If You're Looking for Holiday Gifts, Might We Suggest...?

Buying a book for someone else should be an intensely pleasurable act - after all, what better gift can there be than a whole world, neatly packaged between covers, to give to another? But we recognize that sometimes it can also be fraught with problems, because choosing a book for someone else is such a personal thing. We know this, because sometimes our lovely customers share these worries with us. Some of these concerns are relatively simple - perhaps the person won’t like the book, or they’ve read it before (nb: books can always be exchanged!). Others are decidedly more thorny. What does the choice of book say about the giver? What does the choice of book say about the recipient? What does the choice of book say about the giver’s opinion of the recipient? Or vice versa. And so on.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that hard. Our booksellers are always ready to suggest suitable titles for gifts, based on as much or as little information as you have available. And we also offer two wonderful gift ideas designed specifically to solve this problem.

Our Subscription Package allows you to gift books (you choose whether hard cover or paperback) once a month - for either 3, 6 , or 12 months. Each month a gift-wrapped book, chosen by Skylark staff specially for your reader, will be delivered to their door - wherever they are in the country.

 Subscription books about to go out in the mail to lucky readers…

Subscription books about to go out in the mail to lucky readers…

The brilliant thing about these subscriptions (if we do say so ourselves) is that each recipient fills out an online questionnaire, telling us their likes and dislikes, which allows us to choose, quite precisely, appropriate titles for them. What could be better than getting a new book, chosen especially for you, in the mail every month? You can read more about the subscription program here. And yes, this gift would work just as well for young readers as for adults.

An alternative option would be to give someone the gift of a Skylark Reading Spa. This is a truly luxurious treat for the book lover in your life… some time in the store, with a slice of cake (or a doughnut) and cash to spend on books, together with one-on-one advice from a bookseller about what books to choose. Read more about that here.

Feel free to call the shop at (573) 777 6990 or email us at mail@skylarkbookshop.com for more information about either of these packages.

This Thursday - A NATION FORGED BY CRISIS

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This Thursday, Skylark is proud to host the launch party of a new book that has been garnering a lot of interest nationwide and which was recently named as the Best History Book of 2018 by WORLD magazine: A NATION FORGED BY CRISIS, by MU historian Jay Sexton.

In the book, Sexton contends that our national narrative is not one of halting yet inevitable progress, but of repeated disruptions brought about by shifts in the international system. Sexton shows that the American Revolution was a consequence of the increasing integration of the British and American economies; that a necessary precondition for the Civil War was the absence, for the first time in decades, of foreign threats; and that we cannot understand the New Deal without examining the role of European immigrants and their offspring in transforming the Democratic Party.

A necessary corrective to conventional narratives of American history, A NATION FORGED BY CRISIS argues that we can only prepare for our unpredictable future by first acknowledging the contingencies of our collective past.

This will be a fascinating discussion you won’t want to miss! (Food and drink will be provided, courtesy of the Kinder Institute for Constitutional Democracy.) The event begins at 6:30 and the program will begin at 7:00. Books, of course, will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

Jay Sexton is the Kinder Institute Chair in Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri and emeritus fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University. The author of The Monroe Doctrine and Debtor Diplomacy, Sexton lives in Columbia, Missouri.

NaNoWriMo - guest blog by Art Smith

Some of you may have been fortunate enough to hear Art Smith discuss his most recent book, Uncommon Counsel, last week at Skylark’s inaugural Local Authors Night. We asked him to write a few words about National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November…


NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is done for another year. It’s a glorious bout of insanity I share with 177 other Columbia folks, where we each try to write 50,000 words of new fiction in the month of November. All told we wrote over 4.3 million words this month. Worldwide, roughly 400,000 people participate, writing around 4 billion words. (Yes, better than one out of every thousand words written worldwide come from Columbia writers!) It’s a labor of love and focused creativity dedicated to the notion that everyone has a story to tell, and we just need a little encouragement to get it out.

