Best Books of the Year

| 1 comments | Saturday, December 20, 2008

Here are links to a few best of the year lists from various sources, many found at Fimoculous's 2008 List of Lists:

Publisher's Weekly

The Village Voice

The New York Times

NPR's Maureen Corrigan.

A wide array of lists at the book blog The Millions.

And lastly, Northtown's own Jay Herzog lists his favorites in the North Coast Journal.


| 0 comments | Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Northtown Books does a little couch potato outreach and airs a television ad.

Watch it below in all its glory.


| 0 comments | Tuesday, December 2, 2008

John Zerzan, anti-civilization theorist and editor of Green Anarchy magazine will present his new book, Twilight of the Machines, at Northtown Books Friday, December 5 at 7 pm.

Zerzan offers a challenging, radical critique of modern society and techno-culture and argues for a radical reconstruction of society based on a rejection of alienation and an embracing of the wild.

His previous books Elements of Refusal, Future Primitive and Running on Emptiness have made Zerzan a leading voice in anarchist thought. Twilight of the Machines, his first book in six years, confronts civilization, the history of its developing crisis and the possibilities for human and humane solutions.

John Zerzan can now credibly claim the honor of being America's most famous anarchist. His writing is sharp, uncompromising, and tenacious.
- Derrick Jensen

Learn more about John Zerzan here.


| 0 comments | Monday, December 1, 2008

Antonia Juhasz, author of The Bush Agenda, returns to Northtown Books to present her new book The Tyranny of Oil. The event happens Thursday, December 4, at 7 pm.

In her new book, Juhasz shows how Big Oil manages to hide its business dealings from policy makers, legislators, and most of all, consumers. She reveals exactly how Big Oil gets what it wants—through money, influence, and lies.

Drawing on considerable historical research, Juhasz explores the parallels between today’s companies and Standard Oil, the most powerful corporation of the early 20th century, whose stranglehold on the economy and government was broken only by the vision and persistence of activists and like-minded politicians. We are in a similar position today, she argues, with the 2008 elections offering a unique opportunity for ordinary Americans to come together, reclaim their voices, and shore up our nation’s crumbling democratic foundation.

Please join us for this timely event. For more information, check out her website.

She'll also be appearing the night before, December 3rd, in an event sponsored by the Humboldt Green Party at the Labor Temple in Eureka (840 E Street). It also takes place at 7 pm.

Juhasz was recently interviewed by Terry Gross for NPR's Fresh Air.


| 0 comments | Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lloyd Kahn, author of the counter culture classics Shelter and Home Work, presents his new book, Builders of the Pacific Coast, at Northtown Books on Friday, November 21st at 7 pm.

In 2004, Kahn discovered a group of unique carpenters along the Pacific Coast of North America. Over a two-year period, he made four trips north from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area, up the coast, shooting the hundreds of photos that appear in this book. Kahn was the shelter editor of The Whole Earth Catalog in the 60s and 70s, and has had a keen interest in the art and craft of handbuilt homes for several decades.

To preserve homeowners' privacy, specific locations are not given, but the book focuses on the Pacific Coast north from San Francisco up to and around Vancouver Island, British Columbia. A few of the homes are located here in Humboldt County.

There are three featured builders: the aptly named Lloyd House, master craftsman and designer who has created a series of unique homes on a small island; Bruno Atkey, builder of a number of houses and lodges built of hand-split cedar on "The Wild Coast" (the Pacific Ocean side of Vancouver Island), and SunRay Kelley, barefoot builder tuned into Nature, who has designed and built wildly imaginative structures in Washington, California, and other parts of the country.

In addition, the book features working homesteads, sculptural buildings of driftwood, live-aboard boats, gypsy-type caravans, and examples of stunning architectural design.

You don't just read this visual extravaganza of Lloyd Kahn's magnificent discoveries of the homebuilder's art and imagination in the hidden byways and buried inlets of the Pacific Northwest. You deep-breathe your way through its full-color page-spreads with mounting delight, excitement, nostalgia, and a deepening admiration for the diversity of the unfettered expression of the human spirit that the much-distorted 1960's inspired and allowed, and with a re-fired commitment not to let that spirit wither.

– Peter Nabokov

Check out Lloyd Kahn's interesting blog too.

