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There is so much to talk about this month that I am providing a table of contents just in case you don’t have time to read everything at once-although I urge you to grab a cup of tea or coffee and take a few moments to read (when did a few moments became a long time?)—anyway:
Table of contents:
-megastar singing fathers
-astrology and reading
The tug, the torment, the attachment of complicated fathers is exquisitely explored in Lily King’s new novel Father of the Rain. King reminds us how profoundly attached we are to our parents, despite the damage they might inflict. King never preaches but shows both sides: alcoholic country club dad—charming, seductive and his loyal daughter. A powerful story by an wonderful writer, I have long admired her writing and am delighted to invite you to join her and short story writer Mary-Beth Hughes for a special luncheon at the store next Monday, October 18th.
I am in the midst of reading Ron Chernow’s new biography, Washington: A Life. Chernow is a glorious biographer (have you read Alexander Hamilton or Titan? – both are not to be missed). Washington is a doorstopper – over 900 pages – but I am finding it completely enthralling. In many ways, Washington was one of our most inscrutable presidents – until now. Chernow has done extensive, thorough research to deliver a full picture of this great man and his singular impact on our ability to become a free and stable democracy.
Megastar singing fathers
Another great love of mine, aside from books, is music, and I get to indulge in my love of both: Rosanne Cash will be coming to Hubley Hall on Friday, October 29, to talk about her memoir, Composed. Not only is she a brilliant Grammy-award-winning songwriter, she is also a marvelous memoirist. We’ll also be getting in her cds – if you haven’t heard her latest, The List, you’re missing an incredible album – and the story behind its inception is just as great. In 1973, she was riding on a tour bus with her father, Johnny Cash. “Do you know this song? Or this one?” he asked – and she didn’t. So he wrote a list of 100 essential country songs. From this list, Rosanne recorded twelve songs – all classics, according to her dad, and he should know. The format is an interview –so if there are questions you would like me to ask her—send them along. This is bound to be one of those can’t miss nights!
We know many of you are scheduling your first bookclub meeting of the fall after a lazy summer off. Let us help your bookclub get back into the swing of things – on October 20th we’ll be hosting a Bookclub Bonanza – find out what our favorite books of the season are, get great lists of books to read, giveaways, and best of all, meet other bookclubs from the area and share your favorite titles. And for those of you in the Hartford area, I’ll be speaking the next night at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford, along with Kathryn Court, the Editor-in-Chief of Penguin Books, and two of our esteemed Random House sales reps. Please call 860-236-4571 for more information.
When I opened the bookstore twenty years ago, I envisioned R.J. Julia as a place of discovery – a place where you can pick up and touch thousands of books, meet an author, talk to a bookseller; a store that serves its community and contributes to a vibrant downtown. So many of you have told me this is just what you want from R.J. Julia, and we’ve enjoyed a crazy, wonderful 20 years putting just the right books in your hands. But lately things have changed; it never dawned on me that we would become a place of “discover here, buy there!” I’m talking about the growing phenomenon we independent bookstores have noticed that goes under the awkward name of “leakage.” This is when someone walks into the store, spends time perusing our staff suggestions, writes down a long list of titles that they want to read… and then walks out the door with their list. Straight home to their computer and the “Website That Shall Not Be Named.” Our impression has been confirmed by a recent survey which shows that 26% of independent bookstore customers admit to this.
I get it – I really do. Money is tight and everyone is trying to be economical. And you come in the store it looks busy and you figure no big deal if you buy somewhere else because everyone else is buying here. But you know what? We are affected when a quarter of our purchases disappear, and if you care about the health of your community, you are affected as well. So here’s my pitch (and you knew there was one coming, didn’t you?). Let us know how we can be of value – we want to be whatever you want us to be, and spend a lot of time trying to figure out what this new role will look like. In the meantime, please keep in mind that your purchasing decisions do make a huge difference to your community. End of lecture!
Astrology and reading
Speaking of foretelling the future, here’s a new twist in bookselling: on Tuesday, October 26 Beth Riggott will be here – she writes the Starry Night column for The Source. I just love her column, and met with her for coffee – she came up with the fun idea of using astrology to help people choose books. I can’t wait to find out if she’s got it right!
It is going to be a super-busy month at the store, with (we hope!) something for everyone – from fabulous cooks (Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay) to sports heroes (Jack Cavanaugh on The Gipper) to brilliant biographers (Barbara Leaming, one of my favorite authors – anyone who can write about Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O, and Churchill has got to be great) and more – please visit our website for the full list, and happy reading!
See you in the store,