Just a quick reminder that on Thursday, November 15 at 6:00 p.m., Missouri’s first poet laureate, Walter Bargen, will be appearing at Skylark to read from his new collection, MY OTHER MOTHER’S RED MERCEDES. Those of you who have heard Walter read before will know that you’ll be in for a treat. He’s a funny, engaging reader, and his poems are wonderful. But don’t take our word for it. Come on down to 9th Street tomorrow evening and hear for yourself!
If the stresses and strains of today’s election are too much for you, may we suggest some relaxing yoga in a bookshop to alleviate all that tension?
We’re please to announce the next installment of what we suspect will quickly become a regular event at Skylark. This Sunday, November 11, at 9:30 a.m., bookseller extraordinaire and experienced yoga instructor Michaela will once again be leading an hour-long yoga class for people of all levels and experience.
Doing yoga when surrounded by books is the thing to do these days. You read it here first. Click here to read Michaela’s thoughts about the link between yoga and reading. It’s awesome.
You will need to bring your own yoga mat.
Cost: $10 cash, but you get a $10 credit to spend in the shop that day.
Columbia is filled with writers, and in November, Skylark Bookshop wants to celebrate their adventures. We think being surrounded by books is a great inspiration for those putting words on paper, as well as those who have completed the journey and have a bound creation to share with the world.
There are two different ways you can participate.
Firstly, November is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short. Individuals all over the world participate in this event designed to free the writer from the confines of their inner editor. Participants sign up with an expressed goal of writing 50,000 words during the month. In 2017, nearly half a million people sat down to get their thoughts on paper. After losing count of writers we know, we decided a significant portion of them live in Columbia.
In support of the absurdly wonderful NaNoWriMo adventure, Skylark Bookshop is hosting weekly write-in events all month long. Every Friday in November, NaNoWriMo participants are welcome to come to the shop from 7-8pm for a collective write-in. Bring your notebooks, laptops, and coffee. We will provide chairs, ambiance, and deprive you of the distractions of wifi.
Secondly, for our local authors and poets with published titles, we welcome you to sign up for our first quarterly Local Authors Night. Interested authors should send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Five authors will be chosen to participate on Wednesday, November 28 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. Each writer will have ten minutes to read and share a bit about their work. There will be a good old fashioned Q&A period followed by book signings.
Things don’t appear to be slowing down around here any time soon.
Last Friday we welcomed over A THOUSAND trick-or-treaters through our doors as part of the District’s Not-So-Scary trick-or-treat Halloween event. What a blast that was - and lovely to see many new faces who had not been into the shop before. (We hope you’ll come back again without the scary costumes.)
This week we have two more great events we wanted to tell you about.
On Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. we’ll be hosting writer and scholar Meena Nayak, in partnership with the MU South Asian Studies Program, the Religious Studies Department, and the University of Missouri Lectures Committee. Professor Nayak’s new book Evil in the Mahabharata offers a compelling reinterpretation of the epic that presents a nuanced analysis of the characters, away from the dominant noise of the grand narrative. She is also the author of the novel Endless Rain, a deeply moving story of daily life in Kashmir, which looks at how family life is constantly transformed by religious matters, political issues and other forces from outside the home, often with tragic results. Professor Nayak has a PhD in Philosophy with a focus on Hindu mythology and an MFA in Creative Writing. She is a professor of English at Northern Virginian Community College.
Then, on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., we’re thrilled to present - as part of the always fabulous Citizen Jane Film Festival and with the support of the Unbound Book Festival - a reading and discussion based on WHEN WOMEN WROTE HOLLYWOOD, a collection of 23 new essays that focuses on the lives of female screenwriters of Golden Age Hollywood. These women's work helped create those unforgettable stories and characters beloved by audiences, but their names have been left out of most film histories. The contributors trace the careers of such writers as Anita Loos, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Lillian Hellman, Gene Gauntier, Eve Unsell and Ida May Park, and explore themes of their writing in classics like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Ben Hur, and It's a Wonderful Life.
