Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays!

As you rush from store to store picking up gifts for the list you have complied we just want to send you a message of Happy Holidays! We really appreciate all of our loyal customers and everything they do to help us be the best store we can be. This has been a great year in sales and we hope 2014 will be even better. The best part is that we could not do it without all of you!

Our customers not only fund all of our expenses and pay for our salaries but they bring so much more to us. We try to make connections with all of our customers, and get a lot from doing so. Not only do we get book suggestions but we build friendships and connections with many of those that walk through our door. Seeing a favorite customer's smiling face makes our day brighter. Smiles are a contagion around here that we try to spread, along with knowledge, care, and joy. By having great customers we feel we are all not only better employees but better people.

So thank you. All of you that come back week after week, every month, or even once a year to pick up the newest novel from your favorite author, or do all of your holiday shopping in one giant go. Thank You!

We hope that all of you have a lovely closing to the year, with joy, family, laughter, and hopefully a new wonderful read!

Many Thanks,
Old Firehouse Books

Monday, December 9, 2013

What's so wonderful about The Luminaries?

This year's winner of the Man Booker Prize is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. When I first espied this book, I was at once drawn to its invisible power, just as a lodestone is drawn to invisible force of our terrestrial poles. When I opened up the jacket, met the source of this power, my attraction was not in any way decreased. I opened the book and began reading at once, rapt in attention as a child is when first encountering a magician. What Ms. Catton has achieved in her novel is nothing short of an herculean task in the realm of modern literature. She has mimicked perfectly the style of the great mystery writers of the 19th century (e.g., Dickins and Wilkie Collins) but has also succeeded in creating something new with the integration of her own mode of modern formalism. The book consists of a dozen parts, each part half the length of the previous installment, very much following the waning lunar cycle. Keeping up with this astrological trope, each of these twelve parts corresponds to the astrological sign of a specific day, influencing the lives of thirteen men who become embroiled in the mystery of a missing gold bonanza during the New Zealand Gold Rush of the 1860's.

What we are then left with is a question of whether the actions of these characters are predestined by the stars, or whether the characters are the agents of their own destiny. But what is all the more remarkable is that the story unfolds through the storytelling of each character--each of twelve characters describing his part in the mystery of this missing gold to the newcomer, Walter Moody. Each character approaches the mystery from his own set desires and fears, corresponding to their respective astrological signs, and what the reader is given is not fact as to how the events of the story have transpired, but perspective--human perspective (and therefore open to interpretation). Nobody sees the whole story. Nobody knows the whole truth. Everyone has an agenda. Like the stars and planets in the heavens, their positions change: friends become enemies and enemies may be allies; some celestial objects block our view while others line up in harmony. Nothing remains the same as the story unfolds, no truth stands absolute, and, by the end of this spectacular novel, the reader has completely revolved around the story through each character's tale to arrive at its foregone conclusion in a unified vision of the heavens.Thus we,as readers, have assumed the role of astronaut and visited the far expanses of this universe and come to feel a part of it (though we have no great story
of our own to tell, but are made all the more integral by glimpsing it).

The Luminaries is a tremendous feet of literature rising to astronomical heights and, like so many of those astronomical occurrences, will be seen in our lifetimes only infrequently. The question you must then ask yourself is: will I look up to the heavens and behold its splendor? Or will I cast down my eyes to the earth and miss all the wonders this book has to offer?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Holiday Shopping

Hello Book Lovers!

The holidays are coming! Not that you need us to remind you, but they are qucikly approaching and we at the Firehouse are getting excited and overwhelmed as we navigate our own lists of gift giving, shopping, parties and family get togethers.

However we all have exactly 11 days until Thanksgiving is here, rather late in the year than usual and that means that there are less "official shopping days" until the big Christmas day, at only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you celebrate Hanukkah you really need to get a move on, the first night is November 27th, the day BEFORE thanksgiving!

Kwanzaa begins December 26th this year.

