Thursday, April 25, 2013

Renee's tale of "The Handmaid's Tale"

Hello my Firehouse friends. You've been getting an extra dose of blogging this week. How lucky you are!

I come to you today with a tale, a Handmaid's tale to be precise. Well, sort of. Let me give you a little background info.

As you know, or should  know, World Book Night was Tuesday. I'm sad to say, due to snow...again, I didn't get out to distribute my books. But! This Saturday I will be hanging out in Old Town to give away my books on what promises to be a warm and sunny day. Anyway, as a sort of 'thank you' to authors and publishers, the staff members of stores participating in WBN were asked to pick and read one of the books being given away for WBN. The idea behind this was the staff would then be familiar with the author and be better prepared to sell his or her books.

The book we picked was Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale." I had never read any Atwood before I was told to read "The Handmaid's Tale" but I am now looking forward to picking up another Atwood book when I have the chance.

Alright, what follows is my attempt to give a brief review of the book. There is quite a lot that can be said. I'll try and pick the best things.

"The Handmaid's Tale" takes place in a futuristic dystopia. It tells the story of Offred, a Handmaid living in the Republic of Gilead. She and the other Handmaid's are valued only for their viable ovaries. The life she knew with her husband, Luke, is gone and now all she has to look forward to is her daily walk to the food market, and every month she must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant. Her job, her money and her access to knowledge is gone.

I don't know about you all, but that sounds like a really *insert curse word here* life. Also, I decided about 10 seconds ago that I'm going to forget making this review sound semi-professional and just spit some words at you in a coherent manner. Let's go!

If you really wanted to boil "The Handmaid's Tale" (here after abbreviated as THT) down to one issue, the obvious choice would be women's rights. And you wouldn't really be wrong to do this. Women have been stripped of their freedom. They are not allowed to read, some are only used for their reproductive abilites, others are no more than servents and very few have any kind of power, and those who do only have such power because of the men they are associated with.

It all sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? But it is so much more than what it seems. Offred was unfortunate enough to find herself a victim of a society that let fear govern them. In trying to protect themselves, they snuffed out life, they stripped away freedom, not just from women but from men as well. And, as in most societies built on rigid rules, those rules are often broken.

It is hard to talk about THT without going on and on and picking it apart.The best review I can give you is to just read it yourself. It is not only relevant to women's issues we are discussing today but it also makes you think about how our own society functions and the part we as citizens play in its shaping and growth. Oh, and be sure to read the Historical Notes. They will blow your mind.

Okay, that last paragraph was a bit of a cop-out, but seriously, it is a good book and you should read it. In the end, readers make meaning out of a text, not authors.

Pick up a copy of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" at Old Firehouse Books. Do it!



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We're a finalist!

Oh man! I have very exciting news my Firehouse friends. Remember the first blog entry I ever posted? It seems so long ago! Well, that first post was the creation story for our Khaled Hosseini mountain (affectionatly called Echo Mountain by yours truly). And remember how I said it was all for this contest, the prize for which is a visit from Khaled Hosseini himself? You don't remember? Well go read my first post!

Okay, I'll cut to the good news. Old Firehouse Books is a FINALIST!!! Ah!!!

We are all very excited here at the store. We only have until May 10th to get as many votes as possible. This is where you come in.

All of us here at the store ask that you take a few seconds to vote for us. Having such a prestigious author come to our store would be a huge help. It primes the pump for getting other big name authors in the future and shows that Fort Collins is a community that has a passion for reading.


Once you're on the voting page, select Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, CO, enter your name and e-mail address then hit SUBMIT and BAM! you're done! Don't worry, they won't send you any newsletters unless you request them.

Below is a picture of our lovely display (so you can know what you're voting for).

Thanks again for all your help! Hopefully we will be bringing you good news come May 10th.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Events & Conscientious Shopping

I've introduced myself on here before, but I'll do it again. My name is Kelsey, I've worked at the bookstore for about five years now, and last year I became the Event Coordinator for Old Firehouse Books.

We have a lot of great events coming up at the store in the next month or so. Nancy Atherton of the Aunt Dimity series will be here this Thursday, Debut Theater Company is presenting some scenes from James and the Giant Peach on Saturday, and Judy McNary-- author of Coin-- will be with us on May 2nd.

Last but not least, we'll be seeing David Sedaris at the Lincoln Center on May 8th! I hope you got your ticket! His latest book, Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls, comes out tomorrow and we can't wait to sell you a copy.

