July 2010

Dear Reader,

I love it when everything comes together perfectly, and our recent New Haven book delivery turned out to be just that - perfect in every way. The event brought together so many things I care deeply about and that we try to touch on every day at the bookstore - building a sense of community and promoting a love of reading. This book drive would never have happened without this wonderful community - all of you who helped unload pallets of books, unpack boxes, sort and repack books, and reload the vans - your sturdy backs and great spirits made what could have been an overwhelming project fun. And not to be left out, the wonderful staff of R.J. Julia also gave time on their days off - what champs. I can't fail to mention the extraordinary publishers who really stepped up to the plate, donating over 20,000 books. When a community comes together like this, the possibilities for making a difference are endless.

The store has received the most wonderful thank-you notes from the children, notes both touching: "Thank you so much! This is the best thing that has happened to me!" - and funny: "My favorite color is rainbow. I really hope you have a good rest you must be really tired." You can see why I was so moved, looking out over all those excited faces at the King Robinson Magnet School last Monday. It was truly one of the high points in the store's history.

This month we have more anniversary celebrations up our sleeve, as well as an incredible schedule of author events. If you've ever wanted to meet the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of one of the world's most recognizable and distinguished publishers, they'll be driving up from New York in a bright orange Penguin Mini Cooper. Most of us probably have a stack of Penguin Publisher books in our homes; they publish all the best classics - Jane Austen, Homer, Anthony Trollope (a personal favorite) - plus bestsellers such as Memory Keeper's Daughter and Three Cups of Tea. Penguin is also celebrating an anniversary - 75 years - and we'll be throwing them a party on Saturday, July 10th from 3 to 5 PM. We'll also be raffling off a great gift bag filled with a wonderful selection of their titles. Come prepared to share your favorite classic beach reads - I'll be talking about Therese Raquin.

What could be better than visiting with women who like to read and meeting wonderful authors, and in such a lovely setting? I hear time and again that you are looking for smart books with great storytelling. Well, we've found three fabulous novels, and we'll be hosting the authors at our third Fiction Luncheon on July 28th at noon at the Pine Orchard Club in Branford. Join me as Adrienne McDonnell (The Doctor and the Diva), Robin Oliveira (My Name is Mary Sutter), and Carey Wallace (The Blind Contessa's New Machine) discuss their books (click on any of the titles for more information). Trust me, this is a unique opportunity to meet three authors before they become household names - I honestly think these books will be that widely read (think The Help). Everyone attending the luncheon will be invited to enter a drawing to win tickets for Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants and the forthcoming Ape House, well before tickets go on sale to the general public. And if that isn't alluring enough, we'll be giving away a Just the Right Book Series (read more here). I always have the best time at these luncheons - I hope to see you there.

One of Connecticut's most influential proponents of sustainable farming is surely Chef Michel Nischan of Dressing Room in Westport. He'll be at the store Wednesday, July 14th at 7 PM to discuss his new book Sustainably Delicious, which is replete with fabulous recipes and tips for cooking fresh and simple meals with local food. Chef Nischan and I also share a belief in the value of community - his foundation Wholesome Wave seeks to support healthy neighborhoods by providing access to healthy, fresh, and affordable locally grown food -I urge you to check out their website.

On July 9th at 7 PM Wendy Burden will be here to discuss her memoir, Dead End Gene Pool. Wendy is a great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the stories she has to tell - of generations worth of drinking, drugging, carousing, and other forms of out-of-control dysfunction - are hair-raising and very funny. Suzanne and Heather are both raving about this book; I can't wait to hear Wendy's stories firsthand.

When I've finished reading the novels for the Fiction Luncheon, I'll be diving into The King's Best Highway by Eric Jaffe (who was at the store last night and gave the most fascinating talk). This is the history of the Boston Post Road from the days of Indian paths up to the present, and if you'll note the store's address, you won't be surprised to hear that my curiosity was piqued. I just picked up the smart and edgy Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross; I'm interested to see how he handles the story of two men who fantasize about murdering their wives - will Ross be skillful enough to carry off such a dark tale? - I'll let you know. And if you're reading something you love, send the store a tweet at @rjjulia - we'd love to hear from you!

See you in the store,

Roxanne p.s. I finally succumbed to Karen Corvello's suggestion (more like hectoring) that I read The Imperfectionists. Okay, so she was right - it's fantastic.