A Therapy Session of Sorts

May 22, 2013

by Louis Borgenicht

My trainer, whom I work with once a week, calls me a recreational overachiever. Initially I thought it was because it seemed to him that I simply did too much to avoid doing something constructive, but when I asked him what he meant, he suggested that with all of my recreational pursuits there was a common theme.

I play tennis twice a week, golf once or twice, fly fish, ride my road bike, and nap. His contention is that I am not at all competitive; I simply enjoy them. I do not need to win, never keep score in golf, enjoy the moment when I am fishing, don’t care if someone passes me on the bike, and wallow in the pleasure of a short nap.

All of which may explain why my reading suffers. So the other day I stopped in at The King’s English for a little therapy from Jan and Anne. I parked in the 15 minute slot across the street. I figured that I could only afford a short session rather than the de rigueur 50-minute therapeutic hour.

“I need some therapy,” I said making eye contact only with Anne. Jan and I have a long-standing sardonic relationship.

They both laughed though.

“I am currently reading a month old issue of The New Yorker and have a ten inch stack of the New York Times Magazine. Plus about fifty articles I have saved on my Mac, not to mention the book, People Who Eat Darkness, on my bed stand.”

“Yes.”

“Well, I feel guilty about not devoting as much time to reading as I do to anything else,” I said.

Anne said, “Get rid of your New York TImes Magazines. Just toss them out.”

“But there might be really interesting articles in them,” I said, feeling a sense of expectation. I live my life through the phrase “but what if?” My glass is usually half full.

Jan simply watched the evolving conversation but I knew what she would have had to say.

The meter maid had not come by to to ticket me for overtime parking but I was getting nervous that my session was nearly over.

I knew that I would have a hard time tossing out something as august as the New York TImes Magazine.

I turned to both Anne and Jan and said, “I think I need to program my time better. You know maybe give up a golf game.” I knew I would not be able to do it.

Then Jan said, “Yeah, maybe you will have time to read Anna Karenina.”

I looked at my smart phone; my fifteen minutes was up. Thank god.


Nose for Books

February 12, 2013

by Louis Borgenicht

Back in the day paperbacks had a very definite smell. I was going to write “odor” but that connotes something noxious and “olfactory” is too technical. It was a smell, sometimes characteristic enough to encourage to buy the book on that basis alone. It did not last long; you had to read the book shortly after purchase to glean the full experience.

None of the unique smells are describable at least from the distance of fifty years, but each of them was distinctive. My favorite was Bantam paperbacks. At one point in the mid-seventies I had convinced the publisher that I had the (then) equivalent of a blog and that I reviewed books. Thus I would receive a box of newly published Bantam books and would open the box with literary expectation; it was redolent with my favorite paperback smell.

The books were a mix: fiction, non-fiction, self-help, The Best Jewish Jokes, etc. Receiving freshly minted Bantam paperbacks were one thing but their smell was another. I never really got high from sniffing, but the smell was always reassuring.

Ballantine Books, publishers of tales of adventure and escape (e.g. Paul Brickhill’s The Great Escape), also had a distinct but evanescent smell. It did not last that long. Penguin Books were odorless, perhaps because they were published in Britain back in the day. Crest paperbacks probably had a smell that I cannot recall.

Bantam was indubitably my favorite.

Nowadays books don’t smell. Sometimes they are hardly even books (see Kindle, Nook and Kobo).

IMAG0546Editor’s note: And for something completely different this Valentine’s Day…book-scented perfume! The perfect gift for the consummate book lover is from Steidl Publishers in Germany. Paper Passion: Perfume For Booklovers at $98 may be just the thing for the person who loves their e-reader but misses the smell of the written word! Perfect to pair with your new Kobo eReader.


A Veritable Smorgasbord

November 28, 2012

Here at The King’s English, booksellers have been gathering and devouring the new fall books like squirrels gorging on nuts in preparation for winter. In the process we’ve gathered some wonderfully hearty treats for you and those you love, whether what piques your interest is fine fiction or picture books, espionage, humor or history.

