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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

What draws a crowd for a book signing?

The Carter Presidential Library and Museum theater was full last night. People were sitting on the floor, leaning against the walls and filing into the overflow area,  good-natured all through the night.


Owen's book.

All this for a discussion about books,”Green Metropolis” and “Confessions of a Radical Industrialist,” for a local public radio show.

I know why I was there — because my first order of business upon moving to Atlanta was getting a library card, because my great disappointment with the Kindle is that there’s no good place for an author to sign, because new books smell yummy, etc.

But why the draw? Even author David Owen mentioned that he has led book events where nobody showed up. I’ve been to readings where it’s me, a book seller, an author, a plate of butter cookies and a stack of unopened books.

I see a few possibilities.

1) Knowing that you could be there for a taping of WABE’s “Between the Lines.” All the thrill of being a public radio audience, none of the …

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PostSecret creator Frank Warren visits Georgia State today

(Click on the post headline if you can’t see the video above.)

As small-time online ideas go, PostSecret has built momentum and grown into a surprisingly large one. For years now, people have sent anonymous postcards decorated with their secrets to a mailbox in Maryland. One man shuffles through them, posts some of them on Sundays, and this month, published the fifth book of secrets, “PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God.”


New PostSecret book

PostSecret creator Frank Warren, the guy with the mailbox in Maryland, will speak at Georgia State University today. In a PostSecret presentation I saw at University of Kentucky a couple years ago, Warren explained that he never intended or expected PostSecret to generate the following it has. He showed off dozens of secrets that never made it to the Web site, revealed some trends — apparently everybody pees in the shower and thinks it’s a secret? — and some nice stories about sharing what was once hidden.

Here’s a story about …

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Charis Books & More to celebrate 35th anniversary

CHARIS 3_105619_226722 (Small)

This mother-daughter photo was shot inside Charis Books and More in Little Five Points in 1997, but you might have witnessed a scene like this any time in the store's 35 year history. AJC file photo

New stories about the death book stores (and books, for that matter) pop up all the time, but rare is the long-lasting success story. We’re lucky to have one in our city, at Charis Books and More the little lavender mainstay off Moreland Avenue in Little Five Points.

The feminist book store and Charis Circle, a non-profit programming arm, will celebrate the store’s 35th year in business next month with readings, discussions and sales. The story has regular workshops and events, too, but I tend to spend my hours there browsing the bookshelves.

It’s not easy for Charis or any book store in those decades. A quick peek through the AJC archives revealed half a dozen Charis-centered “local bookshop beats the odds” stories over the years, detailing the store’s struggles to stay open.

The …

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‘Clinton Tapes’ author Taylor Branch in Atlanta tonight


Taylor Branch

Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian, will speak at The Atlanta History Center tonight about his new book, “The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President.”

The book is culled from dozens of confidential conversations with President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001. Branch was an old friend of Clinton’s who stepped in to act as the diary keeper for the president’s secret oral history of the presidency.

Branch seems to have been interviewed non-stop about the new Clinton book, but he’s especially well-known in Atlanta for the King trilogy — Pulitzer-winning “Parting the Waters: American in the King Years, 1954-63″,”Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965″ and “At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968.”

Here are some of the interviews with Branch:

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Blind Willie biographer travelin’ around Georgia this month

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Blind Willie McTell. File photo

In my weekly calendar combing, I noticed author Michael Gray popping up all over Atlanta, and I now see why: he wrote a new biography of Blind Willie McTell. More importantly, it’s the only full Blind Willie biography out there.

If you’re not into old bluesmen, you might still know this one as a Georgia native, as the namesake for the Virginia Highland club, Blind Willie’s, the fellow in the dedication on The White Stripes’ second album, “De Stijl,” or an entry in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Now that Gray’s book, “Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell,” is out, here’s a nice story in Creative Loafing, “Retracing Blind Willie’s Blues,” and another from the AJC by Bob Townsend.

Alas, parts of Bob’s story didn’t make it online, and that’s no fun for anybody, so here you are — his interview with biographer Gray, other perspectives on Blind Willie and a list of events where you can meet the author.

All this info was …

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Pulitzer winner Tony Horwitz to speak about ‘Voyage Long and Strange’ at Gwinnett Reads finale on October 18


Author Tony Horwitz will be in Duluth on Oct. 18 for the Gwinnett Reads finale. File photo

The Gwinnett County Public Library just announced its 2009 Gwinnett Reads selection, “A Voyage Long and Strange,” by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Horwitz —and a long list of community events to accompany it.


