Resources for a Fruitful Life

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Pom Blog has MOVED!

We've unveiled a new website, and our blog is now on our site.  This blogspot blog will serve as our blog archive.  To visit our new blog, please click here.

Our primary website is at http://www.pombooks.net

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Basking in the Glory of Fame

The great thing about indie bookstores is that you never know who you're going to run into. Someone running for office, a well-known local public radio host, a classmate from a community Spanish class four years ago-the list goes on. Wilmington is a pretty small town, for its 150,000 metro size. If you get out much, you're almost guaranteed to run into friends and neighbors a few times a week.

Over the past couple of weeks at Pomegranate, it's been "famous local author drop by week." (And these are just pics from when I happened to be at the shop, which is usually unplanned and highly sporadic.) Bask in the reflected fame of our local writers done good. SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION ALERT!!! ---> And REMEMBER, if you would like a copy of one of their books, we can most certainly get it for you :)

Wilmington-Area Authors Visit

Dana Sachs
Author of:  The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam

If you Lived Here  (a novel)

The House on Dream Street  (a memoir)

Those are her most recent books.  Dana stopped by to purchase and ship some gifts to friends, and pick up a special order.  She was also gracious enough to sign some more copies of her books for us.  Dana was featured on NPR a couple of weeks ago!  Great job, Dana!

David Hume
Author of (most recently): Beyond the Long Eared Mountains

David creates and illustrates all of his stories and novels based on his wide knowledge and experience with music, art, and world travels. He's also a painter, and stopped by to curate his collection of art currently on display at Pomegranate Books.

Michelle Boyajian

Author of:
Lies of the Heart

UNCW MFA graduate Michelle Boyajian was in on Friday for a reading from her newly published book. She's also featured in People Magazine this week! Congratulations, Michelle!

Juliana Morgan

Author of:
Buddy Gets a Second Chance
Zach's Tracks

Both great books for the 2nd-4th grade set.  Zach's Tracks is about the true-life adventures of Zach, one of the world's largest terriers!

Barbara Sullivan

Author of:
Garden Perennials for the Coastal South
Barbara participated in our recent GARDEN EXTRAVAGANZA DAY, answering questions about gardening, and signing her book.

Fredi Olster

Co-Author of:
The Discovering Shakespeare Series

I'd love to tell you more about Fredi, but I was bolting out the door after already being sucked into the Pomegranate vortex for longer than I had intended to.  Those of you who come here often know what I mean!  Fredi's books are great for school teachers and students, that much I picked up when I was hanging around the shop on Saturday!

Each of these writers were fantastically patient while I grabbed their books and posed them in a very cheesy and self-promotional stance.  They never would have done it on their own, I can assure you.  The only reason I don't have one of Michelle like that is that I was home slaving away on this blog while she was reading.  And, apparently, I missed a great event. It was fun to see and meet everyone this week.  Y'all come back, ya hear?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bookstore Tour: Salt Lake City

I waste no time.  That was the caption to the picture of this sign that I tweeted approximately 1 hour after landing from a cross country flight to Salt Lake City.  Where to go when you have little time before you're so tired you can't stand up?  Why, a bookstore of course.

Willing Accomplice

My husband says I buy a lot of books. Well yes, I do.  But let me just point out that he was the DRIVER in this situation.  He could have gone straight to the hotel.  This incriminating picture:

Shows that Joe is less than upset at our haul.  Just sayin'.

Encyclopedic Collections

It is expensive to shelve one of everything an author has ever written.  RARELY do you ever see that in a brick-and-mortar bookstore.  That's one thing that sets The Kings English apart from other shops-both indies and big-box-books.  It is pretty neat to browse a writer's whole career.  You make connections that you might not otherwise.  For instance, I had no idea that Jim Harrison was author of Legends of the Fall.


As I mentioned before in my San Fran Area bookstore tour blog post, I enjoy seeing how different shops categorize.  The most interesting at TKE?  "Speculative Fiction."