Well-written fiction for the middle reader that steers clear of young-adult content is rare, and an author that is as smart and funny as Rebecca Stead is rarer still. Stead’s new novel, Liar & Spy, one of our booksellers first recommendations this season, was an instant New York Times bestseller. Like the dazzling Newbery Medal book When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy will keep readers guessing until the end. Creepy, gritty, edgy, disgusting, and fascinating—all words that describe book two of Ilsa Bick’s Ashes trilogy, Shadows. Bick is laying the groundwork for book three, drawing a picture of a dark and scary world in which readers will not find redemption or resolution (at least not until later) but will be engrossed (or is it grossed out?) by this fast-paced monster-filled novel. Daniel Handler, who also writes under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket, has collaborated with acclaimed artist and designer Maira Kalman, to create an extraordinary book about an ordinary event: Why We Broke Up. In her new novel for middle readers, The Great Unexpectedby Sharon Creech, Lizzie and Naomi struggle to figure out their own relationship and how they fit into their families, into their community and Finn, a mysterious and charming boy, drops out of a tree and into their lives, while Mrs. Kavanaugh, who lives in the south of Ireland and loves a good murder, looks for revenge. Creech alternates these two seemingly disparate stories, throwing in a Dingle-Dangle Man, a crooked bridge, three mysterious trunks, and several rooks. Our list of picks for the middle readers and young adults wraps up with The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, and What Came From the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt.

And if amazing picture books are what you are in search of, look no further than This Is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen. Visual humor swims to the fore as the bestselling Klassen follows his fabulous first book, I Want My Hat Back, with another seriously funny tale. We did not think that Doreen Rappaport could ever write a better picture book than Martin’s Big Words until we read Helen’s Big World! In 48 pages, the reader receives an unforgettable picture of this American icon as the authors mix Keller quotes with biography and compelling artwork. Helen Keller’s lifelong courage and tenacity are celebrated in this amazing book. In this gentle and joyous board book with an environmental theme, Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell, Jules proves a hug is the simplest–but kindest–gift we can give. The Christmas Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska is a lovely little book that celebrates the hushed moments of a season that too often shouts. Like its bestselling companions The Quiet Book and The Loud Book, The Christmas Quiet Book is especially notable for its warm and lovely illustrations. (Plush toys available!)

And for the fiction-lover in your life, be prepared for treats beyond your wildest expectations. We are not exaggerating… Starting with a joyride of a read, Mrs. Queen Takes the Train follow the Queen, yes, of England, in current day, as she slips out of her royal residence in a hoodie and embarks on a truly entertaining excursion, bringing the reader along. And there’s a good reason The Round House, a novel by Louise Erdrich, won the National Book Award this year. Like all of Erdrich’s novels, The Round House taps into the history, the mythology, the collective wisdom of past generations, yet she is as concerned with the past’s connection to the present as she is with the tale’s action, and her lyrical investigations of life involve much more than immediate reality. Combine the ebullient erudition of Lawrence Norfolk’s Lempiere’s Dictionary with the sensory engagement and passion for food of John Lancaster’s infamous A Debt to Pleasure, stir in a soupçon of myth and history, and sprinkle liberally with the romance and narrative verve of The Night Circus and you’ll have some idea of Norfolk’s new confection of a novel, John Saturnall’s Feast. And Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is a terrific read and a great reminder that books are here to stay…forever! Kevin Powers, a veteran of Iraq, has etched a powerful picture of reality in his new novel The Yellow Birds, and created a compelling awareness of what our military men and women have been subjected to for the past decade. And there are plenty of great novels published earlier in the year, including Canada by Richard Ford, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, and The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, and new in paperback fiction including The Marriage Plot, Salvage the Bones, What It Is Like to Go to War, American Dervish, To Be Sung Underwater, We the Animals AND State of Wonder. A plethora of delights!

If you’re still not sure what you want for your Aunt Sally or your 10-year-old niece, or for that plane ride you’re not looking forward to, we have a host of knowledgeable booksellers on hand who will not only recommend the right book, but also wrap it, mail it, or, if you’re doing your shopping by phone or e-mail, deliver it—the same day!


Roz Reads Celebrates 25 Years

October 11, 2012

We recently caught up with Roz Sandack who just celebrated her 25th year moderating her book club, Roz Reads! We’ve been happily associated with her for so many of those years and always look forward to seeing her and her book club members at The King’s English at the end of each month. This past September they read My Ántonia (again) because it was Roz’s inaugural book for her club.

TKE: Why My Ántonia?
Roz Sandack: My Ántonia was the first book I discussed with my book groups in September of 1987. It’s an important literary classic, one that many of us had to read in school as young people. It bears rereading again and is a marvelous discussion book.

TKE: What have been some of your favorite books over the years and why have they worked well in discussions?
Roz: Books for discussion need to have psychological depth and interesting ideas to explore. Occasionally, one of my readers will request that I include a “happy” book on my reading list. What’s to discuss in a happy book?

Some favorite discussion books:

TKE: Have there been any colossal flops?
Roz: Definitely evenings with lackluster discuss-ers and discussions that have tanked. I’m not sure what or who’s to blame. It just happens occasionally, and it doesn’t feel very good.