So in case these numbers frighten you, keep us in mind! We can be your one stop shop for everyone on your list. We have books for all age groups and interests, and if one is not a big reader we have games, puzzles, pens, magnifying glasses, humor picture books, book lights, gift cards, and much much more.

We aim to make your shopping trip easy, by having staff pick shelves, winter catalog selections (regional top choices in books for the holidays), knowledgable and committed staff, and rewards when you get a FREE membership (for every $100 spent you get $5 in store credit!). We also do special orders and have many great quality USED books for everyone's gift-giving budget.

So stop on by, do some book shopping, get a hot cuppa tea or coffee and joy at HAPPY LUCKY'S next door and help us spread some holiday love and cheer!



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Read the Book, See the Movie, in that order please

Hello my Firehouse friends! I've missed you! A lot has been going on the last few weeks, both at the store and in my own life. But things are at last starting to calm down know, until the Christmas season comes into full swing and we all lose our marbles. 

If you missed it, Kelsey posted a wonderful blog addressing the controversy surrounding the newly release Book of Matt by Stephen Jimenez. I recommend you give it a read.

Since I am still easing my way back into a fully function brain space, I'm going to keep this blog short and easy while keeping you up to date with bookish things.

Hollywood has been all about book-to-movie adaptations lately. Which is sometimes great and other times not so great. Kelsey and I both agree it would be nice to see some movies coming out that were fresh and original instead of adaptations and sequels. However, there are still some titles many of us here at the bookstore are excited for.

In order by release date, here are five book-to-move adaptations you can expect to see in theaters before the end of 2013.

Carrie by Stephen King, October 18

Carrie White may have been unfashionable and unpopular, but she had a gift. Carrie could make things move by concentrating on them. A candle would fall. A door would lock. This was her power and her sin. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offered Carrie a chance to be a normal and go to her senior prom. But another act--of ferocious cruelty--turned her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that her classmates would never forget.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, November 1

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, November 8

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, November 22

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. They should be happy. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Now rumors of rebellion are spreading, and the Capitol wants revenge.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug by J.R.R Tolkien, December 13

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

As you probably gathered from the title of this blog, I usually stand by reading the book before seeing the know, unless you accidentally see the movie because you didn't know it was a book first...

All of these books (except Carrie) are on our shelves right now. If you click on the title, it will take you to our website where you can order the book right from your home! And since I've told you all of these movies were adapted from books, you have no excuse not to read them before you watch them.

I have plans to see three of these five movies (and yes, I've read all the books). What about you? Are you excited for any of these movies or do you prefer to stick with the book?

Until next week my fellow book/movie lovers.

Happy reading!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why We Will Still Host Stephen Jimenez

As you may or may not know, Old Firehouse Books has recently come under fire for our decision to host an event for Stephen Jimenez, author of The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths Behind the Murder of Matthew Shepard. Jimenez's book claims to have uncovered new data about this horrendous crime that the media had previously ignored; these claims often contradict most of the widely held beliefs on the murder. The initial controversy was sparked by a blog from Media Matters that claims to debunk the book entirely. The controversy has increased as a result of a petition posted on by the activist Jamie McGonnigal asking bookstores across America to cancel their events with Jimenez.

As the event coordinator for Old Firehouse Books, I would like to briefly express my personal sentiments on this issue. Freedom of speech is a complex right; one easy to defend when the speech is palatable and familiar. Freedom of speech is most important when it is most difficult for us to uphold. How can we ever expect to strengthen our idelogies unless we ocassionally allow them to be challenged? Stephen Jimenez deserves the chance to his explain his position, and our community deserves the chance to question him. I could go on, but Christopher Finnan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, has explained the situation much more eloquently than I could hope to recreate. I've shared his open letter to McGonnigal below.

If you would be interested in attending the event, whether or not you agree with Jimenez's assertions, we will be hosting him at the Council Tree Library on November 5th at 7pm. Jimenez will be speaking and reading from The Book of Matt, followed by a question and answer period.

