestions for grad gifts this year.




Time for a Little Spring Reading

We’re calling it- winter reading is over. As much as we love the sleepy, snuggly, snowy kind of reading, we’re ready for the new, fresh, and springy reads! So here’s our most recent spring-time-ready picks!

by Teju Cole
The thing about Teju Cole is that what he writes lingers. Suddenly, I'm back in the book with his nameless character - returning to Lagos; then in a lot there at the edge of town waiting for a delivery of school supplies. If they are delivered directly to the school people will know and they will be stolen. Throughout, there is the question of where to live and where to belong. Lagos, Nigeria? New York? Connected to Open City in character and emotional climate, and offering a unique look at life in Lagos, this is another excellent Teju Cole read.

by Juan Pablo Villalobos
If you want laugh-out-loud funny satire, gorgeously written- this is IT,. Plus, you'll even learn a thing or two along the way- like about...
economics - "We were all well aware of the national ecomony due to the fluctuating thickness of the quesadillas... we'd even invented categories- inflationary quesadillas, normal quesadillas, devaluation quesadillas, porr man's quesadillas..." (9)
or religion- "'Don't be stupid. The Virgin doesn't know about analogue signals,' my uncle said firmly, based on the conjecture that the Virgin lived a long time ago, before the advent of electronics, and suggesting, heretically, that celestial beings are not omni-know-it-alls." (96)
A wonderful quick read!!

by Anna Walker
What a delightful story. Peggy is uprooted from her safe little yard and doesn't think twice, she turns it into an adventure. The illustrations are what attracted me to this charming chicken story, they are beautiful and fun!!
Can you take on the world a bravely as Peggy?

By Rita Gray and Kenard Pak
This is a lovely book, each page is a pleasure to look at.
What fun to read out loud and make each bird sound.
Do you recognise them all? I don't, but I will go out and listen and maybe I will hear the nesting bird.
by Jean Zimmerman
Can a "wild girl" from a Nevada sideshow be brought to NYC and made into a "lady" circa 1900? The Delegate, wealthy family from NYC decided to experiment and began the challenge.
Zimmerman does wonderful non-fiction books and this, her second novel, blends all of the day to day life of the wealthy as well as all the background of living at that time. The railroads, politics, fashion, education, etc.
The book has a mystical feel to it as there are bizarre murders and lots of action. It pulls you right along through the brothels and streets and ball rooms as the family struggles with their diminishing finances.
The history is here and definitely the mystery as well!


The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
Why do I read?
Why do we look at art?
I am searching for the words, the movements, the melody, the structure of how I fit in this world... perhaps... and artists of all types, be they writers, painters, musicians, dancers, sculptors draw me into their percecption of this world... and I can go on.
This piece of art was a pleasure to read.

by Mari Ruti
Mari Ruti definitely makes her case. "If we truly respect the mystery of love," she writes, "we won't pledge allegiance to its permanence Rather we'll pledge allegiance to our faithful efforts to stay open to its transformative energies."
Referring to the slew of love and dating guides out there as self-hurt rather than self-help, Ruticovers, with great acuity, topics such as heartbreak, compatibility, attraction, the representation of romantic love on TV (you'll be surprised!) and the importance of embracing the messiness of love. A real guide for women and modern romantic love. A MUST READ!


by Allie Brosh
Moving, irreverent, and laugh-out-loud hilarious, this unconventional memoir, collected from Brosh's hit website of the same name, now has a permanent home on my nightstand.
If you've ever experienced true depression, owned an unruly pet, had a near-pathological relationship with sugar, been a daughter, a sister, a child, a person, if you've ever been ALIVE, this book will, in the least, remind you, as it did me, that if you're going to make it in this crazy place you better get yourself a pretty great sense of humor.

And don’t forget you can check out what we’ve been in the mood to read here and what we’ve loved reading the most here!

Come to 'An Introduction to Self-Publishing' Event!

You've just put your cap back on your pen or saved the last sentence. You're latest work is now complete. Now what? Join Jessika, manager of The Troy Book Makers, to find out more about polishing your completed work, getting ready for print, and what steps you can take to sell your book. This is an informational session that gives authors the basics about self-publishing. The Troy Book Makers staff provides tips, to-do lists, and honest advice.


Please take a moment to sign up on their website.

And remember, after you've published your book, we'd be happy to carry it! Check out our consignment program for local authors here.

The Sugar Season Event

Douglas Whynott, author of Giant Bluefin and A Unit of Water, A Unit of Time: Joel white's Last Boat, has a new book coming out- on maple syrup! And, as a solid New England business,  how could we not be excited to hear what he's got to say? Stop in on sunday, March 9th at 4pm to learn more about the book, The Sugar Season, Whynott, and the maple industry. See you there!!

"Whynott has delivered the most complete and compelling account to date of the modern maple industry. His cast of vividly drawn characters and his descriptions of the challenges they overcome will make you feel like you're right there beside them in the North Country's sugarbushes. It's one sweet read."--Barry Estabrook, author of "Tomatoland"

 "The cycle of the maple season is one of the great signifiers of the mountain year in the northeast. It is lovingly delineated here, with a foreshadowing of the shifts ahead in a changing world. May it move us to action!"--Bill McKibben, author of "Oil and Honey"

"Once again, Douglas Whynott demonstrates his uncanny ability to open up what seems to be ordinary and reveal it as something much more than we ever could have imagined. In this case, it's the maple syrup industry, and Whynott take us from the metal bucket hanging on a tree into a world of currency bets, Global Strategic Reserves, climate change, and international trade. It's quite a story, and quite a book."--Daniel Okrent, author of "Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition"

Thank you!!




The week before Valentine's Day we here at The Bookloft asked customers if they'd like to be a 4-year old's secret Valentine. And we got an amazing response! With your help, we were able to collect over 50 books for 2 local head start classes for 3 and 4 year olds. That's enough for every single child to take home their very own book for the keeping, and to have some to enjoy and share in the classroom, for many more children to come.


Ormond Gigli's Girls


Ormond Gigli once explained to us here at the Bookloft how his famous signature photograph came about. The stunning shot is of a brownstone that stood empty across from his own home on East 58th street in 1960s New York. The old building was scheduled for demolition the next day to make way for modern developments. So Gigli, with his keen freelance photographer's eye, had the idea "to get beautiful women". Well, can't go wrong with that, right? After calling a modelling agency, dozens of beautiful women did indeed materialize, wearing different brightly colored dresses. Of the piece, TIME says, "Widely considered one of the most famous fashion shots of the 1960s, it captures a slice of long-gone New York ...and the picture's influence stretches beyond photography."

Fifty-four years later, Gigli's beautiful body of work is now bound in a brand new book whose cover bears the striking "Girls in the Windows" photo. The work in the book harks back "to a time when a photographer could persuade a steam shovel operator to lift a model skyward" (New York Times) in a prosperous and transformative postwar era. Many images have not been seen for decades, and include subjects such as Barbara Streisand, Louis Armstrong, John F. Kennedy, and many more. Gigli himself provides much of the commentary, explaining his personal experiences that led to the conception of the pieces.

Want to check out the volume in person? Stop by and oo and ah over it with us! Plus, Gigli was kind enough to stop in himself and leave us with several signed copies!