Thursday, October 23, 2014

 
The Inkwell has closed...

The Inkwell has unfortunately closed its doors permanently. Kathleen, one of the co-owners, made the hard decision to cease the renovations of the Inkwell's new location due to her family's requirements. We want to thank all the wonderful people who supported us, attended our events & bought books during the past five years. Our community is fortunate to still have two other independent bookstores; please continue shopping locally.


Inkwell's 2009 Book of the Year

The Good Thief by Hannah TintiThe Good Thief
By Hannah Tinti
Dial Press, $15.00
Unanimously proclaimed our favorite book of the year! The Good Thief is a rare find, a feat of imagination that thrills and captivates the reader from the first chapter. Set in Colonial New England, the unsettled and unlikely cast of heroes faces squalor and hard luck with a curious mix of deadpan humor and hope. Tinti tells a gripping tale about a one-handed orphan boy named Ren and his quest to unravel the mystery of his past. The irrepressible Ren lodges in your heart with his mix of world weary acceptance and yearning hopefulness. His search for his place in the world reveals the most basic of human needs: the desire to love and be loved.

Staff Picks


Little BeeLittle Bee
By Chris Cleave
Simon & Schuster, $14.00
Recommended by Kathleen
An advance copy of this book arrived in the mail late last year, and I began it immediately based on the back cover blurb. Nothing can compare to this captivating novel. The story begins with a young woman from Africa in an immigration detention center in Great Britain. Her life is intertwined with a British woman whose marriage is falling apart and the relationship between these women reflects not only a sharp realism, but the beauty possible in any coming together of two people. This novel will keep you on the edge of your seat (couch or bed) until the final page. A heart of a novel in both its horrific depiction of violence in Africa to contemporary life in Europe and back again. Warning – cliché dead ahead – if you read only one book this year, make it Little Bee.


Still AliceStill Alice
By Lisa Genova

Simon & Schuster, $15.00
Recommended by Steve
Author Lisa Genova has a PhD from Harvard University in Neuroscience. She is also an actress. It is with these credentials that she has written an emotional novel of high impact that will touch all who read it. Her influences which led her to write this book are not limited to her background, they include her experiences with her grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In the novel, Alice Howland is a Harvard University cognitive psychology professor at the height of her career. She leads a fulfilling life with a husband, three children and upscale homes in Cambridge and on Cape Cod. At the age of 50, she becomes aware of minor changes in her memory abilities. The affliction increases rapidly, leading her to seek a medical opinion. The diagnosis is early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The suspenseful novel is written through the unique perspective of the character of Alice. The reader gets insight into Alice’s frustration and inability to remember. Genova writes convincingly and in easy to understand terms about Alzheimer’s.

Magician's ElephantMagician’s Elephant
By Kate DiCammilo
Candle
wick, $16.99
Recommended by Abby (Age 10)
This book is absolutely, positively great in every possible (and impossible) way. It is the story of an elephant and a boy named Peter who are trying to find his little sister, Adele. And a fortune teller starts it all! This wonderful story switches back and forth between the characters until they all join together eventually. There are plenty of cliff hangers at the end of the chapters which keep you reading past your bedtime. The Magician’s Elephant has magic, fortune-telling, and soldiering.


Little StrangerThe Little Stranger
By Sarah Waters
Riverhead, $26.95
Recommended by Michelle
Sarah Waters (Fingersmith and The Night Watch) has built a reputation for writing literary gothic stories reminiscent of Henry James and Shirley Jackson. Her talents for creating realistic historical settings and unique characters come to fruition in her newest novel, The Little Stranger.
Post WW2, the Ayres family struggles to hold onto Hundreds Hall, a crumbling English great house that still retains a fading remnant of its glory. Mrs. Ayres clings to her past in an attempt to imagine that the aristocracy still holds power, even as massive social changes sweep postwar England. Her son, Roderick, terribly wounded and scarred from battle, exhausts himself working on the land to try to keep Hundreds solvent. Spinster daughter, Caroline, who is bright and bitter, tries to keep up some semblance of family. Into their Grey Gardens style lives appears Dr. Faraday, who as a young boy visited the great house during a village fête, and became enamored of Hundreds. The Ayres alternately welcome the distraction of the outsider Faraday and then remind him of his humble origins.
Each ch
aracter is trapped by circumstance and by the house that holds deep secrets. Their lives are bound by a darkness they have yet to comprehend, and the unraveling of their pride, fears, and longings brews up a chilling storm of consequences.
The Little Stranger makes for compelling reading; in addition to featuring nuanced characters and psychological insight, it has a surprise ending that will change your interpretation of all the preceding events.


