On this blog page, we'll post the main text portions of our newsletter each week. To get the full newsletter experience, please subscribe in the box on the left side of this or any page on this website!
Email Newsletter No. 22: Aug. 17th, 2018
Every month, we get a catalog from one of our wholesalers with an advance look at forthcoming books. Some are books the wholesaler has recommended, some are ads that publishers have paid for, and some are both. On the cover is always the one book that has most grabbed their attention. The August issue had a familiar book:
Needless to say, this was a nice surprise. Usually the domain of one of the best books of any month will be Boston or Cambridge, Brookline or Newton, for obvious reasons -- there's more people there. So to see a book that we had booked an event for leading the magazine was quite a treat.
It lead for good reason. I've written about "Fly Girls" in the newsletter once before, but that was before I had actually read it. I have read it now, and I can honestly say it's one of the best non-fiction books I've read in a long time. Readers are briskly transported back to a time when airplane crashes and pilot deaths were not a once in a while occurrence, but a real and ever-present threat. As such, most men of the 1920s and 1930s didn't think women should be flying at all, never mind competing in air races or trying to set aviation records.
Unfortunately for them, women like Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, Ruth Nichols, Ruth Elder and Florence Klingensmith wanted to just that, and they would eventually succeed. Keith has taken great pains to bring their stories to life, and we can't wait to host him on Sunday. Watch a trailer for the book here:
What is the government suddenly limited people to 100 words per day? Well, not all people -- just women and girls. That's the premise of Christina Dalcher's startling, maddening, breathtaking debut novel, Vox. I flew through it, and so did our buyer, Kristin. We're not alone. The book is an Indie Next List pick for September, and ahead of its release date Tuesday it has received praise from O! The Oprah Magazine, Vanity Fair, Publishers Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, PopSugar, Refinery 29, Bustle and others.
Will you be silenced? Or will you fight back? Dr. Jean McClellan has spent the first year of her 100-word limit in total denial. How could this happen in America? But it has, and it's only getting worse. But she has been presented with a sliver of an opportunity to change things. Will she risk her life, not to mention the lives of her husband, her sons, her daughter, her friends and a career's worth of research in order to do so? Or will the women of the country sink further into a wordless abyss? You'll have to pick up a copy to find out.
Email Newsletter No. 21: Aug. 10th, 2018
We have been hard at work creating our fall events calendar. We aren't quite finished yet -- we're always up to something, donchaknow, and there's still a pretty hefty list of authors we're talking to or that we'd like to talk to. So, think of this like a living document. Much of this isn't available on our website or Facebook just yet, but it will be soon, and we hope you'll share it with your friends and family once it is!
Sept. 6, 7 pm: Louis Gudema, Bullseye Marketing - This is a great event for local businesses who want to cut through the marketing clutter.
Sept. 12, 7 pm: Rebecca Caprara (The Magic of Melwick Orchard) & Erin Cashman (Uncharted) - I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this event. Two authors from Boxborough with awesome books out in the same month. I have read both of these books, and they were both amazing reads.
Sept. 16, 2 pm: Christina Collins, Jen Petro-Roy & Beth Turley - Both Christina - whose is a Maynard native who now lives across the pond in Northern Ireland - and Beth have books coming out at the end of August-beginning of September, and Jen's book came out earlier this year. All three are middle-grade novels, and good ones at that. I've already read Christina's book -- After Zero -- and it was amazing.
Sept. 20, 6:30-8:30 pm: Taylor School Night at The Silver Unicorn Bookstore - A portion of the proceeds on this night will go to the Taylor School!
Sept. 22, 11 am: Peter Reynolds, Start with a Dot Journal & legions of others - If you have a child, chances are you know the name Peter Reynolds. The illustrator of the Judy Moody and Stink series', and author of The Dot, Ish, The Word Collector and so many others, we are beyond thrilled to have Peter here to our humble little bookshop!
Sept. 29, 10 am - 3 pm: Table at West Acton Ocktoberfest - I mean, how could we possibly miss this event? :-)
Oct. 4, 6 - 8 pm: Merriam School Night at The Silver Unicorn Bookstore- A portion of the proceeds on this night will go to the Merriam School!
Oct. 7, 2 pm: Ann Braden, The Benefits of Being an Octopus - We're really looking forward to this event. Ann does a great deal to help authors, teachers and readers, and we're excited to get to share her new book with everyone.
Oct. 13, 4 pm: Susan Bregman, New England Neon - If you grew up in New England, you know full well the rich history of colorful and creative neon signs this region used to sport. Susan has collected their history in her new book.
Oct. 14, 2 pm: Annie Cronin Romano & Ioana Hobai, Before You SleepLaunch Party - This adorable book from a local author and illustrator will be sure to put your little ones to sleep, but be careful, you may doze off with them!
Oct. 16, 7 pm: Sara Farizan, Here to Stay- This gripping YA novel is sure to be a hit. It centers on a Muslim basketball player at an elite private high school who goes from anonymous to man of the hour in an instant, and it isn't all sunshine and roses. I've read this one, and it's easily one of my favorite sports-based novels of all-time.
Oct. 20, 2 pm: Tom Wilinsky & Jen Sternick, Snowsisters - This book, written by two friends who attended Concord-Carlisle High School together, focuses on two high school students from different worlds. Celebrated author Jodi Picoult described it as "a delightful and much-needed opportunity for LGBTQIA readers to find themselves starring within the pages of a novel."
Nov. 1, evening: Katie Gorczyca, Kelly DiBenedetto & Jennifer Eckert, Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey - Katie is the director of Acton charitable organization Danny's Place, and we're thrilled to have her and her co-authors in to talk about their book at the start of National Adoption Month.
Nov. 8, 7 pm: Gregory Maguire, Wicked, Hiddensee & more - Yes, thatGregory Maguire!!!!! With his latest book, Hiddensee, out in paperback at the end of October -- we wanted to have Gregory, who lives locally -- out to the store. We're very, very excited for this.