-Kelsey Myers, Old Firehouse Books Event Coordinator

                                                                                                                                         October 9, 2013
Jamie McGonnigal

Dear Mr. McGonnigal,
I am writing on behalf of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE). It has been brought to our attention that you have started a petition on urging bookstore owners to cancel appearances by author Stephen Jimenez for his book, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard. ABFFE believes that your petition demonstrates a poor understanding of bookselling and has the potential to stifle discussion of a significant historical event.
Bookstores that provide a public forum for controversial authors often become the target of protests. While most critics would not go so far as to advocate banning the offending works, some draw the line at allowing the authors to read from their books and answer questions. Like them, you allege in your petition that booksellers who host these events "are in it only for the book sales.”
But bookstores are not like other stores. Because books contain ideas, bookstores play an integral part in the process by which ideas are disseminated and debated. Debate is essential in a free society, and we take seriously our responsibility to offer access to ideas, including those that we might personally oppose. We do this in a variety of ways–by suggesting titles to customers who are looking for books about particular subjects, recommending books to reading groups and announcing new releases in our newsletters. Hosting authors for readings and autographing is an important part of the process. It gives customers a chance to ask questions and even to disagree. We are not primarily doing a favor for the author, who may, after all, fall flat on his face. We are providing our customers with an opportunity to make up their own minds.
The most mistaken notion about author appearances is that providing a forum for controversial authors always "sells books.” Controversial ideas inevitably alienate some people, and when those people include some of our customers, we can lose business. While we do not wish to offend anyone, we cannot allow a minority to censor either the books we sell or the authors we host.
We believe that you have a right to your opinion. But the appropriate response to Mr. Jimenez’s book is to refute his argument, not to deny him the opportunity to speak in bookstores.

                                                                                                                      Sincerely yours,
                                                                                                                      Christopher Finan
                                                                                                                      ABFFE President

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Chance to win Neil Gaiman schwag!

Hey my Firehouse friends! Today is a special Saturday blog update because we have an exciting opportunity for all you Neil Gaiman fans! 
We just so happen to have some awesome Neil Gaiman schwag at the store right now. And we are giving it away! 
The awesome schwag includes:
Five Neil Gaiman books, including a signed copy of FORTUNATELY, THE MILK, and a poster for THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (also signed!)
If you would like to enter to win, just e-mail with the subject line I LOVE NEIL GAIMAN and put your name and phone number in the body of the email. 
Entering this contest will sign you up for the Old Firehouse e-newsletter. This part is very important as the winner will be announced via the newsletter. 
Contest ends October 31st so don’t delay! 
(Yay silly pictures!)


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review of Kurt Vonnegut's 'Cat's Cradle'

Oh, Kurt, how I love you.

Last night I finished my third Kurt Vonnegut novel. I’ve attempted once before to write a review of a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

I’ll be honest; it was a bit of a challenge.

I feel like this attempt will be a bit easier as Cat’s Cradle doesn’t jump around quite as much Slaughter-house Five does. Also, this review isn’t for a grade…unless there’s something Justin and Kelsey aren’t telling me…

When I was about halfway through reading Cat’s Cradle I had a realization. That realization was what it is about Vonnegut’s writing that I love so much. Vonnegut is well known for his satirical commentary on a broad array of events. But what I realized about his commentary is that it is so subtle you barely even notice it. If you’re not paying much attention you can straight up miss it.

I found myself doing this on occasion while reading Cat’s Cradle. The first line of the book jacket description is, “Cat’s Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness.”

Before I go on, I’ll give a brief synopsis of the book.

Jonah, the voice of the story, is gathering information for his book, which is all about the day the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. His endeavor leads him to meet a grand assortment of people, including the three children of Frank Hoenikker, father of the atom bomb, each of whom posses a particle of the deadly ice-nine.