Some of the authors whose work appears in this collection will appear at Skylark to read from their work and discuss the role of women writers in the early days of film. It promises to be a fascinating discussion. Books will be available for purchase and signing after the event. This event is free and open to the public and does not require a ticket or pass to the Citizen Jane Film Festival.
Carol has some unusual book suggestions to help you get through the holiday season…
Recently, my sister-in-law and I had a discussion about the upcoming holidays. What, you say? It is October! (We actually had this discussion at the end of September). While we have, at least on my side, a relatively small and ever dwindling immediate family, tackling the events that now occur between Thanksgiving and the New Year has become more complicated, it seems. Part of it may be we’re getting older; the other part may be that we’ve just let events take over our lives instead of planning what we might actually like to have happen.
For nearly 25 years, my Thanksgiving holiday was relatively simple. I lived in Washington, D.C., far from my immediate family and usually had very little time off, so I stayed local. Only one Thanksgiving turned out to be truly stressful. A friend and I decided that we would go all out and prepare, from scratch, the whole decorating scheme, meal setup and meal, plus the cleanup. Needless to say, this turned out to be 24 hours that by the end looked like a very complicated, messy military mission with multiple lists, charts and a schedule that could not be deviated from by 5 minutes or something would implode. (We still managed to forget to garnish our lovely homemade roasted butternut squash soup with fresh sage that we procured from some friend’s window herb garden; the homemade apple sauce was superb, however). By 10 p.m. that night, looking at the carnage that was the kitchen after we threw what we could in the dishwasher, my friend started making room in her refrigerator while I tore out the backbone of the turkey, tossed the remains in a soup pot and stuffed the whole thing in to deal with the next morning. We said, “Never again.” And we held true to that pledge.
Christmas and New Years has always been more complicated for me only because it involved air travel as the initial step. It was easy to figure out which parties I could and could not attend, had a reason to request any gift suggestions early, and then just be prepared to land in St. Louis and then be ready to load up a car (or cars) and head somewhere in mid-Missouri for a finite period of time.
But now I live in mid-Missouri, and it is part of my responsibility to make sure my sister-in-law is not up at 3 a.m. wrapping Christmas presents (especially since the “baby” of the family at the present time is over 30 years of age.) So, being the researcher and reader I am, I turned to find inspiration in, yes, books.
My reading list, happily, was short and the books themselves limited in page length. I started with “The Little Book of Hygge” (pronounced “Hoo-ga”) by Meik Wiking, the C.E.O. of the Happiness Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. While not specifically about the holiday season, this little gem is a great reminder to take time to enjoy things that make you feel good—a warm drink, a cozy spot, companionship, simple communal meals and outings, and, yes, a good book. Ditch the technology for a brief time and gaze into a fire, listen to someone read a favorite short story out loud, or tell that family story that has not been recounted for a few years.
The other book on my reading list was one that most people would not associate with particularly pleasant holiday reading—“The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margereta Magnussen. While the title might turn some people off, it is really about routinely de-cluttering your life, so that someone else does not have to (extensively) after you have departed this earth. It is about giving your family members the gift of not having to spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out how to dispose of things that meant something to you but will add no value to their life; it may end up making that person have feelings of aggravation about you when they should be remembering you fondly once you are gone (“What in the Sam Hill am I going to do with 50 Hummel decorative ceramics?,” or the like.)
While the author indicates that she is between 80 and one hundred years of age, you might be wondering why this was on my reading list prior to the New Year. This is because I have gone through one cycle of what she would consider “death cleaning” when I relocated halfway across the country and had to figure out what to pay for to have moved from my 22 years in one location. Most of my stuff is still residing in a storage unit, and my New Year’s resolution is to figure out what will stay and what will go. “Death cleaning” should be done slowly, allowing the owner to calmly appraise each item, determine what value this item can continue to play in your life (or maybe someone else’s life), and figure out an appropriate home for it. The book also cautions to start with items that have less emotional impact to the owner (i.e., do NOT start with photographs and letters). This short tome is a great reminder to us that one of the best gifts we can give our loved ones is to get things organized for when we are gone so that they can remember us fondly and not for the shredding of 50 plus years of cancelled checks that somehow ended up stored in the attic.