Nov. 17, 11 am: Board Book Jamboree event with Toni Buzzeo, Ellen Mayer& Brian Lies - You know who loves board books? Everybody. And with the holidays right around the corner, this is going to be a great event, with three awesome local authors.
Nov. 17, afternoon: Brian Lies, The Rough Patch & Got to Get to Bear's - If you're familiar with Brian's work, you know he has lots of books out, not all of which made it into board book format. He actually has two books out this fall, so we'll be having a separate event with Brian in the afternoon to focus on these two books.
Nov. 17, 6 - 9 pm: Author Dinner Party at Orange Door Kitchen with Jenna Blum, Crystal King & Louise Miller - This is our first ticketed event ever, and it's going to be a blast. Our three authors here have written three books that revolve around food in some way, and so of course we need to have them out for a dinner party! Orange Door Kitchen will be cooking a three-course meal -- one course for each book -- and the authors will rotate tables and talk with guests from course to course. Tickets will be $90, and will include signed copies of the three books -- The Lost Family, Feast of Sorrow and The Late Bloomer's Club.
Dec. 8, afternoon: West Acton Village Holiday Stroll - This is always one of the highlights of the holiday season, and we're excited to participate this year.
Email Newsletter No. 20: July 27th, 2018
We have been open for four months now! Wow, where does the time go? It's been a wonderful four months, and we are still so overjoyed at the support we've received from the community. And now that we've been open for a good space of time, we've created store Bestseller Lists! These are literally the titles that have sold the best in our store.
At some point in the future, these may shift to a smaller, monthly time frame, but for now, the list covers the entire time we've been open. You'll notice a number of local authors on the lists, which makes us very happy!
There are four lists -- Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children and Young Adult. There was a temptation to go crazy and make a few more lists, but we'll keep it simple for now. We're busy today creating a dedicated space for these books, so that you'll be able to quickly reference them each time you're in the store. Happy reading!
Join us for an awesome baseball event tomorrow at 1 pm!!! Keith will talk about and read from his excellent book, Smart Baseball, and then will take questions from the audience and sign the book as well. Don't miss this one!!!
Email Newsletter No. 19: July 13th, 2018
It's so easy to pigeonhole things. We do it all the time without even realizing it. Certainly, there are books that can be pigeonholed. But more and more, I wonder about the affects of how books are classified. Often, there is a very fine line, and genres can be fuzzy. One good example that I mention often is The Hunger Games. We list Suzanne Collins' mesmerizing trilogy it in Young Adult, and I think that's probably pretty common. That's how the majority of Goodreads users have classified it. But plenty of Goodreads users have classified it as something else, as you can see in the picture.
It ends up in Young Adult most frequently, not because of its content, which -- as its box office grosses have resoundingly proven -- are universal, but because its main characters are teenagers/young adults.
There are plenty of other examples. Some books can be considered both Middle Grade books or Young Adult books. Some books can be simultaneously considered Bio/Autobio, Philosophy, and Science. Does Papi by David Ortiz belong in Bio/Autobio or Sports? Who's to say? What's Science Fiction and what's Fantasy? Some people have very strong feelings on this subject, and some don't see the need for a distinction. Genres, as with beauty, is very much in the eye of the beholder.
For our part, we'll do our best to put books in the section we feel is most appropriate, even if we wish we could put a good number of books in lots of different sections! And of course, if you think we've got it wrong, be sure to tell us. :-)
We have so many great new releases it's hard to know which ones to be more excited about! And we've mixed in a fair number of paperback bestsellers, which make perfect beach reads!
This review comes to us from Hannah Bloch, who is a long-time Acton resident and almost empty nester (and mother of our bookseller Becca.) She likes fiction best, including historical fiction and young adult fiction. Here's what she has to say about The Air You Breathe, which is out August 21st.
"This is a good book! It draws you in from the beginning, with both fascinating places and times in history, and well-drawn characters with depth. It provides a lovely and interesting experience of music and musicians, and includes poems that are the songs the characters write and sing, which speak to the story they are living. I learned about Brazil from the 1930s onward, a subject I didn’t know I would be interested in, but this book made it feel very current. Several check-ins with the internet proved the book historically accurate. The story is sad, but thought-provoking and a very full experience. (Not to sound like a predictable book review, but) It had great characters that I will remember."
Email Newsletter No. 18: July 13th, 2018
In our first three-plus months, we've run a whole bunch of events, but after school ended, we took a break for a bit of a break. Between the town clearing out after school (finally) ended, plus Independence Day awkwardly falling on a Wednesday, we felt like it was best to skip events for a few weeks. But we're back on the horse...or unicorn, rather...starting next week.
We have five really great author events coming up between now and the end of the month, bookended by two baseball-themed events. Heather Lang and David Kelly get us back in the swing of things (pun intended) on Tuesday, with a celebration of baseball just before Major League Baseball's annual All-Star Game. First pitch of the game is scheduled for 8 pm, but MLB's big games rarely starts on time. As such, everyone should have time to come, have fun at our celebration here at the store, and still make it home in time for first pitch! It's going to be a lot of fun.
The following night, we have our first-ever Poetry Night. Organized by our fabulous bookseller Dana, the night will feature four local poets -- Helen Marie Casey, E. Christopher Clark, Susan Richmond and Kirk Westphal. They'll each read from their latest works of poetry, and then afterwards Dana -- who is a published poet herself -- will lead the group in a panel discussion. We hope to make poetry nights a regular occurrence here at the store!
The following week, we have two authors whose books focus on history. Jane Healey's debut novel, The Saturday Evening Girls Club, is a work of historical fiction centering on four women who live in the North End. Dina Vargo's second book, Hidden History of Boston, is a bit more self explanatory, and a work of non-fiction. Both should be great events.
Rounding out author events for the month is ESPN's Keith Law. I've known Keith since 2005. Back then, I was writing for Baseball Prospectus, and he was a Special Assistant to the GM with the Toronto Blue Jays. After a piece I had written on the Blue Jays went up one day, Keith emailed me to politely let me know that I had no idea what I was talking about, which was probably true! We've remained in touch ever since, as he moved on to ESPN, and I moved on to work for the Colorado Rockies, then FanGraphs and now here at the bookstore.
