Elliott Bay Book Company Holiday Gazette 2011

Elliott Bay Book Company Holiday Gazette 2011


Every holiday season our staff of voracious readers finds those books that we believe will make truly loved and cherished gifts. We then collect these gems into this Holiday Gazette to help you find the perfect something for your special someone. If you want something more special, consider our Maiden Voyage Program, in which a first edition of a novel arrives in the mail every two months for a year. If you still aren’t completely certain that you can find the perfect book, we also offer gift certificates in any amount you choose. Gift wrapping is always free and we will ship your gift books to any destination world wide. We look forward to serving you this holiday season.

Twenty-five years after Maus I was first published, this beautiful volume revisits Spiegelman’s profound depiction of his parents’ survival of the Holocaust. Filled with interviews, sketches, notebooks, primary source material, as well as a hyperlinked DVD featuring the full text of Maus along with audio recordings and much more, METAMAUS is an extensive and moving document. By engaging three questions: Why the Holocaust? Why Mice? Why Comics?, Spiegelman illuminates how the accomplishment of Maus resulted from both his formal innovation and his insistent engagement with the most harrowing and uncomfortable complexities of his subject. —Casey O.

Whether your winter is cold and dark, bright and frosty, mountainous and adventurous, warm and homey, or quiet and meditative, there’s something attractive about the season. Adam Gopnik’s tone betrays his childlike fascination with winter as he takes us from sacred Dickensian holidays to intense hockey games to give us an atmospheric survey of the shortest, dimmest days in the northern hemisphere. Whether you’re a snowbird or a ski bum, Gopnik writes a wonderland you’ll enjoy. —Dave

Carol Field’s The Italian Baker is a gem of a book. There is nothing I like more than good rustic Italian bread, and this, short of travelling to Italy, is the way to find it. What one discovers in the course of reading and perusing this book is that there are over one thousand varieties of Italian bread—all regionally unique— and don’t you dare confuse them. Field covers it all, from breads to cookies and everything in between. This is a must-have baking book. I was bowled over.—Greg

The Prague Cemetery

By Umberto Eco, Richard Dixon

Simonini is a fervent gourmand with a splintered psyche, a penchant for deceit, and a hatred of just about everyone. After much devious plotting, he is on the cusp of a forgery so incendiary that it may alter the course of history. In putting his diabolical plan into action he becomes something of an odious Zelig, affecting famous events and interacting with all manner of actual historical personages. Eco has again succeeded in delivering a compulsively readable story deeply rooted in actual events. —Jamil

Wowsa! For the first time ever, all 3,022 paintings from the Louvre’s permanent collection are brought together in one staggeringly beautiful book. Expertly assembled and magnificently detailed, The Louvre: All the Paintings provides lavish, full-color reproductions, comprehensive background information on each piece and its artist, illuminating extended essays on 400 highly celebrated works, and immersive DVD-ROM software allowing you to virtually explore the Louvre’s labyrinthine passageways. Here is a book you can be dreamily lost in for days. Just look at Mona Lisa’s smile; she’s practically daring you to do it. What a mind-boggle. —Matthew

There are many Hemingway biographies out there, but this one stands above the rest. Hemingway’s Boat focuses less on the author’s infamously disagreeable behavior, which has been exhaustively chronicled elsewhere, and more on his relationships, his love of fishing, and his sense of adventure on the ocean. It offers a fresh perspective that reveals the person, rather than the legend. Pilar, Hemingway’s 1934 custom fishing boat, is the actual vehicle that the author uses to guide the narrative. Hendrickson has created an amazingly detailed and thorough investigation of Hemingway’s life with Pilar. The upbeat, straightforward, and enjoyable narrative will leave you feeling like you’ve sailed with Ernest Hemingway. —Hilary

Karoo is a beguiling mystery to her art school friends in Prague. She’s been known to run off for weeks without notice, returning only to nurse vague excuses and bruises, her sketch pads are inhabited by the most curious horned and winged creatures, and she has the uncanny ability to make wishes come true. Raised by a creature named Brimstone, Karoo has no clue who her real family is, where she came from, or that she might have a pivotal part to play in an ancient battle between good and evil. Readers of The Golden Compass will devour this gorgeous urban fantasy! —Leighanne

This is Don DeLillo’s one and only collection of short stories, dating from 1979 through 2011. In some ways, it’s too bad DeLillo hasn’t written more short stories because it’s a form that he is very adept at—to no surprise. There is a precision of language in each story—an ambiguity—and I was unsettled by them in subtle ways. These stories are the perfect introduction to DeLillo for the uninitiated, and for those who are fans, they are a confirmation of his place among the best of contemporary American writers. This is a book that can be savored over time and returned to again and again. —Greg

Most known for his biographies of Stalin and works on Russian history, Simon Sebag Montefiore turns his eye to the city of Jerusalem—Judean hilltown-turned-cradle of the Abrahamic religions, crossroads and meeting place, Holy City and place of worldly ferment. With superb narrative writing, Montefiore makes thousands of years—every epic rise, fall, and rise again, from King David to the 1967 Six-Day War—come compellingly alive. As it is a biography, this book gives a great sense of life and all that is encompassed in the lives of so many who have been part of its history over time. —Rick

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Fall Booknotes from Our Staff – Young Adult

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin)

Nobody who’s ever perused the pages of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick could ever forget them. So when I heard there was a compilation of stories based on these puzzling images, I was delighted. Within these pages we meet a boy on a quest to understand and manipulate time, witness a pair of nasty twins receive a most imaginative comeuppance, and double-take as a baby girl with an oatmeal-smeared chin floats into the air. But instead of explaining away one mystery, these amazing stories take the reader further down a spiraling rabbit-hole of possibility. Which was exactly what Harris Burdick had in mind. –Leighanne

