Around the Bookstore

Fall is a good time to curl up with a good book.


It is unbelievably October, another month slipped away in what seems a headlong race toward the holidays. It is quieter, the summer throngs gone, the September hangers-on departed, back to homes in Boston, D.C., New York City. Now there are regular tours, many customers come in, a lanyard around their neck, allowing me to address them by name. A heavy concentration has come this year from Iowa, Ohio, and Michigan. One day, it seemed everyone was from some part of Ohio.

Oct. 1 through 7 was Banned Books Week. Its theme was “Let Freedom Read!” It’s an annual effort by Pen America, the American Library Association, and the American Booksellers Association, along with a number of other organizations, to shine light on the epidemic of book banning happening in the U.S., to a degree never before seen in this country. Books tackling racial issues, sexuality, especially LGBTQ issues, are frequent targets of book banners.

We had not taken down our “Banned Books” display from last year; it has become a kind of bookstore hearth, around which people gather, discuss, shake their heads, chat with me and one another about current events. It will stay up through this year also; almost every day someone says thank you to us for having it up.

Besides Banned Books Week, October has seen the arrival of Hannah Grace’s newest, “Wildfire.” Grace is a writer whose rom-coms compete with Ali Hazelwood and Emily Henry for beach-read attention. Now that beach time is over here, perhaps we need to find a winter name for the genre? After-ski? Escapist? Given the news of late, escapism is on the minds of many, and a motivator for buying lighter reading.

Melissa Broder’s “Death Valley” is a dark and funny story of a grieving woman in the desert who finds a cactus that shouldn’t exist, with a gash that looks like a door, which she enters …

Michael Lewis has come out with his newest, “Going Infinite,” an up-close and perhaps too personal look at Sam Bankman-Fried, whose trial for fraud has begun after the collapse of FTX, his crypto empire, which he allegedly ransacked to cover losses in another of his companies. Mixed reviews haven’t dampened sales. I suggest you make up your own mind. It’s a wild ride of a story.

Out this month, too, is Jesmyn Ward’s newest, “Let Us Descend,” the story of a slave girl sold away from her mother. Ward, a MacArthur Fellow and two-time National Book awardwinner, is compared with Faulkner and Toni Morrison. No wonder people are waiting anxiously for her newest.

“The Firm” catapulted John Grisham onto the bestseller lists, and made him a literary powerhouse. October will see the release of “The Exchange: After the Firm,” the follow-up. Trouble finds Mitch McDeere once again. Can he find his way out, once again?

If you’re a fan of “Star Trek,” Patrick Stewart’s memoir, “Making It So,” has arrived, with behind-the-scenes stories of “Next Generation,” the series that reinvigorated “Star Trek,” spawning many more series and films.

It’s fall, a rich time for new books. As the days keep cooling, there will be ever more reasons to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea or coffee, perhaps on the couch, under a blanket, with words taking you into other lives and minds. Our gift certificates have a saying on them from Schopenhauer: “Reading is equivalent to thinking with somebody else’s head.”

Fall is a good time to get into someone else’s head.