So, my advice to you after reading and contemplation is: take a little time now to think about how to make some bright spots during the crazy and hectic holiday season. To find a “hygge” moment, grab your favorite beverage, stop by Skylark Bookshop and find an item that will inspire you to slow down and enjoy the moment, or find a small, meaningful gift for a friend or family member. Or just have a hygge moment in the bookshop.
As for the de-cluttering, check back with me in March or so…
It’s a busy week this week at Skylark! Tomorrow night we welcome Joanna Luloff to the store, and the following evening, we’re very excited to present acclaimed literary biographer Charles J. Shields who will be presenting his new book, THE MAN WHO WROTE THE PERFECT NOVEL: JOHN WILLIAMS, STONER, AND THE WRITING LIFE.
You may have heard of STONER, the “perfect novel” of the book’s title. Originally published in 1965, it’s recently become a publishing phenomenon, selling millions of copies and being celebrated and praised by a host of writers and critics, including Colum McCann, Julian Barnes, Bret Easton Ellis, Ian McEwan, Emma Straub, and Ruth Rendell.
And, oh yes, the book is set in Columbia, Missouri.
Charles Shields’s elegant biography (which was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the fall's "Most Anticipated" titles) traces the life of STONER’s author, John Williams, which in many ways paralleled that of his most famous character, from their shared working-class backgrounds to their undistinguished careers in the halls of academia. Shields masterfully recounts Williams’s development as an author, whose other works include the novels BUTCHER’S CROSSING and AUGUSTUS (for the latter, Williams shared the 1972 National Book Award).
CHARLES J. SHIELDS is the author of MOCKINGBIRD: A PORTRAIT OF HARPER LEE, a New York Times bestseller, a Literary Guild Selection, and a Book-of-the-Month Club Alternate. His young adult biography of Harper Lee, I AM SCOUT, was chosen an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, and a Junior Literary Guild Selection. In 2011, Shields published AND SO IT GOES: KURT VONNEGUT, A LIFE, a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of the Year.
THIS THURSDAY at 7:00 p.m.!
Following her acclaimed collection of short stories, The Beach at Galle Road, Jo Luloff will return to Columbia to discuss her debut novel, Remind Me Again What Happened, with the Chair of University of Missouri English Department, Professor Alexandra Socarides.
“There is a smudge where my memory is supposed to be.”
Claire wakes in a hospital room in the Florida Keys. She has no idea how she got there or why. The loss of so many memories is paralyzing. Some things she can piece together by looking at old photos saved by her husband, Charlie, and her best friend, Rachel, and by combing through boxes of letters and casual jottings. But she senses a mystery at the center of all these fragments of her past, a feeling that something is not complete. Is Charlie still her husband? Is Rachel still her friend?
Told from alternating points of view that pull the reader into the minds of the three characters, the story unfolds as the smudge that covers Claire’s memory is gradually, steadily wiped away, until finally she can understand the why and the how of her life. And then maybe she and Charlie and Rachel can move forward, but with their lives forever changed. In Remind Me Again What Happened, Joanna Luloff has written a moving and beautifully nuanced story of transience, the ebb and flow of time, and how relationships shift and are reconfigured by each day, hour, and minute.
“Remind Me Again What Happened is a profound and elegiac exploration of the relationship between memory and identity, the way one has the power to remake the other. Joanna Luloff is a splendid writer, and this haunting novel is a wonderful testament to her gifts.” — Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me
We love our local teachers, and on November 11, we’ll be celebrating educators of all stripes (librarians, teachers and administrators, K-12) by inviting them to participate in our very first Teacher Appreciation Night.
This will be an opportunity for teachers to shop, chat, and to meet with Skylark staff to discuss how we can help you in the classroom. Talk to us about teaming up for author visits, trips to the shop, custom classroom or library orders, help in finding materials related to curriculum or for outside-of-the-box approaches to reading.
We’ll be giving away a ton of door prizes, from neat tote bags to signed books and exclusive copies of forthcoming titles.
Most importantly, everyone will receive a 20% discount on all purchases during the event.
THIS EVENT IS ABSOLUTELY FREE! All you need is your educator ID to participate. You don’t have to register in advance to attend, although if you do you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a signed copy of Kate DiCamillo’s new book, LOUISIANA’S WAY HOME - and other goodies, too. Just shoot us an email at email@example.com to let us know you’ll be coming! The event will start at 5:30 (after the shop is closed for normal business) until 7:30.
Mark your calendars, and if you know a teacher, please spread the word!
We had a wonderful evening with YA author Tiffany Jackson while she was in town visiting every Columbia high school as part of the Authors in the Schools program put on by the Unbound Book Festival. Tiffany spoke with passion and charm about her books and her writing career, and she signed a ton of her books afterwards. She was funny, and inspiring, and occasionally a little bit rude. The audience loved every minute of it.
Here are a few photos, courtesy of Amy Enderle.
We just wanted to remind you all that Dave Matter will be appearing at Skylark at 6:00 this Thursday to speak about his new book, 100 Things Missouri Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die.
Dave will talk about how he wrote the book, there’ll be a Q and A, and of course he’ll be signing copies, too. See you there?
A little while ago we wrote a blog about Boutique Week, a retail extravaganza focused on the District which is arranged by our friends at CoMoLiving. We’re all about shopping local, so we’re delighted to be part of the campaign.
Go here to sign up to participate in the week-long fun. When you present your “passport” at each participating store, you’ll receive whatever extra bonus or discount they have ready for you. Skylark will be giving away a free, signed copy of Alex George’s latest novel, SETTING FREE THE KITES, to every passport holder who spends more than twenty dollars in the shop. So come, enjoy the District and the benefits of shopping local, and get a free book while you’re at it!
There’s a lot going on at the bookshop, these days.
Last night the amazing Tiffany Jackson spoke to an enthusiastic crowd about her writing career and signed a ton of her novels. She was delightful, and funny, and impassioned, and we all left feeling inspired. This was already our third author event since we opened at the end of August.
Next week, in a slightly different vein, Dave Matter will be talking about his new book, 100 Things Missouri Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, and at the end of the month, we have two more author events on consecutive nights: Jo Luloff will be here on Thursday, October 25, and acclaimed biographer Charles Shields will be speaking on Friday October 26 about his biography of John Williams, who wrote the beloved novel Stoner, which is set in Columbia.
And then of course there’s our new yoga and books thing on October 14.
It’s a lot to keep track of, we understand that. So how can you ensure that you won’t miss anything and thereby be condemned to an eternity of regret and recrimination? It’s easy: sign up for our e-newsletter. We’ll let you know in one quick email about what’s going on at the shop, and if we’ve had too much coffee and/or chocolate and/or doughnuts, we might even throw in a few exclusive special offers while we’re at it.
We promise we won’t bombard you with stuff and, of course, we won’t share your details with anyone else, ever. But this way you won’t miss out on anything. FOMO, people. It’s totally a thing.
We’re excited to announce that we’ll be starting yoga lessons in the bookshop next month. These will be led by our awesome bookseller, Michaela, and she has written a few words to explain the thinking behind the idea…
When Alex and I first talked about doing yoga at Skylark, one of his first questions was “But why do yoga in a bookshop?”
It’s a great question. On the surface, doing yoga at Skylark seems like a fun and different yoga experience, but nothing more. But his question got me thinking. What if yoga and reading aren’t all that different?
Yoga is a practice that reminds me to be curious, and each day that I practice yields an entirely varied result. My flexibility (or lack thereof in the case of my hamstrings), my energy, the time of day, what I’ve eaten and who I’m practicing with can alter my practice infinitesimally or significantly. But that’s kind of the point.
It can be so easy to be lulled into our own routines and ways of being. And in some ways, routines help simplify our life and streamline our decision-making. But they also limit our ability to be curious. We know what we like to eat at our favorite restaurant, we know the best route to get to work, and we know what coffee to order and where.
Yoga turns what we know on its head — sometimes literally. It gives us the opportunity to be curious about how it feels to balance on one foot or be upside down. But even more than that, it gives us the opportunity to be curious about ourselves.