Included Robert Jordan, Terry Pratchett, Neal Stephenson, etc.

A Place for Kids

They were having an author event in their "Kids' Wing," so I didn't get to browse very much over there.  But, I can definitely get behind this sentiment:

Displays and Various Stuff

Each bookstore also puts together unique displays--including books, antiques, random stuff, photos, posters and more.  Paris was on the mind of SLC locals, apparently.

I particularly enjoyed this collection of old apothecary bottles:

I won't tell you how many books I bought. Let's just say that I cropped this picture of the cashwrap to LEAVE OUT my book pile!

I've been enjoying my book tour, but I'm staying home for a while.  I've yet to report about my visit to Valley Books in Jackson, WY.  It's coming up!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Like Cheers, but for Nerds

One of our Facebook Fans, Kama V., who lives in the neighborhood, snapped this pic of Katie (that's me! left), and Anna (right), while stopping by the shop at the beginning of their Saturday morning bike ride.

Today, I stopped by the store with my husband, and Anna was there talking to a customer.  Anna said "Pomegranate is like the bar Cheers," but for nerds.

Yep. . . pretty much.

Pomegranate Books is a bookstore, but it is also a gathering place, a hangout for neighbors, a resource for avid readers, and one of the only independent bookstores serving a large portion of Southeast NC. Here are some reasons why I like to hang out at the shop, even though I don't have to be there as much as I am.

  • Free wi-fi  (When you work at home all the time, it is nice to get out of the house and work once in a while)
  • $1 cups of tea (and more flavors than PCJ!)
  • ARCS  (Advanced readers copies of books. Bring in a can of food for the SENC food bank and you get one for FREE!)
  • Nell (Nell is the main shop dog. She is so funny.  Mainly because she is so old.)
  • Interesting conversation (You literally NEVER know what you'll end up talking about at Pom Books. School gardens, local bars, cross-country train trips, drinking coke with salted peanuts, worm compost, chickens.)
  • The "gals" (Kathleen, the owner; Visha, Anna and Catherine, the store minders and my friends; and Lynetta, who has a steel trap mind full of history)
So, if you haven't been in for a while, or you've been driving past us every day and wondered what we're about, well, come on in and say hi.  We like to chat. We like to give recommendations, and we mostly just like books. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

April 2010 Events at Pomegranate

20% Off for National Poetry Month


Now, through April 30th, browse our in-stock, in-store poetry selection and receive 20% off all poetry books that you purchase! Includes children's poetry books!

Garden Extravaganza Day!

Saturday, April 24th from 10:00 am- 4:30 pm. 

Fun for the whole family. Here's a schedule of events:

10:00 am: Kid's story hour (focus on worms)
10:30 am: Meet the worms! (With our Vermicomposting friends)
11:00 am: Vermicomposting 101 (Learn how to use worms to create great soil!)
12:00 pm: Grow a Pizza in a Pot (Veggie container workshop)
1:00 pm: Landscaping with North Carolina Native Plants
2:00 pm: Garden Story hour for kids
3:00 pm: Garden questions answered and books autographed by Barbara Sullivan

ALL DAY: Plant a seed to take home

ALL DAY: Buy a raffle ticket or TWELVE for a chance to win our GREAT BIG BASKET OF GARDEN GOODIES! Over $150 in Garden goodies, including a Pomegranate Tree. Tickets are $1 each, or 6 for $5. ALL proceeds from the raffle, along with a portion of sales from the day will go to the New Hanover County Ability Garden.

Reading with Dana Sachs

Author of The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam

Reading is AT UNCW: Tuesday, April 6, 2010. 7 pm, UNCW CIS Building, Room 1008

First Wives' Book Club

Wednesday, April 7th at 7:00 pm at Pomegranate Books. Call for details!