 
The Man from Beijing by Henning MankellThe Man from Beijing
By Henning Mankell
Knopf, $25.95

The acclaimed author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries, writing at the height of his powers, now gives us an electrifying stand-alone global thriller.
In the Swedish hamlet of Hesjövallen, nineteen people have been massacred. The only clue is a red ribbon found at the scene. Judge Birgitta Roslin has particular reason to be shocked: Her grandparents, the Andréns, are among the victims, and Birgitta soon learns that an Andrén family in Nevada has also been murdered. She then discovers the nineteenth-century diary of an Andrén ancestor—a gang master on the American transcontinental railway—that describes brutal treatment of Chinese slave workers. The police insist that only a lunatic could have committed the Hesjövallen murders, but Birgitta is determined to uncover what she now suspects is a more complicated truth. The investigation leads to the highest echelons of power in present-day Beijing, and to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. But the narrative also takes us back 150 years into the depths of the slave trade between China and the United States—a history that will ensnare Birgitta as she draws ever closer to solving the Hesjövallen murders.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
By Rebecca Skloot
Crown, $26.00

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.
Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Inkwell Bestsellers

Inkwell Fiction Top 5:

Still Alice by Lisa Genova1. Still Alice
By Lisa Genova
Pocket Books, $15.00

Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, written by a first-time author who holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind and Ordinary People, this work packs an emotional punch.

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo2. That Old Cape Magic
By Richard Russo
Knopf, $25.95
In this follow-up to Bridge of Sighs, Russo delivers a novel of deep introspection and every family feeling imaginable, with a middle-aged man confronting his parents and their failed marriage, his own troubled one, his daughter's new life and, finally, what it is he thought he wanted and what in fact he has.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson3. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
By Stieg Larsson

Vintage, $14.95
In this European publishing sensation, a crusading journalist joins forces with a 24-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker to investigate the whereabouts of a missing woman from one of the wealthiest families in Sweden.


Born to Run by Christopher McDougall4. Born to Run
By Christopher McDougall
Knopf, $24.95
Part adventure story, part extreme sports, Born to Run is a riveting story about one journalist's quest to discover the secrets of the world's greatest distance runners, a reclusive Indian tribe living deep in the Copper Canyon of northern Mexico. With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami5. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
By Haruki Murakami
Vintage, $15.00
Perennial staff favorite Murakami's new book is by turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical; this memoir is both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in distance running. Full of vivid memories and insights, including the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer.

Click here to view Inkwell's Top 30 Bestsellers

Other books we love:
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson
  • The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
  • That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
  • Dog On It by Spencer Quinn
  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
  • Jericho's Fall by Stephen L. Carter
  • Darling Jim by Christian Moerk

 


From the Pen of Inkwell's Owners

Notes on old favorites, or why re-reading is not just a luxury...

A few people have asked me if I’m sticking to my tradition of re-reading my favorite series of books during February. My answer? You bet! As early as December, I feel the itch of anticipation... the desire to curl up & dive headlong into the pages with my favorite characters.
My most beloved books of all-time are the six book series called The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. The first book appeared in 1961, and Dunnett finished the series 14 years later in 1975. When Mary Palmer, a friend & fellow bookseller, first suggested the books to me, she pointed out how meticulously Dunnett had plotted the books, so that events in the first novel, The Game of Kings, played out in the last book, Checkmate. The books’ titles each represent the game of chess, which is not only an important part of the story, it is also indicative of the complex strategic planning and forethought that Dunnett used in writing these wonderfully rich historical novels.
The Lymond Chronicles, named after the antihero Frances Crawford of Lymond, are set in the 16th century. With consummate skill, Dunnett has created a fiercely intelligent, complex, passionate adventure that is such thrilling and addictive fun. The exploits of Lymond are larger than life, always vivid, and as hilarious as they are heartbreaking. Spanning the countries of Scotland, England, France, Turkey, and Russia, the story delves into the politics, religion, and the arts of the time period. The novels are a whirlwind of deception, passion, swashbuckling and intrigue. What a rewarding experience it has been to encounter the imagination of Dorothy Dunnett.
It’s a challenge and a delight to read the series in the shortest month of the year. 28 days to read 3,167 pages - an average of 113 pages a day. When friends & family look at me incredulously, not only for how much I’m reading but because I’m re-reading, I simply respond that I couldn’t imagine anything I’d rather be doing. Reading great books is a privilege that I never take for granted. How lucky I’ve been to have these particular books in my life!

