A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events follows three orphans, the Baudelaires, as they survive and solve mysteries while under the care of various guardians. The author definitely delivers on the series’ title, with deaths, unreliable parental figures, and other sad occurrences. Surprisingly, despite the author’s warning of depressing events at the back of every book, there are plenty of happy moments, like new friendships, competent guardians, and even a tiny bit of romance. Readers will lose out if they heed Snicket’s plea to throw away his books and choose happier novels. Even though the series is supposed to be solely a catalog of gloomy happenings, the thirteen books manage to be fun, humorous and suitable for all ages. Sometimes the author lapses into writing backwards and upside down, so readers have to go to a mirror to continue. Other times the author playfully defines words, which is helpful when the youngest orphan, Sunny, speaks, because she is only a baby. Part of the fun comes because the world the Baudelaire children inhabit is very unlike our own. The newspaper is notorious for printing rumors. Being ambidextrous is a quality considered so freakish, the only job such a person could find is being on display at a circus. Flimsy disguises fool whole towns.  This otherworldly tone is what helps make all the unfortunate events seem ridiculous and funny, instead of sad and melancholy. Reading this series helped me find joy in even the bleakest situations.  

My name is Daphna Craven. I graduated from BYU with a print journalism degree last April. I currently work as a telephone surveyor at BRG Research Services. I love reading and being married, of course!

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan

Being an art/humanities student I have been taught well the old saying to 'never judge a book by its cover,' but again being an art/humanities student I often ignore that advice.

I have a problem. When I travel, I open my carry-on luggage only to get weird looks from people who are judging the pile of books that I lug around all over the place. When I'm home that pile of books crowds my bookshelves and side tables only to overflow onto almost every flat surface in my apartment meanwhile slowly accumulating even more. I collect books. I collect them for both their story and their worth as a piece of art and more times often than not I will pick up a book and peruse it for a little while solely because of its cover. I don't rely only on this when I actually buy a book but it's the cover that pulls my attention first.

So, when deciding on what to read next, I have to admit that I was initially drawn to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore because I really liked the cover art. However, I did stumble across it while looking through the October '13 Indie Next List and I then looked up reviews before I bought it so my obsession with book art can't be all that bad.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a novel about a man named Clay Jannon who finds himself unemployed in the middle of an economic crisis. With no apparent direction in life he stumbles across Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore while dawdling down the streets of San Francisco. Drawn to the idea of having a job, Clay soon finds himself caught in the midst of the parallel realities between literature and technology and the interesting people who come hand-in-hand with both industries. Part-humor, part-mystery, part-love story, part-adventure; it has a little bit of everything.

If you open this one, you'll soon find yourself caught up in the whirlwind that is Clay Jannon's new found existence. Sloan's writing reads easily and I found myself racing through this one. Not as fast as I would have liked because life has been busy but I often found myself nearing the end of the day and thinking, 'I really want to keep reading that book.' If you don't love it for the story, you will appreciate it for its admiration of knowledge. This is a book for book lovers.

Education of the Heart

I loved Allanah’s expression that to “To read is to grow, not to retreat.” I, too, read to feel better and, further, to understand. I read to gain insight into viewpoints other than my own. I read to expand the narrow capacity of my own mind and heart. I read for the “aha” moments that go right to my core. Rudyard Kipling said, “Fiction is truth’s older sister.” I interpret this to mean that there is a wisdom found in fiction that is mature beyond mere facts. There is an education of the heart that comes with reading fine fiction written for any age.

Just a few titles that have been this education for me are:

Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine l'Engle

- Anita

Anita is the Children's Book buyer for the BYU Bookstore and has worked at the BYU Bookstore for over ten years! Anita spreads her love of reading within our Children's Books department and with many local book events.

YRead? To Feel Better

This past week I stumbled across this little piece of anonymous advice. Not necessarily said or written as advice but something someone, anyone, could say in passing, "I might read until I feel better."

I, personally, read for many reasons and I must admit that to feel better is sometimes one of them. I read when I'm stressed, it calms me down. I read when I'm bored, it entertains me. I read when I'm upset because in the end reading really does make me feel better.