I couldn't be more thrilled to have him come to the store for an event centering around his book, Smart Baseball. It was a book I was eager to read, and in fact reviewed it for FanGraphs' sister site, The Hardball Times, back when it debuted last year. If you don't feel like clicking through, here was my ultimate conclusion:
"Smart Baseball is well worth your time, whether you’re a seasoned sabermetrician, or you are a more casual fan who wants to learn what all the fuss is about. It’s a baseball statistics education in three parts, and whether you think of yourself as a Part One, Part Two or Part Three kind of fan, the book has plenty of good info in it, and Law’s years of experience and knack for organization help give the book a learned, clean feel."
Don't miss this event!
We've been tinkering with our displays a little bit. We took some shelves out to accommodate taller books, and we've moved some sections around as well. Most notably, we've moved Classics and Essays out of the Fiction area, which gives us more room to face out some of our favorite fiction titles. Tinkering with displays is one of the most fun aspects of working in a bookstore, and hopefully seeing refreshed displays is one of the most fun aspects of shopping in one! But as always, if you can't find something you're looking for or need a book from a tall shelf, just ask us. We got you.
Meet the Staff: Olivia Bowe-Shulman
Olivia has been with us since we opened. One of our last initial hires, Olivia has proven to be an invaluable and model employee, and is constantly up to something. Beyond her obvious interest in reading, Olivia enjoys ceramics and other artwork, gardening, spending time with her rescue dog Poppy, and yoga. In addition to working here at the bookstore, she also is working this summer at Emerson Hospital, and this coming year she'll be working toward her 200-hundred hour RYT yoga teacher certification across the street at Revolution Yoga.
Favorite Book:Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeiffer Favorite Genre: Realistic fiction What do you want to study in college? Health sciences, or something related to that Who would you pick to write a novel based on you? J.K. Rowling, because she could add a little magic! What's your favorite cookie? Snickerdoodle What book(s) are you reading right now? I just finished The Last To Let Go by Amber Smith. Do you read one book at a time or do you have a few you go back and forth between? I like to have only one book at a time, but sometimes there's one I'll read over a long period of time, so on those occasions I'll have two. What book are you looking forward to reading next?Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - I've heard a lot about it, so I want to see what the hype is all about it!!!
A riveting sports-based YA drama set in a private Massachusetts high school, this excellent novel deftly tackles racism, classism, homosexuality and bullying in a story about a Muslim boy with burgeoning basketball skills. This one was hard to put down, I finished it in two days! - Paul
Email Newsletter No. 17: July 6th, 2018
In the months leading up to the store's opening, and in the couple of months after the store opened, I wasn't able to get much reading done. That was a paradox of sorts - the person running the bookstore isn't reading! Sad!
Things have changed in the past month or so. Whether it's because the store has settled into more of a routine, or because I've just decided to work a little later so I can read more, who's to say? It's best not to analyze things like that too deeply. The bottom line is that I've been reading more. Some are books that are already out, and some are books that haven't come out yet. Here's are some brief thoughts on each of the books I've read in the past couple of months.
Iver & Ellsworth, by Casey Robinson: This delightful book from a debut Maynard author strikes home for me, partially because it's loosely based on the Polar beverages polar bear by Rt. 290, but mainly because it's such an endearing story. It's also the store's all-time bestselling book! I can't wait to see Casey's next project - no pressure, Casey!!!
The Optimistic Decade, by Heather Abel: This one struck a chord with me because it's set mostly in Colorado, and my wife and I lived in Colorado for eight blissful years before we moved back home to Massachusetts. It's a tale of summer camp, and finding oneself, and it's just beautifully done by Heather, who recently moved to western Mass.
Gale Force, by Owen Laukkanen: A good old-fashioned thriller, this one was hard to put down. It tells the story of a salvage crew, helmed by McKenna Rhodes, who inherited her boat and crew from her father when he drowned on their last high stakes salvage operation. After years of poking around with safe, low stakes jobs, it's hard for McKenna and crew to stay afloat financially. Unless that is, they land one big score.
Feast of Sorrow, by Crystal King: This story of ancient Rome is both captivating to the mind and the stomach. Crystal, who is also a local author, did a ton of research on what is essentially the world's first cookbook, and spun a beautiful novel around it.
The Magic of Melwick Orchard, by Rebecca Caprara: You may know Rebecca. She lives in Boxborough, and her parents owned the Acton School of Ballet for a generation. So I was already excited for this book no matter what. But then I read it, and it was actually, legitimately fantastic. The story of a young girl who just can't be a priority in her parents' lives because of her ill sister is heartwrenching, but it is infused with a magic that will keep you up late at night finishing it. The book doesn't come out until September, and we are so excited for it.
Uncharted, by Erin Cashman: Erin is also a Boxborough resident, and this is her second book. It tells the tale of teenage Annabeth, and a secret society that may have found the fountain of youth. But the book is so much more than that, as Annabeth grapples with love and loss, and has to summon the strength inside of herself to be brave and do what's right, all while trying to unravel a mystery that has far more twists and turns than you would expect.
Erin's book also debuts in September, and we'll be having Rebecca and Erin out for a joint event on Sept. 12. Save that date!
Shark Lady, by Jess Keating: My daughter loves this book, about a scientist, Eugenie Clark, who wouldn't take no for an answer, and became one of the world's leading shark experts, through dogged research and determination of will. My daughter is at the age where she just likes looking at the pictures of the sharks as a way of learning, but for older readers there is a whole section at the back with cool facts about Clark and sharks.
The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, by Louise Miller: I mentioned recently Louise's upcoming book, which releases this month. I was excited for that one, so I of course had to go back and read her first book, and it didn't disappoint. Margaret Hurley instantly became one of my all-time favorite movie characters.
Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer: The first part of the Southern Reach trilogy. I was incredibly impressed with the imagination and thought that went into this first-person narrative about four women scientists who enter a quarantined area to try and discover its secrets, and how to stop its footprint from further encroaching on decent society. I was disappointed with the movie, which more or less left out the main plot from the book, though I've read some good reviews of the movie. If you saw the movie, which came out in March and starred Natalie Portman, be warned -- the book is drastically different.