And it is in this way that yoga and reading really aren’t so different. Reading (as so many writers have already explored) allows us the chance to escape our own life and enter into a different one — all without leaving our couch. As a child, that journey might be a fantastical one that transports you to a world vastly different from your own. But as we age, so does our reading. We might still take fantastical journeys, but over time our protagonists’ worlds might not appear to be all that different from our own.
It is this new and different lens from our own that has the ability to challenge our own views and so-called certainties. Books invite us to be curious rather than judgmental about the experiences of others. Eventually, books might even help us to embrace the radical notion that we can change our own mind.
Which doesn’t sound all that different from yoga.
So how neat would it be to engage in a mentally and physically curious practice in the company of your favorite books?
Join me Sunday October 14th from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. to stretch your body and your mind (sorry, I couldn’t resist) at Skylark Bookshop.
A few details:
Who: Yoga is for everybody so this will be an all-levels class. Seriously. It will be an hour-long class suited to all ages and all levels.
You will need to bring your own yoga mat.
Cost: $10 cash.
Perks: A $10 credit to Skylark Bookshop valid that day! (So it’s basically free!)
We always love it when authors visit the shop and sign their books for us. This morning we welcomed Dr. Christine Sleeter, who is in Columbia for several days for a full slate of talks and lectures. Dr. Sleeter is a writer, researcher, and teacher, who is best known for her work in critical multicultural education, and her insights into white people grappling with race. She holds the title of Professor Emerita in the College of Education at California State University Monterey Bay, where she was a founding faculty member. Her novel, The Inheritance, was published earlier this year and has generated a great deal of enthusiastic discussion locally. (And, as you can see, we have signed copies in stock.)
If you inherit something, do you also inherit responsibility for its history, even if you have no awareness of that history? How much responsibility do we bear for what happened long before we were born? The Inheritance explores how someone who benefitted directly from the removal of an American Indian tribe from their lands comes to understand how that happened and what one can do about it.
Dr. Sleeter will be giving a talk which is open to the public at 6:30 p.m. at Conservation Auditorium on the Mizzou campus (Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building, 1111 E. Rollins Street, Room 111). The title of her talk is: “The Inheritance: Returning What was Stolen.” This event is open to the Columbia community and campus-wide community. It is sure to be a compelling and fascinating event. See you there?
One of the reasons why we know this book will be popular in Columbia is because last November Doris Kearns Goodwin delivered a spell-binding address to a packed house in Jesse Auditorium, on the MU campus, and this book was the basis of the talk. It was riveting stuff; the audience hung on every word she spoke. In the book she draws on her studies of the presidents whose lives she has written about to such acclaim - Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson - and extrapolates from the lives of these complex and very different men certain lessons and principles about leadership. The book provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field. (And, in today’s polarized world, these stories of authentic leadership in times of apprehension and fracture take on a particular significance.)
To whet your appetite a little more, we’re attaching below a video of an conversation that Skylark’s owner, Alex George, had with Doris Kearns Goodwin the morning after her address in Jesse Hall. Our thanks to the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, who brought Ms. Kearns Goodwin to Columbia and arranged for the conversation to be recorded.
Books go on sale bright and early on Tuesday morning. Call the shop at (573) 777 6990 to reserve your copy!
Beth Shapiro shares her thoughts on one of our bestselling titles, EDUCATED by Tara Westover:
“The premise of Tara Westover’s memoir Educated is straight-forward: A child raised by an isolated, religiously zealous, survivalist family amazingly goes on to study at Harvard and Cambridge. The possibility of obtaining an intimate portrayal of such an unusual journey certainly will appeal to readers’ voyeuristic tendencies. In addition to being able to tell a good story, however, Westover also possesses the power to encourage readers both to question themselves and to examine broader issues.
Glimpses into the author’s family reveal tendencies at odds with typical societal norms. Massive annual summer canning in preparation for religious end-times leads to a friend asking, “Does your house always smell…like rotted plants? You must have smelled it. It was strong. I’ve smelled it before. On you. You always smell of it.” Homeschooling--in name only--means that at age 16 Westover has never taken an exam before the ACT, where she encounters “strange pink sheets I’d never seen before”—bubble sheets. And mistrust in doctors consistently results in no medical treatment after disastrous accidents.