Each supporting character in Vonnegut’s book plays a part in giving some insight to the madness of man the author is attempting to highlight. The Hoenikker children are mad enough to flit away bits of ice-nine in order their obtain their own personal wants. “Papa” Monzano, President of San Lorenzo, perpetuates a government in a place that neither needs it or really wants it.

There is an apparent futility and self-indulgence in many of the actions of the characters. I found myself thinking on multiple occasion how silly all these people were, how foolish. But then I realized that I am not so different. No human really is.

In the book the reader is also introduced to Bokonon, a calypso singer who creates his own theology, a theology that every citizen of San Lorenzo prescribes to. Bokonon understood that the truths people had to deal with were terrible. So instead he made up wonderful lies for them. But the curious thing is, there is an awareness of the lies.

There is a couplet, taken from The Books of Bokonon that Jonah describes as, “…capturing…the cruel paradox of Bokononist thought…”

            Midget, midget, midget, how he struts and
            For he knows a man’s as big as what he hopes
and thinks!

How do we know what we believe is true? Perhaps some of life’s greatest truths are lies we tell ourselves. But maybe sometimes it is our awareness of the lie, our acknowledgement of the harsh reality and our choice to turn away from it, that makes the lie come true.

Since it is Banned Books Week and Cat’s Cradle is my banned book pick, I figure it would be smart to tell you why this book is banned.

It was first banned by an Ohio school district in 1972. The reason, you ask? Well, the best explanation I could find is that Cat’s Cradle was banned in tandem with Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater after a board member had read part of the latter and found it to be “completely sick” and “garbage.” It seems likely that none of the board members opposed to Cat’s Cradle had even so much as looked at it. It has also been speculated that people might have taken issue with Vonnegut’s apparent anti-war stance.

Don’t let someone else make your decisions for you.

See the cat? See the cradle?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I read banned books

 Hello my Firehouse friends. Let's talk about Banned Books Week.

I feel like Banned Books Week (BBW) is something nearly every book-lover has heard of and knows about. I'm sure many people have read banned books in their life, whether they were aware of it or not. But I think many of us lack a deeper understanding of BBW, where it came from, when it started, and what people are fighting against by participating.

The first BBW was held back in 1982. That's just over 30 years ago. It was a response to the sudden increase of challenges being made against books in schools, libraries, and bookstores. Over the course of those 30-plus years, more than 11,300 books have been challenged. Just in 2012 there were 464 books challenged. And every September, BBW sends its own challenge right back.

People from all over the nation and from all different kinds of bookish entities come together in September to bring awareness to the problem of censorship. Libraries and bookstores create displays highlighting banned books, some published years and years ago and some published within the last year. Publishers, journalists, teachers and readers all play their part in advocating the freedom to read.

Banned Books Week, at its very core, is about freedom (ugh, I sound like I'm about to segue into a bad political ad). It's about upholding the right of the reader to have absolute choice in what he or she decides to read. It's about exploring and learning and sharing new things. It's about encouraging growth, in many ways: growth of an individual, a family, a community. Things should not be censored just because they may be unpopular or against the norm. In a world that has near unlimited access to information, banning books seems like a very foolish practice indeed.

Okay, enough preaching. Let's get to the books!

Here are a few books us bookstore employees are reading for BBW:
Justin: 1984 by George Orwell
Kelsey: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Teresa: Native Son by Richard Wright
Rebecca: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Paxton: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K Rowling

Yours truly is reading Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.

If you're interested in seeing what other books have been banned or challenge in the last year, click here to see a list.

If you want to see what classic books have been banned, you can click here.

Banned Books Week will take place from September 22-28 this year. Stop by the Firehouse for all your banned book needs!

Keep reading my friends, no matter what anyone else says.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Remember how in my last blog I promised I wouldn't be forgetful and/or lazy in my future posting attempts?
Well, obviously I lied.

I'll try and make it up to you all by telling you about this great book I just read.

The book is called Two Boys Kissing. It is written by the brilliant Mr. David Levithan (other books by David Levithan include Boy Meets Boy and Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green).