Michelle Boyajian Reading and Booksigning

Thursday, April 22, 2010, at 7:00 PM

Join us at Pomegranate Books for a reading and booksigning by Michelle Boyajian, for her debut novel, Lies of the Heart.

Michelle is an alumnus of UNC-Wilmington's celebrated MFA in Creative Writing program, where she received the Austin Robert Hartsook Fellowship in Creative Writing. Her short stories have appeared in and Timber Creek Review and were nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

This is a free event at Pomegranate Books. For more info, call: (910) 452-1107.

Monday, March 29, 2010

San Francisco Area Bookstore Tour

I've been out of town for about a week and a half, supposedly attending the San Francisco Garden Show.  What I was REALLY doing, as evidenced by the following pictures, was visiting EVERY SINGLE INDIE BOOKSTORE in the greater SF Bay area.  Shhhhh. Don't tell.

A lot of people say to me "Books are books, yes? Why bother carting them all over the country?"  For me, books are the best trip souvenir. When I read a book purchased on a vacation, I remember where I got it, and think fondly of that trip.  I remember the little bookstore and am usually excited to think about the day when I might sometime return.  Here is a little photo-journey through my book buying frenzy last week.

Starting With Santa Cruz

By the time my friends and I got to this bookstore, they were powerless to resist my urge to spend, and I left with, maybe, 10 books?  My favorite title?  "Alluring Lettuces"  I just love lettuce.  I also loved the way they organized their staff pics.  Here's one collection: Natural Disasters.

They had all kinds of goodies, including neat stationary and funny post cards.  I got a book of post cards to send to my "Adopt a Platoon" soldier. Here's a snapshot of the inside of "Bookshop Santa Cruz."

Next Stop: Some Place in Sonoma

I don't have a picture of this shop. But, I did buy two books there: The Lost Art of Walking, about walking, and Big Dreams, about California. The Indie Bound bag from higher up in this post is from that shop.  There were actually TWO bookshops in Sonoma, right across the street from each other, but only one was open on the Monday we were there.

Moving on to Sunset Magazine, etc. Headquarters

We don't hear a lot about Sunset here on the East Coast, because it is a publisher of primarily western-oriented books and a magazine. A magazine that I'll probably subscribe to, just because it is so cool.  Sunset was started by the Pacific Railroad company to entice easterners to move west.  Well, it worked.

Today, it's a home-garden-lifestyle magazine that covers five zones out west, and includes dozens of books.  Their headquarters are just south of San Mateo, where the SF Garden Show was held.  HQ is in an historic ranch-style building, behind which is a magnificent garden with zones representing the five Sunset zones covered in their magazines, and an adorable test garden.  Free to the public, Monday-Friday, and well worth a visit. 

A Bookstore at the SFGS Show? Say it Ain't So!

What home and garden show is complete without a bookseller? THANK GOODNESS that Builders Booksource set up to sell books by all of the lecturers at the show, and a WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER GOODIES. I'm PRETTY sure that this is the bookstore that I sped by with my friend on the way to visit the UC Berkley Botanic Garden.  Scott, husband of my dear friend Natalie, and friend to me when he DOESN'T PREVENT ME FROM STOPPING AT BOOKSTORES, bravely kept going past this place, while risking threat of grievous bodily harm because he didn't let me stop.  THANKFULLY, I got to meet the delightful owners at the show, and purchase some books from them (American Meadow Gardens, Fearless Color Gardens, Edible Estates, and, What's Wrong with my Plant?).

Book Passage

This shop is at the San Fran Farmer's Market at the Ferry Terminal. I didn't really browse, but I LOVED the name! Who can resist a good pun?

And Then, There's CITY LIGHTS


City Lights,THE bookstore of downtown San Francisco, was opened in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin.  It's a bookstore and publishing house, with poetry a major focus.  Ferlinghetti is a world-reknowned poet, and published Howl, by Allen Ginsberg, a ground-breaking event.  The shop still sells a variety of "Howl" related merchandise, but it is first, and foremost a cozy little bookshop for true intellectuals.  I loved their categories, too.