The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare, by Shannon and Dean Hale: This one comes out in September, on the same day that Josh Funk's new Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast book comes out (stay tuned for details on that day, Sept. 25. We're going to have ourselves a little party that day) The Princess in Black has been a favorite in my household for awhile. I was first introduced to it when my son was in his first grade -- his whole class was obsessed with the book. When he moved on to longer books, he passed them on to his sister, who also loves them. They just love yelling "Twinkle twinkle little SMASH!" when the Princess in Black wages battle. Which she does, in this latest installment, when a monster is discovered growing inside a science fair project.
Louisiana's Way Home, by Kate DiCamillo: "Curtains should be state-appropriate. Lots of things, in fact, should be different from how they are." True indeed - the world is not a perfect place. Luckily, we have this book to help us remember to smile, which is not something I thought I'd say in the middle of this book, as it is profoundly sad in places. But the bravery displayed by titular main character Louisiana will be inspiring to young people (and maybe some of the adults who read along with them). This one comes out in the fall as well, and is sure to be just as popular as DiCamillo's other favorites.
I haven't been the only one reading upcoming books, of course. Our aforementioned bookseller Dana just finished reading The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon, whichcomes out on July 31st. .
Here's what she had to say about it:
"The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon is a novel of emotional extremity and intense atmosphere. R.O. Kwon uses vivid imagery and short, impactful chapters to portray themes that range from religious fanaticism to grief to sexual violence. This novel will appeal to fans of rich writing, unreliable narrators, and long-lasting intrigue."
Dana also recently wrote up a review of The Magic of Melwick Orchard for Nerdy Book Club. Head over there to read her very well written review!
Don't forget about Summer Reading. We've got all the summer reading books that ABRHS and RJ Grey recommend for their students, as well as all of the Massachusetts Book Award nominees, which are perfect for younger chapter book readers!
Email Newsletter No. 16: June 29th, 2018
This has been a great month. We held 16 events this month, our single-highest monthly total, and we launched out Summer Reading program (if you haven't picked up a Summer Reading form for your child, fear not, we have plenty, and they're out in the store at all times). One thing we haven't yet started is publicly hosting Book Club groups. That'll change in July.
We have two Book Club events on the books for July, one at the store and one online. The first is a Book Club that came to us, organized locally by a mom who is excited her son and his friends have developed a love of reading. The Rick Riordan Book Club, which grew roots during the school year, will have its first meeting at the store on July 10th, and the plan is for it to meet weekly. Riordan has lots of books to choose from, and now his own "Rick Riordan Presents" imprint with exciting titles as well, so this is a Book Club that should have material for quite some time.
The second, online, combines my two passions -- books and baseball. The FanGraphs Book Club already has 200+ members on Facebook, and will host an online chat for its first "meeting" on FanGraphs on Mon, July 23rd. The book we're reading is The Only Rule Is It Has To Work, which is a fantastic New York Times-bestselling book by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller. Ben and Sam have graciously agreed to participate in our chat, which should make it extra special.
Beyond that, we're noodling on other Book Clubs we can organize. Our store's younger employees are planning on hosting a Young Adult Book Club at some point in July, though with school just concluding we haven't nailed down the details for the first meeting just yet. And there are all sorts of other Book Clubs that have crossed our minds, from broad topics like fiction and non-fiction, to more specialized things like sci-fi or mother-daughter book clubs. At this point, we aren't committed to any of those, but we're always thinking of ways to bring the community together. If you have an idea for a book club, or would like to host your book club at the store, let us know!
July is Where's Waldo? month. All throughout the month, you'll be able to find Waldo and friends all around our store, and be able to win prizes. And we'll have a Where's Waldo? party at the end of the month to bring things to a close!
JULY & AUGUST EVENTS PREVIEW!!!
More info on all of these will be posted to our website and to Facebook early next week, but for now, here's all of the events we currently have on tap for July and August (we may add more later).
July 10, 7 pm: Community Event: Rick Riordan Book Club
I scream, you scream, we all scream for free ice cream!!!!
It's been a long June for the Acton-Boxborough school district, hasn't it? It seems like we're the last school district to finish school. So, let's finish with a bang!!! After the final bell sounds next Wednesday, June 27, come on down to the bookstore for some free ice cream. What's better than free ice cream? Especially on a warm summer day? Nothing, when you think about it.
Why are we giving away ice cream for free? Well, for starters, it's because we really do want to reward the kids (and parents and teachers) who really worked hard until the final day of school. But, secondly, it's so that we can have a big kickoff to our Summer Reading Program!!!
Reading during the summer is important for kids. "Summer slump" is a real thing, and reading over the summer is one of the best and most fun ways to combat it. Kids don't need to read textbooks all summer, but they should read something. To that end, every child entering grades K-12 in the fall who comes down to get one of our fabulous Summer Reading forms and reads eight hours this summer will receive a $5 gift card to our bookstore. But wait, there's more!
We've joined forces with 15 neighborhood businesses to incentivize kids to read this summer! Our partners are:
Some have donated gift cards, some have donated swag -- all have gone above and beyond for the A-B and West Acton community, and we can't thank them enough for their support. So, every kid who finishes their eight hours will not only get a $5 gift card from us, but will also be entered into a raffle (to be drawn at the start of the next school year) to win a larger gift card from the bookstore, and also prizes from our neighborhood partners as well. And let me tell you, there's some good stuff to be won!
So, come down to the store on Wednesday to celebrate the end of the school year, get some free ice cream, and get your Summer Reading form! It's a win-win-win!
Of course, the next question is, which books should kids read during the summer? We've got you covered there too. We have recommended reading lists for ABRHS, RJ Grey and the Massachusetts Children's Book Award (MCBA) 2018-2019 nominees, which are great for younger readers!
Meet The Staff: Daphne Wong
The second person to start working at the bookstore, Daphne has been here since the very beginning -- since the very first books were being shelved. On her first day, she helped devise the shelving system for the non-fiction section!
In the time since, it has become clear that Daphne is not only a model bookseller, but she also knows just about everyone in both Acton and Boxborough, though she's too modest to lay claim to that herself. A rising junior at ABRHS, we asked Daphne to tell us a little about herself and her reading habits:
Favorite Book: The hardest question. I'd have to say it's Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. It was the first book that kept me up with a flashlight until the last pages. I had a hard time believing it was fiction.
Favorite Genre: Mostly fiction and biographies/memoirs for me. I recently got into poetry after reading My New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood and after shelving some books of poetry at the store. I'm re-reading No Matter The Wreckage by Sarah Kay right now.
Who would you pick to write a novel based on you? Probably Jesmyn Ward, the author ofSing, Unburied, Sing which is my June staff pick.
Who's on your literary Mt. Rushmore? L.M. Montgomery who wrote the Anne of Green Gablesseries. Jennifer L. Holm, Penny from Heaven, Madeleine L'Engle, Linda Sue Park.
What book(s) are you reading right now? I'm reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant right now. I'm only a few pages in but I love the character descriptions and narration so far.
Do you read one book at a time or do you have a few you go back and forth between? I find that when I multitask books, I end up liking one better than the other and resenting the other one. And so I tend to stick to one, but during the school year I'm often juggling a few required reads and some of my own choice.
What book are you looking forward to reading next?Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver.
Email Newsletter No. 14: June 15th, 2018
As an independent bookstore in New England, we are a member of NEIBA, which is the New England Independent Bookseller's Association. Every so often they hold events for their members, and yesterday was one of those events. At it, we got to hear about 10 books from New England authors (well, OK, one was from New York) about their books. Many of them will be published this summer, though a few, including A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker and The Lost Family by Jenna Blum, have just recently been released. Both of those books are fantastic (and we have copies of both!), but today I wanted to highlight three of the forthcoming titles that we are excited about.
Louise Miller, The Late Bloomer's Club
Release Date: July 17th
Louise's first book, The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, a story about a Boston pastry chef who quite literally lights her building on fire and escapes to a country town in Vermont, earned praise from The New York Times Book Review, Real Simple and Bon Apetit. Her second book, The Late Bloomer's Club, which takes place in the same Vermont town, but not with the same main characters, looks to be just as entertaining.
The Later Bloomer's Club will trace the relationship between two sisters, one who never left her hometown and one who left as soon as she possibly could. When they unexpectedly come into money, they are left with a decision that will shape not only their personal futures, but those of the town as well. In the middle of all of this is a lost dog.
This sounds like an awesome follow-up book, and fans of Louise's debut will recognize some of the townspeople that make their way in and out of the story.
Keith O'Brien, Fly Girls
Release Date: August 7th
In the 1920's and 1930's, it wasn't quite forbidden for women to fly, but any who tried were ridiculed loudly and coarsely by men. But there were some who strove forward in the face of this criticism, and in this book, Keith O'Brien chronicles five of their stories -- some which may have been lost forever without his reporting. Among them is Amelia Earhart, whose story has more layers to it, as well as four women whose names you probably haven't heard, but won't be able to forget after you read this book.
Reporting is something Keith is quite good at. An award-winning journalist, he has contributed to The Boston Globe, NPR, Politico, the New York Times Magazine and This American Life, to name a few.
Release Date: August 7th Seaweed Chronicles, Susan Hand Shetterly
If you loved H Is for Hawk and/or The Soul of an Octopus, you are going to love this book. Susan, who has lived in Downeast Maine her whole life, is a renowned science writer for both children and adults, and has dug quite deep on one of nature's most fascinating and important plants in the world.
Far more than the stuff that sticks to your legs at the beach, seaweed is a valuable natural resource that is now being harvested to the point that its global demand has outstripped its supply. Susan takes us through the plant's lifecycle, to the people who harvest it, and explains in detail why it's so important to our ecosystem.
Do you like Batman? What about Mad Libs? Or games where the rules change part of the way through the game? Or how about games where you make up a story? Then you'll love these new games we've just stocked from Looney Labs! Come check out them today - they make great gifts!!!
Email Newsletter No. 13: June 8th, 2018
We love our little bookstore. We want to share it with everyone. So, to that end, we're taking it on the road. Three times this month, we'll be bringing the bookstore to the people.
Fifer's Day, June 16, 11 am - 5 pm: We'll be at the 52nd annual Fifer's Day selling books, with special guest Casey Robinson, who will be signing copies of her new, debut picture book, Iver & Ellsworth.
Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market, June 17, 10 am - 1 pm: We won't be selling books at this event, but we will be raffling off gift cards and books. Come stop by and see us!
Littleton Third Thursdays, June 21, 5-8 pm: This fun event has become a staple in Littleton, and we will be joined by special guest Kris Asselin, who will be signing copies of her new book, The Art of the Swap.
We hope you'll join us out in the world!
Near the front of the store, we have a bookcase for staff picks, book club selections (both national and local) and all-time staff favorites. The book club selections come with a 10% discount. Be sure to check them all out! We'll be starting in-store book clubs ***very*** soon!
Email Newsletter No. 12: June 1st, 2018
"What should we get dad?"
"...Sigh...I don't know. Dad doesn't like ***anything.***
Have you ever had this conversation with your mother or sibling(s)? I know I have. Dads rarely tell you what they want. But, believe it or not, they do want stuff. You just have to think about it for a minute. Or don't!!! That's what we're here for. We've put together 50 recommendations for you in our Father's Day Gift Guide -- 49 specific books, and a general recommendation to skip the neckties and get dad one of the pairs of fabulous socks we have in store.
You can see the 49 books we're recommending on the front page of our website. Don't think these are right? Come on down and hash it out with one of our marvelous booksellers. We'll make sure dad actually enjoys his gift this year!