But please-- buy it from us. I usually try not to beg like this, but events are important to me, especially for major authors like David Sedaris. I'll break it down for you real simple: Old Firehouse Books hosts events. does not host events. will never bring David Sedaris, or any other author, to Fort Collins. Hachette Publishing will not be able to tell how many David Sedaris books they sold through to Fort Collins. They will be able to tell how many copies Old Firehouse Books sold. If we don't sell many books, they aren't impressed, and authors like David Sedaris never come back again. So please... SHOP CONSCIENTIOUSLY! I love my job because I get to provide usually free and totally awesome events to the city I grew up in, but the bottom line is if we don't sell books, the events won't be nearly as cool. So please... support these great literary events, support authors, and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE!

 But really... look at that face. Can you bear to disappoint Justin with poor David Sedaris book sales?? I hope not.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Let's talk about writing...

So this morning, while taking a quick look through my Facebook news feed for anything of interest, I came across this quote posted by The Writer's Circle.

"Writers aren't exactly people...they're a whole bunch of people trying to be one person." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

I'm sure plently of my fellow writers found themselves crying out the same thing I did: "Someone does understand me!" Thank you F. Scott Fitzgerald for giving me the words to explain why my brain is so crazy all the time.

However, I also felt a pang of guilt after reading Fitzgerald's words. I felt guilty because, while I constantly feel like I am too many people shoved into one brainspace, it has been a long time since I checked in on any of my brainmates.

I could make the typical excuses: I've been working a lot, whenever I have time to write I'm too tired, I have writer's block, blah blah blah. The list is endless. And while these excuses have some truth to them, they don't excuse my neglect of pencil and paper (or computer; just depends on how I'm feeling).

As I worked to justify my avoidance of the art I've spent most of my life honing, I was reminded of another quote.

"Writing is easy. You just sit at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemingway

This is a good time to mention I minored in Zoology in college. I bring this up because I'm about to drop some basic biology on Mr. Hemingway's head. Bleeding tends to be a bad thing. You kind of want your blood to stay in your veins and arteries. It helps us do that thing, oh, what is it...? Oh, yeah. Live! It helps us live.

While I understand and agree with Hemingway's statement, I also have to disagree with it to an extent. Writing is hard. It can be easy, but usually it is hard. It is hard to bleed. When you run out of blood you die. I don't care who you ask, I bet everyone, even if they don't admit it, is scared of dying. When you bleed in front of people, you present them with a choice: to help you or not. Learning what choice they would make might be scarier than dieing. 

Alright, things are getting a little heavy and a little muddled (my brain is very full, as you know). But I'll wrap things up with this.

Writing is easy and writing is hard. Writing can create feelings of intense intimacy and extreme isolation. Writing demands you to put your whole self into it and will leave you with nothing. Writing is something you cannot deny yourself. Even if you try to resist it, it will break you.

As scared as these things might make current and potential writers, making the choice not to write, or being denied the ability to do so is a far worse fate than bleeding out.

Wow. Sorry this post got a bit morbid. I promise the next one will be more upbeat! But thank you for letting me get all this out. I think I needed it. I hope, for any of you writers reading, it helped you a bit and gave you a little solidarity. 

I leave you with one last quote. This one was said directly to me and I've carried it with me since.

"Just write." Aby Kaupang



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

World Book Night follow-up

Hello my Old Firehouse fans! Did you miss me? I'm sorry to have left you but I was called out of town on business last week and could not write to you! But, I was pleasantly surprised to return to the store and find that Teresa covered my regular Thursday blog entry. So a big thank you to her! I enjoyed reading about her book challenge. It is something I myself have considered doing. But right now I have many other books that have been vying for my attention for too long. One day I will immerse myself in the classics and I hope I will find it just as enjoyable as Teresa has.

Though it is not Thursday, I figured I should put up a post concerning some WBN items that have been changed due to Colorado's second winter.

We had planned to host a little WBN get-together at the store this past Monday (the 15th). We also had our Mad Scientist Day scheduled for Monday the 15th as well. Sadly, the weather was just not ideal for either event to take place, and we ended up closing the store early.

Do not fear! We have rescheduled both events!

The WBN get-together will now be taking place on Monday the 22nd (WBN eve!) from 6 until the store closes and we (and by that I mean 'I') send you all home.However, you do not have to wait until the 22nd to pick up your books. We have them at the store RIGHT NOW! So you can stop by anytime during store hours and pick them up.

Mad Scientist Day has been moved to Friday, May 17th (another teacher work day, so all the kids will be out of school) from 11-2. We hope you all will come out for some fun, hands-on science.

Alright, now that you're all updated, I shall be off. I need to spend some time brainstorming what I will write to you about on Thursday! Who knows? Could be anything.

