Harvard Book Store
News from Harvard Book Store
January 7, 2016

This week we're looking back at our 2015 -- a marvelous year of author visits, book discovery, and community -- through fifteen memorable moments from the memorable year. And tonight kicks off our events series for 2016. We hope to see you soon.

15 Moments from Our 2015
Those early days of 2015 were snowy, frigid, and record breaking. Bostonians soldiered on, and found refuge in the bookstore.

In the 24-hour interval between two of the winter's greatest blizzards, British author Nick Hornby flew into Cambridge to discuss his new novel Funny Girl at the First Parish Church. And he wasn't the only one to make a long trip. A dedicated fan in the signing line told us how she'd flown in from Florida to come to the event, and produced the wool hat she'd knitted -- for Nick -- on the plane. He donned it right away and was wearing it as he stepped out into the snow at the end of the night.

In February we made a book, from scratch -- Microchondria II: 42 More Short Short Stories Collected by Harvard Book Store -- and in early March, we celebrated with a launch party featuring readings from our contributors, live demonstrations of our in-store book machine, four gorgeous covers designed by local artists, and a fine selection of boxed wine. We can't wait to do it again.

In April, literary legend Lydia Davis read from her collection Can't and Won't at the Brattle Theatre, including her story "Letter to a Marketing Manager." This piece, a story in the form of a letter of complaint, focuses on an unfortunate error (this really happened) in a Harvard Book Store newsletter from 2002. Davis's wry reading was perfect in every way, and she signed a copy of that original paper newsletter for us, "Lydia Davis! (All is forgiven...)"

Also in April, we hosted a splendid event with Helen MacDonald, author of one of 2015's best-loved titles, H is for Hawk. Helen was joined in conversation by Vicki Croke of WBUR's The Wild Life, who posed for this snapshot with a couple stacks of the bestselling book.

In May we celebrated the first ever national Independent Bookstore Day with cookies, balloons, prizes, a new mug design, and book recommendations galore. Our epic display of our staff's "Biographies in Books" -- the books that help define who we are, and have been, as readers -- stole the show.


Many discovered Harvard Book Store for the first time this year -- visitors to Boston, new Cantabrigians, and newly enrolled students at the school across the street. As we overheard in the store one summer morning, "This place is my bookstore reawakening."  
Our smart, well-read staff put together dozens of book displays in 2015, including this declaration in support of the #blacklivesmatter movement. Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me was one of the biggest sellers of the year.

In September, blockbuster bestselling authors Lee Child and Stephen King joined us at Harvard's historic Sanders Theatre for a brilliant (and hilarious!) discussion of the writing process, Led Zeppelin, fight scenes, and Child's latest Jack Reacher book, Make Me. Afterwards, King scurried out the door to make it down to the nation's capital, where he was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Obama the next day.

In September, Harvard Book Store was featured in Literary Hub's Interview with a Bookstore column.

Some key takeaways: Our staff excels at ladder climbing and at customer charades; we have unexpected encounters with renowned philosophers; we spell out the word "bookstore" in our name as two words, "book store," and have since 1932.
"When I say 'book' I mean a book with covers... A book with flesh..."  --John Freeman, on his love of the printed book

John was joined in conversation by James Wood in October for the release of his new anthology, Freeman's: The Best New Writing on Arrival. The Boston literary community came out in full force for the illuminating conversation.
On the evening of October 5th, the day before its official publication date, hundreds of ecstatic kids and their families joined us at the Back Bay Events Center for the launch of a brand new Rick Riordan series, Magnus Chase, set right here in Boston. Every seat got its own Magnus Chase foam shield; it was something to behold.

In her introduction for Mr. Riordan, staffer Katherine stated with cheer and esteem, "I first read Rick Riordan 10 years ago. Since then, I have sold the Percy Jackson books and the Kane Chronicles to thousands of kids, and discussed them with thousands more. I have given them to voracious readers, and to countless kids who have never willingly picked up a book before. Those kids have come back three days later for book two, they've finished everything Mr. Riordan has written, then begged me for more authors they will love as much. Rick Riordan is raising an army of readers, and I have no higher compliment to give."