Store owner Paul has been in New York City this week at Book Expo, one of the publishing industry's biggest yearly events. From special events, to education sessions, to a massive trade show, there has been a lot to learn and see. He is coming home with a lot of ideas and a lot of new energy for the store. You can follow along with Paul on the store's Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Email Newsletter No. 11: May 18th, 2018
On Saturday, we’re going to have our first party. A launch party, to be precise. Yes, we had our Opening Day, but that was kind of a whirlwind. The floor was still littered with boxes, and we didn’t even have our speakers set up yet. There was Independent Bookstore Day, but as much fun as that day was, it was an industry-wide day – it wasn’t really ours. Saturday will be.
We’ll be celebrating the launch of Casey W. Robinson’s brand-new, debut picture book, Iver & Ellsworth. This has been in the works since late February, before we even had an opening date, we were planning this launch party. It’s going to be a great time. Casey has a great support group around her, and they’ve constructed a clay Iver and a stuffed Ellsworth, both of which are pretty amazing.
On Saturday, we’re going to have cookies, apples, balloons (!!!) and just a whole lot of fun. But the real star of the show will be Casey – did we mention Casey is a Maynard resident? – and her fabulous new book. I won’t lie to you, dear reader, I teared up not just the first time I read this book, but also the second time I read it. Perhaps the bookstore was just dusty both times (bookstores accumulate a lot of dust, donchaknow) but I don’t think that’s why.
This is a tender story about the magic of friendship that you and your children are certain to love. And the fact that the story is loosely inspired by the Polar Beverages polar bear that sits atop their headquarters near Rt. 290 adds that little extra dash of local flair that makes this book extra special for us Massachusetts residents.
Every event we have at the store is special, and we’re certainly looking forward to our events tonight with Owen Laukkanen and Sunday with local teacher Sarah Marie A. Jette, but Saturday is our first launch party, and it’s going to be special. We hope you’ll join us!
By popular demand, we are now stocking all of Janet Tashjian's "My Life As A..." series. There's seven books in all ("My Life as a Joke" is on its way), and given how many requests we've had for these, we think you'll love all seven!
Meet The Staff:
A city girl who moved to the suburbs to have a family, Nancie is mom to kids Dylan and Lucy and dog Molly. She loves to be at the beach with a good book. When she's not here, you can find her working down the street at Douglas School, where she's held just about every position in the building!
Favorite book:Paint the Wind, by Cathy Cash Spellman
Who would you pick to write a novel based on you? My husband, Mark Boudreau
What is your favorite cookie? Italian wine cookies
What book(s) are you reading right now?Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
What book are you looking forward to reading next?The Girl with all the Gifts, by M.R. Carey
Email Newsletter No. 10: May 11th, 2018
There’s still time to get Mom the perfect gift. We have books, of course, and we would love to talk to you about what your mother likes reading and find the perfect book for her. But we also have tons of other options – socks, scarves, mugs, tote bags, candies. Of course, we have special Mother’s Day greeting cards. And beyond that, we have gift cards, we have store memberships, and we have subscriptions.
Our subscriptions work like any other kind of subscription – magazines, beer of the month, etc. – except with books. You choose the category you want – we offer fiction, non-fiction, children’s and young adult – and we hand pick a book to send out each month. Nice and easy, and we offer our subscriptions in six- and 12-month increments. Let’s face it, finding the right book can be time consuming, so if you’d prefer, we can do that work for you!
We were very happy last week to sponsor the Douglas School Fun Run. It was a fantastic event that raised a lot of money for the Douglas School community. And seeing our logo on a t-shirt was pretty sweet as well.
This week, we find our logo in a recital program for the first time, as the DNE School of Dance celebrates their 22nd anniversary this weekend. Good luck to all the dancers this weekend!
We had lots of new books come in this week! Some brand new, some newly out in paperback, all fabulous!
Meet The Neighbors:
Orange Door Kitchen
We’ve only known Chris and Meredith Powell for a short time, but we’re extremely confident that they’re going to be a fixture of the West Acton community. Chris and Meredith are opening The Orange Door Kitchen very soon! Their Community Open House will be on Thursday, May 24th from 4-7 pm. We will be there for sure, and we would encourage you to attend as well. Orange Door isn’t going to be a typical restaurant.
They are doing many creative things with their space on Arlington St., but their Supper Clubs, classes and events are going to be what makes them stand out. Recently, the couple recreated the seven-course meal for the Game of Thrones Red Wedding, and thanks to their background, they know a lot of people in Boston’s culinary scene. They already have one such event on the books, with Chef Michael Leviton. They're also very philanthropic. In short, Orange Door Kitchen is a place you’re going to love. Check them out more at their website.
Email Newsletter No. 9: May 4th, 2018
It’s been a busy week here! We’ve introduced a Monday morning storytime and we sold books at an offsite location for the first time! We had an opportunity to sell books for the Discovery Museum at their event Tuesday at Temple Beth Elohim. Katherine Reynolds Lewis gave a captivating lecture centered on her new book, The Good News About Behavior.
Now, as we head into the weekend, we’re looking forward to Mother’s Day next weekend. We’re getting new stock in the next few days – Sock It To Me socks and Emily McDowell greeting cards. We’re super excited about both. Now that we’ve tackled our book selection, we’ll be adding items like these to help augment our product offerings, and make sure that you find something great to go home with even if you’re not wanting a book!
In fact, we have already received some new stock – Usborne books! Usborne (and its sister company Kane Miller) are fantastic educational an activity books for children. Odds are, you know exactly what they are – their sticker books make great birthday presents. On top of being a great company, they stopped selling to Amazon a couple of years ago, and when they did, their profits went UP instead of down. As a small business owner, it’s gratifying to see that.
Meet The Staff - Hannah Thorpe
Meet Hannah! Hannah was the Silver Unicorn’s very first hire! Hannah has been with us since before the shelves were up – in fact, she helped put a lot of them up! This past weekend, she ran our Harry Potter Trivia contest, which was a huge success, and already has us thinking about other Book Trivia contests (let us know if you have any suggestions!). A sophomore at A/B, we asked Hannah to answer a few questions for the newsletter. Here’s what she said:
Favorite Book:And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Favorite Genre: Mystery
Who would you pick to write a novel based on you? Maile Meloy
Who's on your literary Mt. Rushmore? J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, Patrick Ness, Maile Meloy
Books I'm Reading Right Now:The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells
What book are you looking forward to reading next? The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Email Newsletter No. 8: April 27th, 2018
It's all been building to this!!!
