Category Archives: Check Out

The Grenade is Here

Serge is backTo a degree unlike any other town, New Albany has made Tim Dorsey a favorite son, though his only connections to us are through his amazing Serge Storms novels. Per capita, I’d wager no other city has supported Tim’s career as much as has our riverside burg.

Like last year, neither Ann nor I have had the opportunity to read Pineapple Grenade in advance, so we’ll be enjoying it right alongside you. Wednesday afternoon, we’ll unveil the book to the dozens of you who are Tim’s fans. In the meantime, here’s a quick preview from Tim himself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHA1ytNNR7w&feature=youtu.be

Many of you enjoyed the bonus holiday tome from Tim – When Elves Attack – so I’d expect our first shipment will sell out pretty fast. Come by, call, or e-mail.

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The Lists: Sustainability and Community

Today’s list offers recommended reading on the topics of sustainability and community. Those terms mean different things for different people, so let’s just call this my personal list. I’ve either read these or had them recommended by people I know share the same aspirations in these fields as I do. Collectively, they provide a pretty good template for making a start on building a community that’s less wasteful and more attuned to community building and responsibility to our descendants.

All That We Share

Enlightening

I do not rank them in any order and I’m sure to have left some great books out because I’ve limited it to books I have on the shelves this very minute. For example, if on Saturday I sold my last copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, et al., and it won’t be back in stock until Tuesday, then it won’t be on this list.

The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget
Leda Meredith (Lyons Press) 9780762755486 – $16.95

Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything
Mary Clemens Meyer & Susanna Meyer (Herald Press) 9780836195125 – $24.99

American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)
Jonathan Bloom (Da Capo Press) 9780738213644 – $26

Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live off the Land
Kurt Timmermeister (W.W. Norton) 9780393070859 – $24.95

Real Food: What to Eat and Why
Nina Planck (Bloomsbury) 9781596913424 – $15.99

The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food
Amy Cotler (Storey) 9781603424530 – $12.95

Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks, and Food Activists
Katherine Leiner (Sunrise Lane) 9781603582889 – $35

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture
Ellen Ruppel Shell (Penguin) 9780143117636 – $16

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Barbara Ehrenreich (Henry Holt) 9780805088380 – $14

The Case Against Wal-Mart
Al Norman (Raphel Press) 9780971154230 – $19.95

The Community Building Companion: 50 Ways to Make Connections and Create Change in Your Own Backyard
Peter D. Rogers, Lisa Frankfort, and Matthew McKay (New Harbinger) 9781572242883 – $10.95

Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future
Matt Hern (AK Press) 9781849350105 – $17.95

Beginner’s Guide to Community-Based Arts: Ten Graphic Stories About Artists, Educators & Activists Across the U.S.
Keith Knight, Mat Schwarzman, and many others (New Village Press) 9780976605430 – $19.95

Growing Local Value: How to Build Business Partnerships That Strengthen Your Community
Laury Hammel and Gun Denhart (Berrett-Koehler) 9781576753712 – $16.95

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things
Randy O. Frost and Gaile Steketee (Mariner Books) 9780547422558 – $14.95

Be the Change: How to Get What You Want in Your Community
Thomas Linzey with Anneke Campbell (Gibbs Smith) 9781423605614 – $12.99

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
Bill McKibben (Henry Holt) 9780805087222 – $14

All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons
Jay Walljasper (The New Press) 9781595584991 – $18.95

All of these books are in stock and can be researched further at our online store here. In honor of all the great news this week about the move toward a more sustainable future, these titles will be on sale for the remainder of February at a 20 percent discount from the list price, while supplies last. Think of it as your reward for reading these weekend blog postings.

And if you know my wife, Ann, join me in wishing her a happy 50th birthday (no, she doesn’t look it, does she?) on Tuesday. Were it not for her, there would not be a Destinations Booksellers.

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Spider Bites: Immortally Giving Back

Coming almost as a surprise, Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has proved to be quite popular even here in New Albany, with word-of-mouth providing almost as much impetus to new readers as the publicity here and there during its hardcover run.

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Still Giving - in paperback this March

As usual, Saturday’s we point you to an author Website with “Spider Bites.” This week, we have an unusually rich array of links to help you discover why this book has been so popular and why it will be made into a film by HBO and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.

With the paperback release on the near horizon (early March), the New York Times profiled the philanthropy established by the author with some of the profits from the book. Henrietta Lacks was, of course, real, and her cells have proved to be immeasurably valuable. Yet, neither she nor her family new that these cells, dubbed HeLa, could be cultured outside the body and used extensively in medical research. The Lacks family obtained no benefit from them, either.

Until now, perhaps.

The author has a bright, informative Website that’s loaded with multi-media features and links, and you can access it here.

