Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 5, 2016

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


'Amazon One' Air Cargo Plane Is on the Runway

Today, Amazon will showcase its first branded air cargo plane during Boeing's Seafair Air Show in Seattle. The Boeing 767-300, named Amazon One, is operated by the online retailer's air cargo provider Atlas Air. The plane is one of 40 that Amazon has agreed to lease through air cargo partners Atlas Air and ATSG. There are currently 11 dedicated airplanes flying for Amazon, with more to roll out over time.

"Creating an air transportation network is expanding our capacity to ensure great delivery speeds for our Prime members for years to come," said Dave Clark, Amazon's senior v-p of worldwide operations. "I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate the inaugural flight than in our hometown at Seafair alongside Amazon employees and Seattle residents."

The Seattle Times noted that as "a further nerdy nod to that goal, Amazon changed the Federal Aviation Administration registration of the jet to N1997A. The company went public in 1997 and that number is a prime number (a mathematical term for a number divisible only by itself and 1)." Company spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said Amazon will try to get prime-number registrations for its entire airplane fleet.

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Philip Pullman Is First Patron of Literature Wales

Bestselling author Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials trilogy), who was born in Norwich and "attended secondary school at Ysgol Ardudwy in Harlech, before going on to study English at the University of Oxford," was announced as the inaugural Patron of Literature Wales

"Making it possible for school children to meet a professional writer (I don't say 'real' writer, because children are real writers too) is one of the best ways of encouraging them to think that writing has a purpose, and brings pleasure, and can be a means of exciting discovery and a source of lasting satisfaction," Pullman said. "It is also a great stimulus to reading. I strongly approve of the work being done by Literature Wales to bring children and professional writers together--it’s really beneficial for both parties."

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

People's Books Co-Op in Milwaukee to Close

People's Books Cooperative in Milwaukee, Wisc., will close August 31 after 42 years in business. In a Facebook post Wednesday, the bookstore announced: "It has come time to end the experiment in cooperative economics known as People's Books Cooperative. Over the past nine years, we showed that a cooperatively owned radical bookstore could exist within the harsh climate facing all independent bookstores."

Landlord issues were cited as the primary cause for the decision to close. In 2015, People's Books launched plans to add a café and "proposed a new commercial lease to our landlords, who were generous enough to reduce our rent significantly and agreed to negotiate a new lease. However, despite the fact that our ad-hoc committee included a neighborhood attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law, we were unable to reach a final agreement after 10 months of negotiations."

On July 1, the landlords "abruptly rescinded their offer to extend our lease and informed us that we needed to vacate the premises. They have graciously given us up to three months to close up shop.... We would like to thank all who have contributed to keeping this bookstore running for the past nine years, especially our members and volunteers. Without the time, support and financial contributions that you have given us year after year we wouldn't have lasted as long as we have."

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

L.A.'s Chevalier's Books: Renovated, Replenished, Renewed

In the nearly two years since Bert Deixler and Darryl Holter bought Chevalier's Books, a general-interest bookstore in the Larchmont neighborhood of Los Angeles, Calif., general manager Erica Luttrell has been busy getting the 76-year-old store on firmer financial footing.

"We're getting to a point where the bookstore is certainly profitable," said Luttrell, who grew up in Toronto, Canada, before moving to Larchmont with her family as a teenager. She has worked at Chevalier's for some 13 years. "It's doing so, so much better than when they [Deixler and Holter] took over. And in turn, it's doing exponentially better now than even the first year of their ownership."

Deixler and Holter, who are neighborhood residents and longtime store customers, have given Luttrell and her co-manager, Liz Newstat, a great deal of freedom when it comes to running Chevalier's Books. Newstat is the store's primary book buyer, covering fiction, nonfiction, biography, art and more while Luttrell buys for psychology and spiritual, animals, nature and kids. Luttrell also handles much of the administrative aspects of running the store. When it comes to events, Luttrell and Newstat typically split or delegate responsibility.

