Recently, one of our number attended a talk given by Francine Segan, a well-known food historian and author. Not only was the talk filled with fascinating research, but Ms. Segan herself was also an animated and engaging speaker. She took the audience on a tour of English culinary history and culture from 1912 to the 1920s—a time recently popularized by the PBS Masterpiece Classics show, Downton Abbey. From champagne de-bubblers, absinthe spoons, and pies with live birds to a brief history of the development of tea time, salads, and canned foods and descriptions of elaborate picnic and breakfast-in-bed practices, it was a very informative and enjoyable evening!
Feeling inspired yourself? Check out FrancineSegan.com to learn when her next speaking engagements are, and browse her wonderful books:
Or check out some more excellent books that are Donwton Abbey themed:
The Bookloft is one of the lucky Independent Bookstores who have received a grant through James Patterson’s “Saving Bookstores, Saving Lives” grant program. This no-strings attached grant to encourage young people to read has given us the opportunity to imagine new pathways to our front door, where we read, critique and promote the best books for young people.
This holiday season, take the frustrating guesswork out of gift shopping! Have your friends and family (and you too!) come in and fill out a Wish List at The Bookloft! We’ll keep track of your wished-for books and products, so anyone can ask for your Wish List and know exactly what to get you. We’ll also make sure to cross off items as they are purchased, so you don’t end up with doubles.
Don't you love it when a book you adore gets some well deserved recognition? Well, with the recent announcement of the National Book Awards finalists, we've been getting some gratification out of seeing some of our Staff Picks (Redeployment, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, and All the Light We Cannot See) make the list!
Being in a book group is a surprisingly satisfying endeavor for people of all ages and backgrounds. As New York Times writer James Atlas observed earlier this year, "book groups are about community... We spend our days at airports or commuting to work; our children come and go; our friends climb up and down the social ladder; we change jobs and move house. No one knows their neighbor. But a lot of us are reading The Goldfinch."
“You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
-Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451
Along with the rest of the nation, we are dedicating a week to pondering the issues of censorship in our beloved field of literature. Banned Books Week has been going strong since 1982, when the United States experienced a sudden upswing of book-challenging, but attempted book censorship has been going on for much longer, and continues into the present day. U.S. District Court judge Joseph L. Tauro, when faced with ruling to uphold or strike down a school book ban, wisely stated that "the most effective antidote to the poison of mindless orthodoxy is ready access to a broad sweep of ideas and philosophies. There is no danger from such exposure. The danger is mind control."
According the the American Library Association, "a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection." Often cited reasons for challenging a book's presence include violence, offensive language, homosexuality, religious viewpoints, satanic themes, sexual explicitness, and inappropriateness for age group. Some recent examples of most challenged books are respesented below (and are, of course, available for purchase here at The Bookloft!).
Unfortunately, some challenges do work, ending in the book being banned, in a particular school, for instance, or even a whole city, state or country. Below are a few examples of books that have been banned within the United States, but thanks in great part to many first amendement court cases, these bans have since been overthrown.
“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…
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!
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!