Everywhere, all over the shop, are signs to "Pull up a chair and read a while."  The third floor is entirely devoted to poetry, the foundation of the original shop, and books about the Beat poets. 

So, that was pretty much my trip.  I had to check a third bag on my way home.  A word of warning: once you pass your second checked bag, the fee is WAY more expensive.  But, upon arriving home and recovering enough to unpack my bags, this stash awaited me:

24 Fantabulous books just waiting for me to squeeze out a few spare moments to read them. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

GARDEN EXTRAVAGANZA at Pomegranate Books

Just a little teaser about one of our upcoming BIG EVENTS at Pomegranate Books!  Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 24th.  It's our


and we can't wait!

Here are some of the fun events to anticipate (more details soon):

  • Kids activties
  • Garden storytime
  • Garden workshops
  • Book signings (Of COURSE!)
  • Information about organic gardening
All proceeds from the raffle, and any donations that day will go to the New Hanover County Arboretum's Ability Garden.  They do great work, helping people with challenges enjoy life through gardening.  Read more about them here.

If you'd like to donate something for the giant basket of garden goodies, please send us an email to pomegranatenc "at" gmail "dot" com, or give us a call (910-452-1107), or stop by the store!  The more cool stuff we have to give, the more tickets we'll sell, and the more money we'll raise for the Ability Garden!

Here's what we have for the Raffle Basket, so far:

From Glynne's Soaps:
Several bars of their delicious soap!

From aHa! Modern Living:

Herb & Floral Clippers     
Flower Garden Scrubber    
Elephant Watering Can    
Allsop Container Pot Pads    
Cow Pots    
Garden Plant Tags    
    Plant Variety: Botanical

Roost Wood Dibber Hand Tools    
Frog Salt & Pepper Shaker    
Popoutz Seed Feeder

From Author  Patricia Lanza, an autographed copy of "Lasagna Gardening"

From Authentic Haven Brand Manure Tea: a three-pack of manure tea bags (You brew this for your PLANTS, people!  ;)  )

From Shelton Herb Farm:  a 1 gallon Dwarf Pomegranate Tree

Raffle tickets to benefit the Ability Garden will go on sale at Pomegranate Books on April 1.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Get your Garden On!

It will warm up in Wilmington.
At least,
that's what they say.

In the meantime. . .

We're re-stocking the GARDEN section!

To get everyone back in the mood, we're kicking off the


We have two fantastic, brand new, autographed books to give to TWO LUCKY READERS!  They are:

Proven Plants: Southern Gardens by Erica Glasener


This book is a gorgeous guide to selecting perfect plants for your southern garden.  If you garden here in Wilmington, and the surrounding area, you know that things just aren't the same as they were in your northern garden.  If you were born and raised here, then you might already know about all of the lovelies in this book.  Or, you might find some new favorites.  

If you don't win it, I can almost guarantee you're going to want to buy it.  The art direction is inventive, and elegant.  The whole book is full-color, and makes use of new photographs of the plants and historic illustrations.  It has a "modern yet classic" vibe.  The information is solid, and being a transplanted gardener with several seasons under my belt, I can say that I honestly wish that this comprehensive book was around when I first moved here five years ago. 

Grocery Gardening by Jean Ann Van Krevelen, Amanda Thomsen, Robin Ripley and Theresa O'Connor


Another brand-new, full color, gorgeous and practical gardening book that not only tells you how to grow your favorite culinary plants, but also how to cook with them.  I personally know the four ladies who wrote this book, and they are all fantastic gardeners and writers.  They're all on twitter, and they're a scream!  I think this will be one of my most-used books this summer once my veggie gardening kicks into high gear. 

How do I win?

