Buried in Books

This is the week of the Friends of the SFPL Big Book Sale and I’ve been busy.  Lots of fun, lots of work.

Here are some photos of the wonderful bookish madness.  Click on these photos to appreciate the full enormity of this sale.  A massive amount of work is required by volunteers, corporate sponsored volunteers, and staff to pull off this – the largest used book sale on the West Coast.

Each year, the Friends ask for table sponsors in order to raise money for the sale, so this year Book Barmy took part.  Here’s the sign and the table — Graphic Novels and Comics —  a most popular table indeed.

I must admit after awhile, working at the Big Sale gets pretty overwhelming, so many books ~~ etc.  For a break, I sign up for extra shifts at my regular haunt,  the permanent Readers Bookstore in a separate building at Fort Mason.

While back at the store, I got to meet the delightful Scott from Furrowed Middlebrow blog, photographic evidence here…my bad hair day notwithstanding.

Go to Scott’s blog, it’s fascinating, as he specializes in British Women writers from the mid-20th century.  Even more impressive, he started his own imprint, Furrowed Middlebrow Books, published by Dean Street Press.  This series of books had been long forgotten and unpublished until Scott got them reissued.  ~~~ Those covers, sigh, I want every title…

The Big Book Sale goes on through Sunday, so if you’re in the area, stop by – info HERE.Or any time of the year come by the permanent Readers Bookstores – info HERE

Thus endeth my shameless promotion of the Friends of the SFPL, the Big Book Sale, and the Readers Bookstores.

My enthusiasm knows no shame.

 

In other news, we’re off to Lake Tahoe for a week.   I’ve plucked a few popular thrillers from my toppling pile of publisher’s ARCs taunting me and causing great guilt.

 

 

Back next week.

 

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Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

I read Tulip Fever years ago en route to a holiday in the Netherlands. I wanted learn about the tulip frenzy of the 1630’s, when bulb prices soared beyond anyone’s imagined riches.  I also wanted to read about the golden age of the Dutch masters.  What I wasn’t expecting was that I would be treated to a rollicking great story… complete with a sprinkling of sex and a bit of a mystery.

Set in 1636 Amsterdam, Tulip Fever is a novel of passion and deception. It is the time of the tulip craze and the Dutch were enjoying great wealth.  Sophia is the young wife of Cornelis Sandvoort, a prosperous older merchant.  She agreed to the marriage only because he funded her poor family’s immigration to America.    Their marriage has not produced a child, so Cornelis decides to immortalize themselves by having their portrait painted.  He hires Jan van Loos, an up and coming young artist.  Not only does the portrait sitting bring some excitement into their dull household routine, it brings a secret love affair for Sophia and Jan.  Their relationship is carried on with the complicity of the household maid, Maria who has her own secrets.

Ms. Moggach intertwines the story and her characters with the 17th century Amsterdam tulip mania and it’s eventual crash (can we say dot.com folks?).  There are lies, secrets, betrayals, and plot twists that keep the reader totally immersed.  Then, if you’re like me, you’ll gasp as the  consequences reverberate into the various characters fates, positions, wealth, and lives.

Tulip Fever has been recently adapted into a film, which I saw recently.  I have to admit I really enjoyed the film and thought it was actually a very good adaptation of the book.

The film has Dame Judi Dench as a somewhat disreputable nun and the screenplay was written by Tom Stoppard.  It is visually stunning and the costumes are amazing.  But I have to wonder at the 17th century fashionista who came up with these.

So which am I recommending? Well, the answer is both — Tulip Fever the book and Tulip Fever the film. Do both, I say.  Film trailer HERE.

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Big ~~ Really Big ~~ Book Sale

If you’re barmy about books and in the Bay Area…

Here it is…

The Largest Used Book Sale on the West Coast!

 

The 53rd Annual Big Book Sale will be held at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion from September 20th – 24th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There will be a Preview Sale for members on September 19th  4-8 p.m.

