Reading Group Roundup – August 2013

Left Bank Books hosts reading groups that are always welcoming to new members! If you have any questions or think you’d like to register your book group with Left Bank Books, please drop Jonesey a line at jonesey@left-bank.com. Here’s what our groups are reading this month. Pick up a copy for 20% off at either store, and join in the fun!

The Sex Lives of CannibalsSunday, August 11th, at 2pm in the Downtown store, join Jonesey and Reading the World as they discuss The Sex Lives of Cannibals by Maarten Troost: At the age of twenty-six, Maarten decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better. This is his hilarious story.

Vermont PlaysMonday, August 12th, at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs), Shane and his group, Read This Play, will be discussing The Vermont Plays by Annie Baker: “Circle Mirror Transformation,” which takes place in a summer acting class and alternates between theater exercises and moments between classmates, shares the 2010 OBIE Award for Best Play with “The Aliens,” which explores weighty topics of love and death through the easy banter of the slackers behind the local coffee shop. Also included is “Body Awareness,” set during Body Awareness Week at the local college, and “Nocturama,” in which a twenty-six-year-old Brooklynite returns to live with his mom and video game obsessed stepfather.

ValenciaThursday, August 15th, at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs), the Lesbian Reading Group will be reading Valencia, Michelle Tea’s fast-paced account of her search for love and high times in the drama-filled dyke world of San Francisco’s Mission District. There’s the knife-wielding Marta, who introduces Michelle to a new world of radical sex; Willa, Michelle’s tormented poet-girlfriend; Iris, the beautiful boy-dyke who ran away from the South in a dust cloud of drama; and Iris’s ex, to whom Michelle turns when Iris breaks her heart.

Daughter of TimeTuesday, August 20th, at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs), Shakespeare Festival Reads will discuss The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey: Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Could such a sensitive face actually belong to one of history’s most heinous villains – a king who killed his brother’s children to secure his crown? Grant determines to find out once and for all what kind of man Richard was and who, in fact, killed the princes in the tower.

Unreal LifeThursday, August 22nd, at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs), the Gay Men’s Reading Group will be discussing The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov by Paul Russell, his novel based on the extraordinary life of the gay brother of Vladimir Nabokov: his stuttering childhood in the shadow of his brilliant brother, his opium-fueled evenings with his sometimes lover Cocteau, his troubled love life on the margins of the Ballets Russes and its legendary cast, and his isolation in war torn Berlin where he will ultimately be arrested, sent to a camp and die in 1945.

Bel CantoWednesday, August 28th, 12pm, in our Downtown store, Kris and the Novel Ideas reading group will discuss Bel Canto by Ann Patchett: Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of a powerful businessman. It is a perfect evening – until a band of gunwielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.

Elizabeth CostellSaturday, August 31st, 4pm, in our Downtown store, the Writers Read group will be discussing Elizabeth Costello by JM Coetzee: After eight novels that have won, among other awards, two Booker Prizes, and most recently, the Nobel Prize, JM Coetzee has once again crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale. Told through an ingenious series of formal addresses, Elizabeth Costello is, on the surface, the story of a woman’s life as mother, sister, lover, and writer. Yet it is also a profound and haunting meditation on the nature of storytelling.

In Case You Missed It…

This week at LBB:

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Maybe just one treat? Because I’m cute?

No doubt you’re preparing for a long weekend full of fireworks and barbecue and lake visits and long naps. Rest assured that Left Bank store cat, Spike, is way ahead of you there. In fact, he’s already staked out two of his own favorite napping spots for the holiday: best friend Jay’s inbox, and right in the middle of the floor, probably where you’re about to walk, next to that book you really want to look at, so that it wouldn’t be so hard to reach out and give him a nice rub on the tummy, would it? He doesn’t think so.

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Booksellers rock the race.

Let’s not forget about last weekend, though, which was Pride weekend in StL! The staff was out in full force to celebrate, of course, with David and Kris participating in the Pride 5K downtown. David ended up winning first place in his age group and second overall, and Kris won second place in her category.  A big congrats to both of them, and here’ s hoping everyone had their own fun Pride adventures this weekend!

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Farewell, Priya!

We also said bon voyage to a good friend and wonderful bookseller, Priya, who’s leaving Left Bank to attend grad school in the fall – but first, to take a cross-country road trip, of which we’re all enormously jealous. We will miss her dearly, and wish her the best of luck!

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I’ll take five.

Just in! These beautiful new Left Bank mugs arrived on our shelves today. How much have you always wanted to drink coffee out of a mug with your favorite shop cat on it? So much. I know I’ve already staked my claim on one (the big secret to purchasing sidelines at Left Bank: will Lauren buy it?)

And a brand new staff pick to check out, next time you drop in: Jonesey just finished The Art of Joy by Goliarda Sapienza, which was released to critical acclaim in France in 2005 and has just arrived in America, and she calls it an “entirely worthwhile” endeavor with an “unforgettable and influential” main character.

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Come see Maddie downtown on July 10!