And as the Times article attests, Skloot has established a foundation to ensure that some of the proceeds from the book would help Lacks’ descendants achieve some of the educational and health benefits they arguably deserve. The foundation’s Website is here.

If you’ve read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, please share your impressions with our readers in the comments section below. Have a great weekend.

Sunday will bring another installment of “The Lists.” If you have a suggestion or request for which list we ought to feature, let us know. And hey, I understand there is a ballgame of some kind on Sunday evening. Enjoy it.

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Spider Bites: How Do You Make a Sniper a Hero?

Saturdays are for “Spider Bites.” Get it? Spiders make webs, and what’s on the Web is certainly worth sharing, right?

Hot Springs, an Earl Swagger novel

Father and son snipers

Today we feature the Website(s) of author Stephen Hunter. For me, his ongoing series of books about Bob Lee Swagger, and the companion books about his Dad, Earl Swagger, have been a pure pleasure.

The Swaggers are not quite anti-heroes, but the efficiency with which they dispense justice does put them outside the boundaries of your normal thriller hero. Some of you probably saw the movie Shooter, which starred Mark Wahlberg as a contract protective sniper who is framed for an assassination – an “executive action.”

That movie burst forth from Stephen Hunter’s book Point of Impact, and was drastically adapted to reflect a different backstory from the character of Bob Lee Swagger in the 1993 book.

One of my favorite Hunter books is Hot Springs, in which Bob Lee’s father Earl finds himself called on to clean up Hot Springs, Arkansas at a time when the place was totally mobbed up.

Anyway, the purpose of these Saturday Spider Bites is to let you explore on your own. Below are some links to sites by and about Stephen Hunter. Did you know that Hunter’s day job before retirement was as the film critic for the Washington Post? He turns 65 in a couple of months.

On Wikipedia

The author’s unofficial Website is at www.stephenhunter.net

His publisher (Simon & Schuster) author page is here.Stephen Hunter

Finally, here’s his page on the British Website Fantastic Fiction, a site I use extensively to help me annotate books in series – because publishers change and they are all terrible at letting us know the chronological order of series books.

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Randy Reviews: The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld

Not that the calendar controls things, but had Jed Rubenfeld’s new novel released just a few weeks sooner, I would be positioning it in my best fiction list for 2010. That gives you just a hint as to how much I like this book.

Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld
Calling Dr. Younger …

The Death Instinct begs for comparisons, which might just be the best way to convey its quality to you. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who, incidentally, could have been a character in this

compelling novel) provided a prototype for our detective hero with his classic Holmes/Watson duo. But Rubenfeld manages to combine the skills of those 2 in a single character, Dr. Stratham Younger.

Though not as sprawling, this book compares favorably with Ken Follett’s Book One in the Century Trilogy, Fall of Giants, and is also reminiscent of Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day.

Younger, who drove the plot in Rubenfeld’s earlier book, The Interpretation of Murder, is quickly drawn into the mystery and violence of the brutal bombing of Wall Street in September 1920 – a crime that remains unsolved to this day.

During World War I, Younger served as a medical officer, where his burgeoning skills as a forensic psychiatrist were put to the test. Now back home in New York, he encounters the beautiful Colette, a protege of Madame Curie who provided the doctor with the means to take X-rays at battlefield hospitals in wartime France.

Before we learn why Colette has crossed the Atlantic, the pair narrowly survive the “cart bomb” that killed 38 and seriously wounded 143 people on the streets and in adjacent buildings, including the J.P. Morgan bank.

Who did it? And what was their motive? Was it anarchists? Or is a greater conspiracy afoot?

N.Y. policeman Jimmy Littlemore, who we also met in the first book, pursues a parallel investigation that reveals corruption at the highest levels of power and finance. Younger even winds up consulting, again, with Dr. Sigmund Freud during trip to Vienna.

It is Freud’s lesser-known theory of “the death instinct” that helps to raise this novel above the run-of-the-mill historical detective thriller. Rubenfeld cleverly weaves the known history of the terrorist attack with conjectures that feel real enough to stand in for the best nonfiction.

It’s not hard to imagine Stratham Younger as real and I look forward to joining him again, perhaps with Rubenfeld’s next book.

The author provides a nice recap in the video embedded below.

While it’s still early, The Death Instinct stakes its claim on a top 10 read for 2011 with its cerebral heroes, imaginative premise, and breakneck suspense.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

THE DEATH INSTINCT: Freud’s Lesser-known Theory

As Sigmund Freud moved closer to the end of his life, he recognized that his earlier theories regarding the pleasure principle (life instincts), including his well-known theories on sexuality being the driving force in the behavior of humans, could not explain everything.
How to explain our self-destructive tendencies? To the famed psychoanalyst, that death drive, or death instinct, exerted great influence on our behaviors. He believed that our life instincts prevented us from living lives filled with aggression and violence.

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