It's only the middle of November, but the chill in the air sure makes it seem like the holidays are right around the corner. This cold snap, coupled with Brookline's First Light and the upcoming Small Business Saturday, means the Booksmith is the place to come in and warm up in the company of your neighbors. This Thursday evening, from 5-8, kick off your holiday shopping at First Light, Brookline's annual winter festival. There will be live music, art and entertainment for all ages springing up all around town! Come out, enjoy the night, and then Tweet or Instagram your festival photos with #firstlightbrookline and be entered to win a prize!

Small Business Saturday®, created by American Express in 2010, is a nationwide movement aimed at encouraging people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year, the big day is Nov 29th, and if you want to take part, and give our store or any other small business a little push this season, you need to register your American Express card between now and 11:59 PM MST on Nov. 29th. Card Members can register to get up to $30 back when they Shop Small® on Small Business Saturday®!

Were you here for that Jeff Kinney book signing event on Sunday? I was sweeping up the store before opening time on Monday morning, and there were straws of hay everywhere. What the heck was going on here?

Wednesday, November 19th at 7:00 pm
Jim Vrabel
A People's History of the New Boston

Although Boston today is a vibrant and thriving city, it was anything but that in the years following World War II. By 1950 it had lost a quarter of its tax base over the previous twenty-five years, and during the 1950s it would lose residents faster than any other major city in the country. Credit for the city’s turnaround since that time is often given to a select group of people, all of them men, all of them white, and most of them well off. In fact, a large group of community activists, many of them women, people of color, and not very well off, were also responsible for creating the Boston so many enjoy today. This book provides a grassroots perspective on the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s, when residents of the city’s neighborhoods engaged in an era of activism and protest unprecedented in Boston since the American Revolution.
Thursday, November 20th at 7:00 pm
Small Press Bookclub

Our new bookclub selects readings from independent presses. Read something off the beaten path! Free and open to the public meeting the third Thursday of every month at 7:00 pm.


Thursday, November 20th at 5:00 PM
Daniel Shumski
Will It Waffle?

Join us for delicious waffled samples at this special First Light event. Daniel Shumski, creator of, has written the first all-waffle iron cookbook. Hash browns, meatballs, falafel, crab cakes, and kale: Will it Waffle? The answer is yes!

Friday, November 21st at 7:00 pm
Breakwater Reading Series

Join us for a night of new stories, essays, and poems by MFA canidates from Emerson, BU, and UMass Boston. Fore more information, please visit the breakwater reading series facebook.


Saturday, November 22nd at 7:00 pm
Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo
This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question & Answer Guide to Everyday Life

Join Everyone is Gay co-founders, Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, for their new book, This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids. Owens-Reid and Russo and are thrilled to bring their wit and wisdom on the road for a larger audience of parents, young people, and community members. This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids speaks to parents who want practical, straightforward advice on how to communicate and better parent their LGBTQ child.


Sunday, November 23rd at 10:30 AM
Chanukah Storytime

Join us for a special Chanukah-themed children’s storytime!


Monday, December 1st at 7:00 PM
William Powers
New Slow City

Burned-out after years of doing development and conservation work around the world, William Powers spent a season in a 12-foot-by-12-foot cabin off the grid in North Carolina. Could he live a similarly minimalist way in the belly of the beast — New York City? To find out, Powers and his wife left their Queens townhouse, and moved into a 350-square-foot “micro apartment” in Greenwich Village. Powers explores the viability of Slow Food and Slow Money, technology fasts and urban sanctuaries, rooftop gardening and beekeeping. Discovering a colorful cast of New Yorkers attempting to resist the culture of Total Work, Powers offers an inspiring exploration for anyone trying to make urban life more people- and planet-friendly.


Tuesday, December 2nd at 7:00 PM
Rebecca Alexander
Not Fade Away

Born with a rare genetic mutation called Usher Syndrome type III, Rebecca Alexander has been simultaneously losing both her sight and hearing since she was a child, and was told that she would likely be completely blind and deaf by age 30. Then, at 18, a fall from a window left her athletic body completely shattered. Now, at 35, with only a sliver of sight and significantly deteriorated hearing, she is a psychotherapist with two masters’ degrees from Columbia University, and an athlete who regularly competes in extreme endurance races. In Not Fade Away, Rebecca tells her extraordinary story, by turns harrowing, funny and inspiring.