UPDATE: We had a great turnout, and it seems Lloyd enjoyed his time here in Arcata too.


| 0 comments | Monday, November 10, 2008

Image by Patrick Moberg (via Andrew Sullivan)


| 0 comments | Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday, October 24th at 7:30 pm, Northtown Books hosts a poetry reading featuring three locally based poets: Therese Keslin, Vanessa Pike and Tim'm West.

Therese Keslin and Vanessa Pike are founders of the Humboldt poetry collective A Reason to Listen, which has hosted poetry slams at the Accident Gallery. They've also collaborated on a chapbook called Excavating the History of Love in addition to their own solo work.

Tim'm West is an educator, essayist, poet, and rapper educated at at Duke and Stanford Universities. He is the author of the poetic memoir Red Dirt Revival and recorded a CD to accompany it, Songs From Red Dirt. He's also recently released a new CD, Blakkboy Blue(s) and its literary complement Flirting.

November Reading Group Selection

| 0 comments | Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We will be reading Alice Munro's latest collection of short stories, The View from Castle Rock on the 9th of November.

Learn more about the book and view a brief reader's guide here.

We meet the second sunday of every month at 5:30 here at the bookstore. Reading group books receive a ten percent discount.

Walking with Nobby

| 0 comments | Thursday, October 2, 2008

Friday, October 10th from 7 to 9 pm, author Dale Pendell signs his new book Walking with Nobby, an account of his conversations with the late philosopher Norman O. Brown on such various subjects as paganism, world religions, Dionysus, Marx, and Freud.

View a sample chapter here.

Pendell is perhaps best known for his Pharmako trilogy (PHARMAKO/GNOSIS, PHARMAKO/DYNAMIS, and PHARMAKO/POEIA) , an epic poetic study of botany, alchemy, spirituality, psychology, and history.

He's also written Inspired Madness, a nonfiction discussion of the Burning Man festival, and has been anthologized in the Wisdom Book of American Buddhist Poetry and Baby Beats.

For an L.A. Times interview with Pendell, go here.

On his previous books:

"Dale Pendell’s Inspired Madness confirms the gaiety and sprightly insight of our free human community, naked or clothed, muddy, dusty, clustered or soclitary, sharing and being. Is this old-time paganism or a hint of some future utopia? For sure it’s in the present moment and Dale brings it down to hearts and minds."
—Gary Snyder

Pharmako/Poeia is an epic poem on plant humours, an abstruse alchemic treatise, an experiential narrative jigsaw puzzle, a hip and learned wild-nature reference text, a comic paean to cosmic consciousness, an ecological handbook, a dried-herb pastiche, a countercultural encyclopedia of ancient fact and lore that cuts through the present 'conservative' war-on-drugs psychobabble.”
— Allen Ginsberg

"Pendell's ongoing subjects are the botanical 'allies'; humans have always associated with, and the 'pharmakon', the drug that is both poison and cure. A poet, ethnobotanist, and amateur chemist, he's the best writer on drugs to come along since the late Terence McKenna."
— The Village Voice

A Strange Breed of Folks

| 0 comments | Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This Friday former Humboldt Times journalist Mel Lavine comes to Northtown to share stories from his recently published memoir, A Strange Breed of Folks: Tales from the World's Second Oldest Profession.

Lavine met and inteviewed many notables who passed through the area during his time in Humboldt in the fifties and early sixties - a down and out Billie Holliday, playing a week of shows in Eureka near the end of her life, Joe Louis (refereeing a wrestling match at the Eureka Muni), and Richard Nixon on a 1962 campaign stop here (seen on the cover of the book). He also was a pioneer in local network news here. The second part of Lavine's book deals with his later decades in network news in New York where he worked with Barbara Walters, Charles Kuralt and Walter Cronkite.

Help us welcome Mr. Lavine back to Humboldt this Friday, September 5th, from 7 to 9 pm.

Humboldt Wild

| 0 comments | Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Friday, August 15th from 7 to 9 pm, Photographer Arleen Olson will be at Northtown Books to debut her new book of photographs, Humboldt Wild.

Check out some of her work here.