The book follows several different sets of characters: Craig and Harry, who are attempting to break the world record for the longest kiss, Ryan and Avery, who are trying to figure out just what it is they're doing, Peter and Neil, who have been a couple for a time now but still have their ups and downs, and Cooper, who feels hopelessly alone and soon will feel nothing.

Craig and Harry's world recorded breaking kiss acts as the central hub around which all the other storylines are rotating and playing off of. For Avery and Ryan, they are a beacon of hope. If these two boys can kiss for the whole world to see, maybe they could have a chance. For Peter and Neil, they are brothers in arms. And for people all across the world, they are an inspiration.

The entire novel is narrated by a generation of gay men lost to AIDS. I think this gives the book even more power than just the individual stories being told.

There is a great deal of beauty in this book. The beauty of love, of finding someone new who makes your life seem less empty, the beauty of doing something for a cause that is greater than yourself. But this book also filled me with a lot of anger and despair.

The past and present treatment of homosexuals disgusts me. This kind of blind hatred is a character in much of human history but it doesn't make me any less angry to see it and know that it exists. It is unfair, so unfair that gay people are treated with such disdain. For what? Loving someone? Any rational person would find that statement mind-boggling. I certainly do. Love is just love. What does it matter who you direct your love to?

I won't go on and get myself all worked up, but really, the dislike of gay people is unwarranted and unjustified.

Two Boys Kissing is Levithan's newest book. I highly recommend you pick it up. It gives great insight, is beautifully written, and perfectly captures many emotions anyone can experience.

Until next week, (you know, because I totally won't forget again) happy reading!



Thursday, August 29, 2013

For the love of Beer! And other things.

I'm so bad. I completely spaced posting a blog last week! Forgive my friends. 'Twill not happen again.

So I walked into the store this afternoon, dropped my stuff in the storeroom and returned to the trade counter to find myself faced with a shelf full of books. How is this different from any other day you might ask? Well, hidden in this particular shelf of books were books about beer...lots of books about beer. Susie informed me all these beer books had been on back order and finally came in today. We had hoped to have them for our Beer Crafts event weeks ago, but, no dice.

So now we have tons of books on brewing in the store. If you have been wanting to brew but didn't know where to start, have had thoughts of brewing but have been waiting for the right time, or if you just really like beer, come see us! We have all the books you could possibly want about beer and beer related things! Seriously, come buy some books.

Keeping in the beer vein (mmm, beer vein), let's talk about Tour de Fat. The glorious day of biking, beer, bizarre costumes and bemusement is almost upon us! In honor of the event, and since all of us here at the bookstore are fond of bikes and beer (except for Rebecca, she likes a good cider, but close enough), we decided to put together a swell display for our front window promoting the event.


I put the display together myself...mostly. I did have some help getting all the finishing touches.

I gathered up books about bikes and books about beer. I printed out the Ten Commandments, the parade route and the event date (it's Saturday the 31st of August). And of course I printed pretty pictures of people peddling bikes, bottles of beer, and the New Belgium logo.

But something was missing.

I mentioned to Justin how I thought putting bottle caps from New Belgium on the shelf would be the perfect thing to bring the display together. Of course, to do that, we were going to need some beer. We each called on friends, co-workers, and family to help us (it was a Monday, after all, not the best night to get too shmammered). We gathered at my house and had a lovely time drinking and chatting. And we got plenty of bottle caps and beer labels.

The next day I came to work ready to put the final touches on the display. Justin had also brought in a collection of random bike accessories to contribute. When everything was said and done, we had a pretty kick-butt display. Check it.

I know you can't see it super well, so you should just come by the store and check it out while you're buying you brewing book, or bike repair book, or whatever other book you want! You can never go wrong with books (unless it's 50 Shades of Grey).  

Also, a big thanks to New Belgium for hooking us up with some awesome Tour de Fat books. Cheers!

Until next time my friends, happy biking, happy brewing, and happy reading!