2009 Gwinnett Reads

For the book, Horwitz retraced the path of Europeans who traveled to the United States between Columbus’ 1492 journey and the pilgrims arrival. From the library bio:

Tracing this legacy with his own epic trek—from Florida’s Fountain of Youth to Plymouth’s sacred Rock, from desert pueblos to subarctic sweat lodges—Tony Horwitz explores the revealing gap between what we enshrine and what we forget. Displaying his trademark talent for humor, narrative, and historical insight, A Voyage Long and Strange allows us to rediscover the New World for ourselves.

Here are reviews of the book from The New York Times and Salon. You can also see a video of a lecture Horwitz …

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INTERVIEW: Buzz Aldrin to speak in Decatur on Sept. 11

Astronaut Edwin E. 'Buzz' Aldrin Jr. posed for a photograph beside a U.S. flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. AP photo by Neil Armstrong.

Buzz Aldrin is famously known as the second man on the moon, and as the public face of space travel and research for 40 years. Still, we can never hear enough about how it looked, tasted, smelled and felt to walk on ground away from Earth.

Aldrin will discuss the new book in Decatur on Friday.

“Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon,” a new autobiography written with Ken Abraham, details not just the journey to and from the moon, but what came after: fame, uncertainty, alcohol addiction, recovery, love and new ideas about what we ought to do in space.

Aldrin, 79, will discuss and sign the book at Blue Elephant Book Shop in Decatur on Friday. In an interview, here’s what he had to say about his life on Earth.

On how the new book differs from the 1973 autobiography, “Return to Earth”:

Continue reading INTERVIEW: Buzz Aldrin to speak in Decatur on Sept. 11 »

What to know before you go: AJC Decatur Book Festival

Book shopping during DBF 2007. Expect a bigger crowd this year. AJC file photo

In four years, the AJC Decatur Book Festival has grown into one of the largest gatherings of lit lovers in the United States. Some 70,000 people attended last year and with more scheduled authors and events at this weekend’s festival, expect even more.

The whole operation runs on the passion of readers and logistical wizardry, which means it’s easy to be overwhelmed, whether you’re dropping by to get a book signed or moving in Friday to stay the whole weekend. Use this guide to help you get started. Meanwhile, if any DBF veterans in the crowd have tips or recommendations, share in the comments!

Bookzilla attacks!

Here’s a printable map of the Decatur Book Festival stages, street fair and activities, plus a list of exhibitors.

There are so many readings, signings, performances fashion shows, cooking demos, wrestling matches, the DBF is best enjoyed with a little planning …

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Ivy Hall Writers Series draws big names: New York Times bestsellers, a Booker Prize winner and ‘Simpsons’ writer

Writers Ray C. Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Augusten Burroughs, Joel Cohen and Colson Whitehead will all visit Atlanta for the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Ivy Hall Writers Series.The talks are free, public and followed by a book signing.

Here’s the lineup, announced earlier this month:

Oct. 22: Colson Whitehead, MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist author of “Sag Harbor,” “The Intuitionist” and “John Henry Days.”
Oct. 26: Ray C. Anderson, writer of the upcoming “Confessions of a Radical Industrialist,” former co-chairman of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development for President Clinton, recent co-chairman of the Presidential Climate Action Project, founder of Interface, a modular carpet manufacturer.
Nov. 4: Augusten Burroughs, author of “Running with Scissors,” “A Wolf at the Table,” and the forthcoming book, “You Better Not Cry.”
Feb. 23: Margaret Atwood, Booker Prize-winning author of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Blind Assassin,” “Oryx and Crake” and …

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Decatur author’s ‘Confederate General’ novel reviewed

I told you last week about an interview with Decatur author Amanda C. Gable, and her upcoming events at the Decatur Book Festival and Blue Elephant Bookshop.

Thought you might want to see the review of her new novel, “The Confederate General Rides North.” It ran in Sunday’s AJC, but didn’t appear on the Web site. (Until now. Mwahaha.)

Young heroine fights own war
By Soyia Ellison

Eleven-year-old Katherine McConnell and her gorgeous mother are speeding up Virginia’s back roads in a white Impala, singing along to Aretha Franklin and keeping one eye on the trailer of antiques in their wake.

It’s the summer of 1968. Southern blacks are fighting for civil rights, and American soldiers are fighting in Vietnam. But young Kat is captivated by an entirely different war, one fought almost a hundred years before she was born.

That’s why this trip — her first into Yankee territory — is so exciting. She will finally get to see the Civil War sites that she’s only read about: Appomattox, …

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