The Apothecary
by Maile Meloy
illus. by Ian Schoenherr (Putnam)

In 1952 America, Cold War politics are prevalent, and fourteen-year-old Janie reluctantly moves to London with her blacklisted parents. Her new life soon becomes interesting when her schoolmate’s father, the local apothecary (or pharmacist, as we’d call him), is kidnapped and Soviet spies seem to be coveting his sacred book of medicines, The Pharmacopoeia. With her fearless friend Benjamin, they conspire to save the book and his father, and prevent an impending Russian nuclear experiment! An enthralling mix of history, fantasy, alchemy, and adventure, a dash of teen romance, and a splash of political intrigue, this to-be-continued story grabs you the minute you meet its plucky young heroine. –Erica

by Marie Lu (Putnam)

In a distant future, the United States has collapsed into two separate lands: the Republic, a country of order and class, and the Colonies, a land in perpetual war with its neighbor. Day and June both live in the Republic but lead very different lives. June is a prodigy brought up to take her place among the nation’s elite. Day, a child of slums, was destined to die before his wits and cunning led him to the top of the Republic’s most-wanted criminal list. When an act of murder throws their worlds together, Day and June both discover that the Republic may not be all that it seems. Fans of The Hunger Games will love the first book of this trilogy. –Casey S.

Legend will be published Tuesday, November 29th. Pre-order your copy today. 

Booknotes, the newsletter of The Elliott Bay Book Company, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.

Short Run Fest this Saturday!

On Saturday, November 12th, Vera Project plays host to the first-ever Short Run Festival – an excellently curated small press exhibition featuring regional small press publications and individual makers of art books, zines, comics, literary works, and animation. Doors open at 10:30am with over 70 exhibitors, including showstoppers like Hoarse, Filter, Microcosm Publishing, Jason T. Miles from Profanity Hill, Stumptown Underground, Bureau of Drawers Collective, Sam Lohman with Peaches & Bats, and representatives from the ZAPP archives at Hugo House.


Organizers see Short Run as an “alternative to large-scale commercial conventions,” with particular attention paid to limited edition, handmade literature and unconventional programming. So, in addition to endless rows of beautiful saddle stitched books, expect a day-long drawing competition inspired by Ryan Molenkamp’s “The Portrait Challenge,” and a series of animation screenings from SEAT (Seattle Experimental Animation Team), David Nixon, and Julie Alpert and Andy Arkley. Also, there’s a bake sale. Honestly, now. Why would you not go to this?


Short Run is free and open to the public. Doors open at 10:30am and close at 4:30pm. After which, festivities move to Fantagraphics in Georgetown for an after party art show with the exhibitors. Click here for more info!

The sprawling and lovely River scroll by Martine Workman, one of the featured presenters.

Fall Booknotes from Our Staff – Biography

Blue Nights
by Joan Didion (Knopf)

Six years after the publication of her stunning memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion brings us a deeply moving account of the loss of her thirty-nine-year-old daughter, Quintana. Didion begins with what would be the seven-year anniversary of Quintana’s wedding, and moves back and forth through time to reflect on her daughter’s life and her own role as a parent. The deaths of her husband and daughter forced Didion to face her own mortality, and to acknowledge the majesty of what she once considered ordinary blessings. Didion once again gives us an unflinching chronicle written in her signature succinct prose. –Laurie

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
by Alexandra Fuller (Penguin)

With the fortuitous combination of Alexandra Fuller’s adventurous and charismatic family, and her terrific storytelling skills, this memoir (following Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight) presents the story of her mother’s remarkable life. Born in Scotland and raised in Kenya, Nicola Fuller’s passion, bravery, and uniquely wry sense of humor are evident throughout, from settling onto four different farms in southern Africa, to the heart-breaking personal and political challenges that threaten her mental stability. This tribute to an exceptional woman, who, with a bit of wine, her beloved animals nearby, and an occasional song to fit the moment, agreed to be the subject of another (revealing) “awful book,” returns us to the fabulous Fullers with renewed curiosity and pleasure. –Erica

by Jim Ottaviani
illus. by Leland Myrick (First Second)

One difference between the genius mind and the average mind is the ability to view the world from unexpected angles. According to this biographical graphic novel, that ability paired with a great sense of humor are physicist Richard Feynman’s gifts. They undoubtedly helped the scientist with his contribution to the Nobel Prize winning work on the theory of quantum electrodynamics. However, the author also makes a point of showing that they helped Feynman improve the teaching of physics. His desire to make physics more accessible spurred a series of popular lectures. In the end, this achievement vies with those scientific feats as his single greatest work. –Pamela

And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life
by Charles J. Shields (Henry Holt)

Acclaimed biographer Charles Shields shines an unprecedented light onto Kurt Vonnegut Jr.—that smirking master of American letters. Working directly with the author before his death, Shields seamlessly weaves together a wealth of personal letters and first-hand anecdotes, interviews, and photographs. From Vonnegut’s early days of anonymity as a struggling short-story writer and his grappling with success and life as a family man to a horrific recreation of the bombings in Dresden and tracing how those events gave rise to Slaughterhouse-Five. Intimate and heartfelt without pulling punches, And So it Goes is a fittingly scribbly sketch of this off beat literary icon, both on and off the page. –Matthew

And So It Goes will be published on Tuesday, November 8th.

Booknotes, the newsletter of The Elliott Bay Book Company, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.