Took a little breather from events this week, but there’s a lot to look forward to next week. At the CWE, Shane and his reading group, Read this Play, will be reading Sons of the Prophet on Monday, Linda Hull will be in to read from her “Mrs. Frugalicious” mystery, Eternally 21, on Tuesday, and Victoria Wilcox will discuss the first book in her Doc Holliday trilogy, Inheritance, on Friday. Downtown, photographer Theron Humphrey and his best friend, Maddie the Coonhound, will stop in to autograph and “pawtograph” the book companion to the internet sensation, Maddie on Things on Wednesday. And on Saturday at the Central Branch of the St. Louis Public Library, YA author Laura Nowlin will read from her debut novel, If He Had Been With Me. You don’t want to miss any of these!

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We’ll leave A Song of Ice and Fire for a few years down the road.

Bookseller Story of the Week: a young boy of around eight years old approached Robert and asked for fantasy recommendations. After covering all the familiar bases (the boy had already finished the Harry Potter series, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, the Ranger’s Apprentice series, and was currently in the middle of Tolkien’s Return of the King, with hopes to read The Silmarillion), Robert knew he was going to have to aim a little higher. A few recommendations later, boy and mother left the store happy with a copy of the nearly 700 page Theft of Swords in hand, and a promise that they would return for more personal recommendations from Robert. Need some fantasy recommendations for your precocious young reader? Robert might be your guy!

And the Bookseller Find of the Week: a customer came into the CWE store searching for “a book written by a psychiatrist, about the statute of limitations on how much you can blame your parents for things, and it had a really clever title.” FOUND! One copy of Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart by Gordon Livingston to a good home.

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend, and hope to see you next week in the bookstore!

Reading Group Roundup – July 2013

Looking for a good book this July? Left Bank Books hosts reading groups that are always welcoming to new members! If you have any questions or think you’d like to register your book group with Left Bank Books, please drop Jonesey a line at jonesey@left-bank.com. Enjoy!

Sons of the Prophet: A PlayMonday July 8th, 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs) join Shane Read This Play on a brand new day! This month they will discuss Sons of the Prophet by Stephen Karam: A deeply humorous, unflinching portrait of grief and loss, Sons of the Prophet depicts a Lebanese-American family in rural Pennsylvania beset by an absurd string of tragedies. At the play’s center is Joseph Douaihy, a once-promising world-class runner now sidelined by injury. As Joseph confronts his deteriorating health, he is also forced to face the death of his father, an ailing Uncle, and a desperate boss beset by her own tragedies.

Two Towns in ProvenceSunday July 14th at 2:00pm at the Downtown Store, join Jonesey and Reading The World as they discuss MFK Fisher’s Two Towns in Provence: This memoir of the French provincial capital of Aix-en-Provence is, as the author tells us, “my picture, my map, of a place and therefore of myself…just as much of its reality is based on my own shadows, my inventions.” A vibrant and perceptive profile of the kinship between a person and a place.

Richard IIITuesday, July 16th at 7:00pm in the CWE store (downstairs) join Shakespeare Festival Reads in a discussion about Richard III: The final play in Shakespeare’s masterly dramatization of the struggle for power between the Houses of York and Lancaster. Treacherous, power-hungry, untempered by moral restraint, and embittered by physical deformity, Richard, the younger brother of King Edward IV, is ablaze with ambition to take England’s throne.

Written on the BodyThursday, July 18th at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs) join the Lesbian Reading Group for a discussion of Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body: The most beguilingly seductive novel to date from the author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. Winterson chronicles the consuming affair between the narrator, who is given neither name nor gender, and the beloved, a complex and confused married woman. “At once a love story and a philosophical meditation”.–New York Times Book Review.

The Man in the Wooden HatWednesday, July 24th at 12:00pm in the Downtown store join Kris and Novel Ideas for a discussion of Jane Gardam’s The Man in the Wooden Hat: A portrait of a marriage, with all the bittersweet secrets and surprising fulfillment of the 50-year union of two remarkable people, The Man in the Wooden Hat is fiction of a very high order from the author of Old Filth.

Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito RussoThursday, July 25th at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs), the Gay Men’s Reading Group will discuss Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo by Michael Schiavi: The first critical biography of gay-rights activist Vito Russo. Celluloid Activist illuminates, through the life of this fascinating individual, some of the most explosive cultural revolutions in American history and significantly expands the fields of gay film studies, biography, and history.

Interested in something a little different? The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts is hosting a different kind of book club. Exhibition Bookshelf explores the power of color during the run of Donald Judd: The Multicolored Works. Discover how authors use color while you are surrounded by Donald Judd’s multicolored works within the contemplative spaces of the Pulitzer galleries.

Fun Home: A Family TragicomicThursday July 18th from 7:00pm to 8:30pm join Anton DiSclafani in an exploration of Alison Bechdel’s use of color in her memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, in which Bechdel lets us in on her complicated relationship to her father. Anton DiSclafani is the author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, which was released on June 4, was named a most anticipated book of 2013 by Publisher’s Weekly and The Wall Street Journal. Visit pulitzerarts.org for the full schedule. Contact Philip Matthews, programs coordinator, at pmatthews@pulitzerarts.org or 314-446-2057, to join the book club.