bookin’ at big sleep…

February 8, 2011 § 17 Comments

Let someone who loves you read something you’ve written. No, really. Are you gonna get an honest opinion? No,probably not. But you will get encouragement and likely some sort of praise. And sometimes, that’s all you need to keep the writing going.

You gotta love niche and boutigue retail, better than their bigbox brothers. Come on, it’s true.
Sure,  it’s great to grab a book at Target when you are there anyway, doing your “conglomeration errands,” picking up dog food, cosmetics, long underwear and a greeting card because really, you don’t want to shop all over hell’s half acre getting all those things. And maybe you’ll just pick up something for yourself, like a book, if you need one and the budget is of the same mind.

However, every bookaholic knows that when really “booking,” that is, looking for a good or great read, an actual dedicated bookstore trumps Wallyword, and any of  the big etceteras.

Thus on Euclid Ave in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood where there are many treasures, from food to frippery, an indie bookstore breathes. 

Big Sleep Books has one room inside, one rectangular room and sometimes in the far corner, the shopkeeper’s friend or family or maybe an author can be seen sitting at a small round table, maybe eating. And the storekeeper is totally in tune with his books and talks with each customer, calls you “dude” and “friend” and other little appellations that you just don’t mind because it’s part of his book atmosphere, part of his sphere, overall.

One of the great things  about this store is that you know you’re among mysteries, thrillers or suspense. That’s it. No wondering what mood you’re in, what you might feel like reading. Your choices, your genres are narrowed, and you know that or you wouldn’t even be in there to begin with.

 I went the first time with HM; he was picking up an Ian Rankin novel. He stumbled across him ages ago while traveling and decided to zone in.  So I was with him and looked around at the bookshelves, all of which were a bit foreign to me cuz those genres were not, at thtat time, my thing.  The shopkeeper asked me what I liked – time period, location, etc. I told him. He zeroed in, and handed me the first in Victoria Thompson’s GasLight Series – Murder on Astor Place. I was hooked. Not “deep” or literary, but good mysteries starring highborn midwife Sarah Brandt and Irish detective Frank Malloy in turn-of-the-century NYC.  Good enough for me. So good that eight books later, I’m looking forward to her next one.

As I was paying for my Leduc mystery at the BIG SLEEP  the other day, I noticed WINTER’S BONE sitting there on the counter. The shopkeep noticed me noticing and said “It’s a great book. Very American. And the movie is good. It should win something.”
Let’s see if he calls it right. He knows his books. Inside out. Maybe the movie awards, too, but we know how mercurial those Academys can be. 

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Leduc’s MURDER IN THE MARAIS. And so while waiting for Thomson’s next book to hit the stands on June 1, I am plunging into the Aimee Leduc series by Cara Black which was recommended by Jeanie.  For her book reviews, go to her “book” site, here.


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§ 17 Responses to bookin’ at big sleep…

  • Arti says:

    Well Target is making its entrance up the 49th parallel soon, last I heard. At the mean time, indie bookstores are fast disappearing. How I envy you, oh, having all these luxuries. Anyway, Winter’s Bone is one fine film, very different. That it has fetched some recognition is already quite something, considering it’s such a ‘small’ film. But of course, with the mercury being so volatile, we really can’t say, can we?

  • litlove says:

    What a wonderful bookstore! The best one in Cambridge is Heffers, which used to be family run but was taken over a few years ago by a chain, but not a big one. So it is good, and not too corporatised. But it’s still not as authentic-feeling as Big Sleep. I so wish we had something like that around here.

    • oh says:

      Arti – you are in such a beautiful place there that I imagine going for a walk is beyond many of the tactile experiences we have here. However, please know you are welcome at any time if you’re coming anywhere at all near the Gateway. We will gladly you tour you about and take you to all the best (book) places!
      As for the Academys, I look forward to their decisions, though I’m sure to diasgree with some but that’s part of the fun. And somehow, given your comments on it, I know I need to see Winter’s Bone. Egads, where is it playing around here, if at all?

      Dear LL – Cambridge, in and of itself, is a magical word & place, evoking so many (wonderful) things we think of as soon as we hear it. Oh, how I’d love to visit there. Meanwhile, Big Sleep is a funny little find and it kinda grows on you, even if you don’t think you want to read of spies, suspense or mysteries.
      Will pop over there and see what you’re reading!

  • My fave indie bookstore is the children’s store, Wild Rumpus, that I took Nora & the gang to last summer. It’s the coolest store, in my opinion. Another great store in Minneapolis is Mager’s & Quinn which is a mix of new & used books. They host lots of book signings/author reads and sponsor a ‘books & bars’ book club, which I’ve attended a couple of times.

    I should buy Murder in the Marais for my trip since I’ll be staying in the Marais! 🙂

  • shoreacres says:

    Murder in the Marais has to go on my list, too, since I’ll be doing more skulking around a certain marais this spring – with luck!

    The indie bookstores are great – unfortunately, we’re down to one in our local area. Of course in Houston there are more, and some very good ones, but it’s not worth the drive to just browse.

    I do love these peeks into your world, though. I’ve come to appreciate St. Louis & environs for more than the Arch, that’s for sure!