In 1940, Joe Chevalier and his wife opened Chevalier's Books as a bookstore and lending library on Larchmont Boulevard. The store changed locations once over the years, but has always been on the same block of Larchmont Boulevard. In 1990, Joe Chevalier sold the store to Filis Winthrop and two co-owners. Though her various co-owners changed over times, Winthrop remained as an owner for some 25 years, and by the time Deixler and Holter bought the store, she was the sole owner of Chevalier's Books. Since then, Winthrop has stayed on as a consultant, and usually still comes into the store every afternoon.

Erica Luttrell

"It's such a sort of old world thing," said Luttrell, of having a neighborhood bookstore within walking distance. "But it's so supported by the people who live here."

After the change in ownership, the store closed for a month as it underwent renovations. By the time it reopened in November 2014, all of the carpeting had been replaced; new shelves were installed that did not obscure the store's crown molding and wood paneling; the walls got a fresh coat of paint; and the children's section was relocated. It was the kind of renovation that built on the store's strengths and beauty, making it shine more than it had in years. Perhaps most significantly, the store's inventory was dramatically expanded and continues to expand. Chevalier's Books contains about 1,200 square feet of retail space, and now stocks some 12,000 volumes; before the renovations there were thousands fewer books and to make the inventory seem fuller, many were shelved face-out.

Recently, Chevalier's added 15 new shelving units in the store's side room, where it created "cozy nooks," complete with wingback chairs in which customers are encouraged to sit and read. Explained Luttrell: "It was getting to the point where we couldn't shelve books face out anymore."

According to Luttrell, general fiction is the store's largest and typically bestselling category. But since the renovation and restocking, nonfiction has been doing extremely well. In particular, the sub-category of nonfiction that Luttrell calls "lit," which includes essay collections, memoirs and other works that don't fit with biographies, works of history or political books, is one of the store's fastest selling sections. In just the last six months, the section has turned over eight times. The store also features a small but very robust science section. "We're in a really inquisitive, intellectual neighborhood," Luttrell noted.

In the past two years, events have become a major focus of the store. Before then, Luttrell said, events were not much of a priority and Chevalier's hosted one about every three weeks on average. Now, in a typical week, the store hosts three events, and there are some weeks in which there is an event every night. Scheduling, organizing and hosting that many events has been a big learning curve. In fact, Chevalier's recently hired someone to pitch and promote events; eventually she may manage events almost exclusively. "In terms of doing events, we're still a sort of new store on the scene," Luttrell commented.

Luttrell has lived in the Larchmont neighborhood for 18 years, an area that in the last five to 10 years has been changing at a fast rate. According to Luttrell, residents have mixed opinions about whether those changes are ultimately a good thing. But, she continued, there is an incredible amount of support within the community for Chevalier's Books.

"Amidst all of that, people are incredibly tied to the warmth and sort of magic of having a bookstore in their neighborhood," she said. "People feel like it's a bit of a home away from home."

Looking ahead, Chevalier's Books is trying to find the right balance: making sure the store's buying matches its sales, and figuring out the optimal number of events to host in any given week. The goal, Luttrell said, is to see Chevalier's be profitable, self-sustaining and, ultimately, in co-owner Deixler's words, remain a vibrant part of "the intellectual infrastructure" of Los Angeles. --Alex Mutter

[Editor's note: Besides being the CEO of a real estate investment firm, an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California, a former labor leader, a musician and music historian, Chevalier's co-owner Darryl Holter is also an author: in the 1990s, he published two books on labor history, and more recently was the co-author of Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941, published in January by Angel City Press, Santa Monica. Holter happens to be the first subject of a new blog-post series from Prospect Park Books, the Altadena, Calif., publisher, in which it asks seven questions of a Southern California bookseller.]