In order to “win” (i.e., write 50,000 words in 30 days), you have to average over 1,600 words a day, every day. That’s about three full-size pages of text. Speed varies widely, but most of our writers that I’ve seen can produce 500-1,000 words an hour if things are flowing well. That’s sometimes a big if, but like most things, the more you practice, the easier it gets. In reality, life will get in the way and some days you’ll struggle to write anything, so you need to have a number days where you crank out 2,000 or more words to make up for those slow days.

Most of the writers toil away quietly on their own, but some of us enjoy the communal aspect of the month, getting together for “write-ins” in various friendly establishments like the Columbia Library, Coffee Zone, and, of course, Skylark Bookshop. I often get my highest word-counts at these events, because of the shared energy of multiple writers tapping away at their keyboards. I spent one fun and productive evening this month writing in the window at Skylark, and got over 4,000 words written during those four hours. I am profoundly grateful for all the establishments that host our writers, officially or otherwise.

 Art Smith at work during one of Skylark’s Friday night NaNoWriMo write-ins

Art Smith at work during one of Skylark’s Friday night NaNoWriMo write-ins

It’s been said that to do anything well one needs to spend around 10,000 hours doing it. I don’t put a lot of stock in that magic number, but I think it’s broadly true for many things, including writing. The fifty to one hundred hours one spends in the actual writing during November isn’t going to get you there, but the reality is that planning beforehand and editing and revising afterward can add substantially to those numbers. Those activities are equally part of writing, even though it’s the productive frenzy of November that gets all the attention.

The obvious question raised by NaNoWriMo is “what happens to all those words?” In most cases, the answer is “little or nothing,” and that’s completely ok. For many writers, it’s the act of writing itself that matters. Letting the story out of our heads, giving it life on paper (or screen), wrestling with our demons, that is sufficient. Others treat NaNoWriMo as an exercise. The ridiculous goal of writing a novel in a month forces us to turn off our inner editor and just get the story out. For many of us, that’s the only path to completion. Too often “perfect is the enemy of good” and we get so bogged down in making every paragraph count that we never make it to The End. You can’t do that and hope to win at NaNoWriMo. Editing is for the other eleven months, in November we just write. And, once in a great while, lightning strikes and something beautiful is produced (albeit in a very rough form) during that exercise.

The most well-known example of a book (and later a movie) that got it’s start as a NaNoWriMo novel is the delightful Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. There are plenty of others. Each year a few dozen NaNoWriMo novels get picked up by traditional publishers, and a similar number are self-published. My own Uncommon Counsel was the one book out of eight years of NaNoWriMo participation that made the cut in my own mind (the jury is still out on this year’s attempt), and you can find it at Skylark Bookshop, along with many other wonderful books by local authors.

Columbia is truly blessed to have such a wealth of talent in so many artistic and creative fields. Whether your taste tends towards music, theater, film, visual arts, literary arts, or anything else, there is a vibrant community of creators and supporters to be found here. I truly believe that everyone has an artistic gift to share and am delighted to live in such a nurturing environment. So what’s your gift? Will we see you next November at one of our write-ins?

Saturday is Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day!

We are not making this up, we promise. Go here to find out more.

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We’re down with it, of course - although perhaps unsurprisingly we think that every day should be Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.

Regardless, we’d love to see you, and your kid(s), tomorrow or any other day of the week. If you haven’t visited our children’s section underneath the stairs, you totally should. So much goodness in one place!

Perfect Holiday Gifts... for Someone

A post from Carrie:

Let’s be honest. If I am getting you a gift this year, chances are I bought it at Skylark. While it would be fun to write about these perfect gifts, most of the intended recipients are reading this, and I am not a fan of spoilers.

Instead, I want to muse about a few of the perfect gifts I have found, but don’t have the people to give them to.

