Warren Ellis shares his book recommendations, his find on the backlist, and his father’s reading influence – Press Enterprise

For most people, blind dates can be hit or miss. (Mostly miss, right?)

But when we talk about books, blind dates are almost always a pleasure, which is probably why you’ve seen many Blind Date With a Book programs in bookstores, libraries, and online services. (Google it if you haven’t and you’ll find many variations on the theme.)

Setup is simple: you, a reader, are paired with a boxed and unidentified book, although some information – genre or general plot – is often shared in advance. (My colleague Vanessa Franko loves the concept so much that she’s largely why we’re talking about it here.)

I’ve enjoyed a few variations on this: One year my family gave me a book subscription to Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, England, a fabulous bookshop we’d all visited once, and I got a well-curated choice once in the month. I loved it.

So there are many ways to enjoy surprise books, but something about the romance and the possibility of the blind date — look, if we all hated blind dates as much as we say people wouldn’t be doing them, right? – came to mind while visiting The Ripped Bodice last weekend.

I was there as part of the Indie Bookstore Field Trip with Bel Canto Books owner Jhoanna Belfer, Christy Krumm Richard and a group of book lovers I wrote about last week. It was a blast and I hope to do it again on future trips. (See photo below of attendees at Village Well Books in Culver City.)

The Ripped Bodice, the first all-love bookstore in the US, has a popular Blind Date With a Book section, and co-owner Leah Koch spoke about it on February 26, 2022. (Photo by Erik Pedersen)

The Ripped Bodice, the first all-romance bookstore in the US, has a popular Blind Date With a Book section, and co-owner Leah Koch spoke to me about her version of the service. (We spoke to her sister Bea Koch about her book in 2020, and she gave us some good romance suggestions, too.)

“We didn’t think of it,” Koch insists, adding that she’s seen it in libraries, on the internet, and even in a college bookstore. “It’s just such a fun idea. When we started we probably put out four or five like, ‘We’ll see how they do’ and the next day they’re all gone. Then we released 10 and they were all gone. And now it gets its own section. It never ceases to amaze me how much people love it.”

When asked why she thinks it’s so popular, Koch says, “It’s like a game; it speaks to people’s decision fatigue,” she says. “They make great gifts – it still surprises me how many we sell a day.”

While they fill the department year-round with books they have on hand, Koch says gift-giving season is when they really need to stock up.

“In our busiest season, which is mainly the holidays, we sell so many that we order books specifically for blind dates, and in this case I’m mostly looking for writers that are under the radar, maybe unfamiliar or things that are off are exciting for some reason, but don’t quite reach the mainstream.”

Koch says they aim to make sure people at least have an idea of ​​what they’re getting.

“That’s why it’s not totally blind — it says ‘werewolf’ on it, and if you don’t like werewolves, don’t get this one,” says Koch.

So we know werewolf fans and my colleague Vanessa — who may have received a book promising a caring cowboy, an amnesiac Manhattanite, and a snowy Wyoming Christmas — like that setup, but how about you? Email me if you’ve ever gone on a blind date with a book or want to exchange views on the subject.

• • •

Cartoonist Darryl Cunningham is the author of a graphic novel about the life of Vladimir Putin. (Courtesy of Drawn + Quarterly)

Events in Ukraine have concerned many, and there are far more qualified voices on the subject, but if you’re looking for books on the subject you can check out summaries from The New York Times, LitHub, and author Keith Gessen. Likewise, Darryl Cunningham’s “Putin’s Russia: The Rise of a Dictator” (Drawn + Quarterly) is a serious, pictorial biography of Vladimir Putin’s life, career and rise to power. (You can read an interview with Cunningham and see images from the book here.)

As always, thanks for reading.

• • •

Musician Warren Ellis shares his most formative reading inspiration.

“Nina Simone’s Gum” is part memoir by musician Warren Ellis, a longtime Nick Cave collaborator, but part about the power of a small object – literally a piece of gum that the late Nina Simone once chewed – to capture the imagination and Creativity to stimulate the hearts and minds of those who encounter it. (Image courtesy of Faber & Faber Limited)

Musician Warren Ellis’ recent book Nina Simone’s Gum is part memoir, part story of how he came into possession of a piece of gum that future singer Simone had been chewing for two decades, and how the gum influenced him and others, who met him. In an interview with Peter Larsen to talk about the book and his tour with longtime collaborator Nick Cave this month, Ellis agreed to answer a few questions about his life with books.

Q: Do you have a favorite music memory or music book you read?

A: I really liked “Straight Life” by Art Pepper. I found that incredible. And I really enjoyed Mark Lanegan’s latest book, Devil In A Coma. He wrote about a type of fever dream he had when he had COVID. I read that recently. It was published shortly before his death.