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Obituary Notes: Nick Perren; Elliot Tiber

Nick Perren, a "publisher's publisher" and chairman of Profile Books, has died, the Bookseller reported. He was 68. Perren was also the non-executive director of Waterstones since 2011; chairman of Laurence King publisher; a director of Messaggerie Italiane Gruppo and Il Saggiatore in Italy; and chairman of William Reed Holding Ltd. Previously, he had been managing director of John Murray "until leading the sale of the company to Hachette in 2002," the Bookseller wrote.

"Nick Perren was a real publisher's publisher," said Profile Books managing director Andrew Franklin. "Perhaps he was not widely known outside the book trade, but he was the perfect insider. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the international world of books and knew everyone. He cared passionately about the health of the book trade and the people who work in it."

Waterstones managing director James Daunt said Perren "was instrumental to the successful turnaround at Waterstones over this period. His judgement of a rapidly changing market proved to be consistently insightful, and the manner of his guidance always hugely supportive. He was a true friend."


Author and gay rights icon Elliot Tiber died on Wednesday. He was 81. He told his life story in Taking Woodstock, published by Square One Publishers in 2007, recounting his time as a successful New York City interior designer, a filmmaker, playwright, college professor, LGBTQ activist, and in particular, in 1969 being at the Stonewall Riots, then helping find a location for the Woodstock Festival. In 2009, director Ang Lee made a movie based on the book.

Lee commented on Tiber's death: "One day in San Francisco, a total stranger gave me a book, and a couple of years later, I ended up making a movie from it. I still find this astonishing, but the stranger happened to be Elliot Tiber, one of the most interesting--and talkative--people I've ever met; and the book was Taking Woodstock, his wonderful memoir of that last moment of innocence in 1969. It was a privilege for me to share a part of Elliot Tiber's life, and history on screen. I will miss him."

Actor Demetri Martin said, "It was an honor to portray Elliot, not just because of the role he played in making Woodstock happen, but even more so because of the courage and candor with which he lived his life and shared his story."


Image of the Day: P.J. Tracy at Once Upon a Crime

P.J. Tracy (aka the mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht) launched the seventh title in the Monkeewrench series, The Sixth Idea (Putnam), with a discussion and signing at Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis, Minn. Pictured: Traci Lambrecht (l.) and store manager Devin Abraham.

Phoenix Books: 'Best of Vermont' Award Winner

Phoenix Books, Rutland, Vt.

Phoenix Books was the winner in the "Best Bookstore" category for this year's Seven Daysies awards, which are voted on by Vermonters. Independent weekly Seven Days, which hosted the "best of Vermont" competition in 150 categories, wrote: "Like a certain bird rising from the ashes of a decimated print media landscape (thnx, Internet), Phoenix Books has been plying Vermonters with sweet, sweet paper pages since opening its Essex location in 2007. Since then, married owners Mike DeSanto and Renee Reiner have expanded to Burlington (in 2012) and Rutland (in 2015)--and purchased Misty Valley Books in Chester this year. Judging by the growth of their mini empire--and your votes--it seems like Vermonters have had their say: Books are here to stay. (And if you're in the market for cards and quirky gifts, Phoenix has those, too!)"

"It is an honor to be awarded the Seven Daysies Award for Best Bookstore 2016," said general manager Colleen Shipman. "I want to thank everyone who voted for us, and also thank our customers for choosing Phoenix Books as their bookstore."

Earlier this summer, Phoenix Books in Rutland was awarded a "Best of the Best" Reader's Choice Award in the "Local Bookstore" category by the Rutland Herald. Huebner said, "Our customers have really been there for us since we opened last September. Many, many thanks to all of those who voted for us."

Buying and Selling Graphic Novels: A Ci4 Panel

At an ABC Children's Institute panel called "Buying and Selling Graphic Novels," four booksellers offered tips for managing an indie bookstore's graphic novels section. Bookselling This Week had a full writeup--although without illustrations.

'Local Bookstores Make a Great Community'

"It's great to be known for the Green Bay Packers and cheese curds and beer, but It's also nice to be known for this," the Press-Gazette noted in an article about the Reader's Loft Bookstore, Green Bay, Wis., headlined "Local bookstores make a great community."