Wednesday, December 3rd at 7:00 PM
Ha Jin
A Map of Betrayal

When Lilian Shang, born and raised in America, discovers her father’s diary after the death of her parents, she is shocked by the secrets it contains. She knew that her father, Gary, convicted decades ago of being a mole in the CIA, was the most important Chinese spy ever caught. But his diary, an astonishing chronicle of his journey as a Communist intelligence agent, reveals the pain and longing that his double life entailed—and point to a hidden second family that he’d left behind in China. A stunning portrait of a multinational family and an unflinching inquiry into the meaning of citizenship, patriotism, and home, A Map of Betrayal is a spy novel that only Ha Jin could write.

Station Eleven

Emily St. John Mandel
HC, $24.95
Decomposition: A Music Manifesto

Andrew Durkin
HC, $26.95
About Time: A Visual Memoir Around the Clock

Vahram Muratyan
HC, $22
Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life

Hermione Lee
HC, $35
The Escape

David Baldacci
HC, $28

All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn
Jason Sokol
Basic Books
Hardcover, $32


The long and celebrated history of racial equality and political liberalism that was a hallmark of the Northeastern United States appeared poised to continue after World War II with the election of black politicians and the increased acceptance of black cultural leaders and athletes. However, as historian Jason Sokol reveals, these achievements obscured the harsh reality of a region divided by segregation and deep-seated racism. All Eyes Are Upon Us is a revelatory account of the tumultuous modern history of race and politics in the Northeast.

Roberto Calasso
Farrar Straus & Giroux
Hardcover, $35


"They were remote beings. Remote not only from modern man but from their ancient contemporaries. Distant not just as another culture, but as another celestial body. So distant that the point from which they are viewed becomes almost irrelevant...they are scattered fragments of a dream whose story has been blotted out."
So begins Roberto Calasso's journey back in time, following the faint trail leading to Vedic India. Nothing tangible remains of that culture: no talismans, temples, objects or images. Only texts remain, verses and hymns of timeless beauty and depth, pointing to a people that valued the search for knowledge and understanding above all else. Roberto Calasso, whom the Paris Review calls "a literary institution of one" is supremely suited to act as our guide into the unknown world of the Vedas.

Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film
Glenn Kurtz
Farrar Straus & Giroux
Hardcover, $30
Glenn Kurtz's new book is a revelation, a sliver of light reaching out to us from one of the darkest periods of human history. With only three minutes of rediscovered film to start with, Kurtz meticulously pieces together the details of people and place: his family, more than 70 years ago, in a Polish shtetl just before World War II. His grandfather's reel of film, shot on a trip to his hometown in 1938, is filled with youthful excitement, delight at being filmed by visitors from America. But to the modern viewer there is of course the unavoidable knowledge of the horror that will visit these people in the coming days. You can find out more, and watch the film here.
Hunters of the Great Forest
Dennis Nolan
Roaring Brook Press
Hardcover, $17.99
Ages 3 - 7
Dennis Nolan's little people leave their tiny Whoville-esque hometown behind to embark on a grand and mysterious quest. As they scramble through a landscape filled with danger - chipmunks and songbirds and toads! oh my! - the tension builds. What does that X on their map represent? Why did they need to bring that magnifying glass? Will those horrid baby birds fill their bellies with our heroes? Nolan's illustrations blend breathtaking naturalistic landscapes and animals with his adorable cartoon figures.

John Rocco
Hardcover, $17.99
Ages 8-12


John Rocco's new book is one of the best pictorial celebrations of snow I have ever come across. Based on his experience as a young boy in the Blizzard of '78, one of the biggest snowstorms in New England history, this picture book records Rocco's adventurous day when he got to the store over a mile from his house with tennis racquets tied to his feet, taking orders for necessities from every buried neighbor on his street. Of course, like any clever kid in a pinch, he took the long way, stopping to climb trees with unreachable branches, plopping down to make snow angels, getting into snowball fights. The fold out panorama illustration of his peregrinations through the neighborhood on its own is worth the price of the book.

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
Sara Farizan
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Hardcover, $16.95
Ages 14 - 17

High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.

