Monday, August 15, 2011

Graphically Yours Debut!

So it has hopefully come to your attention that the Old Firehouse is about to host a brand new book club! Formed by the wonderful Keller, this new book club will be focused on reading and discussing graphic novels. Thus it is aptly named GRAPHICALLY YOURS. The first session is going to take place at 6pm on Friday, August 19th. As is usual with Old Firehouse book clubs, we'll be meeting in the back room of the store to enjoy some literary conversation, jokes, puns, and so much more. The first novel we're starting with is Watchmen by Alan Moore. A good chunk of us have read this in the past, so if you have as well, come on by and share your thoughts with us! And if you have time, read this great classic once again! So much excitement! So much fun! A brand new book club for us all to love! We'll also be setting up our reading list for the following months at this first meeting, so feel free to bring in suggestions of your favorite graphic novels. See you all soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Taming the Bookstore

For those of you who come into the bookstore a little less than frequently, and, honestly, even for those of you who come in every other week, you may notice that a thing or two changes between each visit. And if you only come in two or three times a year, you may even have a hard time recognizing us! Since the beginning of 2011 alone we've moved nearly every section in the bookstore at least once; some sections have been relocated two or three times already!

So what's the deal? I'm often asked by customers why we would move things around so frequently when it's just going to confuse customers. Being confused is never a very pleasant feeling, so please believe me when I tell you we're doing what is best, even inevitable, for the store.

What most people do not know is that a bookstore is very much a living thing. With each season, a new section inhales and expands as more books are demanded by customers. As that section grows, inevitably another exhales and shrinks as customers seem to stop caring as much about the contents. This is particularly true with the crafts and gardening section. Few people tend to want books on planting flowers when the ground is so cold even the pine trees are shivering, and by that same rule the craft section is more popular when the weather's cold and the holidays are moving in.

In order to keep the store healthy and happy, we have to groom and relocate sections in order to let the store breath and contract as necessary. When one section is getting a lot of attention, it demands room to stretch. When another section is shriveling or becoming bloated with unsold books, we squeeze it out and shrink it down.

So believe us, we're not doing this to confuse you. We are merely servants to the unpredictable whims of this insatiable beast we call Old Firehouse Books. But if you ever do come in and need a guide through the shifting sections, we are always more than happy to help!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Scary Books

FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.

Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment.

Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric. And the elderly handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the basement. But the rent is so low, it’s too good to pass up.

Big mistake. Susan soon discovers that her new home is crawling with bedbugs . . . or is it? She awakens every morning with fresh bites, but neither Alex nor their daughter Emma has a single welt. An exterminator searches the property and turns up nothing. The landlady insists her building is clean. Susan fears she’s going mad—until a more sinister explanation presents itself: she may literally be confronting the bedbug problem from Hell.
So reads the back of Bedbugs by Ben Winters, a book I finished not too long ago. A book that still has my skin crawling all day, and keeps me up all night with images of the ending still burned into my mind. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration... but not too far from the truth. My co-worker Keller can attest to how much this book freaked me out.

I read the last one hundred pages of the book alone in my apartment. My roommate had been out for a while and the place was eerily quiet. I even had to go and sit out on the balcony just to hear some human noises and remind myself I wasn't inside the book. Just as I had reached the crux of the book, when the poop hits the fan and everything falls into its horrifying place, SLAM!! Keller (who's also a friend of my roommate) slammed his hands against the sliding door. I jumped out of my seat and into defense position (which in my case is just getting ready to run away or cry) and my heart pounded my ears. Keller, obnoxiously pleased with himself, laughed at my shakiness. I was tempted to take my book and shove it up Keller's nose, but then I wouldn't be able to finish it, so I didn't.

Was I overreacting? Yes. But there is nothing that makes me more tense than a scary book. Scary movies might shock me or make me nervous, but whatever images they throw at me are nothing compared to the freakish terrors stored in my imagination.

So the question that comes to mind-- what makes these books so scary? I know my imagination plays a big part in making a book scarier than a movie, but what sparks that imagination? For Bedbugs, the answer lies in the ordinary. This book reads like a modern haunted house story, but with all of the elements like iPods and cell phones that make the setting immediate and relevant. The horror of this book also lies in the ordinary. Upon first reading the description on the back, I thought the book would be a bit creepy, at best. Maybe it was the suprise that scared me so much, too. When expecting nothing special, I found something that terrified me way beyond expectations.

What exactly makes something scary is different for all of us, but I applaud anyone who can write something genuinely frightening. Fear is a difficult emotion to pull off, with most scary movies these days resorting to just grossing us out instead. So, what's so scary about Bedbugs? You'll have to read it yourself to find out, just make sure Keller's not anywhere nearby when you do.