The bookshop "still stocks its shelves with both new and used selections and is home to two friendly cats. There's a fireplace in one corner and a circle of comfy, sort of antiquey chairs and couches.... It's great to walk into a store where you can have a knowledgeable discussion about books with an employee who recognizes you. Someone who can offer book suggestions based on your favorite titles or authors, or who isn't afraid to tell you if they didn't like a selection. You can tell they love to read books as much as you do."

Book Trailer of the Day: Race Car Dreams

Race Car Dreams by Sharon Chriscoe, illustrated by Dave Mottram (Running Press Kids), trailer by Libby Farrell and Donna Farrell.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Etgar Keret on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Etgar Keret, author of The Seven Good Years: A Memoir (Riverhead, $16, 9780399576003).

Movies: Papillon; Peter Rabbit

Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) "is negotiating to star with Charlie Hunnam" in Papillon, a contemporary remake of the classic 1973 film that was based on the memoirs of convicted felon and fugitive Henri Charriere, Deadline reported. Directed by Michael Noer (Northwest) from a script by Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), the film will shoot in September.


James Corden (The Late Late Show) will voice the iconic lead bunny and Rose Byrne (Damages) is in negotiations to star in Sony's live-action/animation hybrid adaptation of the classic tale Peter Rabbit, Variety reported. Will Gluck is directing the movie, which will be "a modern interpretation of the Beatrix Potter stories, centering on the rivalry between the mischievous Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor. Byrne will play a live-action role."

Books & Authors

Awards: Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book

The shortlist has been unveiled for the £25,000 (about $32,825) Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, which "celebrates outstanding popular science books from around the world and is open to authors of science books written for a non-specialist audience." The winner will be announced September 19. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Most Perfect Thing by Tim Birkhead
The Hunt for Vulcan by Thomas Levenson
Cure by Jo Marchant
The Planet Remade by Oliver Morton
The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

Reading with... Hannah Gersen

photo: Krista Hoeppner Leahy

Hannah Gersen's debut novel is Home Field (Morrow, July 26, 2016). She is a staff writer for The Millions, and has written for many publications, including the New York Times, the Southern Review and She lives in New York City.

On your nightstand now:

My big reading project this year has been to reread In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, so one of those volumes is always on my nightstand. Right now, I'm finishing up the third volume, The Guermantes Way. I'm also reading Oliver Sacks's memoir, On the Move, and have been dipping in and out of The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams, which is a collection of beautiful essays about our national parks, and the natural world in general.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The first book I remember getting really excited about was Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends. I thought his poems were hilarious, and I memorized a bunch of them because they were so much fun to recite.

I also loved fairy tales, especially the Grimm versions, which were always very gruesome and stark.

When I was a little older, I was deeply attached to the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery, and read the first volume over and over again, especially when I was feeling angsty and needed a dose of Anne Shirley's romantic worldview.

Your top five authors:

It is hard to narrow them down to just five but here goes: John Cheever, Jamaica Kincaid, Marcel Proust, Leo Tolstoy and Evelyn Waugh.

Book you've faked reading:

Great Expectations was the first reading assignment I ever skipped. I was asked to read it in ninth grade English, but gave up after a few chapters. I've attempted to read it and a couple other Dickens novels a few times since, but the only story of his that I really love is A Christmas Carol.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Talk Stories by Jamaica Kincaid. This is a collection of Jamaica Kincaid's early, unsigned "Talk of the Town" pieces for the New Yorker. Not only do they give a lively portrait of New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they also show how Kincaid's voice developed, and eventually led to her beautiful and striking fiction.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I love it when publishers come out with pocket-sized editions of books because they remind me of the paperbacks I carried around when I was teenager. Last summer I bought a copy of Jess Walter's The Financial Lives of the Poets on impulse because it was reissued in a small size with a simple red cover, and also because I had such a good time reading Beautiful Ruins.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents didn't censor my reading, but my mother looked down on YA series like the Baby-Sitters Club, so if I wanted to read those, I did that on my lunch break at school.

