The fall, the beginning of the school year, is still, for me, the New Year - the time for new commitments, more learning and a fresh dose of "everything is possible."
I would like to share a rite of passage I serendipitously got to witness driving to work on a gloriously sunny, crisp morning last week. Right at the end of our street, in front of the firehouse, was a gaggle of camera-toting adults along with an array of 5 and 6 year olds, all dressed up for their first day of school (not the adults-the kids). As I drove on, there were 3 or 4 more such gatherings. It was a surprise to feel so emotional watching the parents and grandparents as they waved goodbye, took pictures and took long, deep breaths. It was joyous-the exuberance of beginnings, the excitement, the worry, and above all, the enthusiasm.
For our children, this begins with school, and school is all about our teachers. So I will begin with Tony Danza (yes, that Tony Danza) and his new book I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High. Tony reveals the daunting struggles so many teachers face as they play a myriad of roles in their students' lives and how his experience fostered an appreciation for the amazing job done by some teachers. In addition Danza portrays, in fresh and striking ways, the workings of a modern high school.
Matthew Dicks, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is another book I have raved about before. This book is great for grown-ups (I use that term loosely) and young adults. The story and images have lingered with me ever since I read it a few months ago.
Kati Marton has been a wonderful friend to R.J. Julia over the years and I have adored every book she has written. Her new book, Paris: A Love Story, is no exception. She writes poignantly and passionately about her cherished marriage to Richard Holbrooke and her affection for the remarkable city in which they found love and she found her bearings after his sudden passing. She is utterly enchanting.
We are delighted to welcome all three of these fantastic writers to R.J.Julia in Madison (CT) and for those that can't get to the nutmeg state I urge you to pick them up at your favorite independent bookstore.
In other news....Have you heard about The Espresso Book Machine?
RJ Julia is very excited about the addition of the Espresso Book Machine (EBM) and what it will mean for our writers, readers and community. It is extraordinary technology that allows R.J. Julia Booksellers to print books in the store, and on demand. We will, in essence, become a community publishing house, a place to have face-to-face interactions to create books. The EBM provides access to out-of-print titles and, as publishers add their entire catalogs, we will be able to instantly print thousands of additional titles.
That out-of-print book that you want to send to a friend or re-read, but lost, will now be yours. In addition, we will be able to help authors who want to self-publish get their works printed. We are honored to be home to the only EBM in Connecticut, and we believe this is a wonderful step towards invigorating the role and continued importance of an independent bookstore.
Finally, some ideas for squeezing in some last-of-the-summer, totally engrossing books. The hot book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a top pick. The plot, although slightly fantastical, nonetheless kept me guessing, kept me away from doing anything else, and kept me happily reading all day. Then I urge you to pick up History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason to be transported to another time and place. And finally, my number one suggestion is from our August debut author, M.L. Stedman - The Light Between Oceans. All of us who have read this fantastic book adored it. It has all the elements of the perfect read - beautiful writing, characters you are enchanted with and a story that resonates and provokes. Treat yourself and find time this weekend to enjoy the glorious pleasure of a late summer day of reading.