Punk poet laureate Patti Smith led an impromptu sing-along as a part of her book talk in October for the acclaimed new memoir, M Train. Our staff caught a quick video of the tremendous moment from backstage.
"We're all together, and there's such a good feeling in this room and I want to make sure that we know each other... If we're here together we care about a lot of the same things... Our lives may be very different because we were together tonight."

-- Gloria Steinem with Jamia Wilson at the First Parish Church, November 2015, discussing her memoir My Life on the Road.

"There's one thing about breastfeeding in public. There's another thing about breastfeeding in public, on-stage, in a church." --Amanda Palmer

Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, with surprise guests Amanda Palmer and her eight-week-old baby, recorded their Dear Sugar podcast in front of a live audience here in Harvard Square in November. Taped on the occasion of Cheryl's new book of quotes, Brave Enough, the Sugars discussed the importance of quotations in their own lives. Dozens of questions came in from those in attendance, including one from a Harvard grad student who had just lost a loved one to suicide, and another from a young person gripped by jealousy in romantic relationships.

Listen to the remarkable night here.
This holiday season our staff recommended and sold hundreds of titles. Just a few of these gift ideas were posted to our social media. What's a good book for someone who loves Stoner? or Hamilton? or Star Wars? or Game of Thrones? or loved crying their way through A Little Life? Our staff had some great ideas. Check out our #askabookseller, or just ask a bookseller.
"I sense a cultural shift coming on: Books and bookstores and reading are the wave of the future."

The Wall Street Journal

We appreciate the feedback we get from readers of this newsletter. Please send any comments to Alex at newsletter@harvard.com.  

Thanks for reading, 
Alex W. Meriwether
Harvard Book Store 

Upcoming Events

Our online events calendar is now posted through February.

Tickets on Sale Now
» Elizabeth Strout at the Brattle Theatre (Jan 12)

All Upcoming Events Google Calendar 

Greg Jobin-Leeds and AgitArte
Thu, Jan 7, 7PM
Local author and activist Greg Jobin-Leeds is joined by José Jorge Díaz,  Deymirie Hernández, Steve Meacham, Lisa Owens, and Gibrán Rivera for a discussion and celebration of When We Fight, We Win!: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World.
At Harvard Book Store
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Freda Love Smith with Juliana Hatfield
Fri, Jan 8, 7PM
Freda Love Smith and her former Blake Babies bandmate, singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield, discuss Smith's Red Velvet Underground: A Rock Memoir, with Recipes.
At Harvard Book Store
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Eric Weiner
Mon, Jan 11, 7PM
Eric Weiner discusses The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley.
At Harvard Book Store
 Learn More
Elizabeth Strout
Tues, Jan 12, 6PM

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout discusses her latest novel, My Name is Lucy Barton.
At the Brattle Theatre
$5 tickets
Learn More
Timothy Snyder
Wed, Jan 13, 7PM
Yale history professor Timothy Snyder discusses Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.
At Harvard Book Store
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Tom Perrotta
Thurs, Jan 14, 7PM
Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers, presents the new Penguin Classics edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, for which he wrote the foreword.
At Harvard Book Store
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Sunil Yapa
Tue, Jan 19, 7PM
Sunil Yapa presents his acclaimed debut novel, Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, set amid the heated conflict of Seattle's 1999 WTO protests.
At Harvard Book Store
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Mira Ptacin
Wed, Jan 20, 7PM
Memoirist Mira Ptacin discusses Poor Your Soul, a beautiful reflection on sexuality, free will, and the fierce bonds of family.
At Harvard Book Store
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Maria Konnikova
Thurs, Jan 21, 7PM
The New Yorker contributor and Mastermind author Maria Konnikova discusses The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time.
At Harvard Book Store
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Pamela Painter and Ioannis Pappos
Fri, Jan 22, 7PM
Emerson College's Pam Painter and debut novelist Ioannis Pappos read from their books Ways to Spend the Night and Hotel Living.
At Harvard Book Store
Learn More
Harvard Book Store is locally owned and independently run, and has been since 1932. Thank you for your continued support.
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