1. The Game of Kings (1961)
2. Queen’s Play (1964)
3. The Disorderly Knights (1966)
4. Pawn in Frankincense (1969)
5. The Ringed Castle (1971)
6. Checkmate (1975)

“When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than wasthere before.” ~ Clifton Fadiman


Notes on gift giving, or why books never outlive their usefulness...

Why do we love to give our loved ones books for special occasions?  It’s because books are gifts of lasting value.  Books never need batteries, nor do they go out of fashion.  Long after toys are broken and forgotten, books remain viable, a source of renewable entertainment.
I fondly remember the books I received as presents over the years.  When I was 11, my Aunt Ellie gave me Nancy Drew’s first two adventures, and I received Little, Big by John Crowley for Christmas when I was 14 from my 10-year-old sister Andrea.  Even now, years later, these books are on my bookshelves, and I think of the gift-giver every time I see these titles.  Out of all the presents I’ve received during my lifetime, books are the most personal and the most precious.
In talking with the Inkwell staff about their own special books, it became apparent that each reader has a strong sensory connection with their library; our memories are stirred up through each book, bringing back the time, place, and people surrounding our experiences with the book.  Steve’s eyes lost focus as he reminisced about his gilt-edged, red leather bound copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes that his mother gave him when he was a teenager.  To this day, he has refused to read the final Sherlock Holmes story so that the book will never end! 
When I browse my shelves at home, each title seems to whisper its origins to me.  I get lost poking through my old favorites, and often enter into a pleasant reverie about what each title means to me.  My books exist as an external memory drive, and have the power to provoke a flood of memories as much as any photograph.
There is a saying, “A book is a present you can open again and again,” and it is this longevity that makes books truly unique.  Although I said thank you to both Aunt Ellie and Andrea years ago for the books, I want to say thank you once again.  I still have these wonderful gifts, and they will remain with me forever.


Notes on the upcoming fall season, or more reasons why we find reading the most satisfying form of entertainment...

This fall the publishing industry is celebrating an exciting schedule of new releases featuring such heavy hitters as John Irving, Jon Krakauer, Michael Connelly, Stuart Woods, Malcolm Gladwell, E.L Doctorow, Anita Shreve, Diana Gabaldon, Nicholas Sparks, Mitch Albom, Robert Parker, Patricia Cornwell, and John Grisham.
The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without new titles from James Patterson, John Sandford, Vince Flynn, Dean Koontz, David Baldacci, Sue Grafton, Clive Cussler, and Stephen King. Rest assured that they all have books pending this fall too.
Of course this line-up has us thrilled as we anticipate a busy bookselling season over the next three months. We haven’t seen such an impressive collection of “big” books in over ten years. It really is going to be a wonderful fall, especially for avid readers!
Remember that you save an additional 20% on all pre-orders at the Inkwell.

Here is a list of books that are on our personal “to read” lists:

Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby 
Half Broke Horses:True Novel by Jeannette Walls
Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
American Civil War by John Keegan
Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut
The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Last Night in Twisted River
by John Irving
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer


Notes on summer reading, or what to read on a Cape Cod beach...

Each summer brings waves of youth seeking help with their summer reading picks. It’s very satisfying to share our enthusiasm for great books with younger readers. Perusing the titles of assigned reading makes us nostalgic. Remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time? How about A Wrinkle in Time or The Catcher in the Rye?
As a schoolchild, I used to get so excited when the school reading lists were first passed out. I’d immediately start circling all the books I wanted to read…even though only three books were required; the list became a doorway that lead me to undiscovered countries.

“There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs.” 
~Henry Ward Beecher

As adults, we’re missing out on the joys of planned summer reading. If you’re longing for a reading list of your very own, a new book entitled Beowulf on the Beach is the perfect companion to kick start your reading adventures. Author Jack Murnighan, who has a Ph.D. in medieval and renaissance literature from Duke University, writes clever and fervent essays about “What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits.” Murnighan says, “These books are dazzling, but that’s not how they’re normally taught or perceived. And if you don’t go back to the classics as an adult, you might never know how much better they are when they’re read for pleasure, not for a test. As long as the so-called great books stay locked up in the ivory tower, people don’t see how gripping and meaningful they can be, and their kaleidoscopic glories get squandered.”
So as your children and grandchildren are toting books to the park and beach, be sure to pack your ‘summer reading’ books too!