Spectator Sport Fan:

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This is a difficult concept for me to grasp. If you browse our sports section at the bookshop, you might realize our concept of sports in general is not especially spectator-focused. We have a rich supply of Yoga, running, and biking books along with a careful selection of more traditional sport titles. We know much more about the Yoga, running, and biking ones. However, a lovely customer ordered an intriguing title, and we had to add it to our shelves. “A History of American Sports in 100 Objects,” by Cait Murphy, talks about everything from catcher’s mitts and balls, to a Wheaties magnet. Each object is treated with insight and dosed with some spectacular facts.

The Traveler:

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Lonely Planet came out with a thorough beast of a book. “The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World” does exactly as advertised. Sprinkled with little known facts, the best time to travel to a location, and all thoughtful selection of must-do itinerary items, this huge and gorgeous book is designed to impress and inspire.

Itty-Bittys:

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 When my son was little he liked to fall asleep with a book . . . in his mouth. We had an entire collection of board books with a small bite shaped corner missing by the end of his toddler-hood. Had there only been “Indestructibles!” We carry a wide variety of these durable books, and I had to satisfy my curiosity. I took one home, “Baby Animals,” with its bright cover and parent/child cuties from the animal kingdom. Then I tossed it into an entire weekend worth of laundry loads, crumpled it up, tried desperately to tear a page, and eventually resorted to playing tug-of-war with our dog. It shows some love, but the pages are vibrant, there are no tears, and you have to work to find the teeth marks. At only $5.95 these make great gifts or card substitutes!

 Pop in to see any of these titles, or get suggestions for someone on your list (real or imaginary)!

Today is Small Business Saturday!

Today - the day after Black Friday - is Small Business Saturday. After yesterday's big box store madness, today people are encouraged to visit and support locally-owned businesses. We're excited to be participating in this for the first time, and so have concocted a few ways to celebrate the occasion. Come down to the District and join in the fun!

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In no particular order, here's what's going on:

1.   Hardback sale. Yes, you read that right. We'll be offering huge discounts on scores and scores of hardback fiction and nonfiction titles. They'll be on the front table. Grab 'em while stocks last. 

2.   Massive Drawing. We have put together a fantastic collection of brand new books (and a couple of non-book items, too) into one of our fancy Skylark tote bags. There's something for everyone - including a beautiful hardback copy of THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo, the just-announced winner of the National Book Award for Young People's literature. The total value of all these goodies is well over $200.00 - and at the end of the day we'll be giving it away to one lucky customer. Every $50 you spend today will buy you one raffle ticket in the drawing.

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3.   Ice Cream. Because it's November, and snow is forecast for Sunday. We're teaming up with our friends down the road at Yellow Dog Bookshop to present this special offer to our lovely customers for Small Business Saturday: buy a book at Yellow Dog and a book at Skylark, and you'll receive a free token for a scoop of Columbia's best ice cream from Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream. Books and ice cream. What could be better?

All this madness is for one day only - so come and see us today on 9th Street!

Little Virtues.

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Yes, I am beginning by borrowing from the fabulous Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg’s book of essays, who never fails to remind me to relish the small things in life and even remember the challenges fondly.  As we enter the holiday season, I have a lot to be thankful for.

First, I am grateful for the newest member of the Putnam family, who brings a special flair for life with her, a sense of adventure, a great sense of humor and the fantastic ability to write handwritten personal letters (which seems to be a dying art form these days).

Two, I am grateful that we have all of my small, extended family still with us, and even welcome a new, very teeny-tiny four-footed friend in (who is well documented on Facebook).  Welcome to the family, Indy Rose.

Three, I am grateful that I am currently settling into a relatively new job that I love—handling and reading books.  Could there be a better match for me?

Four, I am grateful that I am getting to know a lovely team of co-workers, who all bring different strengths and, most importantly, a great sense of humor and work ethic to helping us get through the challenges of a new business startup.  Thanks especially to Alex and Carrie for their vision, their unending enthusiasm for books and writing, and seemingly limitless amount of patience for the small things that invariably go wrong.  Here’s to wishing for a holiday season without too many Grinches.

