The neighborhood bookstore for Phinney Ridge and Greenwood
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As I mentioned in last week's newsletter, we are delighted, in this year of cancellations and postponements, to be continuing, virtually, one of our favorite annual traditions: the Holiday Bookfest. Unlike other years, it will be held online, not at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, but like other years we will be featuring readings from a handful of local authors, and signed books by more than a dozen more. This year's featured authors, all reading from their recent books, are Jess Walter (The Cold Millions), Kira Jane Buxton (Hollow Kingdom), Donna Miscolta (Living Color), and Erica Bauermeister (House Lessons), and, also in keeping with Bookfest tradition, they will be joined by novelist Jennie Shortridge and her husband, Matt Gani, performing a song inspired by Eric Liu's Become America. The readings, and the song, will be on Zoom, on Saturday, December 5, from 3 to 4 pm, and you can sign up to join us here.

Speaking of Eric Liu, he's one of the other local authors whose signed books we'll also be offering as part of the Bookfest. Instead of our usual in-person signings, we've arranged for the four authors above, and more than a dozen more, to sign specially designed bookplates, which we will include in their books you purchase from us. Here's the full lineup: Kim Baker (The Water Bears), Kelly Brenner (Nature Obscura), Ben Clanton (Happy Narwhalidays), Kathleen Flenniken (Post Romantic), David Guterson (Turn Around Time), Eric Liu (Become America), Rosie Mayes (I Heart Soul Food), Brittney Morris (Slay), Steve Olson (The Apocalypse Factory), Tina Ontiveros (Rough House), Nancy Pearl & Jeff Schweger (The Writer's Library), Susanna Ryan (Seattle Walk Report), Dominic Smith (The Electric Hotel), Garth Stein (The Cloven), and Molly Wizenberg (The Fixed Stars). You can see the full lineup of books and descriptions, but the links above will all take you to individual purchase pages where you can order your copy (or copies!) of the books. (We'll have the books ready for pickup or shipping after the event.)

Thanks to all of these authors, and especially for writers and friends of Bookfest Bill Thorness and Erica Bauermeister for doing the heavy lifting of organizing this year. We hope you can join us, and be reminded, as we always are at Bookfest time, what a wealth of writers and readers we have here in Seattle. And we look forward to crowding into the PNA's room 7 again in 2021 for a non-virtual Bookfest again!

Thanks—Tom, Laura, Kim, Liz, Haley, Anika, Doree, and Nancy
New Book of the Week
Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture
by Sudhir Hazareesingh
Having read The Black Jacobins, C.L.R. James's still-classic 1938 account of the Haitian Revolution, earlier this year, I was curious what a modern version could add to the story. Even more than James, Hazareesingh focuses on the miraculously compelling figure of Toussaint Louverture, and from the mists of legend is able to create the picture of a man. Inevitably, the first 45 years of his life, spent largely in undocumented slavery, can only be speculated about, but once he ascends to power, there is a wealth of records to work from—much of it from Toussaint's own voluminous letter-writing—and by carefully tracking Toussaint's maneuvers through the tightest of domestic and international squeezes and by documenting his self-educated and sometimes idiosyncratic wisdom, he makes you understand both the brilliant improbability of his success and the tragedy of his personal failure, just as his country was headed toward independence. —Tom
Blades of Freedom
Old Book of the Week
Blades of Freedom (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #10)
by Nathan Hale
One response to the complexity of explaining the Haitian Revolution is to narrow the scope, as Hazareesingh (see above) does by focusing on Toussaint. Despite his tinier canvas and his younger audience, Hale, in the tenth installment of his wildly popular series of graphic histories of thrilling episodes in American history, does the opposite, making his story about the Louisiana Purchase as well as Haiti and detouring along the way to explain, among many other subjects, the production of sugar, the syncretism of Haitian vudou, the rise of Napoleon, and the succession of the Spanish empire. It's a lot to thread together, and even the wisecracking characters in the story complain, but it's thrilling to see the story placed in such helpful and fascinating context. As much as I've read on the subject this year, I learned a lot! —Tom
Again Again
Kids' Book of the Week
Again Again
by E. Lockhart
Again Again both was and wasn’t the young adult love story I expected. Adelaide’s summer can and does go a myriad of different ways, in a number of possible worlds, perhaps thanks to her introduction to multiverse theory. However, it seems that in each world, even the worlds where she might, possibly, fall in love with someone new, she must first contend with a painful breakup. And yet, the heart of this story isn’t the romance(s); it’s Adelaide’s relationship with her opioid-addicted little brother. Lockhart’s thought-experiment of a novel celebrates the perhaps overly analytical mind that carries out hypothetical conversations to their furthest conclusions, that ponders the consequences of second and third chances, that dares to wonder what if? The result is charmingly weird, bittersweet, and philosophical. (12 and up) —Anika
Link of the Week
2021 Inaugural Poem Project
Only a few presidents have asked a poet to read at their inauguration. The current president, unsurprisingly, didn't, but the president-elect just might (we know he's a fan of the late Seamus Heaney). And with that in mind, I'm delighted that one of my best and oldest friends, an English teacher outside Chicago, convinced the Academy of American Poets to hold an Inaugural Poem Contest for students in high school and younger. If you know a young poet (or an English teacher), let them know!
Cover Crop Quiz #200
For our 200th quiz, a book we've done before, but this time a pulpier cover. If you can't read the tagline, it says, "The mighty novel of a soulless, streamlined Eden—and two who escape it" (clothed, apparently, in wisps of smoke).
Last Week's Answer
This pulpy edition of Nelson Algren's National Book Award-winning The Man with the Golden Arm might have been a little easier to guess if I hadn't cropped out the hypodermic needle just below the man's arm.
New to Our 100 Club

A Promised Land
by Barack Obama
(2 weeks to reach 100; Michelle took 3 weeks, in case you were wondering)
New to Our 100 Club

The Splendid and the Vile
by Erik Larson
(39 weeks to reach 100)
New to Our 100 Club

Days with Frog and Toad
by Arnold Lobel
(939 weeks to reach 100)

Phinney Books
7405 Greenwood Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98103
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New on Our Resist List
(See this week's full list.
20% of sales go to the ACLU.)

Bland Fanatics: Liberals, Race, and Empire by Pankaj Mishra
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
New in the Store

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
The Sun Collective by Charlie Baxter
The Orchard by David Hopen

Ghostways: Two Journeys in Unquiet Places by Robert Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood, and Don Richards
Stuff You Should Know by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant
The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science by Seb Falk
I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom
Ramen for Beginners by Robin Donovan

Kids and Teens:
The Way Back by Gavriel Savit
Blades of Freedom (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #10) by Nathan Hale
Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon
Brenda Is a Sheep by Morag Hood

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh
The Recognitions by William Gaddis
Riots I Have Known by Ryan Chapman
This Week in Edmund Wilson's Letters

November 30, 1954
(to his friend Vladimir Nabokov about his as-yet-unpublished novel, Lolita)
"Roger Straus lent me the MS of your book, and I read it when I was in New York—though rather hastily, because I had to give it back.... I like it less than anything else of yours I have read. The short story that it grew out of was interesting, but I don’t think the subject can stand this very extended treatment. Nasty subjects may make fine books; but I don’t feel you have got away with this. It isn’t merely that the characters and the situation are repulsive in themselves, but that, presented on this scale, they seem quite unreal. The various goings-on and the climax at the end have, for me, the same fault as the climaxes of Bend Sinister and Laughter in the Dark: they become too absurd or horrible to be tragic, yet remain too unpleasant to be funny."
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