We called her “our knitter,” but really we had to share her with the rest of the world. Sharon Coleman, who lead a Knitters Reading Group at our store and who was responsible for various “Guerrilla Knitting” projects in the St. Louis area passed away on May 23.
She had been our one-woman knitters’ group since not long after we opened the downtown store, sometime early in 2009. Off and on we would have several women join her but for a long time, it has just been her.
Undaunted by a serious cancer diagnosis a few years before we met her, Sharon poured herself into her knitting full throttle. She told us it was the thing that kept her going. And keep going she did. She was three years beyond a “you have weeks to live” diagnosis, and we enjoyed her company for 4 years more.
She knitted complex and lovely pieces that she donated to us to sell to support the River City Readers Program. We had a display at our downtown store for a long time. She also yarn-bombed the store, wrapping columns in various colors and textures. We looked forward to Fridays when we could see what surprise she left the night before. Some favorites are the rocks she covered in fabulous lavender and glam frizzy gold, or red curly-cue stitches that have served us a bookshelf stops.
Our last encounter with Sharon was at our Central West End store, where she had moved her group. Kris was there and chatted with her about her latest project. She was knitting apple cozies, great little pockets the perfect size for an apple. Kris thought it was the perfect gift for teachers and the two of them talked about her making some in quantity.
Sharon loved Left Bank Books and was passionate about River City Readers. Through her knitting, she found purpose. She found life. She fought illness with courage and grace. We are grateful for her support and friendship. She will be missed.
There will be a memorial service at Bopp Chapel this afternoon. You can count on us to be there.
As promised, a post from author, Josh Hanagarne who will be signing his new book, The World’s Strongest Librarian on May 11. The New Yorker posted this review (definitely worth a read). You can also follow his blog at http://worldsstrongestlibrarian.com/.
Hey there, fans of Left Bank Books!
I’ve been tasked with bringing you a list of spring/summer reading recommendations. I’m all too happy to do so. Relieved, even. This might surprise you, but even though I’m a librarian, I don’t get to talk about books at work very often. Most people just don’t ask, they just want to be escorted to the Internet, which breaks my bookish heart.
I’d guess that 80% of what I read is either recommended to me by other bookworms, or it just happens to cross my desk at the library. I never know what I’m going to find. It’s kind of how I feel when I’m browsing an out-of-the-way bookshop and I head down the next aisle.
If a book looks remotely interesting, I grab it. I definitely have my favorite authors, genres, and subjects, but my constant exposure to unfamiliar books means, happily, that I read outside of my comfort zone quite often.
I tend to think in stories, and the more stories I read, and the broader the scopes and subjects of the stories, the more connections I can make. A mind that can is familiar with a greater variety of subjects is going to be more adaptable.
Now then–you wouldn’t be on this website if you weren’t a fellow book nut, so I’ll try and reward your curiosity with the latest and greatest books that have jumped out at me.
The Boys In The Boat: Nine Americans And Their Epic Quest For Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
Before this book, I didn’t have any stories or ideas tied to rowing.
In fact, before reading The Boys In The Boat, if you’d asked me, “What’s less interesting than competitive rowing?” I would have said, “Nothing! What else can we talk about?” But I had similar thoughts about horse racing before reading Seabiscuit, about running the mile before reading The Perfect Mile, about running in general before reading Bowerman And The Men Of Oregon, and about the history of Formula 1 racing before reading The Limit.
But of course, these books were great not because of the sports they profiled, but because of the people involved.
Not only is Brown’s book interesting, It’s thrilling, and he’s a fantastic writer. The people in the story are a pleasure to know. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book about sports and competition this much. If you like stories about scrappy underdogs beating the odds, this is the book for you.
The Ocean At The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Someone recently asked me what the best part of being a debut author with an upcoming book. “Getting a sneak peek at Neil Gaiman’s new book,” I said immediately. And truer words have never passed my lips.
If I’d read The Ocean At The End of the Lane as a child, I don’t know if I ever would have recovered. This book contains what might be the most terrifying scene I can think of for a young boy. When you get to the bathtub scene, you’ll know what I’m talking about. My favorite thing about Gaiman is that he tells stories of impossibly strange worlds, while hinting at worlds behind the stories that are more unusual yet. Ocean is a masterpiece of potent, concise thrills.
This is Neil Gaiman, so…you’re probably going to read it no matter what the story is. But okay, the plot: A young boy unleashes a creature from another world and gets into a world of trouble. That might sound like a story that could have come from any writer, but if you know Neil, you can guess that it’s not.
I read The Never List in one night and stayed up too late doing so. In the early pages, two women are abducted. They awaken in a cellar, shackled to the walls with two other women. Three years later, our narrator escapes. The story picks up years after that and involves her abductor’s potential parole, the letters he is sending to her and his other victims, and a cult that would have fit right into a season of Dexter. The Never List reminds me of Chelsea Cain but not as gruesome, and Gillian Flynn without the sick humor. If you can have fun with an ugly, nasty story, check this out. You know who you are.
Gulp by Mary Roach
In her inimitable style, Roach has previously tackled the cadaver, the soul, sex, and everything you wanted to know about space travel but were afraid to ask. With Gulp, she goes down the hatch. This book contains just about everything you’d never want to know about what’s happening inside of you. It’s fascinating, disgusting, and as Roach fans will already know, hilarious. My only complaint? I can’t believe she took this internal tour and never even mentioned the tapeworm.
I could go on and on and on, but now I’d like to turn it over to you. I’d be grateful if you’d head over to my blog or send me a Tweet. Let me know what you’ve read and loved lately! (please)
Greetings from your friendly city bookstore. As I write this, another of our local indies is fighting what seems to be a losing battle with their landlord over whether they can stay in their location or not. The alternative is a storage facility on the lot where a 150 year old Victorian house once stood.
Yes, it might seem odd to make the first post on the Left Bank Books blog about a competing store’s struggles, but hear me out. Our store does not, and cannot exist in a vacuum. Without a vibrant local independent bookstore scene, the variety of local flavor and unique personalities of each area diminish. If one store fails, we all shine a bit less brightly.
My next post (very shortly after this introduction) will be from guest blogger and author ofThe World’s Strongest Librarian, Josh Hanagarne, where he’ll recommend some summer reading, but I wanted to introduce you to our blog and encourage you to follow our posts, as we’re much more interesting than Amazon and way cooler.
We’ll be tweaking this blog and looking for (begging for) more guest bloggers, but in the meantime do this: