Saturday, December 27, 2008

Some Mequon Recommendations for December

One day this past holiday season, I was inspired and brought my camera to work. It was one of my shifts at the Mequon location and I decided to photograph everyone with a book they liked. This is perhaps the least original idea conceived on a retail blog, but I figure after I exhaust all the clichéd postings, I will come up with something original.

It’s so original that we’ve actually done it already. Check out Mequon’s Myspace page, where Scott has a slide shops of these same booksellers, but with different books. Different books? Can’t they make up their minds? Scott also has exciting zoom action on his page. I don’t know how to do this. I also don't know why the shop is female and 26, when the location opened in 1993. I guess a 15-year-old would have trouble with adult content.

I love all our stores, but I have a soft spot for Mequon because I managed it for a year in the mid nineties.

My fondness is counter-balanced out by it not having regular public transportation access. You can commute from Mequon to downtown on the 143, but this means I can only get to the store at 5 AM from 12th and Mitchell, or at 3 PM, which gets me there just in time for an author signing. Not that I haven’t done this. Afterwards, I have to beg a ride from Mary or Bill, the author escorts.

Unlike the other Ozaukee towns, Mequon refused to have a park and ride so they let you get off near a gas station. Usually the bus comes to a complete stop, but I often worry that it’s just going to slow down and the driver is going to urge me to jump.

Here’s another way to get to Mequon by public transport. You take the 15 (or whatever bus you like) to Bayshore Town Center, and change for the infrequent 68 bus.* Walk north on Port Washington Road three miles, crossing the freeway when appropriate. You also have to cross Port Washington a couple of times because there aren’t always sidewalks on both sides of the street.

I sometimes get the feeling they don’t like pedestrians like myself, but everyone’s nice to me once I make it across the county line.

What were booksellers recommending the week I visited?

Lanora is a huge Toni Morrison fan. She thought on first read that A Mercy might be for core fans, but on the other hand, can a reader who wants to read Morrison not have read her already? The new novel revisits Morrison’s interest in the ill-effects of slavery, but this novel approaches it from a time when it was not race but class based.

Anne is still fond of Cathleen Schine’s The New Yorkers, by far her most popular book at Schwartz since The Love Letter some years ago. They’ve fine-tuned the breed over the life of the book--I think the advance copy, the hardcover, and the paperback all had different dogs, but my regret is that I still haven’t read this glorious novel.

Sharry is not the only bookseller hot on Ron Rash’s Serena this fall. It got some great reviews and hit a few best-of lists, but it never got the momentum it deserved. Think Macbeth played out among the logger barons of Virginia.

Adam told me that it’s hard to sell his favorite books in Mequon, but he’s glad we have Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest.

Barbara could not limit herself to one choice, but the only one I’m going to mention is the Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry. Poetry, that’s a good thing. In fact, for some reason, it seems to be the type of writing that gets the largest share of NEA grants, according to a nameless person who is not only remaining nameless, but anonymous. On the other hand, not one of these grants was promoting limericks. Why are we so prejudiced against comedy?

Scott, our Myspace operator, likes a good cookbook and this year his book of choice is Jose Andres’ Made in Spain. The Spain books keep coming--Mario Batali also Spain, A Culinary Road Trip, and last year we pushed Phaidon’s 1080 Recipes. To no avail! To no avail! Europeans love Spain but Americans? How long does it have to be a well-kept secret? I think readers keep wondering why there are no taco recipes. Or maybe nobody wants to offend the Basque separatists. Let me know if can think of another reason.

Jane picked Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult, but hedged her bets by standing in front of 50 other books that she loves. I can understand her choice—our booksellers have been touting Picoult for many years, and she’s rewarding us by continuing to appear at our shops, to huge crowds at Alverno College. Thank you again, Ms. Picoult!

Taylor is one of a handful of our booksellers who’ve worked at three or more locations (I can think of at least two other booksellers) and at Mequon, he’s hoping someone will fall in love with Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. We did what we could, including it in our Holiday Gift Guide. Time will tell if this turns out to be Stephenson’s magnum opus.

Chris is fond of a good biography, and this year, Jon Meacham’s American Lion is her choice, as well as America’s. Meacham has sold well before, but never before so dominated holiday gift lists.

Of course there are other Mequon booksellers and they have favorite books, but I didn’t get pictures of them. Out of sight (site), out of mind!

Current favorite indie lunch in Mequon: the meatball parmisan sub at Leonardo’s, particularly because they warm it up in their pizza oven.

Current indie purchase at Mequon: Wigwam ragg wool socks at Laacke and Joys, proudly made in Sheboygan! I got the classic gray but I think they will order the other colors.

Next time I’ll visit: North Shore Office Supplies, because I always find something I didn’t expect to want. I also have a fondness for Post-it Notes in the hard-to-find 3x5 size and they still carry them. They moved last year from Capitol Drive, near our Shorewood location, where they were called "North Shore Stationers."

*One day someone will explain to me why there are two 68 routes. How can a bus that makes a Lake Drive detour every 2-3 hours be useful to anyone?

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