Thursday, July 23, 2009

Internet Reading That's Worth Screwing Up Your Vision For

There is an author named Catherynne M. Valente. I'm not going to lie - I have not yet read any of her books.

But I am slowly making my way through the work she is posting on the internet.

C. M. Valente is falling on some hard times, and is offering this work basically free, though she is asking for donations, if available, and if you think her work is worth it.

Trust me, her work is worth paying to read. The story is a delight. It's got an older, Victorian fairy tale sort of feel to it.

Unfortunately, my own financial straits at the moment are such that I really cannot afford more than a couple of dollars, but everything helps, and a couple of dollars from a lot of people would add up.

So, if you're interested in helping another human being and reading a great piece of literature, click here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Why I'm Glad Shaman Drum Closed

As far as a normal bookstore goes, Shaman Drum was cool. The store had a lot of interesting books, and displayed reads that weren't fluff, that weren't heavily advertised. The store had readings from well-established, and beginning authors. It was at Shaman Drum that I heard Elizabeth Kostova read poetry, and was too shy to talk to her, even though she's written one of the most amazing pieces of literature I've ever read. (I might be biased, having been a history major, myself...)

As far as a normal bookstore goes, Shaman Drum was a great place to browse, to while away a free hour. Yet I'm still glad it closed.


Because I was an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, and I was forced by many professors who felt it their duty to support independent bookstores, to get my textbooks from Shaman Drum.

While Shaman Drum was a cool, independent bookstore for pleasurable purposes, it did not do very well serving the U of M community for school purposes.

I cannot tell you how many times my peer scholars or myself went for weeks without a required text because Shaman Drum didn't order the amount of books that the professor said would be necessary. 

Or the times that a book was out of print, but Shaman Drum neglected to tell the professor who was relying on said textbook for class discussion. I took one class, in which the professor ended up making a coursepack of all of the poetry she wanted us to read from the book which, she discovered during the first few days of class, was out of print. The coursepack sold at Shaman Drum for around $60; I found a used, hardcover copy on Amazon for $12.

The textbooks sold at a more expensive price at Shaman Drum because it was a small store. And the employees and management did a poor job of procuring the books necessary, or of at least informing the professors when it was impossible to procure the books necessary.

I'm all for supporting independent bookstores. It's good for the community, and the people who work at them are often avid readers. People who really love books.

I just didn't want to buy my textbooks there. And it's nice to know that now, Michigan students won't have to.