Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Buying Books

As those of you reading this blog know, we at the store not only love books, but also bookstores. When we travel the invisible list of things to do is to visit any (preferably independent) bookstore we happen to stumble across.

I recently went on vacation to Europe and throughout my trip I tried to look for bookstores.I saw a few interesting ones. In Paris there was one called “Silly Melody” that only sold used books and vinyl records. I kept looking for others but I went to 7 countries in 12 days so finding the time to really explore any bookstore didn’t happen.

However, the night before I left London, I noticed something that caused me to do a double-take. Next to the elevators in the hotel lobby was a book vending machine (picture above).There were about 30 selections of paperbacks that ranged from Stephanie Meyers to John Grisham.I don’t know why, but I feel that would be an odd way to buy books.I guess can buy food and rent movies via vending machine, so why not books? I think I was put off by purchasing books this way because it automatically limits the customer. To someone aware of the wide variety of books available (with hundreds of thousands being published every year) the meager 23 to choose from was just painful. I don’t this mode of books sales will catch on, but keep your eye out.

Monday, September 28, 2009

October Events at Old Firehouse Books!

Event: Open Book Club
Date: October 4
Time: 1 pm
Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.
Contact Information: (970) 484-7898,

Get into the Halloween spirit with Good Omens, a humorous look at Armageddon written by award-winning authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This book group is open to anyone who loves books and talking about books.

Event: Strange Worlds Science Fiction Book Club
Date: October 8
Time: 6 pm
Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.
Contact Information: (970) 484-7898,

Join us for a discussion of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This book won the Hugo, the Newbery, and the Locus Award in 2009. It’s the perfect book club selection for Halloween.

Event: Untitled Book Club
Date: October 12
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.
Contact Information: (970) 484-7898,

This month, we’ll be discussing The Book of Other People, an anthology featuring some of the hippest and most brilliant writers of the new century. Anyone who loves to read is welcome.

Event: Signing with S.C. Lang
Date: October 17
Time: 12 pm
Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.
Contact Information: (970) 484-7898,

S. C. Lang’s Original Sin is a thriller that enters the fascinating and highly seductive realm of online chatrooms. The author hails from Craig, Colorado.

Event: Graveyard Book Party!
Date: October 23
Time: 7-8:30 pm
Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.
Contact Information: (970) 484-7898,

Join us for a themed Halloween party recapturing the spirit of Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book! Drop by the store before the party to get the materials to participate in our gravestone creation contest. The winner will receive a copy of The Graveyard Book. We’ll also have food, games, and a good scare or two.

Event: Brown Bag Lunch Signing with Mike Dunbar
Date: October 24
Time: 12 pm
Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.
Contact Information: (970) 484-7898,

In The Last American Cowboy, Mike Dunbar has written a story about a young man who dreamed about being an old-time cowboy who was just born one hundred years too late.

Event: Diana Gabaldon Discussion Group
Date: October 27
Time: 7pm
Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.
Contact Information: (970) 484-7898,

If you’ve just read Diana Gabaldon’s new book, An Echo in the Bone, and need a place to talk about all the things that transpired, we’ve got the perfect place for you! Join us for a lively discussion of all things adventurous, romantic, and oh yes, Scottish.

Banned Books Week 2009

A friendly public service announcement about your freedom to read...

Book to Movie Adaptations

The other day I was just sitting in a theatre with my friends, minding my own business, waiting to watch District 9 when WHAM! Out of nowhere there's this trailer that seems awfully familiar... It turns out it's Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, an old favorite of mine that I had completely forgotten until I saw Leonardo DiCaprio's giant familiar face.

We're all familiar with this book adaptation phenomenon. We just saw Angels & Demons, My Sister's Keeper, Twilight, and The Time Traveler's Wife among dozens of others come out in the last few months and we already know we have The Road, The Lovely Bones, and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs on their way. This gets pretty controversial. Any English teacher will tell you that the movie is no substitute, but for the most part the movie tends to be a hell of a lot more successful.

Personally, I believe these book/movie combinations usually don't tend to work out for the best, but I've come up with a list of my top 5 adaptations that made the transfer right. These are some of my favorite books and why I think they've been able to switch over to the silver screen so well.