Finally, but probably the greatest daily reminder of what I have to be thankful for—thank you to everyone who has stopped by Skylark Bookshop and expressed excitement, wonder and appreciation for the appearance of the shop and all the wonderful book souls contained within.  It never fails to brighten my day when someone walks in and smiles broadly, looks around happily, or compliments the shop—whether it is their first time in, or thirtieth (yes, you folks know who you are).

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and stop in soon!  Carol

Shop Small on November 24 and Win Free Ice Cream!

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Saturday, November 24, is Small Business Saturday, an annual celebration of independent businesses - something of a palate cleanser, if you will, after the madness of Black Friday. We, of course, hope that people will shop small and support the retail businesses in their community year round, but it’s especially important on Small Business Saturday.

To celebrate our first of what we hope will be many such days, we’re teaming up with our friends down the road at the wonderful Yellow Dog Bookshop to make an offer that we don’t think you’ll be able to refuse… if on Saturday November 24 you buy a book from Yellow Dog AND buy a book from us, then we’ll give you a token for a free scoop of ice cream from Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream. And if you think, wait, who would want to eat ice cream in November, then perhaps you haven’t been to Sparky’s for a while. That stuff is good ALL YEAR ROUND, people.

So come on by, get some books, and enjoy the best ice cream in Columbia - for free!

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If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

Before she began work at Skylark, Beth Shapiro was the librarian at Rock Bridge High School, so she knows her young adult fiction better than just about anyone. Here’s her take on a classic YA title…

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If you haven’t yet heard the big news, author Jacqueline Woodson is coming to Columbia on April 19 as Unbound Book Festival’s “Kids’ Keynote” to speak with all 8th graders at the Missouri Theatre.  In anticipation of Woodson’s visit, I decided to read her young adult book If You Come Softly, which also happens to be the inaugural pick of the brand-new book club “Life’s Library launched by author John Green and vlogger Rosianna Halse Rojas

Written 20 years ago, If You Come Softly remains as poignant and relevant in today’s times as it was then.  The title references the beginning of a poem by Audre Lorde that opens as follows:

If you come softly
as the wind within the trees
you may hear what I hear
see what sorrow sees.

The title and poem hint at what Woodson so lyrically offers to readers: a gentle, natural story that climaxes in tragedy.  Two 15-year-old who meet at their New York private school—Ellie who is white and Jeremiah who is black—fall in love.  Woodson provides beautiful glimpses into each teen’s life, revealing first love’s innocence and purity. As their relationship deepens, the young couple encounters prejudice and police brutality.

Fans of The Hate U Give might find this title appealing due to the several shared themes, however Woodson’s book is a far more delicate read than Angie Thomas’s, which is presented more forcefully.  I strongly recommend both books to readers of all ages for unflinching looks at racism, both now and 20 years ago. 

At Skylark we carry both titles, as well as several others by Jacqueline Woodson and John Green, plus poetry collections by Audre Lorde.  We’ll also happily keep you stocked with John Green and Rosianna Halse Rojas’s future book club selections. 

Missouri's first Poet Laureate will be here on Thursday!

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!

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More Bookshop Yoga!

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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.

Remember:

  • 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.

Attention Writers! NaNoWriMo and Local Author Night!

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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 mail@skylarkbookshop.com. 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.

More Events This Week!

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.

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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.

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Home for the Holidays (with some help from the Scandinavians)

Carol has some unusual book suggestions to help you get through the holiday season…

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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.

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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…

Carol

  

           

 

 

Charles J. Shields on The Man Who Wrote the Perfect Novel

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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.

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Joanna Luloff will be at Skylark on Thursday!

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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

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Teacher Appreciation Night is on November 11!!

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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 mail@skylarkbookshop.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!

Tiffany Jackson!

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.

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Boutique Week is Here! (Nb: FREE BOOK ALERT)

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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!

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