Book that changed your life:

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. That's why I'm reading it again now. I learned so much about writing from this book the first time--and so much about art, politics, social life, private life, love, jealousy and friendship. It's so expansive and full of life; I can't recommend it highly enough.

Favorite line from a book:

"We are all of us obliged, if we are to make reality endurable, to nurse a few little follies in ourselves." --from In Search of Lost Time, Vol 2. by Marcel Proust

Five books you'll never part with:

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
The Collected Stories of John Cheever
The World According to Garp by John Irving
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I read this book in my early 20s after reading several of Waugh's early satirical novels, which are short, wickedly funny and narrated in perfect sentences. (Waugh once said he puts words on the page and then "pushes them around a little.") I expected Brideshead Revisited to be in the same vein, but it was completely different: epic and nostalgic with gorgeous prose that sometimes goes over the top. I loved being pulled into the world of this book and wish I could re-create the delight I felt when I first started reading it.

Book Review

Review: Here I Am

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28 hardcover, 592p., 9780374280024, September 6, 2016)

Here I Am, the first novel in 11 years from Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) is also his most ambitious and probing yet. It signals the accomplishment of a writer in full control of his extraordinary creative imagination, who has become comfortable with pushing the conventions of fiction to reveal how ordinary people respond to their fracturing world.

Jacob Bloch and his wife, Julia, the parents of three boys in Washington, D.C., prepare for their eldest son's bar mitzvah as their marriage collapses, against the global backdrop of a devastating earthquake and escalating conflict in the Middle East. The narrative perspective shifts to allow Julia or one of the boys to recount events from their points of view. And with his signature inventiveness, Foer incorporates political speeches, video games text, dialogue in the form of screenplays and even the Bible.

None of these flourishes obscure the emotional urgency at the heart of the novel. Jacob is consumed by his need to understand himself, his family and his Jewish identity, both in the United States and in Israel. He is well meaning but cannot escape his own repression, which stifles his ability to connect, to feel and to act, with inevitable costs to his marriage and other relationships.

What he can do is talk. He offers us his take on life's biggest moments and its most intimate and shaming; he considers the Jewish American response to the Holocaust, confesses details of his sex life, and explains his furtive attempts to relieve constipation with the same unblinking wit. This blending of big and small ensures that the novel never falls into self-importance despite its ambition. The ever-shifting dynamics between husbands and wives, fathers, sons and brothers are flawless, both darkly funny and compassionate. If the passages about political and religious identity are a little more abstract and don't achieve the same level of immediacy, Jacob's reactions to the personal and political alike reveal his singular and entertaining sensibility, and earn the novel its title.

Foer's inventiveness and his willingness to reveal his characters' vulnerabilities by putting them in situations that challenge their most fundamental assumptions have always characterized his novels. In Here I Am, the irresistible narrative gymnastics are as energetic and dazzling as ever and are in full service of a big, important novel from a confident, mature writer. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Shelf Talker: Jonathan Safran Foer's most personal and accomplished novel yet uses his signature energy and inventiveness to tell the story of a man confronting his collapsing marriage.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Olympic Bookathlon


"Beach reading" takes on a whole new meaning for the next couple of weeks as the 2016 Olympic Games open in tropical Rio de Janeiro. And even though idealistic visions of Chariots of Fire dudes running in slow motion have been replaced by cautionary news reports of polluted waters, Zika virus and doping scandals, the beachy opening ceremonies will nonetheless be staged tonight with all the anticipated five-ring hoopla.

