Month: June 2012

27 Jun 2012

books i like to sell

While I look for a full-time gig, I have been working in an independent children’s book/toy/clothing store. I am receiving a crash course in the finer points of “retail” – you should really see me count change now, it’s a thing of wonder – but I am also thinking a little bit differently about books and about reader’s advisory. It’s been really eye-opening.

One major difference is the satisfaction in selling someone a book. I’ve “hand-sold” books in the library before, but I feel like checking a book out of the library is a low-pressure engagement. Maybe I’m inserting my own experience as a library patron here, but you can check out 10 library books and only read three, and only really like one. The other 7 are not that important, and maybe only the one will stick with you forever. It’s a numbers game.

When you buy a book, you buy a book. That book better be good, otherwise you’ll stare at it on your shelf for years and resent its existence.

Convincing people to spend money, therefore, seems like more of an accomplishment than convincing them to take free books off your hands for a few weeks. Here are some books that I’ve enjoyed selling to folks since beginning my job in March.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

I have never read this book, but here lies another lesson learned in retail: that’s okay. You can learn to talk about books you haven’t read, Jessica, you really can! I get a lot of 9, 10, 11 year old girls come in the store looking for a new series. This one is about mermaids. I have read a Phillipa Fisher book, another series by Kessler that is about fairies, but it seems that Emily Windsnap is the more popular of the two.


Everywhere Babies by Susan Myers, Illustrated by Marla Frazee

This is a board book about babies, but instead of cheesy, close-up photos of Gerber babies in diapers, smiling and frowning and making faces, these babies are Marla Frazee-illustrated darlings… I can’t get over how adorable this book is.


Me… Jane by Patrick McDonnell

I had a customer come in during graduation season, asking for this book by name. “I want to buy it for my daughter,” she said. “It’s such an empowering story for a new graduate!” We didn’t have it, but got it in later in the week. I put them on display immediately and sold both copies in a single day.

Also to note – one fellow picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down, repeat repeat repeat and finally came up and asked if I had a similar picturebook but instead of Jane Goodall, maybe it could be a girl-journalist? His friend was graduating from J school…

Again, reader’s advisory, you are weird.


Everything I Need To Know I Learned From A Children’s Book edited by Anita Silvey

Another book I haven’t read in its entirety, but I flipped through it for a class a few years ago. This is a popular pick with parents, a nice coffee table book, with essays from children’s lit greats and celebrities. I’d love to get a chance to read this one through myself, to see what kind of wisdom/nonsense it contains about these books that I love.


The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I really just love to sell all of these Penguin Threads editions. The Wizard of Oz is one of the most gorgeous copies, in my opinion, and I try to put it on display with our Scanamation Wizard of Oz novelty book, our Wizard of Oz t-shirts, and anywhere else I can squeeze it.

25 Jun 2012

2012: week twenty-five

June 17 – June 23

I am really into beverages. I think most daily activities deserve an proper drink to accompany. Besides those grocery trips in college, where I would walk in with 50 dollars and walk out with 2 Lean Cuisines and soy milk, lemonade, hard cider, bottled water, and  three varieties of juice, it hasn’t been much of a problem.

However, since I’ve added an extra cup of coffee to my regime, and since that coffee usually comes in an oversized iced variety that takes me a few hours to finish, I’ve been feeling a bit dehydrated. I like water, but I am literally drinking too many other drinks to have time/room in my stomach for H20. This is a problem.

This week, I made a good intentioned impulse buy, to encourage my water intake – I bought a stainless steel cold cup. I love it. I love it so much. I want to drink water out of it every second of every day.

It reminds me of the time we went to Wilmington, NC – Dawson’s Creek Land – and the air conditioning wasn’t working so great in the minivan that summer, so we were hot, and we were hungry. We walked into the first restaurant we found, and they poured us glasses of ice water into stainless steel chalices. I was entranced then, and I am entranced now. I never thought that one might actually buy a metal chalice, but I did. From Starbucks. Did you know you could buy a chalice at Starbucks?

In other, less random news, that guy I live with is home for the summer. Since it seems I occasionally have a morning or evening off, it’s been nice to spend some of it in his company. We have also started a house-wide “let’s wake up early” plan, accompanied by a house-wide “let’s not become obese” plan. Out the door by 7 a.m. to run/walk, Monday through Friday. I suspect we will all be ultramarathoners by September 1.



  • A few more episodes of LOST
  • Started watching the Up documentary series… we are halfway through the 14-year-olds!


24 Jun 2012

his life with books

While we were killing time before Moonrise Kingdom, the boy and I poked around the Brookline Booksmith for a spell.

I spotted a book I though he’d like on the clearance remainder table. I brought it over and he said:

Gah! I saw this. I really, really want it. But I have too many books to read already.

