I’m not a new year’s resolution type of person. Instead I’m one who prefers to go with a theme that gives me a broad sweep of ways to be a better person, Theme possibilities included things such as tolerance, volunteerism, and organization. I narrowed it down to two: kindness and gratitude. The final decision was kindness with the goal of being more intentional about all the facets of kindness. I could work on being a good neighbor, or performing random acts of kindness or even being kind to myself by getting more balance in my life or more exercise. I wanted it to be more than sharing the biggest piece of the candy bar. The kindness I wanted to work on was the kind that could be synonymous with compassion.With that in mind, I was eager to read two books that seemed to be getting a lot of buzz: Twelve Steps to a More Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong and 365 Thank Yous, How Simple Acts of Daily Gratitude Changed a Life by John Kralik. Just as I was dipping into them, the events and responses of the Arizona shooting happened and they became relevant in a whole new way. Anyone who is wanting to make a fresh start or make a difference or be uplifted, if even in a small or personal way, will find inspiration and help in these two books.Armstrong’s book on compassion is part practical, part philosophical, and part spiritual. Her chapters such as “How should we speak to one another?” or “Love your enemies” have implications for us as individuals and as a country. It’s clear I’m going to have to ramp up my approach to my kindness theme but that golden rule we learned as children seems to be in play in a big way here.In the second book, 365 Thank Yous, the author states he had a difficult year with challenges and struggles in almost every aspect of his life. On self-reflection he realized he wanted to take things in a different direction and decided to reframe his outlook. Kralik remembers his grandfather who gave him a silver dollar every time he wrote him a thank you note. Kralik then undertakes the task of writing a thank you note every day for a year and found that this changed his life. This is a story about a seemingly simple task that is told with heart and soul.While we are on the topic, we at Redbery Books are grateful to be a part of this community. We enjoy that our customers have become our friends. We smile when right before our eyes we see friendships happen between customer and customer. We learn the meaning of compassion when a visitor to our area drops everything to help one of our disabled local residents with the ice on her door. We are enriched by the shared excitement over books and ideas from both kids and adults. I can’t imagine a better place to be in business as an independent bookseller. We thank all of you that help make this possible.
10 things under $20. to givea graduate in 2010 – in addition to money. How’d you get so smart? By David Milgrim – The traditional gift book, Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The PlacesYou’ll Go has some competition and you want something a little different, there are several from which to choose.100 Words Every – There’s a 100 Words Everyone Should Know for several milestones, high school,college, freshman. Most graduates use e-dictionaries so the traditional reference books are less useful for the average major. This little $4.95 book doesn’t pretend to be a dictionary, just a fun little mind game.Bananagrams – A word game that packs easily in a backpack.Good for when a student wants to unplug and socialize in a coffee shop or dorm lounge. $14.95Chic U, The College Girl’s Guide to Everything – If helping to alleviate the angst for the college bound is high on your list,there are several new ones as well as a couple of classics such as Been There should’ve done that. And for the guys, How to Tie a Tie and Other Lessons For Succeeding in LifeDesk accessories – Cute pack of coordinated post-its, file folders, pens, and bookends.Journal – One Line a Day.One of my favorites and a good way to encourage the habit of daily recording of thoughts. This technique was popular in another era and is being rediscovered. Recently, a customer told me that she had her dad’s 5 lines a day journal that he kept during the war. What a treasure. This is also a good book for mom and dad to record the passing of a childhood. Journals for the artist and the verbose are also available.Reading Light – Useful for the obvious when roomies are on a different schedule.Inspiration – A gift book that provides inspiration such as Michael J. Fox’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future or I Believe.Yoga – For not only fighting the Frosh 15 but also moving toa place of peace in a culture that thrives under stress. Find a book for any level and any degree of commitment.Pens – We carry lovely and funky pens with a personality.For a special graduate.AND if you want to still give the green stuff, buy one of the ten above and tuck in a greenback for a bookmark.
This off-season we took the opportunity for a real vacation. Opportunity because we just haven’t taken time the last few years to do so. When sick with pneumonia last summer I knew it was a wake-up call to take better care of myself and to get a little more balance. So with frequent flyer miles,10 days and 8 books we headed out of the country. Eight books, really? Well, that was the compromise to myself, 2 for pleasure for each of us and 4 as part of our guidebook research. Over the years we have developed a pattern for travel guides we look to but it was a habit rather than a choice. We knew some of those guides didn’t always correlate with our travel needs. Those four star hotels sounded great until you looked at the number of dollar signs. For this trip we took Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, Fodors and DK Eyewitness Travel. Each day’s itinerary was checked out casually in each guide. Blame it on jet lag but we forgot to unpack the Fodor’s the first half of the trip. Also, I can’t speak to the accommodation recommendations as were fortunate to have use of a house through acquaintances and connections. Our informal analysis came up with these thoughts:We loved Rick Steve’s walking tours and his recommendations were spot-on for dining (or fooding and drinking). It was a nice blend of special occasion places as well as some mixing with the locals. We had the feeling Rick had traveled these streets. His maps leave something to be desired but if you want to get into the culture and local flavor, this is a consistent favorite.Lonely Planet has a great writing style, sense of humor, and the ability to show us with words rather than telling. Instead of telling us traffic was going to be constant rush hour, he put it this way: “People who do wrong in life are made to drive to St. Tropez when they die.”The DK Eyewitness Travel series is a handy size for travel but could be a mini coffee table book with its full color layout. Sidebars, historical commentary, and photographs make this an engaging format. It’s straightforward which would make it perfect for an armchair traveler as well.All four of these guide suggestions are down-to-earth, sensible, middle of the road travel. Of course, we realize that not everyone has the same travel needs and we can point you to other travel guides, based on your expectations. Many publishers have jumped in the travel guide market, each with a bit different slant. We’d love to hear about your favorites.When you are ready to plan your trip we can offer 48-hour service on your order. A store our size doesn’t stock specific destination travel guides. But we do carry a nice selection of travel books that will inspire you, offer insight into novel destinations, and suggest 500 places to travel to whatever your passion is.
