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Good conversation, great books, and branches of flowering quince.
Good conversation, great books, and branches of flowering quince.
Rakestraw Books
February 2017
Dear Friend of Rakestraw Books,
As I was putting the finishing touches on this email newsletter, I was asked whether I thought buying fresh flowers -- in this case branches of flowering quince -- for the bookshop was worth it. Without hesitation, I said yes, but then I paused to think about why I had said yes.
Years ago when I was thinking about opening a bookstore I read an essay of novelist Jane Smiley in which she wrote eloquently about bookstores that struck a chord with me:
“Leaving any bookstore is hard, especially on a day in August, when the street outside burns and glares, and the books inside are cool and crisp to the touch; especially on a day in January, when the wind is blowing, the ice is treacherous, and the books inside seem to gather together in colorful warmth. It's hard to leave a bookstore any day of the year, though, because a bookstore is one of the few places where all the cantankerous, conflicting, alluring voices of the world co-exist in peace and order and the avid reader is as free as a person can possibly be, because she is free to choose among them.”
We work hard to make the bookstore a place of beauty and refuge and community in  a world that can often seem ugly and un-safe and isolating. Good conversation, great books, and, yes, branches of flowering quince on the front table.
This newsletter -- as always -- includes news of our upcoming author events, reviews of some favorite recent books, and updates from our book groups. We are also presenting a "SOUP-er BOWL SALE" this Sunday, so I have included details about that event.
We look forward to seeing you soon and, until then,
Happy Reading!
Michael Barnard
& the whole book-loving crew at Rakestraw Books
Writers Reading at Rakestraw Books
February - Early March 2017
Click here for more details.
Amy Ephron, author of The Castle in the Mist, visits Rakestraw Books on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 3:30 PM.
2/16 Amy Ephron
In the tradition of Edward Eager and E.L. Konigsburg, a novel about the excitement--and the dangers--of wishing.
Tess and her brother, Max, are sent for the summer to their aunt's sleepy village in the English countryside, where excitement is as rare as a good wifi signal. So when Tess stumbles upon an old brass key that unlocks an ornately carved gate, attached to a strangely invisible wall, she jumps at the chance for adventure. And the world beyond the gate doesn't disappoint. She finds rose gardens, a maze made of hedges, and a boy named William who is just as lonely as she is. But at William's castle, strange things begin to happen. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there's William's eerie warning: Beware of the hawthorn trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.
In a magical, fantasy world that blurs the line between reality and imagination, readers are left to wonder exactly what they'd wish for if wishes could come true. Perfect for fans of Half Magic and The Secret Garden--and for anyone who's ever wondered if magic is real.
We are excited to offer a special after school event with Amy Ephron. She will be reading from, and discussing The Castle in the Mist. A booksigning will follow.
Click here for more details.
Elinor Lipman, author of On Turpentine Lane, visits Rakestraw Books on Tuesday, 21 February 2017 at 7 PM.  
2/21 Elinor Lipman
An endearing romantic comedy from the beloved best-selling author of The Family Man and The View from Penthouse B.
At thirty-two, Faith Frankel has returned to her claustro-suburban hometown, where she writes institutional thank-you notes for her alma mater. It's a peaceful life, really, and surely with her recent purchase of a sweet bungalow on Turpentine Lane her life is finally on track. Never mind that her fiance is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, too busy to return her texts (but not too busy to post photos of himself with a different woman in every state). And never mind her witless boss, or a mother who lives too close, or a philandering father who thinks he's Chagall. When she finds some mysterious artifacts in the attic of her new home, she wonders whether anything in her life is as it seems. What good fortune, then, that Faith has found a friend in affable, collegial Nick Franconi, officemate par excellence . . .
Elinor Lipman may well have invented the screwball romantic comedy for our era, and here she is at her sharpest and best. On Turpentine Lane is funny, poignant, and a little bit outrageous. During this special return visit to Rakestraw Books, Elinor will be reading from, and discussing, On Turpentine Lane. A book signing will follow.