1) Watchmen by Alan Moore
Really, it's only logical that one of the most critically acclaimed graphic novels of all time would take the next step into becoming a movie. I loved seeing how Zack Snyder (the director) lined up exact frames from the comic book, but also allowed himself the creative license to cut where needed. The graphic novel itself was more impressive because of the layers the characters developed in each chapter, but it would have been impossible to include all of those in a film. A warning to those yet to see it, though: they changed the ending. When I first heard this, I thought it spelled automatic doom. I was wrong. They kept the most important aspects, but because of certain subplots cut from the story for time, they had to change one thing. It worked out for the best.

2) Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
In this case, it may have helped that I saw the movie first. The novel is a collection of short stories, following the lives of several different struggling characters in Scotland, mostly having to do with heroin, written in an almost impossible Scottish dialect. The movie, while sometimes difficult to understand, is not as challenging as the book. The movie chooses to focus on one character, Rent, and sometimes gives him life moments given to other characters in the novel. This ultimately simplifies the whole thing, plus they have an awesome soundtrack.
And Ewan McGregor is the only man alive who can make heroin addiction look sexy.

3) Jesus' Son by Denis Lehane
This book is also short stories, but the movie strings them all together into one continuous plot. They tack on a love story, which usually pisses me off, but in this case it makes the whole thing a lot sweeter which it sort of needed. The love isn't perfect, because in the characters aren't perfect, and it doesn't end up taking over the entire thing, so I can accept it. Jack Black plays Georgie in possibly his funniest role ever.

4) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
I don't think I could have accepted this movie if anyone but Stanley Kubrick had directed it. The movie turns out just a creepy as the book. Like Trainspotting, it's a lot easier to understand the strange dialect when you can watch the scene unfold rather than translating it yourself. True, something is lost in the process, but the unnerving atmosphere Kubrick develops makes up for it.

5) Adaptation (Based on The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean)
Charlie Kaufman is a genius. This one works out so well because while the movie ends up being about Susan Orlean's novel, it is also about Charlie Kaufman. This movie really is the quintessential adaptation because it makes you appreciate how hard it is to write a movie based on a book without ruining the whole. Kaufman doesn't ruin it. He chose to write himself in as the main character of his own movie, and it ends up being his personal reaction to the book that sells the whole thing. After all, isn't that what reading is all about in the first place?

As I wrote this a dozen other titles came to mind, including (but not limited to) Perfume by Patrick Suskind, Sin City by Frank Miller, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathon Safron Foer, etc. These books, and these movies, are classics and somehow they didn't collapse on collision. I would highly recommend reading all these books, and then seeing the movies. Or seeing the movies and then reading the books. It really doesn't matter to me, just as long as one or the other happens because they're all worth your time.

I'd love recommendations, too. Or opinions. What is your favorite book/movie adaptation? Do you think a good adaptation is even possible?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Banned Books Week!

Today marks the start of Banned Book Week. The sloagan this year is "FREADOM!"
Come into the store and get your $1 button, free bookmark, and a book to challenge The Man!
Here are just a few examples of Banned or Challenged Books:

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
23. Their Eyes are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
41. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
52. Howards End by E. M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie's Choice by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
68. Light in August by William Faulkner
69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
72. A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
85. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
87. The Bostonians by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
93. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster
99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
100. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

There are 100 good books on that list! Pick up a banned book and protect your FREADOM!

*The images and lists were provided by the American Library Association

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bleak History by John Shirley

Bleak History



Subject: Gabriel Bleak. Status: Civilian. Paranormal skills: Powerful. Able to manipulate AS energies and communicate with UBEs (e.g. "ghosts" and other entities). Psychological profile: Extremely independent, potentially dangerous. Caution is urged....

As far as Gabriel Bleak is concerned, talking to the dead is just another way of making a living. It gives him the competitive edge to survive as a bounty hunter, or "skip tracer," in the psychic minefield known as New York City. Unfortunately, his gift also makes him a prime target. A top-secret division of Homeland Security has been monitoring the recent emergence of human supernaturals, with Gabriel Bleak being the strongest on record. If they control Gabriel, they'll gain access to the Hidden -- the entity-based energy field that connects all life on Earth. But Gabriel's got other ideas. With a growing underground movement called the Shadow Community -- and an uneasy alliance of spirits, elementals, and other beings -- Gabriel's about to face the greatest demonic uprising since the Dark Ages. But this time, history is not going to repeat itself. This time, the future is Bleak. Gabriel Bleak."