The concept of bibliotherapy is a relatively new one but it is definitely growing. Let me throw in a disclaimer right here, reading doesn't heal you and if you suffer enough that your doctor recommends medication then listen to your doctor. All I am saying here is that reading helps more than you know.

The fact that therapists are jumping in support of this new form of therapy is evidence enough. Psychotherapist Dr. Richard Singer claims that, "books can heal you and reading good books is more than a hobby, it's a therapy in itself." Judith Mawer from the Mersey Care Mental Health Trust also emphasizes this theory that, "people who don't respond to conventional therapy, or don't have access to it, can externalise their feelings by engaging with a fictional character, or be stimulated by the rhythms of poetry." Again, Raymond Tallis, a professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester said,
"The pleasure of escape into a parallel world; the sense of control one has as a reader; and the ability to distance one's self from one's own circumstances by seeing them from without, suffered by someone else and gathered up into a nicely worked-out plot - somewhere around here is the notion of the Aristotelian purgation and Sartre's idea of 'the purifying reflection'."
I don't want you to come away from this thinking that reading is a form of escapism. To an extent, it may be, but really good literature, the literature that affects us and stays with us long after the book is closed leaves you looking inside yourself. To read is to grow, not to retreat. So saying, "I might read until I feel better," is a perfectly reasonable piece of advice.

What do you think of reading as a form of therapy?

- Allanah

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough


Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough, illustrated by Debby Atwell
Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2013
Another Utah author rises to the top. If you are in the market for a book about:
                                Strong women
                                The power of an individual
                                Importance of books
                                Being true to yourself
                                Making a difference
This is your book. Or if you are just in the mood for a great story and an uplifting read aloud, this is your book.
Miss Moore is Anne Carroll Moore is one of many librarians who opened the world of libraries to children. Her position at the New York Public Library and her serious attention to children’s books set a precedent for many to follow. I love the title! The very idea that sometimes you need to “think otherwise” is a tremendous message for children today. 
Read this and then hug a librarian!

Jan Pinborough lives in Salt Lake City. She is managing editor of The Friend, a magazine for children.

- Anita

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

If you were asked to leave your family behind, not to serve your country but, to serve your planet, would you?

I remember reading this novel for the first time when I was fifteen. I was walking through my tiny high school library searching for something new when I stumbled across it. Ironically I recognized the name of Orson Scott Card because of Enchantment, one of his novels written to a more female target audience. So, I picked it up and decided to give it a chance. It then became one of my favorites in the science fiction genre.

Ender is only six years old. He is the third child in his family, a position rare and only possible through special permission from the government. Since Ender's birthright is normally forbidden the government keeps a close and constant watch on the boy. They soon discover that he is what they have been looking for. Ender is a prodigy of war.

Ender's Game is about just that, a game. Once the government discovers Ender's potential they recruit the boy into a military school. There, through the help of a cleverly devised computer game, he is trained to fight the alien invasion that is threatening Earth. Soon his prodigy is trained into brilliance and he becomes increasingly better at winning.

Orson Scott Card's novel, Ender's Game, is probably one of the best science fiction novels written for young adults. Card takes serious themes such as war and genocide and puts them in a light that is easier for the younger generation to understand. He makes his audience think about our world and the direction it's headed without making his novel too emotionally heavy. This is the kind of book that you could write a paper on if you really wanted but it is also the kind of book that you can sit down with just for fun on a rainy day and finish it that weekend.

Ender's Game, the movie, will be released on November 1 this year. So maybe, if you haven't read it yet, you should grab a copy and get in on the adventure or if you have read it already then read it again and refresh your memory. People often say that the book is always better than the movie.

Get Ender's Game here!

- Allanah

All the Truth That's in Me - by Julie Berry


The setting feels early America Puritan. Religion rules with an iron fist.  The church governs the behavior between men and women. A pillory is punishment for improper behavior. The church is fire and brimstone tied in to the law with no separation of church and state. There is no reference to history just a repressive society.