Here's what a few folks have to say about the book:
In our travels, we seek the last, best, wild places on Earth. It is always a joy to return to Humboldt County. The stunning beauty of Humboldt Wild will show you why.
Michael Muir, great-grandson of John Muir and Executive Director of Access Adventure
Take a walk on the wild side of Humboldt through Arleen’s lens, from the black sand beaches to the snow peaked mountains, with stops in between for a walk in the woods, for flowers, birds, festivals and frolicking. Arleen has an eye for color and composition, and knows to click the shutter at that moment when magic happens.
Bob Doran , arts and culture writer and editor for the North Coast Journal

Two Bobbies

| 1 comments | Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Friday, August 8th, at 7 pm, Northtown Books hosts local author Mary Nethery, in honor of her new book, Two Bobbies, co-written with Kirby Larson. The true story of a dog and cat who survive Hurricane Katrina, it also features vivid illustrations by Jean Cassels.

About two-and-a-half dog years ago, Mary and Kirby met at a writing conference led by Jane Yolen. Right away they discovered many things in common: they both had cats, sweet tooths, and a passion to write books for children. Since that first meeting, the two friends have written many books on their own. Mary's titles include Hannah and Jack, Mary Veronica's Egg, Orange Cat Goes to Market, and the forthcoming The Famous Nini: The Mostly True Story of a Plain White Cat Who Becomes a Star! Kirby's titles include Hattie Big Sky, a 2007 Newbery Honor book, and The Magic Kerchief.

Two years ago, they decided to try collaborating on a book. They were pretty sure the story would involve animals but that was all they knew. Then Hurricane Katrina hit. Mary watched CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 and learned about Bobbi and Bob Cat. "When I saw that interview," said Mary, "I knew the Bobbies' story of friendship and survival was a story of hope for all of us."

She called Kirby right away. "It was easy to say yes," said Kirby. After going to Louisiana and Mississippi to help with clean-up and rebuilding efforts, "I wanted to use my writing skills to bring attention to the overwhelming needs of the Gulf coast region," she said.

Both Mary and Kirby agree that the story of Bobbi and Bob Cat, animal best friends, was the perfect one for them, human best friends, to tell.

For more about Mary and her other books, please visit

Find out more about Kirby and her other books by visiting

To see a trailer for the book, go here.

Ten percent of author proceeds from the book go to Best Friends Animal Society, and Northtown Books will donate a portion of sales to local animal rescue efforts.

Please join us Friday, August 8 from 7 to 9 pm.

Compulsory Reading

| 0 comments | Monday, June 30, 2008

Alison (Fun Home) Bechdel shows why compulsory lists kill the love of reading.

Life, Money & Illusion

| 0 comments | Friday, June 20, 2008

On Thursday, July 3rd, Northtown Books hosts an appearance by Mike Nickerson, author of Life, Money & Illusion: Living On Earth As If We Want to Stay.

Nickerson has spent 35 years studying cultural evolution and communicating a sustainability message. His writings include: Bakavi: Change the World I Want to Stay On (1977), Let's Talk About Sustainability (1987), and Planning for Seven Generations (1993)

From Life, Money & Illusion:

Money is the life blood of civilization. Without money it would be very difficult for any but small communities to work together in mutual provision. By enabling millions of people to cooperate, money provides a great service. With this service, however, comes danger. Money gathers and flows in economic streams. The greater these flows, the greater the temptation to tap in and drink deeply.

Nickerson's latest book tracks how economic patterns change as the communities they serve grow from extended families, through local populations and nations, to global civilization. While there are advantages to large-scale production, the potential for participants to be alienated from each other and from the natural environment grows with the size of the system. With alienation come opportunities for unfortunate advantages to be taken.

Please join us July 3rd at 5 pm for an enlightening discussion.

For more information, visit

A Book of Local Interest

| 0 comments | Saturday, May 31, 2008

Working the Woods, Working the Sea, a new anthology of poems and prose from the Pacific Northwest, has a connection to Northown Books above and beyond the fact that work by longtime local authors Jim Dodge, Jerry Martien and Freeman House are prominently featured.

It's co-edited by Jerry Gorsline, who founded Northtown Books (originally just called "The Bookstore") in 1965 before selling it to Jack Hitt a year later (the store was actually located in the north part of town back then).

As with many of the publications from Empty Bowl Press, a sense of place is integral to the pieces included here, and as the title might suggest, it favors writing about lived experience and a physical connection to the landscape over heady abstraction.