Tomorrow is our store's very first Independent Bookstore Day!!! It's an exciting time. In the morning we have author readings from two very different children's authors. Melissa Stewart focuses on non-fiction books that are rooted in and explain science in a way that children can understand and enjoy. On the other side of the coin, we have Anna Staniszewski, who focuses on fiction. She's written picture books for children as well as novels for middle-grade readers. Both are very good at what they do, and it'll be a real treat to have them both in store at the same time!
Melissa should be starting around 10:30, and Anna around 11:15. As Anna is finishing up, we'll have two of our neighbors here in West Acton painting faces. The forecast says it's going to be nice. If it stays that way, they'll be stationed outside, where we can hopefully all enjoy a little sun!
From 2-5 pm, we'll have be having a Young Adult books sale - all Young Adult books in the store will be 15% off. Come stock up for summer!
At 3:30, we're going to kick off Harry Potter Trivia. One of our booksellers, Hannah, has prepared a myriad of interesting questions, and all participants will walk home with a little something for their efforts!
Last but absolutely not least is Erica Ferencik, who wrote the captivating mystery novel, The River At Night. The book was a 2017 Indie Next pick, an Oprah.com "Page-Turning Novels" pick, an Entertainment Weekly "Must List" pick, and Bustle's "most anticipated anticipated thriller of 2017."
The River at Night is a high-stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident. Ruth Ware said, "This book knocked me off my feet." I have personally sold it to people who have come back in raving about it. I'm very much looking forward to hearing Erica speak about it!
Our front sign has lights now!
We have four wonderful events planned for next week, including our inaugural "Mondays with Rachel," a story time for kids who aren't quite old enough for preschool and kindergarten.
Gish Jen's talk on explaining the East-West culture gap that she expertly explored in The Girl at the Baggage Claim (which is just out in paperback!) should prove fascinating on Tuesday night, and I can't put down Crystal King's debut novel, Feast of Sorrow.
On Thursday, we have our second Pajama Story Time! Our first one in April was incredibly well attended, and we expect this to be a monthly tradition!
FYI - for Independent Bookstore Day, the store will open an hour early for members. And remember, you can become a member for just $25!
Email Newsletter No. 7: April 20th, 2018
Whew! Last week was an incredible week here. To celebrate our Grand Opening, we had seven author events in seven days, and we had a great time. The turn out was great all week, and our authors were as well.
And yet, we're not done! Next Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day. This is the fourth year that indies are having a day-long celebration, and it'll obviously be the first time we participate. We have author events in the morning and the afternoon, and all sorts of fun activities planned in between:
As you can see, we have a lot going on. You can read the full details on the Events pageof our website. One item that we'll be selling special on next Saturday are these fabulous Colson Whitehead Underground Railroad pouches:
These won't last long, so make sure to get in early for yours. The store will open an hour early - at 9 am - for those who have purchased store memberships.
Email Newsletter No. 6: April 6th, 2018
Hi, everybody! It’s been a little bit since I last got a newsletter out the door – three weeks! Each week for the past three weeks, I’ve sat down at some point on Thursday or Friday to type up the newsletter, and then – poof! – the world exploded. Boxes of books coming in, publishers to contact, employees to train, you name it. It’s been an exciting time, to be certain. And it has all been building to our Grand Opening next week!
It’s hard for me to overstate just how excited I am for our Grand Opening week. We have seven days of author events lined up. Each event has me equally excited. We kick things off with Matt Tavares, who combines a passion for baseball with an impeccable writing and artistic ability. As a baseball writer, I have a special kinship with Matt’s work, but he isn’t just a baseball writer. He’s written several books about other topics, including Red & Lulu, which spent the last five weeks of 2017 as an Indie bestseller.
The week will conclude with Dr. Lisa Feldman-Barrett, whose work into the science of emotion spawned the book How Emotions Are Made, which is newly out in paperback. This is an intriguing field of study, and Dr. Feldman-Barrett is at the forefront!
In between, we have five more great events lined up! I won’t run down the whole list, but rest assured I am excited for them all, and sort of in disbelief that so many great authors are on their way to us. Earlier this week, Mira T. Lee shared her upcoming book tour on Twitter. In addition to our store, she’s speaking at large events in Palm Beach, Los Angeles and New York, as well as Politics & Prose in Washington DC. If you’re not a bookstore nerd, you might not know Politics & Prose, but it’s regularly listed among the best bookstores in the country. To see our humble little bookshop in such company was very cool.
One other thing I’d like to point out is that for our event with Josh Funk next week, we have early access to his next book, Albie Newton. The book doesn’t release until May 1st, but we’ve got a carton of them here in the store for our event with Josh on Wednesday.
Please go to our Events page or our Facebook Events page and check all the events out. I'm equally excited for the events with Kris Asselin and Jen Malone, MarcyKate Connolly and Brendan Mathews!
Next week is a week you don’t want to miss. In addition to our seven author events, we’re also going to be giving away autographed books, gift cards and Red Sox and Celtics tickets! We hope you’ll join us all week!
Email Newsletter No. 5: March 15, 2018
The excitement is building within the bookstore's walls. Our first books got put on to shelves this week. It's been exciting seeing books in real life that until now had only been viewed on spreadsheets and pictures on the internet. Every day, people are squinting through the window or stopping in to say hello. This enthusiasm compounds our own enthusiasm, and it's making the store a very fun place to be right now. We're hoping it will continue to be so for a long time.
People keep asking us for when we're opening. I wish we already were! At the same time, the process of getting open is a slow burn, and we don't want to rush through it. Obviously, we won't have all the kinks worked out when we open, but we want to have as many of them worked out as possible.
So when will the store open? I'm finally ready to say "sometime next week." When we're really open for real, I'll blast out the news on social media. We're very close! I hope you're as excited as we are!
FIRST STORE EVENT! Ginny Kremer for School Committee!
