Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Big One

Tomorrow is July 1, and longtime customers of Accent on Books know what that means: it's time for our big, huge, ginormous Summer Sale!

How big is it? Well, it's:


*Every day except Sunday; we're closed on Sundays during the summer.

Of course there is some fine print -- we do have to stay in business, after all.

-- Doesn't apply to non-book items, special orders, or books that are already discounted.
-- Doesn't apply to a few books that we don't get full discount on ourselves: prayer books, hymnals, other liturgical items and a handful of self-published titles.

Still, even with the above exceptions you still have about 10,000 different titles to choose from at huge discounts.

So come and shake yourself -- and us -- out of the summer doldrums by stocking up on great titles at great prices. July only comes once a year (last I checked) so don't miss out.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming soon. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

They Saw Dead People

Starting tonight at midnight, all across this great country of ours, people will be lining up at movie theaters for the film version of Eclipse, the third in the series of "Twilight" novels by Stephenie Meyer about highschooler Bella and her true love, the pale, caring, sensitive vampire, Edward.

Edward may cause swoons and palpitations among the many devoted "Twilight" fans, but he would be virtually unrecognizable as a vampire to those among whom the stories of such beings originated, as explained by Michael Sims in a recent -- and quite vivid -- article in the Chronicle Review. The peasant folklore that gave rise to the tales of such creatures was based on a fear of the dead, and a first-hand knowledge of their remains. Sorry, Bella, but accounts of your loverboy's forbears were based on experiences with rotting corpses. Furthermore, there was no need for vampires to increase their number by sinking their fangs into the living (a relatively rare motif). A large number of people were thought to face such a cursed life after their natural deaths, including drowning victims, suicides, heretics, grumpy people, those who talked to themselves and redheads. Those last three groupings suggest I may very well be headed towards a state of vampirism myself.

Perhaps Edward Cullen is the appropriate vampire for our modern, antiseptic age, where the unpleasant parts of life and death are hidden away as much as possible. For better or worse, we've come a long way from an earlier time when vampire tales had a subtext summed up by a scholar quoted by Michael Sims: "All the dead are vampires, poisoning the air, the blood, the life of the living, contaminating their body and their soul, robbing them of their sanity."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Read. This. Slowly.

"Slow" has become the new cool. Perhaps this is most evident in the slow food movement, which emphasizes locally grown products and a true appreciation of eating.

Now, there is a "slow reading" movement that is gaining attention and followers. Is isn't so much a reaction to "speed reading" as it is a reaction to distracted reading. The internet's effect on our attention span has been widely discussed, but there is also its effect on our seeing reading as a matter of consuming as much information as we can as quickly as possible, by, for example, jumping from one page to another by the use of hyperlinks (such as the one I created in the previous paragraph). To reestablish a deeper connection with books and words, teachers are returning to such "old-fashioned" strategies as reading aloud in the classroom, and memorization (of poems, for example). As Lindsay Waters of Harvard University put it, "Instead of rushing by works so fast that we don't even muss up our hair, we should tarry, attend to the sensuousness of reading, allow ourselves to enter the experience of words." Chew those words slowly.

More information can be found (warning: hyperlink ahead) here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Look Homeward

Accent on Books -- and indeed the entire Asheville literary community -- lost a beloved friend last week with the passing of Tom Woof. An impressive Shiba Inu, Tom was the devoted canine companion of Joanne Mauldin who, among other things, is a highly regarded expert on Tom's near namesake, Asheville's most famous literary son. (Joanne's most recent work is Thomas Wolfe: When Do the Atrocities Begin, published in 2007 by the University of Tennessee Press.) Joanne and Tom's visits to the store were always a delight, whether Joanne had a particular purchase in mind or was just coming by to share the latest gossip. In either case, Tom would always greet our other customers with dignified friendliness, and they, in turn, would be suitably and understandably impressed. And you knew it was An Important Literary Event in this town if Tom Woof showed up attired in his dapper red bow tie.

We extend our condolences to Joanne and to all of Tom Woof's many other friends and fans. I know that I personally will deeply miss his bright, friendly countenance. Perhaps he can now meet his famous namesake, and they can compare notes on the inimitable mountain community they both called home.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monkeys & Donkeys & Battling Machines

With apologies to Sonny Curtis, we at Accent on Books have been fighting the computer over the last several weeks, and the computer keeps winning. Thus, Page 854 has been sadly silent. However, a turning point might have been reached, and we may be on the point of prevailing.

This has given extra meaning to an advanced copy I saw last week of a delightful children's book due out this fall from Roaring Brook Press called, It's A Book, in which a monkey patiently explains to his laptop-bearing donkey friend that, no, the book the monkey is reading cannot blog or tweet or make noises. On the other hand, as the donkey is amazed to discover, it doesn't require batteries or a password, doesn't need to be recharged, and if you just spend some time quietly with it, it has some quite powerful properties of its own.

So hopefully Page 854 can be revived here pretty soon. In the meantime, I suppose you and I can always find a good book to read.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Keeping It Local

Dale Neal is a journalist, short story writer and most recently a novelist. (His first novel, the award-winning Cow Across America, was published last fall.) He's also a great friend and customer of Accent on Books and a leading light of the Asheville literary scene.

During his career with the Asheville Citizen-Times, Dale has worked as literary editor, religion editor and a reporter on business and technology issues. He brought all of these interests to bear in a recent article in the Citizen-Times on the importance of supporting a local economy, with reference to Wendell Berry and Berry's latest book, What Matters: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth. Throughout his long career, Berry has been a strong advocate of "keeping it local," more important than ever in the present economy when it comes to preserving local jobs and keeping them from moving overseas. As Dale points out, Asheville seems to be developing an increasing awareness of buying local, and hopefully that awareness will continue to develop.

The economic stakes are high. Dale quotes the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies as estimating that up to 70 cents of every dollar spent with a local business stays in the community, as opposed to 43 cents of every dollar spent in a chain store. (And, oftentimes, zero cents of every dollar spent online.) Something that hopefully we can all keep in mind when we make our buying decisions.