Notes on owning an independent bookstore...


With surprising regularity, customers tell us they are envious of our work environment because bookstores are so peaceful. Although we’re pleased that our design objective of providing a calm, browseable bookstore has met with success, the fact that we’re a retail establishment seems to have been forgotten! On our side of the counter, it is frequently hectic as we wait on customers, answer phones and email, and strive to check off items on our to-do lists.
We spin ceaselessly in circles each day, and no two days are the same. Today we dealt with requests for author signings, looked up hard-to-find books, coordinated summer events, and designed store posters, not to mention the daily required maintenance of straightening, receiving, and shelving inventory. Tomorrow brings meetings with sales reps, phone calls to customers for whom we’ve ordered books, and more writing and editing for our newsletter.
The most pervasive bookstore myth is that we are able to read books in between customers. Booksellers are just like you; we have to squeeze in our addiction for books in between the rest of our daily routine. There’s never any time to slack off and read during our shifts, but we make reading a priority when we’re off duty because it’s part of the responsibility of being a good bookseller. After all, you have to know what you’re presenting, and the trust of a customer is a sacred thing. Naturally, our staff picks table is the bestselling area in our whole store, and these prized books are our favorite items to sell. Sharing and communicating with fellow readers about the books that have inspired us is without a doubt the best part of being an independent bookseller.
Instead of longing for a bookstore atmosphere, the really covetous thing is this: our favorite hobby is a prerequisite for our business. We never need an excuse to read!


Notes on choosing books...

I’m happy to report that for once my New Year’s Resolution has been successful. No doubt it’s because it was about adding something rewarding rather than sacrificing something like my much needed daily dose of caffeine. My resolution was to read one additional book a month. I’ve been averaging at least two books a week since January.
It feels like I’m back in high school. I would read on the bus, in the back of class, after work, before dinner, and post homework. As a teen, I read incessantly. It’s been an eye opening experience to shut off my laptop, and make reading my primary source of entertainment again. Just by forming a habit of reaching for a book instead of poking a power button, I’ve reclaimed my time and found my focus once again.
After forming our Not the Bestsellers Book Club, I created a list of books that Kathleen, Steve, and I will be discussing over the next year. Both Steve and Kathleen were curious about how I winnowed my choices to these particular books. With a wave of my hand, I lightly brushed off the question by saying I read some reviews and just, you know, looked at what was coming out in paperback. Afterward, it became clear that the simple question made me feel both embarrassed and pleased. The process of choosing books, good books, is at times daunting – especially when you consider that there are more than 100,000 books published each year. It was gratifying that my fellow booksellers were curious about how I identified and selected worthwhile titles. Because so much of book buying is intuitive, it is intensely personal. When you operate on your gut instinct, it reveals who you are, unfiltered. That kind of exposure of self can be scary to an introverted reader! One of my favorite quotes is by Oscar Wilde, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
I’ll try to answer that harmless question, “How did you choose these books?” It’s difficult to describe and quantify the process of selection because it’s an artistic, not mathematical, endeavor so there isn’t a memorizable formula that will garner the expected result. We are all sponges, absorbing information from many sources: news, books, blogs, people, etc. In addition to the routine information flow, I refine that influx of data into a sustained focus about books and authors. It’s not something I only do when it’s time to buy inventory for the store, it’s an integral part of me everyday, this search for great books. Combining the external sources of data with both my love of books and experience in bookselling/buying, I sift through hundreds of books - titles I’ve been intending to read, books that were recommended to me, lists of new titles being published, my favorite blogs, and book reviews from newspapers and magazines. I build a list of potential picks swiftly using that gut instinct, concentrating and choosing, then chipping and polishing until the list for our book club is unveiled.
We won’t equally enjoy all of these titles. Already out of the four books our club has read so far this year, we’ve discovered that The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti winningly became one of our favorites, while Animal’s People by Indra Sinha, though brilliantly written, was an ordeal to read. Steve said, “This book club has raised the bar on my reading. These aren’t books I would have normally picked up off the shelf, but I’m so glad I’ve read them.”
Isn’t that what all book clubs should strive to be? Instigating and provoking, expanding your horizons, and keeping you alert and alive.

Inkwell

Sincerely,

Michelle and Kathleen
Owners of the Inkwell
An award winning independent bookstore
                   in Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts


“I am eternally grateful...for my knack of finding in great books, some of them very funny books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on.” - excerpt from Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut

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