The book also includes work by Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and numerous others, and is available now here at Northtown Books.

Northtown Books Reading Group

| 0 comments | Friday, May 23, 2008

Northtown Books reading group is for anyone who is interested in reading and discussing our monthly selections. The group will choose books and they’ll be available behind the counter at a 10% discount. The meetings take place the second Sunday of each month from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the store. Please come prepared to participate in a lively, friendly and respectful discussion. We would like all members of the community to feel welcome.

Our next meeting will take place Sunday, June 8th. Check here at our blog for future book group selections. Our next selection is Radical Hope by Jonathan Lear. It discusses Plenty Coups, the last great chief of the Crow Nation, and his response to a complete change of life for his people. Seems very timely to discuss how to cope when the conditions of life are radically altered. Not just how to adapt, how to remain hopeful.

An alternate selection is A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. This book would be interesting to discuss in tandem with our main selection. Absolutely optional, but so many people are reading this, so it would be interesting to see what it's all about.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

| 0 comments | Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thirteen year old Lakshmi has grown up in poverty. When the monsoons wipe out her family's crops she must work to ensure their survival. Tricked by a glamorous stranger, she finds herself in India, sold into prostitution. This is a very painful topic, but Patricia McCormick manages to infuse her verse novel with grace and flickering hope.

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea


From Valerie Zenatti, winner of the Batchelder Honor for When I was a Soldier, a modern story of love from across a hostile divide: Tal is a seventeen year old girl living in Jerusalem who throws a bottle into the Gaza Sea, hoping to connect with a Palestinian girl of her own age. Instead, she receives an email from someone calling himself Gazaman who angrily denounces her naive hope, yet continues to reply to her emails. Gradually their correspondence deepens their understanding of each other.

The book itself deepens the reader's understanding of what it might be like to live under such violent and repressive circumstances. Very well written and engaging, could snag a reluctant reader or two.

Here's a clip from a French play based on A Bottle in the Gaza Sea:

Some Literary Links

| 2 comments | Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Below are links to a few of the better online literary sites we can recommend (besides the local ones on our blogroll to the right).



The Literary Saloon

Arts & Letters Daily


If you know of any others, please leave them in the comments.

Wholphin Screening this Friday

| 0 comments | Saturday, May 10, 2008

This Friday May 16th, Northtown Books will be hosting another screening of films from McSweeney's DVD Journal Wholphin, this time from the recently released fifth issue.

Among the films to be screened is an except from American Outrage, a documentary about two elderly Shoshone sisters who have been battling the U.S. government for 35 years over rights to their land.

Please join us for this event Friday, May 16th at 7:30.


| 0 comments | Saturday, May 3, 2008

One of the more interesting journals I've come across in the last year or so is Yeti, an irregularly published magazine out of Portland.

Though it comes with a CD, it's not just another music mag - there's a piece on traveling in the Western Sahara, short photo inspired pieces by Luc Sante, and art by various artists including Saul Chernick, who provided the arresting cover image.

But music is indeed its main focus, and the wide ranging articles include an exploration of metal music and myth by Scott Seward, a quirky interview with Will Oldham, Mike McGonigal on Blind Willie Johnson, and Erik Davis on P.G. Six.

The CD included is just as eclectic, with live cuts from Deerhoof and Akron/Family, an annotated selection by Jeff (Neutral Milk Hotel) Mangum of his favorite 78s, and snippets from Radio Sumatra.

Yeti Five is a available now at Northtown Books, along with the previous issue.

John C. Morrison reads this Friday

| 0 comments | Saturday, April 26, 2008

John C. Morrison reads from Heaven of the Moment, his award winning collection of poems Friday, May 2 at 7 pm at Northtown Books.

John C. Morrison earned his MFA from the University of Alabama and received the 2004 C. Hamilton Bailey Poetry Fellowship from Literary Arts, Portland, OR. His poems have appeared in numerous journals including the Seattle Review, NaturalBridge, Cimarron Review, Southern Poetry Review, Good Foot, Poet Lore, The Sycamore Review and Hubbub. His poem “One Hundred Years Ago” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He directs the Writers in the Schools program for Literary Arts, and also teaches poetry at Washington State University, Vancouver. This is his first collection of poetry.