Here are McNally J’s bestselling books of 2011. It’s a list! 31 books long. Arbitrarily. I had to go get my laundry.
- Just Kids, Patti Smith (Now also the bestselling book in McNJ’s history.)
- A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
- On Booze, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Bossypants, Tina Fey
- The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman
- The ReadyMade 100 Project Manual (printed on our book machine!)
- Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
- 1Q84, Haruki Murakami
- Go the Fuck to Sleep, Adam Mansbach
- Blood, Bones and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton
- The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey “Salivagate” Eugenides
- The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
- The Help, Kathryn Stockett
- The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach (This would be been higher if it hadn’t gone out of stock the week before Christmas.)
- Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart
- Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
- All the public domain books from the Espresso Book Machine!
- Everything Beautiful Began After, Simon Van Booy
- Suicide, Edouard Leve
- Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
- The Tao of Wu, The Rza
- Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
- One Day, David Nicholls
- Freedom, Jonathan Franzen
- Woolgathering, Patti Smith
- Blue Nights, Joan Didion
- Life, Keith Richards
- By Nightfall, Michael Cunningham
- You Deserve Nothing, Alexander Maksik
- We the Animals, Justin “Former McNJ Staffer” Torres
Other notables (i.e. books I like that were not far down the list): Rich People Things, The Ask, Emma Straub’s Other People We Married, which we had in stock way too infrequently. Leaving the Atocha Station is in the Top 100 (another title that would’ve been higher if it hadn’t fallen out of stock everywhere just before Christmas). Lydia Davis’ The Cows—a chapbook about literal cows—is just outside the 100. Actually, though, our bestselling item-type thing by far was the set-up fee to publish on our Book Machine.
We don’t. That said, we do occasionally offer jobs—part-time ones, too, if you’re a student. We’re not hiring right now, but who knows when something might open up. You can either come through and drop off a resume or email it to info [at] mcnallyjackson.com with a little note explaining why you’d want to work at this independent bookstore. Perks include touching the books, alphabetizing, and explaining that the Paris Review is not, in fact, reviews of Paris.
First things first, there’s still time! Sort of. We’re open from 10-6 today (closed tomorrow). Anyway, onward!
The fuck-saying discoqueen throws me for a bit of a loop, but, ignoring that, she might go for Cutting for Stone or The Invisible Bridge—both have that “those” just-want-a-good-story vibe book that I’m getting from her choices. Also they’ve both been read—and loved—by McNJ staffers.
A little while ago, Ugly Duckling put out Jen Bervin’s Nets. She makes these small, evocative poems by erasing (incompletely) most of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
I’ve said it once and I’ll said it again, but The Great Night by Chris Adrian—a retelling of A Midsummer’s Night Dream—would be good if this Shakespearean also reads contemporary stuff.
I’m not sure how well you know me—probably not at all—but if he’d like to know about American literature, you could—surprise!—get him this edition of Moby-Dick, i.e. the best and most classic of American lit. It’s a paperback, but it’s big and beautiful enough that it’s as substantial and gifty-seeming as a hardcover. Also, as a companion volume, D.H. Lawrence’s hilarious Studies in Classic American Literature, which is apparently literally what he wants to know about. (It’s one of those nice Penguin classics with the green spine.)
We’ve got a handsome volume of Hemingway’s fishing stories.
It’s been out for a little while, but Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea is another one of those great adventure histories—this one involves cannibalism and whales.
And because you mentioned Everest, I thought of Wade Davis—you may remember his zombie-hunting in Haiti, The Serpent and the Rainbow—and his new one, Into the Silence. Everest! War! Death! Mallory! Davis is “National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence” which is a funny oxymoronic dream job to have.
She might like the very strange Michal Ajvaz. Plus you get to feel a little uncomfortable everytime you try to say his last name. Ajvaz. The Other City is a strange and wonderful—by which I mean it’s full of wonders—book. Dustin, I think, prefers The Golden Age.
I’ve never read Hrabal, but I’d like to. His Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age was just put out by NYRB (pronounced “nerb”) and is a single sentence (!).
Hmmmmm. If your mom is the type of mom who watches Friday Night Lights, then she’d like The Art of Fielding, I’m sure. But you probably knew that.
Yes! Enrique Vila-Matas’ Never Any End to Paris is narrated by a Hemingway-loving young man wandering around Paris wondering why his experience isn’t more like Hemingway’s. Very good. (Also A Moveable Feast, of course.)