This year’s Big Book Sale will have over a half-a-million (yes, you read that right – 500,000 +)  books and media.  All priced at $3 or less.

And everything goes for $1 on the last day of the sale, Sunday, September 24th.

All to benefit the San Francisco Public Library and its invaluable community programs.

 

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Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Lucky old me, I was granted an advanced reading copy of Glass Houses and read it in three days.  I could have read it in a day, but had to slow myself from ripping through this newest gripping mystery from Louise Penny.

As many of you know by now, I’m a fan —  I’ve read every one of Ms. Penny’s Chief Superintendent Gamache novels and that I can’t stop raving about her characters, multi-layed plots, and often gorgeous writing.

Ms. Penny was a CBC journalist and in interviews she says this experience gave her insight into people at their most vile, but also she got to witness acts of incredible forgiveness.  As such, her mysteries involve dark human acts, but balance this evil with mankind’s redeeming graces.  Not only am I a fan of her poetic phrasing and intelligent writing, but also her luscious food descriptions.  (She says she writes with a pile of cookbooks on one side and poetry books on the other.)

Each of Ms. Penny’s books has a theme and in Glass Houses it’s conscience~~ having a conscience, acting on your conscience, avoiding your conscience, and the consequences therein.

A mysterious dark hooded and caped figure appears on the village green of Three Pines town square. The figure stands, unmoving for several days and upsets the entire village.  There is nothing Gamache can do as the figure just stands, but he is also concerned.  Turns out this figure is a “Cobrador del frac” – a Spanish debt collector with roots in the Middle Ages.  The Cobrador is meant to publicly shame debtors by stalking them and reminding them of their indebtedness.  But the villagers have no idea who the Cobrador is meant to intimidate.

Glass Houses has a bit of a new style, Ms. Penny goes back and forth in time using Gamache on the stand in court as a conduit for unraveling the mystery of the Cobrador and subsequent murder in Three Pines.

But Gamache has more to deal with than the murder, he is simultaneously  planning a secretive massive drug operation on the US/Canadian border.  He must tread carefully, as he’s still not sure who he can trust, after uncovering rampant corruption within the Sûreté du Quebec.

Once again, Ms. Penny weaves thoughtful prose with historical references. She uses the phrase “burn the boats”, during Gamache’s drug operations, which was how Cortez prevented his armies from retreating to Spain.  And poor Gamache continually has the children’s rhyme “ashes, ashes, they all fall down” running through his mind, which gives the reader not only the same brain worm, but an extra layer of suspense to the throat clenching last few chapters.

The Three Pines regulars don’t play a large part in Glass Houses, but Clara has a showing of her portraits of each of the villagers and the paintings reveal a wonderful insight for each of them.

Thank goodness Ruth* and her foul-mouthed duck are still causing trouble, there’s plenty of mouthwatering food, and cozy evenings at Myrna’s bookstore with cocoa and cookies.

There now, stop — that’s all I’ll tell you about Glass Houses – no spoilers here.

As with any of Ms. Penny’s mysteries — you’ll fall hard for the characters and the imaginary Three Pines, you’ll laugh and cringe at the village mishaps and misunderstandings, you’ll be deeply invested in the solution of the crime, and you will never– ever be bored.

 

I told you I went to see Ms. Penny on book tour yesterday, well this photo perfectly captures her spirit and personality.

“Surprised by Joy”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Ms. Penny quote:  “Ruth is the Greek chorus of the village of Three Pines.”

 

Thank you to Minotaur Books for a digital advanced readers copy via Netgalley.

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Seeing Ms. Louise Penny

We’re having a blinking heat wave, so who (or what) could entice me away from my relatively cooler ocean breeze over to Book Passage in Marin where it’s a gazillion degrees?

Okay, you’ve already guessed the answer… Louise Penny of course.  She’s on book tour for her newest book Glass Houses which came out just a few days ago.