With that, I bid you farewell.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Year Resolution/Book Challenge

Hello! I am the newbie (Teresa) at Old Firehouse Books, and this is my first blog (pretty excited about it as well). I consider myself an avid reader, but I tend to stick to general fiction/literature and I don't really venture out of those boundaries. So at the start of the year I decided that while I do read a lot, do I really read "quality literature"? Big question, because what really constitutes "quality literature" and who am I to judge? That being said, I figured that the books considered classics are quality literature, and that I would challenge myself to read one classic novel a month (it was not only a challenge, but also one of my New Year's resolutions and currently the only one that I am still keeping up with :)
To date, I have read 4 classic novels, and I must admit to myself that I am really enjoying the ones that I have read thus far. January's pick was "The Great Gatsby" by Fitzgerald, and even though I had to read it in high school (and let's just say that I was unimpressed) I really enjoyed it a second time. I chose this book because of the movie coming out, and if I am being honest, because it was a pretty short book :) The surreal world of the 1920s really came to life, as well as the unhealthy relationship between Daisy and Jay Gatsby.
February's pick was "1984" by Orwell, much to the surprise of my fellow book lovers and friends that novel was not a required read in high school. Again, this pick was slightly fueled by the size of the book, but as I read it I was amazed that I had not read this book before. (I could finally place the big brother comments that had been in my life). The story sucked me in, and had me reading late into the night to see what was going to happen to Winston and Julia.
After reading Orwell, again I was inspired to read a book before I saw the movie, so I picked up L. Frank Baum's "The Oz Chronicles". Did you know that the infamous movie with Judy Garland was based on a 80 page story?! Neither did I, until I finished it; but in those 80 pages the world of Oz was real to me. I will also admit that I couldn't quite get into the stories that followed, I guess I needed Dorothy to keep me interested. (I still am holding out hope that someday I will pick it up again, and be just as enthralled as I was for "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz".)
April is a short month, so I opted to go with "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Stevenson. I was surprised by how short this book was, I would actually consider it a novella, but I was captivated by the story of split personalities vying for one body. Doesn't everyone have dueling personalities, and sometimes it really is a struggle to control one or the other? Stevenson did an amazing job bringing to life this very dilemma.
As for May, I am debating between "Native Son" by Wright, or "Kim" by Kipling, but I am open to suggestions and would love to hear from some of you what your favorite classic novel is! Thanks for reading this, and as always Happy Reading!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

World Book Night is almost here!

Hello! Renee here again. I told you I'd be back. Muwahaha! *cough cough* Moving on...

So, this evening I will be writing to you about something you may already know about. It's called World Book Night. If you're unfamiliar with World Book Night, this post should fill you in a bit. If you are familiar with World Book Night, read on anyway. You might learn something.

World Book Night (from here on abbreviated WBN) is an event all about spreading the love of reading. Booksellers, librarians, authors, publishers and thousands of volunteers come together to make this event possible.

WBN was first concieved back in 2010 at London's Book Industry Conference. Their hope was that the night of book-giving would encourage more adults to read. Because let's be honest, a lot of us probably don't read as much as we want to...or should (you know who you are).

The first WBN was celebrated in the UK and Ireland in 2011. In 2012, the USA and Germany also participated.

And now, here we are in 2013 and WBN is still going strong. Last year nearly 80,000 people handed out over 2.5 million books in four different countries. Here's hoping 2013 will find even more people going out into their communities and gifting books to light or reluctant readers as well as those that just don't have the money to spend on their own books.

You may be asking yourself, "Why is WBN so important?" or maybe even, "Why is reading so important?" Well, the WBN site has this to say:

"Why does World Book Night exist? Reading for pleasure improves literacy, actively engaging emerging readers in their desire to read. Reading changes lives, improves employability, social interaction, enfranchisement, and can have a positive effect on mental health and happiness. Book readers are more likely to participate in positive activities such as volunteering, attending cultural events, and even physical exercise.
Or more simply put, books are fun—and they can be life-changing."

A question you are probably less likely to be asking yourself is, "Why is WBN always on April 23rd?" Turns out there are a couple reasons. April 23rd is the UNESCO International Day of the Book (who knew?) as well as Shakespeare's birthday (he's so old!). Kinda makes April 23rd the perfect day, dontcha think?

Yours truly will be hanging out in Old Town Square around lunchtime handing out copies of John Green's Looking for Alaska (a fantastic read for teens and adults alike). Stop by and say hi if you're in the neighborhood. This is my first year as a Giver and I am very excited!

There will also be a little meet-and-greet for Givers and booklovers alike being hosted at the store on Monday, April 15th. The event will run from 6pm-7pm. Tea and snacks will provided and there might even be an activity...maybe. Givers can also pick up their books if we've gotten them in. So come on by and nerd out with us about books! It's sure to be a good time.

One last thing before I go. I am starting a Tumblr account for the bookstore. Some of you might not know what Tumblr is but I like to describe it as a Facebook/Instagram hybrid...kinda. Basically it will be a place where I post funny book related pictures, interesting book related articles...yeah.

That is all for this evening. Until next time!



P.S I feel obligated to tell you I got most of this information from the WBN site. Go check it out!