Join us on Sun., March 25th in the afternoon (exact time to follow) to come hear Ginny Kremer speak. Ginny is a government attorney who has two children in the Acton-Boxborough school district. She is passionate about public education and about AB, so come down to the bookstore to listen and engage with her before the School Committee election on Tues., March 27th.
Email Newsletter No. 4: March 9, 2018
They’re here! They’re finally here! The weather could only wreak havoc with the delivery plans for so long. Now, after a 48-hour delay, the store’s bookcases have arrived in what amounts to our first Truck Day. It’s the beginning of the culmination of the pre-opening planning. Another step will be taken when the books themselves arrive next week. It’s all coming together quickly, and yet not quickly enough. But with the bookcases here, we’re that much closer to opening!
Meet Our Artist!
Acton resident and great friend of the bookstore,Kirsten Spargo of Little Brit Art is creating the store's mural. Dealing primarily in acrylics and inks, Kirsten enjoys dreaming up murals, as well as creating custom superhero art. In fact, I first realized Kirsten was a great artist when I saw her fantastic Iron Man/Captain America painting (at left). Kirsten has done work for the Acton Barn as well as numerous private clients in and around Acton. In addition to her art and raising her two school-age boys, Kirsten competes in Olympic weightlifting tournaments. You can contact her on her Little Brit Facebook page.
Email Newsletter No. 3: March 1, 2018
The movie Armageddon was not an Oscar contender. I was only 19 when it came out, but even I could point out some of its logical fallacies. I generally let those sorts of things slide in the name of entertainment, and I certainly did with this movie. One quote, in particular, has stuck with me. As the oil drillers turned astronauts are about to be launched into space, Owen Wilson’s character Oscar is asked how he feels. He describes his feelings as such:
“I’ve got that excited/scared feeling. Like 98 percent excited, two percent scared. Or maybe it’s more...it could be 98 percent scared, two percent excited. But that’s what makes it so intense.”
That’s the feeling I have right now. At some point in the next 24 hours, I’m going to place my book order. I’ve been working on it for parts of four months. It’s nearly 6,000 titles deep, and I have done my best to scrutinize every single title I’m ordering. I feel confident that it’s a great order, full of books in a wide range of categories that are going to appeal to as many people as possible. I’ve taken every variable I can think of into account.
Yet, at the same time, going through it last night and into the small hours today, I couldn’t help but realize that I’ve learned so much since I started this process back in December. On the one hand, that’s a good thing. It’d be a shame if I had spent this much time on something and not learned anything. On the other hand, I couldn’t help second guessing some of my earlier decisions. Do they still stand up? I have to trust that they do, but that’s where that 98%/2% feeling comes into play.
Soon, those books will be stocked and ready to share with you. I can’t wait for you to come in and find your unicorn – the book that speaks uniquely to you.
Email Newsletter No. 2: Feb. 22, 2018
As I mentioned last week, one of my major focuses both in life and with the bookstore, is “shop local.” But as I’ve been researching books for my first big order, I’ve recognized a corollary to “shop local” is “read local.”
We have so many wonderful authors in New England, spanning all genres of books. Surely, some you know about. Writers like Stephen King, Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Amy Poehler, Jeff Kinney and Mindy Kaling are household names or close to it in not only these parts, but most parts of the country.
But there are a plethora of writers from all points in New England who may not be quite as famous, but who write fantastic books nonetheless. I’m loathe to start naming names, because inevitably I will leave someone out, but suffice to say, that I am making a sizable local authors list and checking it twice.
I haven’t quite decided how they’ll be featured in the store, but you can rest assured that when you come into The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, you’re going to hear about the many, many talented people in Massachusetts and other points in New England who are writing excellent books.
We won’t be stopping there though. We’re also going to be holding events with as many local authors as I can coerce to come to the store to both read to you and interact with you. I’ve already booked a few of these authors to come and speak at the store, and I have on my to-do list to contact many more.
It’s always great to curl up with a good book. For my money, there’s a little added satisfaction when I know that the author comes from my neck of the woods. It’ll be my goal to show off as many of them to you as I possibly can, so that we can all “read local.”
Email Newsletter No. 1: Feb. 15, 2018
I have to tell you, I’ve been itching to write something. I used to be a sportswriter. I’ve been away from that life for a little over a month now, and yet, the itch to write won’t go away. So, I decided this first edition of the newsletter had waited long enough!
Things are progressing very well down at 12 Spruce St., the (future) home of The Silver Unicorn Bookstore. My goal is to have the space looking as perfect as I know how to make it the second you step in the door. That means big things like tearing out the old, stained, brown carpet and replacing it with new flooring, and it also means little things like making sure I have the right type of little tabletop book easels.
Making the store feel warm and inviting has been a big part of my quest thus far, but it’s nothing without the books! I want to make sure I am curating the best selection of books possible. I am putting in countless hours of research to make sure that I have the perfect mix of books – not only in terms of their category and genre, but also in having a selection that tries to represent our community. It’s important for people to be able to see themselves in the books they read. As for categories, the store will run the spectrum – fiction, non-fiction, young adult and children’s. Graphic novels, coffee table books, mystery, humor, gardening, history, you name it!
I want the store to be part of the fabric of Acton’s community. I’ve already signed up to contribute to a few events around town. Likewise, I’m starting to introduce myself to other local businesses, and form relationships. Acton has such a vibrant small business community, and “shop local” is important to me.
Finally, I want the bookstore to be a space for the community to gather. I have already booked several author events (stay tuned for details!), and the store will also host events with local business and community leaders, as well as children’s story times, adult book clubs and more.
I hope you’ll follow along with me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as here in the newsletter as the store gets closer to its soft opening. Soon, this newsletter will have a lot fewer words and a lot more pictures of notable books. (It’ll also only be a once-a-week newsletter. We won’t flood your inbox. Promise.) But for now, I just wanted to say hello. I look forward to getting the store open and greeting people who come in, browse the shelves, and “Find your Unicorn.”
The Silver Unicorn Bookstore
12 Spruce Street Acton MA 01720 USA