In the spirit of the Olympics and their long, if occasionally stumbling-at-the-starting-line, history, I thought I'd officially propose adding a Bookathlon competition for booksellers to the 2020 Tokyo Games, with the following events:

Weightlifting (stacks of books)
Precision Shelving (timed event)
High Jump (for books on top shelves)
Staircase Sprint (with an armload of books)
Sales Floor Speedwalking (dodging customer hurdles)

Yes, I'm just a bit of a cynic when it comes to the spectacle. Reading David Goldblatt's brilliant The Games: A Global History of the Olympics recently has only fanned my world-weary Olympic flame. But reading is my way through most things. Find the best stories, like the ones Goldblatt shares.

Signature recently featured a "Summer Olympics primer: 10 books for the Rio de Janeiro games"; and Electric Literature recommended "18 books for your Summer Olympics deep dive." The July issue of Words Without Borders, "Brazil Beyond Rio," offered a compelling and "different look at the South American giant that will host this year's Olympic Games. The writers here--both those from abroad and those from Brazil--set out to rediscover and portray the diverse Brazils within this dynamic country."

Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin reads Knuffle Bunny for One Book 4 Colorado.

On a lighter note, Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin shared her "Rio Reading List" with Travel & Leisure magazine. "I'm a huge reader," she said, adding that a visit to the bookstore is generally part of her pre-packing routine. "A few days before a trip, I have a great time researching what everyone is reading and picking the books for my flight.... I really have to make sure that I have a good library set for me before takeoff."

Don't forget the kids. "Read your way to Rio! Your family's summer Olympics primer," Brightly advised. And Changing Hands bookstores in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., have been in the spirit with a Summer Olympics Reading Program.

A Rio bookseller has had his Olympic moment, too. In June, we reported that Rodrigo Ferrari, co-owner of Livraria e Edições Folha Seca, had to remove a sign from his display window that included the word "Olympics" because of product licensing violations. "I was worried, so I took it down, despite finding it absurd," he said.

Absurdity is something of an Olympic tradition, as the amazing BBC Four series Twenty-Twelve proved in the run-up to the London Games. There's even a Rio connection in scenes where British organizers discuss the "proper gift for a visiting Brazilian Olympic delegation," and then take them on a less-than-successful bus trip to tour facilities under construction and meet Lord Sebastian Coe.

A notable 2012 Olympic bookselling moment was the Quixotic, if well-intentioned, effort by David Mitchell, owner of Scarthin Books in Cromford, to act on his belief that the Olympics "should mark the efforts of those who come fourth in their event" by creating a new medal himself. No word on whether the organizing committee set its licensing wolves after him.

The arts have long played a role in Olympic tradition. In his introduction to The Games, Goldblatt notes that Baron de Coubertin, who organized the first modern Olympics in 1912, "had long believed that sport was not antithetical to the arts, but a distinct and important component of a society's cultural life. It therefore seemed natural to him, though not too many athletes and artists at the time, that the Olympic Games should also stage artistic, literary and musical competitions on the theme of sport."

While the 2012 London Games, for example, featured an ambitious "Cultural Olympiad," Rio's efforts have been hampered by drastic funding cuts, and "for the first time since 1992, the Olympic host city has not organized a four-year cultural program to culminate in the Games. Instead, it has focused on activities throughout its Olympic year and during Games time.... Organizers admitted there had been setbacks but said the line-up would be revealed soon and would feature flashmobs and 'surprises,' " Deutsche Welle reported.

What's an Olympic cynic to do? Maybe I'll just follow the sound advice Goldblatt offered in a recent Vice Sports interview:

A good dose of skepticism, a splendid sense of humor, and a deep sense of history, I think, are the essential equipment to take to the sofa.... I'm not asking people to take the weight of guilt upon their shoulders. And I don't think we're colluding by watching. But take a critical air, read around, and above all I encourage people to think, how could it be otherwise? It doesn't have to be as it is. There are things we like about it, but there will be a thousand things one finds irritating or irksome or unjust about it. And here's the critical moment to say: how can it be otherwise? What else would we like? It's a spring to the imagination.

So lift, shelve, reach, climb, walk and, above all, "read around." You're a future Olympic bookathlete in training. Act like one. --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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