‘Tis the Season (for buying books)

How many shopping days until Christmas? I don’t really know, but I believe it’s not that many. Perhaps I don’t really care–any day is good for gift giving. What I do know is that we have some terrific books here in stock at the UConn Co-op to give as gifts this holiday season–gifts for others and, just as important, gifts for yourself.

Can’t really afford a set of the iconic Mies van der Rohe leather Barcelona chairs this year? Well, we have the newly-revised, compelling and critical biography of van der Rohe the “titanic drinker and lordly grand seigneur, with declamatory speech devoid of sustained argument, imposing, forceful and vital, magisterial and monumental, with tremendous physical and intellectual power, personal magnetism, and triumphant authority.” (Jeffrey Meyers, Booklist).  Mies van der Rohe is an interesting and critical life that also looks great sitting on the shelf in the Eames cabinet or on the Noguchi coffee table.

You can also find Richard Russo’s new memoir Elsewhere. The book gives an intimate look into Russo’s family life in a small, upstate New York town (such as the one so-wonderfully described in his novel Nobody’s Fool). Russo gives us his unique story in which any reader–but especially readers in the Northeast–can find some familiarity and also comfort.

Also new in paperback, is And So It Goes, Charles J. Sheilds biography of Kurt Vonnegut –Vonnegut’s life being nothing short of fascinating.

But, the biography that I am most excited to read over the holidays is Timothy Egan’s Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis. Egan’s well-researched and intriguing life of Curtis–chronicles the prolific photographer of Native America whose backers included Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, yet he died virtually penniless. The book is rightly getting a lot of media attention and the author Egan was recently a guest on PBS Newshour.

For the reader of literary fiction, we carry a good selection of Europa Editions books, which include many international works in competent translations. As a long-time reader of literary fiction and literature in translation, I’ve been quite impressed with many of the releases from this imprint–these are attractive and well-designed paperback editions that complement the quality of the writing and translation inside the book. I look forward to new releases from Europa as I remember looking forward to delving into a New Directions Paperback. Incidentally, New Directions is still releasing some quality works of fiction. Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods comes to mind–which Salon called “the most well-executed literary sex comedy in ages.” Another popular work of literary fiction has been NW by Zadie Smith, a novel focusing on the lives of four residents of a very diverse Northwest London. But, if your interests are more historical, we also now have in paperback, London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets in which author Peter Ackroyd diligently details what exactly can be found beneath the streets of the venerable city: “basilicas, markets, amphitheaters, bathhouses, taverns, temples, a Roman ship sunk by a stone cannonball, even a mammoth. And, of course, bodies. Many, many bodies” says Mary Jo Murphy in the New York Times Book Review.

If none of my recommended selections strike your fancy, then please check out our “Books for Holiday Gift Giving” catalog. Most all the books in the catalog are in store stock, and when in the store, please ask for a paper copy of the catalog which has a coupon for 20% off any one book in the catalog.

Finally, for the kids (after all, it is Christmastime), we have many author/illustrator signed copies from the recent Connecticut Children’s Book Fair.

So stop in today at the UConn Co-op, your neighborhood bookstore on the campus of the University of Connecticut. If you haven’t stopped in before, you’ll be pleased with our selection and we’re a lot easier to get to than you’d think.

–Bob Smith

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