Reviewing The Shack

Bloggging from Vernon, BC , aye? I am at Fairhaven Ministries, a retreat center for Christian leaders. My friend, Linda, invited me to accompany her on her retreat this week. What a blessing. We’ve laughed, hiked, read, painted, eaten and slept. I am feeling rested. It is so wonderful to go to bed when you tired and get up when you are not. The June wildflowers include Indian Paintbrush, Trillium, and Wild Lupine. Linda saw a six point buck yesterday. I’ve taken my camera on every walk to capture some of the peace and beauty of this place. I’ll blog some of those pictures next week.

We have sold many copies of The Shack at the store in just the past few months. I brought it with me to read so that I could enter into discussions with others who have read it. Interestingly, my friend read it on the plane and the author was here at the retreat center a week ago. Publisher’s Weekly had a link to this week’s New York Times article about the book and author. That article mentions Yakima. I’ve attached it here. This book is a word-of-mouth wonder. The marketing budget for this book, that William P. Young wrote for his children, was around $300. Some love the book. Some hate it. Some think it is good theology. Others think it is heresy.

I really liked it. It did stretch my thinking and challenge my preconceptions, but that could be good, right? The Shack is a metaphor for a place of great pain. The author has used unusual imagery to remind us that God is with us in the pain and does not somehow abandon us and let bad things happen to us for no reason. I will be thinking about this book for a long time.

Published in: on June 26, 2008 at 6:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Elf on the Shelf

I won! Out of a zillion other people at BookExpo in Los Angeles, I won! Ok, not quite a zillion, but over 25,000! I won an all-expense paid trip to the North Pole for four people! Really. Not just the North Pole, but Santa’s Workshop! Ok, not the one in the far north, but instead to Santa’s Headquarters EAST in the Adirondacks – North Pole, New York. If you click on the the title above, you can see the website for Santa’s Workshop.
At BookExpo, from time to time, we’d see a cute elf zipping around in his little red suit. I found the booth where the elf “lived” and found that the product they were selling was the cutest thing – a sweet book and elf doll. I ordered some for the store and signed up for the drawing. Everyone who buys an elf and book will be able to go online, name and register their new little friend.
I grew up on a mountain pass where the snow was always deep and the winters long. In December, my Mom would decorate the mantel above the fireplace with green and red elves. I loved those little elves! When I married, my Mom gave me one. They are very 50’s! Their hands were hooked together, so you could tuck their knees up under their chins and their joined hands would hug their knees. Their faces were like pixies and they just made you smile. When I had kids, we started hiding the elf every December evening. In the morning, the child who found him, would receive a candy cane. I remember one year, we awoke to the smell of something smoldering. We looked high and low before finally spotting the smoking elf. His felt arms, so handy for hanging him aloft under the dining room light, were ready to flame! After that sad episode, his hands hand to be amputated and Grandma Naoma replaced his hands with little pom-poms. Kind of pitiful. So, as you can see the whole thing struck a nostalgic chord with me. I hope that we get to take Sophia, our granddaughter, who now lives in Chicago. She turns six in December. What a memory we would make.
Published in: on June 12, 2008 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unchain Yourself

Time to spare? Go by air. Sitting at LAX. Waiting. You never know how long it will take to get anywhere in LA traffic, so I came a bit early and still have a couple of hours before I board. I am , however, calmer for it.

Yesterday, at breakfast (ok, the word breakfast is a stretch for describing a rubbery bagel and watered- down juice). John Hodgman was the emcee for the morning. John’s new book is titled More Information Than You Require. He introduced Ted Turner, Call Me Ted; Azar Nafisi, Things I’ve Been Silent About and Dennis Lehane, The Given Day. Dennis wrote Mystic River, the hit book that became a movie.
After breakfast I determined to finish navigating the huge trade floor and I made it a few blisters later. I found some new books, placed a few orders and hobbled back to my room when the trade floor closed at 4 p.m.

The Bookseller’s Advisory Council met yesterday from 3 to 8 p.m. and again this morning from 9 to noon. It is such a privilege to be a part of this group of booksellers who, collectively, have been in business for hundreds of years! I have learned so much and I look forward to meeting with them three more times before my term ends. I am so much the rookie in the group, but they have included me graciously. We talked of many things that challenge me to think – all topics that were designed to further the mission of the local, independent store. We are trying to transform our communities to “think local” first and to educate our customers on the benefit to them and our community when they determine to be “Indiebound”! We all must sometimes shop at the big box stores, but we must also realize that unless we support the local independent merchants of all types, from bookstores to hardware stores. we will become a boring and homogeneous culture where we can shop blindfolded because we know the location and layout of every chain in every community. It is the independent stores that gives a culturally unique flavor to our neighborhoods. IndieBound is a program designed to help remind us to think locally. The program is designed to help not only the booksellers, but every independent. If you find that this message resonates with you, please consider visiting and reading and signing the Declaration of Independents. We are trying to heighten awareness and get as many signers as possible.

Published in: on June 2, 2008 at 10:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Eating in LA

We have eaten well. Sometimes it feels as though we eat breakfast, walk once around the table and sit down for lunch. During lunch today the wait staff at the convention center went on strike. The staff of the American Bookseller’s Association stepped right in and gave us wonderful, cheerful service. We ate a nice meal while we listened to four speaker/authors.

Thursday night we took a very expensive taxi ride to El Cholo, the oldest Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles. It was fabulous. Wonderful chips and salsa, distinguished waiter, great mariachi band and green chili tamales. Wow. We enjoyed hearing the band play Roll Out the Barrel – oh, the mix of ethnicities you find in LA.
Tonight we walked a few blocks to Mel’s Drive-in, another LA landmark. A good old-fashioned hamburger and onion rings. Just the right way to end our day.
Carrie met Louis Sacher today and we both chatted with Sherman Alexie. Sherman is hoping to put together a bus tour to visit smaller independent stores in Washington. You can read more about Sherman’s award-winning book in the archives of this blog. Michael Moore and Jon Krakauer had to cancel their appearance here at the BookExpo, but we heard Magic Johnson speak this morning on his new book and program to help the minority communities across the nation become entrepreneurs and turn around their neighborhoods.
And now. Aahhh. My shoes are off, my feet are up and I’m going to READ!
Published in: on June 1, 2008 at 3:01 am  Leave a Comment