The store was packed for this appearance and I was told it had been sold out for days.  It was hot and sticky but not one of us minded because Ms. Penny was upbeat, witty, and as always, gracious.

Here’s how crowded it was (I’m not in the photo — I’ve learned to sit up front left on the window ledge- where it’s less claustrophobic).

 

Fellow mystery writer and Ms. Penny’s good friend  Rhys Bowen introduced Ms. Penny and it was great fun.  If you look closely you can see the sweat on everyone’s faces.  Air conditioning just couldn’t handle the hordes of Ms. Penny’s fans.

I’m back home now admiring my beautiful autographed copy of Glass Houses.

But, never fear you lucky Barmy fans ~~I’ve already read it.

So tune in over the weekend, when I promise to give you the full BookBarmy review – without spoilers.

But right now, I’ve got to get me some ice tea.  It’s now late afternoon and it’s even hot out out here by the ocean.

Later gator. 

 

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Some housekeeping

Technical Update

 

Thank you to all the BookBarmy Newsletter Subscribers out there.   You should know we are having problems with the newsletter delivery system.  Bigger brains than mine are working on the issue (or issues) and I am assured that all will be well soon.  Until the problem is fixed, rest assured BookBarmy has not gone anywhere.  Still here, still posting – you’ll just have to check back here yourselves every few days or so.

If you’re not a subscriber and in future, would like to receive a simple email notice when there is a new BookBarmy post you can sign up below right.

 

 

 

The Great British Baking Show Update

 

There’s been a major shake up at one of my favorite series –The Great British Baking Show —The Great British Bake Off as it’s called in the U.K. (it had to be changed here because Pillsbury owns the rights to the term “bake off”) will be going to Channel 4, the British commercial network, after the Bake Off production company accepted a higher offer to leave the BBC.  Mary Barry and the two comic announcers Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc — left in protest. Only Paul Hollywood will stay with the show as it moves British networks.

Being the geek that I am, I’ve done my research and PBS has bought season five which they will air here next summer.  So all is not lost.

In the meantime, try and catch at least the final episode of Season four which aired on PBS recently.  In the final challenge of the final episode they prepare an extravagant picnic basket fit for the Queen. It’s tension filled as the contestants have to complete a mind boggling range of items — a chocolate cake, quiches, sausage rolls, little cakes – it goes on and on, quite amazing really.  … and in the end there were three …

 

 

 

Reading Update

Yes, my prettys, I am absorbed into Glass Houses, Louise Penny’s newest novel, which comes out next week.

At the risk of being repetitive, I urge you call in sick that day, cancel your appointments, get thee to your local bookstore and find a place to read undisturbed.   All I will say is, your money and time will be well spent.

In the meantime, here is a silly interview from this morning’s talk shows. Poor Ms. Penny barely gets a chance to speak and the brash “American-ness” of the interview itself made me squirm.  And what’s with the oh-so-not-clever  “Penny Wise” caption throughout?    But here you go.  Video HERE

 

 

There —  that’s all my housekeeping done – at least here on BookBarmy – around my home — not so much, because you see I am “with book”.

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a political escape…

I’ve found an escape, a Camelot of political integrity…a place where the White House is doing the right things (mostly), making decisions with future generations in mind, and maintaining the governance of our Constitution as best they can.

If you’re also in need of respite —  come with me to the magical world of West Wing (on Netflix).  Watch a few episodes of this extraordinary and beautifully written television series.

Yes, it’s a White House of imagination and sometimes over the top… but I highly recommend just an episode of West Wing ~~ here and there.

Choose any episode at random, see how it could be done.

At least for me, it keeps some perspective when I see the activities in the actual West Wing and today’s White House.

Now, now ~~ before you lecture and accuse me of hiding my head in the sand —  I’m active in local politics and am supporting my political party towards both the midterms and 2020.  I’m not copping out, I’m not giving up on our government or our country — but egads — every so often, a gal needs a break.

 

 

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