Q: Is there a book or two that you have read that you would like to recommend?

A: I really love James Vance Marshall’s Walkabout. That’s what the movie was based on. I really loved this book. I often tell people to read American Psycho. I think I’ve read this about four or five times, and each time I see something different. i love this book

Q: How do you decide what to read next?

A: I think it depends when you ask me. When I was younger there were a lot of authors I wanted to read because you just knew they existed. Like William Burroughs. And there was something around her, you know, that was exciting. I listen to a lot of audio books these days. I’ve heard a lot of them, especially during a lockdown. If I can hear the author reading them, that’s good.

Q: Do you remember the first book that made a big impact on you?

A: Yes, The Outsider by Albert Camus. I read that and it just blew my mind. That and a play called Equus.

Q: What are you reading next? Did you take a book with you on tour?

A: I have a book on tour I can actually show you. [Ellis holds his new copy of Pete Dexter’s “Deadwood” up to the camera.] I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about this amazing book that never got a peek in its day. It was on the backlisted podcast, a really great podcast where they talk about unknown books.

I was trying to pick up Zombie, Joyce Carol Oates’ book about Jeffrey Dahmer, because I was finishing the music for a TV series about Dahmer, and[film director]Andrew Dominik was like, ‘Oh, that you have to read “Zombie”. We just did Blonde, his adaptation of Joyce Carol Oate’s book Blonde. But I couldn’t find that yet.

Q: Is there anyone who really inspired you or helped you get interested in books?

A: My father used to read to me when I was a kid. My dad used to read us poetry when we were kids, he read nursery rhymes, he read stories. If I ever couldn’t find my father, he was sitting somewhere on the floor reading a book or looking at an article in something.

He always spoke of the power of words. When I finished writing my book, he texted me and said, “I’ve finished your book. Loved it. I read it aloud to your mother. It sounds beautiful.” So I have to say my father.

You know when I was a kid he showed me a magic trick which was to take a book of poetry and just start playing the guitar and singing a song using the words that were on the page. I just thought that was the wildest thing I had ever seen.

I never thought about it until the end of the book, but my dad really opened those doors for me. He certainly conveyed to me the importance, awe and wonder that lies in creative things, the written word and music.

• • •

Sarah Moss is the author of The Fell. (Image credit: Sophie Davidson / Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

To the ‘case’ and back

How Sarah Moss created The Fell, a dystopian novel about the current COVID-19. CONTINUE READING

Author Daniel Medina stands in front of the cover of his new comic book Below Sycamore, which features actor Danny Trejo on the cover and as a character in the series. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Medina)

beyond ‘below’

Daniel Medina turned his play into a comic book that he took with him to prison. CONTINUE READING

Annabel Streets is the author of 52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellbeing and Joy, One Week at a Time. (Photo credit: Aaron Hargreaves / Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

Walk this way

Annabel Streets shares the unusual walking habits of others and their proven benefits. CONTINUE READING

With the second book in his Dark Star trilogy, Moon Witch, Spider King, Man Booker Prize-winning author Marlon James said he was “interested in telling different versions of the same story.” (Image credit: Mark Seliger/ Courtesy of Riverhead Books)

The bestsellers of the week

The best selling books at your local independent bookstores. CONTINUE READING

• • •

What’s next on ‘Bookish’

The next free Bookish event is March 18th at 5pm with authors John Cho, Wajahat Ali and Kristina Wong.

Sign up here to watch.

Plus other book and author events…

‘Spring’ affair

Virtual: C. Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold, will host a 10-contributor virtual event on a new collection of Chinese stories and essays, The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories.

When: 5 p.m., March 8.

information: Register here to watch the free event.

Into the ‘cold’

Personally: At this Skylight Books event, author Mariko Tamaki reads and discusses her young adult novel Cold with CB Lee.

When: 7 p.m. March 19.

information: This in-person event will be held at Junior High Los Angeles, 603 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. details here.

Ready to rage

Personally: This event, sponsored by Riverside’s Cellar Door Books, brings Sabaa Tahir, author of the best-selling An Ember in the Ashes series, for a face-to-face talk about her new book, All My Fury.

When: 6 p.m. March 23.

information: This in-person event will be held at 5225 Canyon Crest Dr. #30A Riverside instead. Event information is available here.

Field trip to the first indie bookstore with Bel Canto Books owner Jhoanna Belfer, Christy Krumm Richard and crew in front of Village Well Books in Culver City (Photo: Christy Krumm Richard / courtesy of Jhoanna Belfer)


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