First of all, I'll set forth a disclaimer that this is a very lazy blog on my part, because mostly I'm quoting the book, and a review of it.
My opinion, after reading this book, is that it's a page turner, but definitely not deep or heavy reading. It is at times humorous, dark, action-packed, etc. And, if you were previously at all knowledgeable in the occult/metaphysical/paranormal, then it is apparent that Mr. Shirley has done a fair bit of research in those fields, which means certain of his ideas make plenty of sense, while others are just entertaining.
There are a few negative points however, (with which I agree) which are touched upon quite succinctly in the following review by Publishers Weekly.
There are two primary negative points with which I agree. First: That the book reads like the script of a movie. Absolutely correct. While I definitely enjoyed the book, I feel it would do better as a film, which makes perfect sense considering that John Shirley has spent a considerable portion of his career writing screenplays.
Second: There simply weren't enough pages in the book to further flesh out the protagonist and supporting characters. Also, the plot rather hurried along, leaving the story with too many loose ends, which can add up and become frustrating.

"From Publishers Weekly
This urban occult fantasy from cyberpunk author and screenplay writer Shirley (Black Glass) reads like the script for a bloated summer blockbuster, loaded with action, expository dialogue and stock characters. Like other members of the Shadow Community, army ranger–turned–bounty hunter Gabriel Bleak can tap into the Hidden, an invisible metaphysical realm, and conjure magical weapons and allies. After a devastating terrorist attack on Miami, the Pentagon funds a search-and-capture initiative to neutralize the entire Shadow Community. Bleak runs from government agents and heads into battle against the mythical Moloch, which threatens to throw our world into utter chaos. Steeped in its own detailed mythology, Shirley's fast-paced romp through the occult is clever in concept but awkward in execution, with one-dimensional characters (including a painfully caricatured voodoo priestess) and telegraphed plot points that shout when they should whisper. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved."

All in all, I feel like this was a good book. Anything that keeps me turning the pages, while generally not the deepest of works, will get a good score from me. Sure, it had a few flaws, and I think it would make for a good series rather than a standalone, but I've already recommended it to fans of urban fantasy.
...abrupt ending of blog...

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Bookies at the Adult Spelling Bee

This weekend, Cam, Susie and I participated in Fort Collins' first ever adult spelling bee, brought to us by the lovely committee of Fort Collins Reads. They're the same people who are bringing T.C. Boyle, author of The Tortilla Curtain and The Women among twenty other novels and short story collections, to our very own Lincoln Center this November. You can still get your tickets to this event for $5 from Old Firehouse Books or at the Reader's Cove Bookstore on Harmony.

As soon as I showed up one of the first people I saw was an old friend from elementary school who had beaten me years ago at our fourth grade spelling bee. Luckily, she was only there to watch and wasn't competing. This event wasn't even close to my fourth grade spelling bee, though, since bribing and audience participation were strongly encouraged. Some of the teams even donned costumes, and there were some little old ladies running around dressed as bees, but The Bookies (Old Firehouse Book's team) stuck to our matching yellow T shirts. (T shirts was actually one of the words in the spelling bee. We didn't have to spell it, fortunately. I'll never be sure if it's "t-shirts" or "T shirts" or "tee shirts." I can't even remember now.)

We held our own in the second round, but got tripped up a few times and resorted to bribing, which we were definitely not to proud to do. As soon as the bribing was discontinued we lost our place and ended up sitting out for the rest of the Bee. The whole experience was so much fun, although it made me glad to know that I will always have spell check and dictionaries to fall back on.

Next year's Spelling Bee is going to be big, and this time we'll come prepared! We'll spend the next twelve months studying our dictionaries... or we'll just bring more cash. Either way, The Bookies are a team worth remembering!



These photos were taken by Miranda Grubbs of the Coloradoan. To see more pictures or read the article on the Spelling Bee, visit the link provided below.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Big day for books!

Hello Dear Readers,
Tegan and I are having so much fun this morning setting up the display for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters! Now you have NO excuse to avoid Jane Austen for another minute. The Regency Era is all up in yo' hizzy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Biggest News EVAR!


Right now it seems like the biggest news EVAR, anyway. Our Outlander review group is the lucky recipient of a phone conference with none other than Diana Gabaldon! She has been one of my favorite writers since I stumbled across Outlander in the '90's at the Tattered Cover. To quote Diana, her books include "history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honor, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul, you know, the usual stuff of literature."
So there you have it. Be here at 7pm on Tuesday, September 8, to get to know this fabulous author better. You don't have to be a member of our review group to attend- we'll share! If you have a question for her, please email it to us at That way we can streamline the conversation and make sure as many questions as possible are answered.