Yeah, I know that's all you really want to know, now.  Here's what to do.  You have between today and Monday, March 15th to comment to this blog post with the reason why you think you need either the Proven Plants book or the Grocery Gardening book.

Submit a separate comment for each book.  Because, we'll pick two winners--one for each book from each group of entries.  In order for your entries to count, you MUST reference something about the book, and why you want need it. We'll draw the winners and let you know on the 15th!

Happy dreams of luscious gardens. . .

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tweety Birds Come to Visit

Pomegranate Books hosted the February 2010 Wilmington Tweetup.  Thanks to Bruce Brown, Wilmington's own networker extraordinaire, we have lots of great pictures.  He did a nice writeup/recap on his blog: Being Bruce.  Check it out here.

His blog is also a great source of things to do and people to know in Wilmington.  A must-read for Wilmington newbies and long-time residents, alike.  He's always discovering something new in ILM!

Sarah Barbee, from Fussbudget Promotions, organized the tweetup, and you can see from the pictures that there was much mingling and browsing and book shopping.  As well as catching up on the local gossip, and strategizing about using twitter for business. 

Here are a few pics from the event, courtesy of Bruce's Blog.  To see the rest, read his blog.  And, don't miss the "Do it Downtown" blog after the Tweetup blog.  Fun times in the Port City!

We welcomed the tweeters with a special sign!

Anna, from Pomegranate, doing magic tricks (and you can just barely see Nell's nose in the bottom left)

Shannan (left) and Sarah (right) book browsing!

At the beginning of the tweetup.  Kathleen, Pomegranate's owner, in the center holding a folder, and other Pomegranate staff, welcome early tweeters in the front room near the cash wrap/ local Wilmington section.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Books that Tickle Your Brain

I'm only about 3/4 of the way through reading Spooner, by Pete Dexter.  It was on countless "best of" lists at the end of 2009.  And, while I'm naturally suspicious of bestsellers, I'm naturally curious about books that end up on end of year best of book lists.  Even though I don't know how the book ends, I think that this is one of those books meant to tickle your brain and lead you along the journey, rather than revealing a grand life epiphany.

Brain-Tickling Reads
A brain-tickling read is a book that isn't merely funny, doesn't just have a good plot or characters, but goes beyond.  A brain-tickling book is a book with fantastic writing and zingy one-liners, along with interesting characters or plot.  A book that tickles my brain is a book that makes me want to underline pages, and a book that makes me shake with barely-controlled laughter in places like airplanes.  It is a book with sentences that reach into my brain and noodle around in there.  Sentences that give you a little shiver-making you want to read them again.  Here are some of my favorite brain-tickling reads, of late.

Every now and then I'll pick up a book that reads so comfortably because the writing is so close to my regular thinking patterns. Maybe not the individual words.  (Spooner does have some language that could be considered offensive.)  More like the cadence, pacing, timing or wit.  Pete Dexter, the author, has a DRY sense of humor.  His writing reminds me of my jangled up, tangential stream of conscious thoughts, and the way one of my ex-boyfriends talks. I wouldn't want to spend my life with Pete Dexter, but I'm enjoying stepping into his world for a bit. Not unlike reading my ex's Facebook posts, after being out of touch for several years.  I knew there was a reason we got along so well.

Here are some of my favorite zingers from the book so far:

"As far as recreation went, that was about it for old Fuzz.  One attempted murder."  (Spooner's family dog)

"Spooner was sitting in the hallway beside his locker with one foot bare, attaching a Band-aid to a toe blister, when he apprehended a certain menace in the milieu, as Calmer might say, and looked up to find Russell Hodge standing over him, looming up there in the hallway's artificial light, and experienced in that moment a clear perception of himself as a lawn mower and Russel Hodge as a mower of lawns, about to set his boot on his chest to hold him in place while he grabbed the starter cord and yanked off his head."

"The thought had occurred to Spooner previously, usually sitting around the same anonymous newspaper bar, listening to reporters grumbling over a changed word or phrase in a lead paragraph, that what the world needed these days was more discouragement than it was getting at home."