Yesterday, I had a conversation with a customer about the knitted scarf she was wearing and made by her adult son. (Yes, it was cold enough to be wearing a scarf). We talked about how no one ever forgets the aunt, the colleague or the grandma who taught one to knit. And don’t you remember the handmade knitted gifts you received, whether they fit or not? One of my favorites was a gold sweater with a purple K (for my hometown) fashioned after the pep-club sweater the high school girls wore. It might be nerdy today but it was important those many years ago. Soon after, the aunt who made the sweater sat down with me and taught me how to knit. I was eight years old. The conversation then turned to books and how similar the two experiences of reading and knitting can be, especially when in the formative stages. I’m guessing we all have early reading experiences and favorite books that had some sort of impact on us. Or maybe just the lucky ones did? Often the life-long passion for either one comes from one moment, one memory, or one experience. It can belong to any group, any socio-economic level, any race, or any ability. Our wish is that every adult has a child in her/his life to pass the spark Redbery’s mission is to help promote the possibilities. Story times, Books and Babies, GrandReads, and a kid-friendly atmosphere are just some of the ways we try to make that happen.Our GrandReads program is for adults who want to have that sort of connection to a special child in their lives. When a child is in enrolled in the program, he/she receives a book in the mail on a regular basis, depending on the frequency selected.What sets this book club apart from others is that the child receives a book especially selected to interests based on information we receive from the adult. In addition, an email with talking points about the book to encourage conversation between the adult and child is sent to the adult. Click on grandreads on the menu bar at the top of this page for more detail.Nerdy or not, we love what we do, almost as much as the goldsweater.
Redbery is in season. Have you seen all of the red and white in the stores? We have a few red and white displays of our own. Some of our titles for Valentine’s Day are the expected and marketed specifically for Feb. 14th.
I think it is fun to think outside of the usual and put together something especially for the special people in your life. We have a couple of gorgeous coffee table cookbooks. Tie a coupon for a romantic make-at-home dinner and you’d have a winner. Fill in the blank of what follows “for the Love of” and create a gift basket. We can put together a package for the lover of writing with a designer, quality pen, a journal, and few books on writing. Or how about for the love of the outdoors, gardening, chocolate, mystery? The possibilities are endless.
My favorite romantic book from my reading list this year is Julia Child’s My Life in France. You might have thought this book was about cooking and you would be partially right. It’s also about Julia’s marriage as well as her love affair with Paris, food, and living life. Long before, Valentine’s Day became the commercial success it is today, Julia and Paul had a tradition of creating a unique valentine card for friends and family including one that pictured them in a bubbly bath with hearts floating in the air. While nothing as exciting as that, Bill and I are trying out the valentine tradition this year but for us it was a practicality too. We just can’t seem to get the hang of being in retail at Christmas and still balance all the traditions of that season. So we turned our Christmas card list into a Valentine List this year. You may have guessed that the card features our new granddaughter.
Stop by Redbery Books for your inspiration for a heartfelt gift.
My niece invited me to join her family for dinner tonight at a Mexican restaurant in her neighborhood. It just so happens that it is in the neighborhood where I started my teaching career many years ago. This particular restaurant was in existence at that time and a watering hole for staff on occasion and an occasional lunch spot for the few times a year that lunch wasn’t a grab-and-go in the faculty room. I haven’t been there for years and was surprised it was still in existence.Still, it poked the memory and prompted a connection to the book I’m currently reading, The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. Ever since a traumatic brain injury, the professor has only eighty minutes of short-term memory. He is defined by his past and then by eighty minute segments. That would mean by bedtime tonight I could remember my time at the restaurant from the ‘70s but not know my great-nephew from 81 minutes earlier. Would I be more mindful of living in the moment today just as I probably did when I was forty years younger? The Professor is a mathematical genius and a baseball fan and that becomes an avenue for connections with the Housekeeper. Both characters are referred to only by their roles, no other names identify them. When she first meets the man with notes pinned all over his jacket, the Housekeeper expects initially to be one of many in the line of housekeepers who didn’t work out. As they are drawn into each other’s lives, family is defined in a new way.A heartwarming and elegant story. The mention that math, numbers, formulas, and equations are interspersed throughout the story might put off some readers and that would be a loss. I personally am not one who spends much time thinking about numbers except when I run the z tape at the register each day. I’m loving this book. I’d also love to see the original before translation. I’m guessing the strings of numbers would be elegant. So tonight, Henry the one-year old will be the prime number.
I was asked recently if the bookstore is fulfilling in the ways I expected when we started Redbery Books nearly five years ago. It was a heady question and caused me to pause before answering, not because it hasn’t been fulfilling. That’s an easy one. Yes, it has. Instead, it took me back to all the reasons Redbery Books was launched. Looking for a new challenge, a creative outlet, and an opportunity to grow were items on that long list. So how am I doing? Check here for a regular update on how that’s working out for me.
The challenge of pricing with the big guys has always been a challenge. We know we can’t compete on price but we feel the shopping local experience has a lot of value added. That's a topic for another day. And to those who wonder if Redbery Books is shopping at the big guys and reselling locally. There are several reasons not to get into that game but being able to look my customers in the eye is a big one.