Edmund White’s The Flaneur should be next on your list.
First question! Have you read every word of F. Scott F.? I recommend The Crack-Up, since it contains “My Lost City”—a near perfect piece of writing, if you ask me. Also Hesperus Press just put out The Cruise of the Rolling Junk—a collection of pieces written for Motor (!) magazine about driving from Connecticut to Alabama.
You might also like Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility. It’s perhaps not quite as high literary as Fitzgerald, but you’ll get your jazzy social-climby New York fix.
Since you guys aren’t taking advantage of the Ask box for your thorny giving problems, we put together a list of books for all the people you might need to buy for. They’ll be posted here today and tomorrow. Gird yourselves!
A gentleman named Farhad Manjoo just posted a proudly contrarian article on Slate explaining why independent bookstores are not only irrelevent but maybe even harmful. I work at an independent bookstore, so that’s an argument I’d be very very curious to see made well. Honestly, I know the failings of small booksellers as well as anyone, and it’d be good to see them articulated. But that’s not what this essay was. Let’s look at it. All of it. In detail.
I’ll be interjecting my thoughts into the text of the essay itself. I know that’s a pretty ungenerous way to go about it, but as you’ll see, Mr. Manjoo is kind of an asshat, so I’m not feeling generous.
I was going to write a point-by-point rebuttal of the deeply annoying Manjoo piece on Slate (which I will not link to, because I am not a Slate affiliate), but then Dustin went ahead and did it for me. You should read this.
Okay! I have an idea. It’s not exactly that kind of campy, but: there are many hilarious things in the public domain, and we can turn those hilarious things into handsome little volumes (or epic tomes, I guess, depending) on our book machine. For example, I don’t know your brother’s interests, but I searched for “medicine” for 2 seconds and found this, Alcohol: A Dangerous and Unnecessary Medicine: How and Why (published 1900):
So it shouldn’t be hard to find an “interest”—hair loss, for example—he has and get him some horrible, illuminating book.
Still hoping for this.
Chris Adrian is occasionally bearded, and The Great Night is cute—A Midsummer Night’s Dream in San Francisco, faeries and everything—and edgy, given, say, the roomful of disembodied floating genitals, the threesome, and all the sorrow.
Speaking of rooms and genitals: the redoubtably bearded Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes is both very dirty and very sweet. (Though I prefer Vox. (Though really I prefer The Anthologist, but that’s not at all edgy.))
As non-denominational, non-sectarian winter stuff-buying season comes into full swing, AN ANNOUNCEMENT:
The Ask a Bookmonger box is open for all your book-buying questions. “I’ve got this aunt. Loves meditations on wilderness and solitude, maybe some history of fire management, but definitely solitude, definitely wilderness. Also dogs named Alice and the American Southwest.” And I’d say, Oh, Fire Season, duh. No relative too obscure! No vague sense of your giftee’s taste too vague! Try to stump us. We are unstumpable! Probably.
You gotta face down yr demons! —————> 400 pp. ———> down [???]
———> There’s something fake about a long book.
sign language [There was a woman to his left, relaying the talk in sign language.]
[Or more likely: “Simple/complexity”]
Insta-Atocha reblog, obviously.
The further we get from the world Melville actually lived in, the more we seem to be living in the world he told us about. American culture tends to embrace a kind of a-historicism that on the one hand is forward-looking and optimistic and many other fine things, but on the other hand costs us dearly in context, heritage and continuity. This is especially true of the Progressive movement, which has fought more or less unceasingly since the nation’s founding to bring America closer to realizing the ideals it claims to hold most dear. And yet every generation of progressives must suffer to be told that we are some kind of developmental aberration in cultural history—that we are naive and our methods disreputable, that the vast majority stands against us; on and on.
This is as total and pernicious an inversion of the truth as I can think of, and one more reason why we come here today, to invoke the long American history of refusal that informs and enlivens Occupy. Many in this movement have a vivid sense of that history, others may be getting involved in politics for the first time in their lives, but in any case it’s healthy to be reminded that the first step toward building a better world is recognizing that the present state of affairs is intolerable and that we cannot in good conscience continue to take part in it.
—From “Introduction to Marathon Reading of “Bartleby, the Scrivener” at 60 Wall Street, November 10, 2011” by Justin Taylor; full text of the introduction after the jump