The Novelator v. the Illiterati

This kid at the school library told me reading was boring and I just about fell over. WHAT YOU SAY-!

The Novelator v. the Illiterati

Because every problem can be instantly solved by kicking someone in the face. (Oh, and by the way, her body armor is engraved with the words of banned books. Happy banned book week! Go read something!)



A couple weeks ago, my favorite bookshop announced that they were downsizing and moving to a new location much farther from my house. And while I was more than happy to lead the raiding party that came to take advantage of their clearance sale (twice *coughs*), it wasn’t with pure bliss that I placed this latest batch of acquisitions in yet another of the neat little stacks clustered around my writing desk.

Gulliver’s is going away. I know they’ll still be around in a smaller incarnation across town, but I also know that I won’t go there as often, and the selection won’t be as good. They will no longer have that one corner that is my favorite to wedge myself into while deciding if a microhistory is coming home with me or not. There won’t be that one spot where I always crouch down, scanning B for Butcher or Brooks. They will no longer have my absolute favorite- that one claustrophobic corner where I always have to whisper ‘excuse me’ and scoot myself sideways past some other reader, and then turn and see all those books for my babies spread like a bank of shy dreams, spines out and half hidden.

It won’t be the same.

I’ve known for months that I wanted to do a sentimental blog post about favorite book shops, and the odd feeling of a store stealing a heart (as well as a paycheck), but that was before Gulliver’s announced it was for sale. That was before they downsized and moved. That was before I realized how melancholy that would leave me. You must forgive an old lady her rambling.

As I reached out to other avid readers on the web, I’ve found that my old-lady-ramblings aren’t all that uncommon. I asked my buddies about their favorite books shops and, of the ten responses I got, the shops of only three of them were still around, and one of those was sheepishly admitted to be a chain store. The others had all gone out of business.

I know that the fate of indie bookstores isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, if Google is telling me the truth, the market share of independent book stores is actually on the rise. But my fair city (and my fair state in general) is in an economic slump and, according to the Gulliver’s employee I grilled about it, people just aren’t spending as much money in book shops as they used to, at least not here in Fairbanks. And so I clear out Gulliver’s bookshelves and fill up my own, and wonder with mixed feelings if maybe now I will get through the TBR list faster than I accumulate new titles.

It’s not all bad, I know. Gulliver’s will still be around, although different. And I still have a few other shops around town that I darken the doorways of every now and then. I’ll never run out of books to read. There are places that have far less than this.

But still. I’ll miss that one corner.

Creative Nonfiction Spotlight

So, I’m out of town right now. By out of town, I mean I’m paddling around in the Prince William Sound of southern Alaska and trying not to get mauled by bears. (Assuming I’m not already dead by now. Am I dead?) As such, there’s a bit of a copout blog up for this week, but it’s something I’ve kind of been wanting to do for a while anyway.

The hands-down coolest bookstore in Fairbanks is a little locally owned shop called Gulliver’s Books. It is super awesome for more reasons than I can innumerate right now. (Maybe more on that later.) One of the many (many hundreds many so many this is why I’m poor many) books I have purchased there is a great short story collection called In Fact: The Best in Creative Nonfiction. Aside from the book being beautiful, just the title was a bit of a revelation for me. Nonfiction and creative can live happily together and make beautiful babies?

Yes. Yes, they can. The book is just lovely on so many levels, and opened me up to a genre that has more or less always existed, but that I had somehow never heard of.

Perhaps you’re not sure what creative nonfiction is. Maybe you’ve heard of it but want to know more. Or maybe you write it and you’re looking for a market to try (although if you’re already in this genre, there’s probably no way you haven’t already heard of this).

Creative Nonfiction (the publication, not the genre) is pretty cool. So in lieu of writing up a thoughtful analysis of something meaningful, I’m just gonna toss a link your way and let you enjoy some true stories, well told.

Happy reading and see you next week (barring bear ingestion, anyway).

The Greg Hill Reading List



Hello, internet folk! Welcome to our regularly scheduled tomfoolery!

You may recall that a couple months ago I started teaching a graphic novels class at the elementary school. One of the bazillion things that I did in preparation was to interview local graphic novels guru Greg Hill. Mr Hill is The Guy for graphic novels at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and has given several talks and workshops throughout the state. (In fact, I met up with him through the school librarian, who had gone to one of his classes at the Alaska Library Association’s conference last year.)

In addition to knowing just boatloads about the structure and design of graphic novels, Mr Hill also lays out a pretty gorgeous recommended reading list. Take a gander at the following list, and maybe find a new favorite. (And for anybody interested in the history of comics, designing their own graphic novel, or listening to background baby destroy everything, be sure to catch Mr Hill and I’s full interview [at an hour long! whew!] that I’ll be posting next Monday!)

Happy reading!

Little Nemo in Slumberland

Little Nemo in Slumberland

Greg Hill’s Graphic Novels Recommended Reading List

Marguarite Abouet- Aya

Carl Barks- Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge

Alison Bechdel- The Fun Home

Ernie Bushmiller- Nancy

Will Eisner- A Contract with God; The Spirit

George Harriman- Krazy Kat

Takehiko Inoue- Vagabond

Winsor McCay- Little Nemo in Slumberland

Mori Kaoru- A Bride’s Story

Grant Morrison- anything

David Petersen- Mouseguard

Alex Raymond- early Flash Gordon; Rip Kirby

Gabriel Rodriquez; Eric Shanower- Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland

Art Speigelman- Maus

Chris Ware- Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth

A Bride's Story

A Bride’s Story