"The teacher was named Miss Julie Tuttle and stopped him dead in his tracks.  Miss Tuttle had black hair that shone like Calmer's shoes and smelled like flowers, and Spooner wanted to roll in that smell the way the Shakers' coonhound rolled in cow (poo) after he'd been in the pond."

Anything by Susan Orlean
Susan Orlean is my favorite nonfiction writer.  If I could be any writer on the planet, I'd be Susan Orlean.  She writes for The New Yorker, and is the best-selling author of The Orchid Thief.  Her two books of essays, The Bullfighter Checks her Makeup and My Kind of Place, put you right in the middle of her travels around the world.

Susan Orlean is the Mike Rowe of nonfiction.  She visits people/businesses/places that do/sell/represent fringe-ish things, and writes about them like they are as common as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, yet with a sense of delight, appreciation, and humor.  She manages to simotaneously wink at the reader and maintain an entirely straight face toward her subject, exhibiting true sincerity to both.

Her latest piece in The New Yorker was about mules.  I follow Orlean on Twitter, and I remember her tweeting about trying to get to the mule school during the big snows this winter.  I wondered what it was all about, and when I opened my latest magazine, I found the article "Mules in the Modern Military."
Orlean visited mule training camp in California, and opened the article with this:

"A mule is entirely nonpartisan about the contents of its load. It will carry as much as three hundred pounds, seven hours a day, twenty days straight, without complaint."  Then, Orlean goes on to describe that a mule's intelligence is sometimes interpreted as stubbornness, but is really self-preservation, and cites the Mule's reluctance to jump out of airplanes into war zones as an example.

I don't have the magazine with me, so I can't include Orlean's other brain-tickling quotes, but she gives the same treatment to a taxidermists' convention, and a profile of the Surfer Girls of Maui, an article which served as the inspiration for the movie "Blue Crush."  Which inspired me to learn to surf.  Here's a bit from that article:

"The Maui surfer girls love each other's hair. It is awesome hair, long and bleached by the sun, and it falls over their shoulders straight, like water, or in squiggles, like seaweed, or in waves. They are forever playing with it — yanking it up into ponytails, or twisting handfuls and securing them with chopsticks or pencils, or dividing it as carefully as you would divide a pile of coins and then weaving it into tight yellow plaits."

See?  She does such a great job making the ordinary, extraordinary and the extraordinary, ordinary. We can all be surfers, yes?

What are your favorite brain-tickling books?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Case of the Fiendish Flapjack Flop (Humpty Dumpty Jr., Hardboiled Detective)

The Case of the Fiendish Flapjack Flop (Humpty Dumpty Jr., Hardboiled Detective)

Written by Nate Evans and Paul Hindman.  Illustrated by Vince Evans.

Special Guest Review by Max, Age 8

              Humpty Dumpty Jr. Hardboiled Detective is about a pancake named Johnny Cakes.  At the beginning of this story Johnny Cakes breaks out of jail to form a gang and Humpty Dumpty must track him down and put him back in jail.   You will also meet an Ice Cream Dragon and a kidnapped woman and have several other adventures.  Will Johnny Cakes get away with his scheme or will Humpty Dumpty and his side kick rat save the day?  You will have to read this great book to find the answer for yourself.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Grace’s Turn

A special guest review by Josefina, age 10

Grace's Turn
By: Christy Carlson Romano

And now.  .  .  .
For the star of the show.  .  .  .  .
Grace di Govanni!  Grace is a sixteen year old girl with broad dreams or shall I say Broadway dreams.  She wants to be a star but she has lots of problems to deal with on the way to becoming a star.  Some of her problems are loads of homework, an over protective family, a super sensitive boyfriend and a girl who gets the lead part in the school play every time because her mom paid for the theater to be built.  