TKE: What is your secret ingredient for a successful meeting?
Roz: Here’s the formula: good book + preparation and enthusiasm (mine and the readers)= successful discussion. If every reader brings a question or comment to the group, everyone is much more involved in the discussion. Oh, and here’s another secret ingredient: listening. It’s important to listen to each other’s comments. Listening to others nurtures new ideas and that’s how we grow.

TKE: Do you have a funny story that you’d like to tell?
Roz: There are many hilarious moments, but probably the most surprisingly funny story is the time a group of close girlfriends hired me to discuss a book with them. I picked The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. They decided to watch the movie together instead of read the book, only the movie wasn’t based on the classic. It was a vampire thriller. Needless to say, the “reading” group unraveled pretty quickly.

Congrats Roz, and here’s to 25 more years of great books and great discussions!

Roz Reads October 2012 selection: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

You can catch up with Roz on her website or visit the Book Clubs page on TKE’s website for more information.


The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

August 5, 2012

Editor’s note: Peter Heller will read from and sign his novel, The Dog Stars, Wednesday, August 15, 7 p.m.

“The Dog Stars is a book that has everything.”
—Betsy Burton

The opening pages of The Dog Stars are as fragmented, fractured, as the world in which the novel is set. Two men and a dog are holding the perimeter of an airport somewhere in Colorado, backing one another up in an obviously uneasy alliance. It’s been nine years since the narrator, Hig, lost the wife he adored to a flu that killed millions.  Nine years since he and his dog, Jasper, made a home at the airport with their unlikely companion, nine years since he began using his plane to spot intruders. Nine years is too long. Dangerous as it is, Hig leaves, chasing a radio voice he’d heard beaming from Grand Junction three years before, willing to pass the point of no return to find its source… The Dog Stars is a book that has everything. A Cessna bouncing off clouds, an old dog as fierce as he is faithful, several firestorms of combat, sweeps of brown forest just beginning to green again, a love story that blossoms slowly and sweetly against a dystopian backdrop. The reader is pulled in willy-nilly, first intrigued by the mystery of the situation, then taken by the characters, then swept into the story headlong. I think I’ll start The Dog Stars over again tonight. I have a feeling it will read as well the second time around. – Betsy Burton, Knopf, $24.95


Where’s Waldo Local

August 2, 2012

The mysterious man in stripes has been here!

In fact he just spent the entire month of July in 20 Local First Utah Salt Lake city businesses including The King’s English. The infamous Waldo of the Where’s Waldo books got a great tour of the city.

In celebration of his 25th birthday we held a citywide scavenger hunt for Waldo, starting right here at the bookshop. With the help of 19 other enthusiastic businesses, we challenged kids and families to locate Waldo in some great hiding places across the city and the offered a change to win some fantastic prizes for their detective efforts.

Congratulations to the winner of our grand prize, announced at the Waldo Finale on July 31.

And a special thanks to the participating stores who harbored the elusive character in their shops:

Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine
Tony Caputo’s Food Market & Deli
Babinski’s Baby
Red Butte Café
The Blue Plate Diner
Cactus and Tropicals
Harmon’s Emigration Market
Eggs in the City
Liberty Heights Fresh
Mini’s Cupcakes
Trifecta Design
Pipers Quilts and Comforts
Este New York Style Pizzeria
Tower Theater
Dolcetti’s Gelato
Sugar House Barbeque Company
Walls–Wallpaper and Interior Design Shop
Beans and Brews
The Library Store


Local Author Showcase recap

July 11, 2012

by Jenny Lyons

We are so thrilled to be able to continue hosting this quarterly event, the Local Author Showcase. Utah has talent, a lot of it, and in particular, and Utah has authors. Last night we were joined by Aaron Bryant, A Synchronous Memoir of Addiction and Recovery; Megan Dietz, Scarlet River; Michael Ochinero, Mind Over Medicine: A Common Man’s Guide To Managing Bipolar Holistically; David Pierce, The Bewitched History Book.

I pondered holding this event outside on our patio, in fact, planned to have it on the patio, but alas, the patio is not air-conditioned, so I opted for inside the store instead. Well, the room was packed to overflowing and a few attendees were treated to a bit of direct sunlight through our west-facing windows also.

Each of authors spoke a bit about themselves and read a portion of their books. The diversity of the books is what makes this such an exciting evening in my opinion, and eye-opening look at an author you might not have discovered if not for this event. Family and friends of one author invariably end up purchasing the book of another. And the dialogue and camaraderie that arises between the authors is also gratifying. After answering a few questions, one being “What are you working on next?” (no surprise that each of these authors is currently at work on new projects. Stay tuned for details…), the authors signed their respective books for gathered fans.

We have a limited number of signed copies of these books available in the store or online. If ordering online, specify you’d like an autographed copy. Our next Local Author Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, October 23, 7 p.m.

 

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