    • oh says:

      Lisa – I had mention of you in this blog entry and then WordPress went nuts and I lost it! But I will link to your posts from Paris so readers can see the real Marais if that works out, ‘k? Nor and I were just talking about your upcoming trip – we are very excited. And knowing what your place looks like makes it even more meaningful – look forward to your posts, but no pressure! Bon voyage, ma petite and a bientot!

      And have a lovely cafe creme for me!

      Linda – you must, you must tell us about your marais and what it’s like and the heat and the smell of it – I have a book by Karen Russell that takes place in swamps and marais and now I have to go back and look at it and see if it’s Florida or the far more mystical Louisiana!
      Stay tuned…

  • Bella Rum says:

    Okay, you’ve done what no one else has been able to do. I’m so behind the times. I’m going to finally get the Kindle DX or some other e-reader. I have impaired vision that can not be corrected with glasses. I do listen to audio books, but I miss reading very much. Your suggestions and descriptions of books remind me of how much I loved holding that book while the words and thoughts went straight into my mind. Listening to a book is a wonderful option, but it is a different experience than reading.

    I have a huge Mac. I enlarge the font to a ridiculous size and it does the job. I think the Kindle DX may work for me. My husband keeps urging me to get it, and that’s what I’m going to do. So there.

    I’ll still miss turning those pages, but I can always roam the aisles of book stores when buying gifts.


  • jeanie says:

    Cops, Spies and Private Eyes. When I get to St. Louis — someday — we are going THERE!

    SO glad you are dipping into Aimee Leduc. Love the series and am ready for another hit myself. You’re smart to start with the first — I didn’t (took me awhile to find the first one) and knowing what happened later sort of “scooped” it — not too badly, but still… I love to grow with the characters. Do you have a map of Paris (the one in the book is so wee!) Let me know if you don’t! (Or google maps and walk the streets with her! Gives you a great feel and Marais is a wonderful neighborhood!)

    • oh says:

      Dear Bella – That is SO cool that Kindle has the DX. What a fine solution -. I was so glad to hear you mention audio books, because I’ve just “discovered” them and while I can’t listen to them at home on the couch or in bed (because I fall asleep!), audio books make a commute into a wonderful wonderful ride. Listening to Austen’s PERSUASION being read by a British actress, I felt I was there.
      But you’re absolutely right – there is something about the act of reading in and of itself that is such a connector, so soothing, such a quick slide into another place…cheers for the DX. Hope it works like a charm!

      Jeanie- ah, you must wonder what took me so long to get to LeDuc. I had one of her books taken out of the library but didnt’ get to read it in that two weeks and ended up taking it back without ever cracking it open. So when I saw Cara Black at the Big Sleep bookstore, well, I commented about it and HM said, “easier to buy than to borrow, non?” and so voila – I now have a copy. Lovely. Very excited to start it. And one of our blog friends, Lisa D (Lisa’s Yarns on my blogroll) is headed to Paris this week and is staying – guess where? In the Marais Quartier!!!! She will be posting from there. I’ll link to her when she does!

  • shoreacres says:

    Oh, heck. Jeanie’s comment finally straightened out my misunderstanding. I really do live in a different world. YOUR Marais is a Parisian neighborhood. MY Marais is actually Le Bois Mauvaise Marais, a Louisiana swamp. You can see it here.

    Both are good places for a murder or other crime, I suppose, although in my marais it may be easier to dispose of a body!

  • Damyanti says:

    Lovely piece of writing advice. Must try that some time 🙂

    I love the idea of genre-specific books, never knew they existed! I read a few mysteries, now and then, but haven’t stumbled upon a series I like…

  • mandy says:

    Oh how I love indie book stores. Unfortunately, there are only a few in my little area in the middle of no where that I frequent (unless I happen to be in Pittsburgh or Columbus, then its a different story). The one I usually visit is called Paradox, in an historic market area, and the shopkeeper is an extremely eccentric, curious individual.

    Lisa’s right, Wild Rumpus, in Minneapolis is probably one of the best indie book stores I’ve ever visited.

    • oh says:

      Damyanti – so glad the “writing” thing clicked. Funny how some things work, others don’t and it all depends on the day and the writing on that day. As for following a mystery series, I had never done it ’til about 2 years ago as mentioned with the Thompson Gaslight series. And now, Leduc. Funny though, I’ve never followed Sue Grafton (with her alphabet) or Evanovich (with her “number” series.) You never know what will resonate or interest. However, I will always choose character over plot when it comes to reading/writing. So, yes, try Cara Black’s Paris mystery stories. And we can compare notes, also with Jeanie!

    • oh says:

      Mandy – ok, i have to get north, to Lisa’s citiy. Wild Rumpus is so highly spoken of by ALL of you! and Nor brought me a bookmark from there. So, I’m due for a visit. (Also, I’m the only one in this family who has not been to Minneapolis. Sheesh.)
      I’m thinking I should tour all the indie bookstores in the continental US and then write a book about it – whaddy’a think?

  • aubrey says:

    There used to be a similar book store, maybe one mile from where I live. Gone.

    There used to be a completely delicious used book store, that was even closer. Gone.

    Living in Los Angeles can be very tedious.

    Your writing lesson is absolutely Right. Often I will read to Boyfriend, and his praise does keep me writing.

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