This year the school is performing Grace’s favorite play, Grease!  Grace desperately wants the lead girl part of Sandy.  There is a new hope a Broadway director is going to judge who gets what part and he is also going to direct the play.  But will Grace get the part? .  .  .  I hope.

This book is called Grace’s Turn, by Christy Carlson Romano, who played Bell in the Broadway play Beauty and the Beast.

Even the Snowmen Read when Snowed In

We caught our local snowman,  (Or snow wahine?) reading:

Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing

I guess even snowmen dream of warm, sunny days!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Books as Train Wrecks

I just finished reading the book Honolulu, by Alan Brennert.  It was good.  Fun, sort of light, interesting tie-ins to factual historical events, and shed some light upon Korean culture-both in Korea and in Hawaii, during the 1920s and 30s.  Last year I read Brennert's book Molokai, about the people with Hansen's Disease, also known as Leprosy.  I liked Molokai better, if only because of one, dark secret about my reading preferences:

I like train-wreck books.

Huh?  You know, books about subjects that make you squirm.  Books about things people would rather not know about.  Books that expose facts and secrets that public figures have tried to sweep under the rug.  Books about things that happened that nobody's proud of.

I have no idea when this started, but after I finished reading Honolulu, I thought "Well, that was good, but not totally interesting. His first book was better. Why?  Oh.  YEAH! I should write a blog about the train wrecks I've read in the last year or so."  Here goes.

The Swamp

This book, by Michael Grunwald, tells the story of the rape and pillage of the state of Florida.  It starts by explaining how the 2000 recount/ election Supreme Court decision might have been the nail in the coffin for any hope of eventual environmental reclamation in Florida.  Then, it goes all the way back, like a Michener novel, to the ecological formation of Florida and works its way forward. 

I wrote my major graduate paper for landscape history class on Florida.  I love Florida.  I have since I was a little girl, and skinned my knees getting off the bus on my first trip to Disney World.  I'm part of the problem, though.  My ambivalent feelings bubble to the surface every time I visit my parents, in their place in Ft. Myers.  Their house backs up to the Six Mile Cypress Slough.  You can see the Slough from the air when you fly into the RSW airport.  It is one of the only natural features left.

Most people don't really know that Florida, south of Lake Okeechobee is naturally one big swamp.  A "River of Grass," as author Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote. The Swamp takes you through Florida's history, from the removal of the native Seminoles, to Big Sugar, to the post World War Two real estate boom, the arrival of "The Mouse," and into the present day.  I wonder if Grunwald will put out a new edition with an appendix of the great housing bust of the late 2000s.  It would be fitting.

The Colony

I don't remember if I read Molokai first or The Colony first, but they're both fascinating.  The Colony is a detailed nonfiction account of the Leprosy colony on an isolated strip of one of the least-visited Hawaiian Islands.  I picked it up in the airport one time, because I needed something to hold my attention for a long plane flight.  I gravitated toward the Train Wreck.  The story of Father Damien, the Catholic Priest who risked his life, and eventually succumbed to leprosy, to help the captives of Molokai, interwoven with technical information about the disease, and the cruelty with which the Molokai colony was treated is both interesting and embarrassing.

The Imperial Cruise

My Dad and I listened to this book on CD while driving to Florida a couple of weeks ago. Talk about embarrassing.  I tweeted, not long after finishing it, "I just listened to this book that makes me think that Teddy Roosevelt was a crook!"  That definitely sparked a conversation, one which was nearly impossible to carry on via the 140 character per tweet limit.  For a summary of the book, I'd recommend reading the excellent book review in the New York Times, found here.

