Ronnie's Bookshelf

I love reading

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Book Off - Meh

So in our quest to visit all the independent stores, we visited Book-Off in Manhattan. This was a last minute choice and I didn’t do very well picking it. This is a used bookstore that has a lot of Japanese books, comics, and DVDs.

There was a very small fiction/sci-fi section. The majority of the space upstairs was DVDs and CDs, not really what I’m looking for at a bookstore. I think at most we spent about 30 minutes in the store. Not a store I plan to visit again any time soon.

Filed under books bookstore

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Lots coming soon

It’s been hectic ever since I started my new job, but my goal of exploring the city through its bookstores hasn’t changed. Next bookstore coming this week!

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Closer to Home

The next bookstore on my list of places to go is in Brooklyn, close to the Atlantic-Barclays stop for the 3 train. Greenlight Bookstore is actually a few streets away on Fulton. This store is a busier location and I would guess it’s mostly due to the increased foot traffic.

The display windows were really nice and upon entering it was definitely a more frequented bookstore. One issue to me was being able to find the section identifiers. Instead of having signs at the top of the bookshelf, there were smaller signs on the actual shelves a bit above eye level. Once I knew where to look, I found sections pretty easily.

The store is slightly larger than I expected which gives you more room to walk around and explore. All the fiction genres were together, which I’m expecting at most indies. There were a few things I was surprised not to find on the shelf, like backlist of Brandon Sanderson’s sci-fi stuff although it’s a distinct possibility they were sold out.

They have a lot of autographed books available and staff picks are always 15% off. Their shopper’s reward program is a discount (I believe) after you spend $250. I didn’t buy anything here so I may not be 100% accurate on that. Rest assured I’ll visit again and get the details.

I also wasn’t a fan of how they were shelving books. Where there wasn’t obvious room, an employee just tossed books on top of others. Personally, I’m not going to go through those books, but avoid them completely. Maybe that’s a product of having been a bookseller, but I’d rather books look good on the shelf because it makes browsing easier. Also, I would have loved to have seen more graphic novels.

As I said, I’ll be back soon (have to take my roommate and get her impressions). Maybe the shelving was a fluke. This store felt a little less personal, but that’s probably in large part because I didn’t buy anything. This may end up being one of our regular bookstores, but we’ll see.

Filed under books indiebookstores bookstores

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Exploring NYC

Finally settling in means getting to explore my new city/state. One thing that New York has in excess (the good kind) is indie bookstores. Every borough has them. As such, I decided to explore all the indies across New York, one by one.

After each bookstore I’ll post a quick summary, including if I bought anything or fun facts. Know a store I should visit? Leave me a quick note and I’ll do my best to get there soon.

First up, The Astoria Bookshop in (you guessed it) Astoria (Queens). Astoria is a bit of a hike from where we’re living (Brooklyn) but you can take the 4 to the N and get off about a  block before the bookshop. The cross streets are Broadway and 31st. It’s a nice area to walk around, but with temps in the 90s I wasn’t looking forward to walking around too much.

When I walked into The Astoria bookshop, there were only four other people. The employee welcomed me as soon as I opened the door, which gave it a more personal feeling. Most of the non-fiction collection is to the right and the left wall is fiction. All the fiction genres (fiction, mystery, sci-fi, romance) are together alphabetically. The back section of the store is kids/YA.

At first the lack of customers concerned me as it was a Saturday afternoon, but the longer I was there, the more people showed up. I didn’t have anything I was looking for, but I meandered for about an hour before making my purchases. I bought: Dogrun (Arthur Nersesian), Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (Matthew Quick), and Super Sad True Love Story (Gary Shteyngart) for a total of $43.

The cool thing about this store is the personalization. When I went to buy my books, I was asked if I had been in before (no), then thanked for stopping in with a genuine smile. I was also signed up for their loyalty program: spend $100, get $5 off. The only thing I wish they had was seating, but some customers just plopped on the floor. It’s a relatively small space, but homey might be the best word for it.

It’s a lovely little bookshop with a great selection and what they don’t have, they’re happy to order. Love it!

Filed under books bookstores indiebookstores

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A New Historical Fiction You Need to Read

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick - *I received an electronic copy from Netgalley for my honest review.*

Alienor of Aquitaine is one of the more fascinating women in history (for me). She married Louis of France because it was what her father wanted and entered into a loveless marriage in which her husband turned into a hateful, suspecting man. Louis doesn’t trust Alienor or really anyone and blames her for their lack of a male heir.

In Alienor’s time, women were useful for making strategic marriages, but not much more. Alienor, however, is not content to just sit by and watch Louis make mistakes. She took Louis’ measure and knows that any ideas must appear to be his for him to want to act on them.

I’ll start off by saying I probably wouldn’t have survived in those times. The attitude that says men are smarter than women in all things is just infuriating. Alienor feels the same, but she has the finesse to work her situation and make Louis turn towards her decisions without it seeming so. 

In the first book of what will be a series, Chadwick shows the difficulties Alienor faced as a bride in France. Alienor never loses sight of Aquitaine, knowing that her vassals there are her first concern. Louis and Alienor are granted an annulment after years of marriage as neither can stand each other. However, Alienor still isn’t free. She becomes a “prize” to any man who can capture her. Alienor exerts her independence by choosing her husband and marrying Henry before she can be kidnapped and forced into any other marriage.

Chadwick brings Alienor to life in a way I haven’t seen before. Alienor’s frustrations become my own frustrations and I want her to succeed. Her interactions with Louis are a thing of beauty and I have to believe the tension Chadwick brings to life would have been similar to what was between the two. Instead of seeming like a trapped woman, Alienor is portrayed as a strong female character who knows her lot and how to improve it. Nothing she does is without purpose and her strength pours through each page.

Can’t wait to see the next two books from Chadwick.

Filed under books historical fiction eleanor of aquitaine alienor of aquitaine