Come meet Elinor Lipman at Rakestraw Books on Tuesday, 21 February 2017 at 7 PM.
Click here for more details.
Alex George, author of Setting Free the Kites, visits Rakestraw Books on Friday, 24 February 2017 at 7 PM.
2/24 Alex George
From the author of the "lyrical and compelling" (USA Today) novel A Good American comes a powerful story of two friends and the unintended consequences of friendship, loss, and hope.
For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly, who changes everything. Nathan is confident, fearless, impetuous--and fascinated by kites and flying. Robert and Nathan's budding friendship is forged in the crucible of two family tragedies, and as the boys struggle to come to terms with loss, they take summer jobs at the local rundown amusement park. It's there that Nathan's boundless capacity for optimism threatens to overwhelm them both, and where they learn some harsh truths about family, desire, and revenge.
Unforgettable and heart-breaking, Setting Free the Kites is a poignant and moving exploration of the pain, joy, and glories of young friendship.We are delighted to invite you to a special event with author Alex George. During his visit, Alex will be reading from, and discussing, Setting Free the Kites. A book signing follows.
Come meet Alex George at Rakestraw Books on Friday,
24 February 2017 at 7 PM.
Click here for more details.
Bill Hayes, author of Insomniac City, visits Rakestraw Books on Wednesday, 1 March 2017 at 7 PM.
3/1 Bill Hayes
"A beautifully written once-in-a-lifetime book, about love, about life, soul, and the wonderful loving genius Oliver Sacks, and New York, and laughter and all of creation."--Anne Lamott
Bill Hayes came to New York City in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city's incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera.
And he unexpectedly fell in love again, with his friend and neighbor, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose exuberance--"I don't so much fear death as I do wasting life," he tells Hayes early on--is captured in funny and touching vignettes throughout. What emerges is a portrait of Sacks at his most personal and endearing, from falling in love for the first time at age seventy-five to facing illness and death (Sacks died of cancer in August 2015). Insomniac City is both a meditation on grief and a celebration of life. Filled with Hayes's distinctive street photos of everyday New Yorkers, the book is a love song to the city and to all who have felt the particular magic and solace it offers.
During his visit to Rakestraw Books, Bill will be reading from, and discussing, Insomniac City (we're hoping for a slide show of his photographs too!). A book signing will follow.
Come meet Bill Hayes on Wednesday, 1 March 2017 at 7 PM.
Click here for more details.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar returns to Rakestraw Books on Thursday, 2 March 2017 at 10 AM.
3/2 The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds Have you shared it with a child or grandchild in your life?
Carle's classic tale of a voracious caterpillar who eats his way through the days of the week and then changes into a beautiful butterfly has been enchanting children since its first publication in 1969.
During our event with The Very Hungry Caterpillar (it's big, cuddly costume that kids love!), we will reading some stories, doing a craft project (we hope! It's a little contigent on the age of our audience!), and taking lots of pictures! There might even a snack or two.
Come meet The Very Hungry Caterpillar at Rakestraw Books on Thursday, 2 March 2017 at 10 AM.
Rakestraw's Readers Recommend
Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy this book from Rakestraw Books.
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (Henry Holt, $32.50). As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written, yet with a passion for realism and a great tenderness and fierce attachment to history and to life itself that readers have never seen from Auster before. 4 3 2 1 is a marvelous and unforgettably affecting tour de force. Signed copies available. Buy this book.
The Patriots by Sana Krasikov (Spiegel & Grau, $28). A sweeping multigenerational debut novel about idealism, betrayal, and family secrets that takes us from Brooklyn in the 1930s to Soviet Russia to post-Cold War America. Buy this book.
On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor (Simon & Schuster, $25). Throughout, Moor reveals how this single topic--the oft-overlooked trail--sheds new light on a wealth of age-old questions: How does order emerge out of chaos? How did animals first crawl forth from the seas and spread across continents? How has humanity's relationship with nature and technology shaped world around us? And, ultimately, how does each of us pick a path through life? Buy this book.
Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy the book from Rakestraw Books.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, (Harper, $15.99). Welcome to Night Vale . . . a friendly desert community somewhere in the American Southwest. In this ordinary little town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are commonplace parts of everyday life, the lives of two women, with two mysteries, are about to converge. Buy this book.
The Fireman by Joe Hill (Morrow, $18.99). In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman's secrets before her life--and that of her unborn child--goes up in smoke. The Fresh Air interview with Joe Hill (it's a pseudonym) was so interesting that I had to read The Fireman. What a dark, disturbing, and riveting thriller! Buy this book.

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier (Penguin, $16). With impeccable research and flawless prose, Chevalier perfectly conjures the grandeur of the pristine Wild West . . . and the everyday adventurers male and female who were bold enough or foolish enough to be drawn to the unknown. She crafts for us an excellent experience. Buy this book.
Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy this book from Rakestraw Books.
Who Killed Piet Barol? by Richard Mason (Knopf, $27.95). A haunting, gloriously imagined novel by the acclaimed author of History of a Pleasure Seeker ("a classic" --The Washington Post), set in early twentieth-century colonial Cape Town, and a forest full of witch doctors, stingless bees, and hungry leopards. Buy this book.
The Book Thieves by Anders Rydell (Viking, $28). For readers of The Hare with Amber Eyes and The Monuments Men comes the story of the Nazis systematic looting of Europe's libraries -- public and private -- and the small team of heroic librarians (though we'd say that all librarians are heroic!) working selflessly to return the books to their rightful owners. Buy this book.
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon (Anchor, $16.95).From a dazzling new voice in historical fiction, Flight of Dreams is a suspenseful, heart-wrenching novel that brings the fateful voyage of the Hindenburg to life. Buy this book.
Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy this book from Rakestraw Books.
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (TinHouse Books, $25.95). From the author of the award-winning and word-of-mouth sensationOur Endless Numbered Days comes an exhilarating literary mystery that will keep readers guessing until the final page.
The Evenings by Gerard Reve (Pushkin Press, $22). 'I work in an office. I take cards out of a file. Once I have taken them out, I put them back in again. That is it.' Twenty-three-year-old Frits - office worker, daydreamer, teller of inappropriate jokes - finds life absurd and inexplicable. He lives with his parents, who drive him mad. He has terrible, disturbing dreams of death and destruction. Sometimes he talks to a toy rabbit.
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25). "So delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way. What powerful tension and depth this provides "--Aimee Bender. Winner of the McGinnis-Ritchie award for its first chapter, Emily Fridlund's propulsive and gorgeously written History of Wolves introduces a new writer of enormous range and talent. 
The Exploits of Deities, Dwarfs, and Giants:
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin's son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki--son of a giant--blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor's hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman--difficult with his beard and huge appetite--to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir--the most sagacious of gods--is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.
We have a limited number of copies of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (W.W. Norton, $25.95) available for purchase. Call us at (925) 837-7337 to reserve your copy.
Watch a video introduction to Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.
Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy this book from Rakestraw Books. Buy this book from Rakestraw Books.
Book Group News
Julie's Book Group -- This group meets on Friday, 24 February 2017 at 10:30 AM to discuss The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf.
3rd Tuesday Group -- This group meets on Tuesday, 21 February 2017 at 10:30 AM to discuss Our Souls at Nght by Kent Haruf.
Evening Book Group -- This group meets on Tuesday, 28 February 2017 at 7 PM to discuss Amnesia by Peter Carey.
Please call the shop at (925) 837-7337 for information about our new Mother-Daughter Book Group.
SOUP-er Bowl Sale -- One Day Only!
To encourage you to come visit the bookshop on Super Bowl Sunday, 5 February 2017, we're offering our first-ever SOUP-er Bowl Sale!
Bring in a canned good (or two!) or another non-perishable food item and receive 15% off your purchase (doesn't apply to special orders and, remember, cash is always appreciated!).
We're open from 11 AM to 3 PM, so our football-loving bookseller can watch the game too!
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