It’s time I sit down and share a couple of wonderful books with you. I must admit that it is hard to stay still for a minute during the busy holiday season. The shop is bustling and I’m trying my best to prepare for our trip to Connecticut and a wonderful family holiday.
Although childhood expectations and awe have given way to adult responsibilities and time constraints, I still hold the holidays as a sacred time. I enjoy sharing special gifts with loved ones, catching up on conversation and laughter, and having time to breathe – with a permeating snowy and grey quietness surrounding everything.
So, given my own reflections and predilections - here are some quiet and unusual books selections.
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm – Edited by Philip Pullman Two hundred years ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now, at a veritable fairy-tale moment—witness the popular television shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time and this year’s two movie adaptations of “Snow White”—Philip Pullman, one of the most popular authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.
From much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “Briar-Rose,” “Thousandfurs,” and “The Girl with No Hands,” Pullman retells his fifty favorites, paying homage to the tales that inspired his unique creative vision—and that continue to cast their spell on the Western imagination.
Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2005 by Alice Notley Considered by many to be among the most outstanding of living American poets, Alice Notley has amassed a body of work that includes intimate lyrics, experimental diaries, traditional genres, the postmodern series, the newly invented epic, political observation and invective, and the poem as novel. This chronological selection of her most notable work offers a delineation of her life and creative development. Formerly associated with the second generation of the New York School, Notley has become a poet with a completely distinctive voice. Grave of Light is a progression of changing forms and styles–an extensive panorama held together explicitly by the shape of the poet’s times. Notley’s poems challenge their subjects head-on, suffusing language with radiant truth.
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Have I recommended this one before? Well, if I have it’s for a good reason & a perfect book for the winter months.) Lydia Davis is one of our most original and influential writers. She has been called “an American virtuoso of the short story form” (Salon) and “one of the quiet giants . . . of American fiction” (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Now, for the first time, Davis’s short stories are collected in one volume, from the groundbreaking Break It Down (1986) to the 2007 National Book Award nominee Varieties of Disturbance.
Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson Lighthousekeeping tells the tale of Silver (“My mother called me Silver. I was born part precious metal, part pirate.”), an orphaned girl who is taken in by blind Mr. Pew, the mysterious and miraculously old keeper of a lighthouse on the Scottish coast. Pew tells Silver stories of Babel Dark, a nineteenth-century clergyman. Dark lived two lives: a public one mired in darkness and deceit and a private one bathed in the light of passionate love. For Silver, Dark’s life becomes a map through her own darkness, into her own story, and, finally, into love.
One of the most original and extraordinary writers of her generation, Jeanette Winterson has created a modern fable about the transformative power of storytelling.
True Norwegian Black Metal photography by Peter Beste (This one may be a bit controversial to some, but the photography is breath-taking. I am fascinated by this music and the stories that surround it.) In the last two decades, a bizarre and violent musical subculture called “Black Metal” has emerged in Norway. Its roots stem from a heady blend of horror movies, heavy metal music, Satanism, Paganism, and adolescent angst. In the early-mid 1990s, members of this extremist underground committed murder, burned down medieval wooden churches, and desecrated graveyards. What started as juvenile frenzy came to symbolize the start of a war against Christianity, a return to the worship of the ancient Norse gods, and the complete rejection of mainstream society.
I hope you have enjoyed this small selection. Happy New Year & Happy Reading! Find these books at The Spiral Bookcase -I’ll be restocking these titles through the winter- or your local indie bookshop.