Like many boys, my boy was not much of a ready when we met so many moons ago. But it’s hard to date a person such as myself and remain immune to books. At the very least, I will take your non-readingness to mean you won’t mind if I completely retell the plot of every book that I read. I will probably buy you books for gifts, and if you are trapped in a car with me for a road trip, I might even force an audiobook upon you. If you live in my house, I will put books on hold I think you will like, and bring them to you in the bookstore. It’s just inevitable.

Anyway, here are some books that my boy has enjoyed this year, most of them on audio.


Getting Things Done Fast by David Allen

America: The Audiobook & Earth: The Audiobook by Jon Stewart

Will Grayson, will grayson by John Green & David Levithan

Free Will by Sam Harris

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Other hazards of dating me: I may create a Goodreads account for you against your will. And post about your reading habits online.

I’m really quite the catch.

23 Jun 2012

get out of my chimney

Tonight, they boy and I went to the Coolidge Corner Theater to watch the new Wes Anderson movie.

Don’t worry, we aren’t actually that twee. We were supposed to do something else fun, but then *somebody* slept in too late, and then *somebody else* got grumpy because we had about .2 oz of coffee in the house and she didn’t get lunch until after 2, and then we had car troubles.

The movie was an ameliorative for the general bad mood of the day, and when the boy wants to suck up to me, he lets me pick the movie. Ask me about the time he surprised me with tickets for Stick It.

Anyway, the experience did it’s job.

The movie featured some of my favorite things: summer camp, awkward first love, and children’s books.

The theater also featured some of my favorite things: comfy seats, Boylan’s fountain soda, alcohol, room for long legs, and an audience who claps when the movie is over.

Also, when we emerged from the theater, it was no longer 90 degrees out. Praise. The. Lord.

20 Jun 2012

the aftermath of book bankruptcy

Sad thing that happens to me once in awhile:

1. I check out books from the public library. I check out more books. I check out more books. I put more books on hold, I check out more books.

2. I get busy and forget to log onto my account to renew the books I want to keep.

3. All of my books go overdue at once, and then I can’t renew any of the others. Soon, every book I have is overdue.

4. I then have to bring them all back at once and pay a lot of fines.

I call it declaring book bankruptcy because I really have to just bring back EVERYTHING. No more library books in my apartment. All, gone.

Today I did #4, shamefully. I returned, I paid up, and my holds were released to me.

And although I was a little sad to say goodbye to my oversized collection of unreads and half-reads… my little hold shelf was about the best stack of books that I could have come home with.

Seven books, all of which I literally want to pick up immediately. I want to open them all up, line them on the floor, and walk by, reading one page after another after another.

What a nice little stack.

19 Jun 2012

trendy footwear

In March, I got a job with a stricter dress code than I’ve been required to adhere to lately.

And by that, I mean I can’t wear flip-flops.

For a few months, my finances didn’t allow me to make any purchases above and beyond my daily coffee regimen, so I suffered through an On-Your-Feet job with boots (sweaty above 60 degrees), sneakers (not fashion-forward), or three-year-old Payless flats (I never knew what arch support was until my feet almost broke in half).

Finally, after procuring a bit of graduation money, I made a single splurge:

I am the last person on the planet to buy a pair and rave about them. They are a bit goofy looking, but A) no more goofy than the sneakers and skinny jeans I was sporting before and B) when you are the last person to buy a pair, nobody notices.

They are probably the next best thing to my Havaianas, which is exactly what I was hoping for. I think I may try wearing them to my next job interview?

P.S. Two weeks in, they already smell like feet. Any cleaning tips, Everyone Else Who Has Had TOMS For Years, so I can continue to throw them in my bag on-the-go without stinking up all of my belongings?

P.P.S. Please note: this is your reward for finishing two Master’s Degrees. Stinky shoes.

18 Jun 2012

2012: week twenty-four

June 10 – June 14

Last week was 50% working nights and 50% ChLA. Met the lovely Jess Ferro (and again, at random, today, when I was yet again Working Nights).

Brief assessment of life post-grad school – I am still just as busy as I was before, during the workday, but I don’t make as much money because my hours/job locations usually do not allow me to do back-to-back shifts, and I spend more time in-transit.

And when I get home, I don’t have homework – I have Skyrim.

(Oh, and blogging. And reading. And book reviewing. And doing my dishes. And other things that maintain life. Buuuuuuut…. Skyrim?)



  • Finally finished Season One of Gilmore Girls! Yay!


14 Jun 2012

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

You might think it strange that I, a young woman who is not married, not a mother, and not (I repeat, NOT) currently with child to read parenting books and articles and blogs with any sort of fervor.

To me, this is not strange at all, because I also used to read my mother’s parenting magazines and books with the same interest and fervor when I was ten years old.

I think when I was ten, I liked reading about how people were supposed to grow and behave and relate to each other. I liked reading about what I’d gone through – all the developmental stages – and looking ahead to see what was next (I remember being concerned to read that 11-years-old was to be a year with lots of vomiting.) Now, my interest in parenting dogma is an issue of values. What do we think is so important that it simply MUST be passed along to our children? Do we value discipline? Creativity? The parent-child relationship? Socialization? Stability? Flexibility?

After reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother last year and enjoying the heated conversations that sprung up around the author’s version of Eastern parenting – heavy on tough love, structure, and string instruments – I was excited to see Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing up Bebe offering another cultural perspective on child-rearing. This is a good, quick read – a mix of memoir, humor, and cultural observations Druckerman gleaned after birthing and raising three kids as an American in Paris. She does a good job of representing multiple perspectives, of tying together how parenting attitudes are supported or discouraged through political systems (i.e. French women maintain separate lives from their children better than American moms because it is cultural expected that French women will go back to work ASAP… but they can go back to work because they have generous maternity care, leave, and exceptional government subsidized childcare)

But for me, this book had more in common with a book like Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food than other hot-topic parenting manuals. Druckerman’s take on French parenting focuses on the fact that French families and French women have a different set of cultural values than Americans do, and many of those values support a certain parenting style. Not to say that American parenting is equivalent to the Standard American Diet, but thinking outside the American paradigm, I think, can be eye opening for everyone – not just parents.

Some take-aways that have already started to influence my own behaviors and thinking:

  • Babies should fit into your schedule, into your life. This is a major undercurrent in Druckerman’s perception of French parenting. French babies sleep through the night, French parents have more sex, French parents continue to dress up and dine out and go on dates because they don’t bow down to the baby in their life in sacrifice of all else. This might seem harsh, but side effects are Happier Parents, Happier Marriages, Well-Rested Babies, and a childhood that includes boundaries, limits, and routines, which is a good thing. I think this resonated with me because my yet-childless peers and I are at the point where we at least consider the practical implications of introducing children into our lives, and it’s very frightening to think about making a big decision that might bungle up everything you’ve worked for. French families just don’t think that way, and it doesn’t turn out that way, end of story. It’s comforting.
  • You should eat four times a day – breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner. I am not sure why this is so revolutionary to me, but ever since I started experimenting with reducing my sugar and carb intake, I’ve been paying closer attention to how my body works on different foods. One thing I noticed is that when I have a lot of carbs, I get hungry faster, being hungry feels worse, and I am more “snack-y” all around. It almost feels like I become enslaved to food, constantly planning different snacks and thinking about what to eat and trying to put off eating just a bit longer so I can ration what I have. I eat at irregular times and eat more. The French way of eating has one “official” afternoon snack each day – “le gouter.” Somehow, this term has slipped into my mental vocabulary in the past few weeks, especially since I have been working a lot of evening work shifts – having “le gouter” before work keep me from being ravenous for dinner or starving on my late bus home.

Druckerman lays out all sorts of benefits for children and parents who stick to these schedules, too, but again, parenting books aren’t just about technique, but about re-evaluating and discovering your own cultural values. Why treat your kid’s life with any more (or less) care than you give your own life, and if it’s important enough to teach your kids, why not do it now? How French of me…

13 Jun 2012

see ya at ChLA

One of the best things about living in Boston? You don’t have to travel to cool events – cool events come to you. I’ve been to two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award ceremonies, a BG-HB One Day Childrens’ Literature Colloquium, an ALA Midwinter Conference, a Simmons Children’s Literature Symposium, tons of author events at libraries and bookstores… some non-book things, too, but oh, who can remember those…

This week is the Children’s Literature Association’s Annual Conference. Three days of children’s lit academia – presentations and papers from some of my dearest classmates and friends, as well as from critics I’ve quoted so many times in papers, they have become bona fide celebrities in my mind.

I am not only attending, but volunteering! I will be absorbing some last drops of children’s literature study, hanging out with friends, and snapping photos, all from the comfort of my own school – I’ll be the lady with the camera!

12 Jun 2012

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards 2012

I feel like the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards don’t get much play… and maybe I’m biased because A) I’ve been able to attend the awards ceremony for the past two years and B) I spent a semester hanging out in the Horn Book offices this past semester as an intern, but I LIKE the BGHB Awards. There are three categories – Picturebook, Fiction, and Nonfiction – with runners up for each. The picturebook award goes to author AND illustrator, which is cool. I like that the committee usually digs up some unconventional titles – a variety from the expected – and they announce in June rather than during “awards season.” All in all, I was excited to see these awards and pleased with the selection – all are moving directly to my to-read list.

Picturebook Award

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illus. Jon Klassen

Picturebook Honors

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illus. Erin E. Stead

And the Soldiers Sang by J. Patrick Lewis, illus. Gary Kelley

Fiction Award

No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illus R. Gregory Christie

Fiction Honors

Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Nonfiction Award

Chuck Close: Face Book by Chuck Close

Nonfiction Honors

Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keeffe Painted What She Pleased by Amy Novesky, illus. Yuyi Morales

The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O’Connell & Donna M. Jackson