The title of the review is "The Queasy Side of Theodore Roosevelt's Diplomatic Voyage."  The reviewer ISN'T KIDDING.  Suffice to say, I've never heard/read so much talk about racial views of a particular time period or people, including anything about the Third Reich, as I have in this book.  Some would say that the perspectives presented should be given some slack, due to the time period.  Others say that the Author's perspective colors the narrative, too much.  The New York Times book review gives a thoughtful opinion about that, and some more information about the facts presented.  Example:  that the US was waterboarding Filipinos way back when, same as in recent times.  There was even, horror of horrors, a "patriotic song" about it.  The NYT reviewer reminds us that, while many of the facts presented in the book aren't common knowledge, they have seen the light of day before this book.  Perhaps this book will make the shocking facts "common knowledge" so that we can learn from them, once and for all. We'll see.

I say, the book is an eerie look back at how history keeps repeating itself, over and over and over again.  My verdict, after reading the book:  "Diplomatic" policy in the US, 1895-1905, yeah, TRAIN WRECK. Again, an enlightening and completely embarrassing book.

The Last Town on Earth

Another joyful book,The Last Town on Earth, by Thomas Mullen, is about the Flu epidemic of 1918, as it affects a fictional small town (based on actual small towns) in a remote mill town of the Pacific Northwest.  The town barricades itself in a quarantine against all outside interaction.  That means nobody can leave for booze, food, or "other comforts." 

Drama ensues when a sick, starving person tries to get through the barricade.  The town is then forced to take action, and the resulting twists and turns are heartbreaking and surprising.  Let's just say that the flu that eventually ravages the town doesn't come from where you think it comes from.

I like to read happy books, too.  But the train wrecks really hold my attention.  What are your favorite "train wreck" books?  Books that make you squirm, but that you can't put down?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What I think about When I think about Bestsellers

The other day, Kathleen and I were discussing the new book "Committed," by Elizabeth Gilbert.  We both agreed that we enjoyed it.  My mother has said to me "I don't want to read about somebody's marriage."  Well, the book's not about her marriage.  It basically ends with the marriage.  It is really about thinking about marriage, deciding to get married, and how other cultures perceive marriage.

It's a memoir, so we see everything through the lens of Gilbert's personal experiences.  Therefore, if you read "Eat, Pray, Love," her most famous memoir, and you didn't like it, or thought she was whiny, you won't like this one, because she has the same voice. If you did like "Eat, Pray, Love," you'll probably enjoy "Committed," because it invites considering similar life questions:  What do I want to do with my life?  With whom do I want to spend it?  Where do I want to live?  What are my values?

There are some people who won't read a book just because it is a bestseller.  They didn't read "Eat, Pray, Love" because of that.  I held out for a long time on that one, too, for the same reason.

The Mighty Bestseller

This is entirely my own opinion, but something every bookseller, or every avid reader probably confronts at one point or another:  why do I read?  And, do I really want to read something that everyone else on the planet is reading right now?  There's something nice about being able to discuss a book with virtually everyone you meet.  But, there's something close and private about discovering a book that you like that NOBODY else is reading, or has read.  It is like a little secret with yourself.

Reading a book that isn't on the bestseller list confers its own status, consciously or unconsciously.  It says "I'm reading this because I like to read.  Not because my friend told me to."  It says "I can find little gems of printed word all by myself, thank you very much."  It says "I'm an individual.  I don't follow the crowd."

What I've found, though, when I refuse to read bestsellers, just because they're bestsellers, is that sometimes I miss out on really good books.  When I finally get around to reading one of those, I say to myself "Why was I the LAST person on earth to read this?"

How about you?  Do you read bestsellers often?  Do you pause before picking one up?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Valentine's Day Gifts at Pomegranate Books

We have a large selection of Valentine's Day gifts for every taste.  Books, prints, post cards, and more!  We also have local, handmade Valentines for your sweetie.

Don't want to spend $80 on roses that are, well, already "at the end of their lives" when you give them to your sweetie?  What about a Pomegranate Books gift certificate, instead? We'll even wrap it up for you in sparkly paper!

Delight your favorite bookworm with his or her favorite gift: an all-expenses paid trip to Pomegranate Books!