Characters, however, do not automatically meet preconceptions and are portrayed with complexity. Westover’s father, for example, can easily solve trigonometry equations unconventionally. While often agreeing with her husband’s paranoid notions, her mother nonetheless independently starts up a successful home business.
With frequent references to the mountain of her Idaho childhood home, Westover highlights events, situations, and individuals that influence the move away from her upbringing and that spark the formation of her self-identity. “I am not the child my father raised, but he is the father who raised her,” she shares. Readers invariably will wonder how they personally might have handled such circumstances. Additionally, book club readers will discover numerous topics for discussion: What constitutes abuse? What defines parental/filial love? How does mental illness affect families?
Riveting and thought-provoking, Educated invites readers into an unfamiliar world that reveals beauty, horror, struggle, and resolution.”
On Tuesday, September 11, Skylark hosted its first ever author event, welcoming Elliot Reed back to Columbia (he was raised here) to talk about his astonishing new novel, A KEY TO TREEHOUSE LIVING. It was a wonderful evening. Elliot read from the novel to a packed house (we don’t have nearly enough chairs, apparently) and answered questions from Alex George and the audience. Afterwards he signed a bunch of books, and we still have some autographed copies of the novel in stock. You might want to grab one while stocks last. Our hunch is that they might become collectors items one day.
Our next event is next Thursday, September 20, when Karen Piper will be discussing her new memoir, A GIRL’S GUIDE TO MISSILES.
Here are a few photos of Tuesday night’s event, courtesy of Stacie Pottinger.
We're proud to be located in the heart of the District, in Columbia's downtown. There you'll find lots of wonderful bars, restaurants, coffee shops galore - and unique, locally-owned shops. To celebrate these local retail businesses, our friends at CoMoLiving are putting on Boutique Week from October 8-14. Sign up here for an exclusive "passport" which entitles you to discounts on all participating stores for all purchases you make during that week.
Here are all the fabulous stores that are participating:
So sign up for the passport, enjoy some great discounts, and support local retail businesses! We'll see you in October! (And hopefully before.)
Mid-Missouri is home to many, many writers of all stripes and genres, and one of the missions of Skylark Bookshop is to celebrate our local talent, whether traditionally or independently published. To that end, we're inviting self-published authors in any genre to submit their books, if they would like us to carry their titles on a consignment basis.
If you would like to see your books on our shelves, we'd love to have you. Go here for more information.
The first of an occasional series, wherein one of our cherished staff members shares their thoughts about a book they've read (and which - of course - you can find on our shelves.) For our inaugural post, Travis McGuire writes about a searing, beautiful, and important prose collection.
Refugees. The very word may conjure something different for me, you or your neighbors. But in The Displaced we are reminded that refugees are more than just a word - they are people. Brave, brave people whose journeys are rife with tragedy and happiness. These are emotional stories, empowering in what a person can withstand. The Displaced is filled with tragedy and death, night border crossings, emotional and physical abuse and reflections from refugees on what that means.
Viet Thanh Nguyen (2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction) brings us this very special collection of essays from refugees around the world. It offers a glimpse of what it’s like for refugees young and old to try to assimilate into a different culture. Their stories briefly become ours as the prose draws you in; feeling their physical and emotional pain, seeing through their eyes the savage ways that places of refuge (mostly the United States) treated them and tried to strip them of their identity, pressuring them to feel grateful for allowing them to exist in a place of asylum.
As an American, it can be a difficult collection to read. As a fellow human, it can be a difficult collection to read. But it is no less rewarding, and indeed this difficulty is part of the point in The Displaced. Through this discomfort we can learn empathy, humility and acceptance. At the very least it can remind us that we are a stronger and more beautiful country when we accept refugees and their cultures.
The Displaced is a fabulous collection for those who enjoy harrowing tales and for those who are ever-curious about the lives of others. It is for the sensitive and compassionate mind. But ultimately it is a collection each of us should read to understand what it means to be a refugee.