This Week in the Bookshop – BOGO Books!

The weather has turned chilly and our thoughts are starting to turn to the holiday’s ahead.  We want to help you get ready for spending a bit more time indoors as well as help you get your holiday shopping finished early so that you may sit back and enjoy the time with your family and friends. 

To get you started, our sale of the month is Buy one get one free books!  Hardback, paperback, fiction, non-fiction – we have created a great selection for you all located on our Sale Table in the center of the Bookshop.

While you are here don’t forget to check out our beautiful Holiday Shoppe and all of the amazing toys in our Children’s Corner.

‘The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling

Well, well, well….where DO I begin? If you’ve read this blog before you’ve heard me say I’ve been accused of never reading a book I didn’t like. Can I tell you folks——I’ve just found one!!

The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling’s first novel for adults, takes place in the small English town of Pagford where a young council member has died suddenly leaving what is known as a casual vacancy. The rest of the story follows the antics of various townspeople as a replacement is sought and eventually elected.
Reading this book was much like driving past an automobile accident…you don’t want to look but you have to. The characters are really unlikable people doing horrible things—but I couldn’t look away! The only character who may have had some redeeming qualities was the man who died! And since he dies at the very beginning of the book one can’t even be sure about him! 

Rowling does a great job intertwining the plotting and scheming of the various characters so that one behavior directly affects another behavior that directly affects another and so on. But none of the behaviors serve any good purpose.

The real trouble between council members stems from a disagreement over an area that lies between Pagford and Yarvil- a larger city a few miles away. After World War II Yarvil began building affordable housing that eventually spilled into and filled all of the city’s available land between themselves and Pagford. The construction was cheap and the community had multiple problems and soon Yarvil was delegating certain responsibilities to Pagford-the greatest being that a large section of the poorest housing known as the Fields would send their children to the school in Pagford. In a classic tale of “haves” versus “have nots” some on Pagford’s council were determined to rid themselves of  this burden but had never had the votes needed to accomplish the task. Now with the sudden death of Barry Fairbrother (who had been born in the Fields and was a strong proponent of Pagford support) the anti-Fields group saw their chance to tip the scales in their favor—if, of course, the “right” Pagfordian was  elected to the casual vacancy. And so the plots and schemes and undermining and character destruction begins!

You’ll meet a morbidly obese, self important gourmet deli owner and his snobbish wife. They have a son, an attorney, who follows in his father’s attitudinal footsteps. He is married to a woman who wants to be her teenage daughter. There’s also a husband who physically, emotionally, and verbally abuses his wife and two sons. The teenage son seeks revenge at one point which begins a tragic chain of events. You’ll also meet a heroin addicted mother of a teenage daughter and a two year old son. The little boy has just recently been returned to the household and the teenager pretty much runs wild. One of the characters is a social worker who briefly gets involved with this family even as her own situation is deteriorating. She moved to Pagford to live with her boyfriend but he is losing interest fast and her very unhappy teenage daughter is looking for revenge of her own.

Are you getting the picture here? There are many more characters, each with his or her own failings and part to play in the ultimate disaster the community becomes. It’s almost as though Rowling made a list of all reprehensible human behaviors and characteristics and then created a character that displayed each one. I just got so tired of reading about these misfits and their despicable behaviors. I know…shame on me for continuing to read the book, but I was sure something good was going to come of this mess. Spoiler alert—-it doesn’t!! Believe it or not the story actually gets worse at the end!

I absolutely believe that people like these characters really do live among us—we’ve all met them. But honestly…all at once? All in one town? All in one book? Spare me.


Today on the Avid Reader – Sam’s Hour

We would first like to thank everyone for giving Jerry Spinelli such a warm welcome here at the Wellington Square Bookshop. 

Today on the Avid Reader at 5:00pm (WCHE 1520am), Sam pontificates about current events in the publishing world as well as anything else that comes across his mind.

In a bit of a diversion from his usual author interviews Sam will be a one-man-show today.  He will be discussing bookstores, a dying breed, as well as politics and why you should vote.  Basically anything that pops into his mind.  It should be pretty exciting!

Children’s Corner – Tons of Used Books

Rather than share a new children’s book with you today I wanted to let you know about a couple of things we have going on in the Children’s Corner.

We have just received a number of used picture books and at $2.95 it is a great time to stock up. 

We are overrun with used emerging reader and young adult books.  We have classics, books from the school summer reading lists, and more all priced at $1. 

Come and get them while they last!

This Week in the Bookshop – House of Marbles

We have caught the holiday fever (not nearly as early as the big stores)! We have our Holiday Shoppe all setup and we are so excited to bring you new items from our beloved lines as well as some awesome new stuff. 

One of the new lines we are featuring is House of Marbles.  House of Marbles are makers & purveyors of a world famous range of glass marbles, board games, classic toys, puzzles & pastimes. They have been designing, making and selling fun and entertaining products since 1973, when their founder began making board games in his workshop to sell at local craft fairs in the United Kingdom.

We are carrying their beautiful glass marbles as well as some great games and stocking stuffers. 

Stop by and check it all out!

The Man Booker Prize -“Bring Up The Bodies”

This year’s winner of the Man Booker Prize 2012 went to Hillary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies her follow up to the highly awarded Wolf Hall, which makes her the first women to win the award twice. Girl power!  So what exactly is the Man Booker Prize?

The Man Booker Prize

A Little History … .

Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation states:  “From the very beginning of what was originally called the Booker Prize there was just one criterion – the prize would be for ‘the best novel in the opinion of the judges”. And 42 years later that is still a key sentence in the rules.

“It is a measure of the quality of the original drafting that the main ambitions of the prize have not changed.” Unlike the Pulitzer Prize- last year they didn’t even pick an award for fiction- they left the nominees hanging in the void with their head scratching. (Many also think that the nominees and past choices of the Pulitzer have been wayward as well.) Trewin goes on to say that the aim was to increase the reading of quality fiction and to attract ‘the intelligent general audience’. Our judges are not confined to any in-group of literary critics, authors and academics, but over the years have included poets, politicians, journalists, broadcasters and actors. This ‘common man’ approach to the selection of Man Booker juries is, I believe, one of the key reasons why ‘the intelligent general audience’ trusts the prize.

The prize, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008 after launching in 1969, aims to promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.To maintain the consistent excellence of the Man Booker Prize, judges are chosen from a wide range of disciplines, including critics, writers and academics, but also poets, politicians and actors, all with a passion for quality fiction.

The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives £50,000 and, like all the shortlisted authors, a cheque for £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book. Fulfilling one of the objectives of the prize – to encourage the widest possible readership for the best in literary fiction – the winner and the shortlisted authors now enjoy a dramatic increase in book sales worldwide.

Julian Barnes’ Sense of An Ending won last year’s 2011 Man Booker Prize