After reading the promotional material I was braced to be horrified instead I fell in love. It unsettles me to see this book categorized as Love / Romance. I have seen books dismissed as frivolous too often when given that moniker. There is absolutely nothing formulaic about the story. All the Truth That's in Me is about love but not about romance. It is not a falling in love book. It is a staying in love against all odds book as Jane Austin expressed in Persuasion:

“All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one: you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone!” ― Jane Austen, Persuasion

The writing is beautiful. The second person perspective increases the achingly tender power of a tragedy that will capture and surprise you. The twist at the end is not what the reader expects but neither is it a twist that blindsides you and the power of delayed understanding is essential to the story and to the reader. I will be telling everyone I know to READ THIS BOOK!!!

Julie Berry will speak and sign books at Provo Library, Oct 12, 2013, 3:00 p.m.
 Seating is limited but open to the public.

- Anita

Anita is the Children's Book buyer for the BYU Bookstore and has worked at the BYU Bookstore for over ten years! Anita spreads her love of reading within our Children's Books department and with many local book events.

A Host of Halloween Horrors

When the lights are dimmed and the cold outside nips and pinches at you until you retreat to the haven of the heated apartments maybe it's time to curl up on the couch underneath some throws and pillows with a good novel in your hands.

Now, I don't mean just any old novel. As most of you have noticed the temperature has already begun to drop and the time of ghosts, and pumpkins, and cutesy 'scary' stuff has descended upon the valleys of Utah. Sooner than we realize the Provo children will be knocking at our apartment doors demanding sugar highs and the small thrills from men and women disguised as gruesome creatures. We will open our doors, and depending on personality types, either greet them with wide grins on our faces and bowls full of candy or give them a small scare to entertain our own exam riddled brains.

Until then, however, it's just getting colder and we still have work, and school, and church to bring little anxieties into our minds. Jackets and scarves have already begun to layer up in preparation for the autumn to come. Your neighbor is eating something with cinnamon (perhaps the over zealous are already playing Christmas songs) and you are sitting in your apartment/dorm/house with a textbook on your lap and a highlighter laying limp in your hand.

Whether you prefer something tamer or you enjoy a good horror, October is the month to break out that haunted house music, plug in your headphones and settle into your reading nest with the perfect novel to give your heart that extra quick beat.

Here's what the BYU Bookstore has to offer:

We have the classics such as:

  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
    • You all know the gist of the story, right? Has to do with a green monster-man with a really large forehead and bolts in his neck. Sure but no, not really.
      Victor Frankenstein, an avid science student, wants to discover the method of bringing the dead back to life. Obsessed, he begins stealing body parts which eventually help him to create another, perfectly harmless, human being. However, Frankenstein is disgusted by his creation and condemns it to isolation. Eventually the loneliness and rejection the creature experiences ebbs away at its brain until he is overcome with evil and endeavors on a murderous rampage seeking out his creator.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula
    • Despite the illusion that surrounds vampires in contemporary literature, the true vampire is a villain. Written in epistolary form, Stoker's Dracula, tells the classic tale of good vs. evil. Or in this case, Van Helsing vs. Count Dracula. Dracula, with the intention of moving from Transylvania to England, leaves behind body after body drained of blood. Van Helsing brought into the story to examine the diminishing health of Lucy Westenra quickly picks up on the trail and begins his hunt of the hunter in order to prevent any more deaths.

Some relatively new stuff:

  • Neil Gaiman's American Gods
    • If any of you have either seen or read Coraline then this newly popular novel might entice you. The protagonist, Shadow, has just been released from prison and has also just been notified of his wife's death. Numb to feeling, he comes across the character of Mr.Wednesday who claims to be a former god and the American king. Together, they take a trip across the country, unveiling America piece by piece.

And for brownie points, give it a gander:

  • Henry James' The Turn of the Screw
    • The Turn of the Screw was written in 1898 and the English is very convoluted so give yourself some time with this one. However, definitely give it a go. Miss Jessel has just been hired as a governess for the two most adorable and lovable children anyone could ever create. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be the only person, or entity, who thinks this. Little siblings, Miles and Flora, have attracted the spirits of dead former workers. This couple are determined to entice Miles and Flora away from the safety of their governess and into the embrace of death. The Turn of the Screw isn't just a classic ghost story, it is the ghost story.