The Winshaw Legacy
Jonathan Coe
Vintage, 1996
Used Paperback, $8


Jonathan Coe, one of England's finest novelists (that's not just me who says that: my wife would agree, wouldn't you honey?), hooked me with his pitch-perfect evocation of English boyhood in The Rotter's Club, sealed the deal with the melancholy atmosphere of The House of Sleep, and then knocked me over and tickled me near to death with his dark and hilarious family farce, The Winshaw Legacy - "a nasty farce with lots of bathroom humor and violence which reminds me at least as much of Fawlty Towers as it does of Midnight's Children." - Jay McInerney.


Bad Boys And Tough Tattoos: A Social History of the Tattoo
with Gangs, Sailors, and Street-Corner Punks, 1950-1965

Samuel M. Stewart, PhD
The Haworth Press, 1990
Used Hardcover, $18.50

Open to any page in Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos and you are going to find something exotic, something erotic, something for everyone who's ever been drawn to the art of needle and flesh. Research on Samuel Steward yielded amazing information: he was a close friend of Gertrude Stein; he was fired from his first teaching job for portraying a prostitute sympathetically in his novel; he partnered with Alfred Kinsey and provided him with all manner of materials and connections for use in his groundbreaking sexual research; he left teaching and became a tattoo artist in the 1950s, eventually becoming the official tattoo artist for the Hell's Angels.

The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of:
How Science Fiction Conquered the World

Thomas M. Disch
Touchstone, 2000
Used Paperback, $7

The late Thomas Disch, science fiction author and poet, won the Nonfiction Hugo award for The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of. The book is an examination of the impact of science fiction imaginings on the real life innovations that turned the twentieth century into such a juggernaut of human achievement (and misery, of course.) Disch, who was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Castle of Indolence: On Poetry, Poets, and Poetasters, does much in here to lift the science fiction writer out of the realm of "pulp," and his insightful cultural criticism reminds us that someone has to dream big so that the scientists can get down to the nitty-gritty. You can read the first chapter here.
The Crimson Petal and the White
Michel Faber
Mariner, Paperback
Orig. $14.95, Sale $5.99
Sugar is a nineteen-year-old prostitute who dreams of escape to a better life. Following a glimmer of a chance - the advances of a perfume magnate who just might be falling in love with her - she finds her way out of the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, and into a dizzying crowd of self-absorbed socialites, untrustworthy servants and drunken journalists. Michel Faber's critically acclaimed novel is a teeming, vivid portrait of Victorian London.

Frozen In Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a
Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II

Mitchell Zuckoff
Harper, Hardcover
Orig. $28.99, Sale $6.99
Frozen in Time - "FROZEN!?! I know that movie!" - yes, Libbie, but this is a book, called Frozen in Time, it's not the same - "Listen to me sing the song, I can do ALL the words, Snow glows white on the mountain tonight not a footprint to be seen" - That's terrific Lib, can you give me a minute? Author Mitchell Zuckoff was just with us on Monday night reading from his new book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, and - "When will my hair grow long like Elsa's? I like Elsa, then Olaf." - Here is candy, go in the other room. My daughter, everyone.

On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on board survived, and the US military launched a daring rescue operation. But after picking up one man, the Grumman Duck amphibious plane flew into a severe storm and vanished. Frozen in Time tells the story of these crashes and the fate of the survivors, bringing vividly to life their battle to endure 148 days of the brutal Arctic winter.


Off Course
Michelle Huneven
Sarah Crichton Books, Hardcover
Orig. $26, Sale $ 7.99


The year is 1981, Reagan is in the White House, and the country is stalled in a recession. Cressida Hartley, a gifted Ph.D. student in economics, moves into her parents' shabby A-frame cabin in the Sierras to write her dissertation. But the move back home that was supposed to make her life simpler only brings confusion in her family, her romantic life and her work. Michelle Huneven is author of Blame, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.


Stay super warm, super fashionable and superhero with a little help from the Giftsmith this chilly season. From superhero beanies and Viking warrior knit hats to beautiful scarves and ponchos, we've got you covered from head to toe (or just below the knee).

Next book club meeting
December 8th @ 7:30pm

Suspended Sentences:
Three Novellas
Patrick Modiano

No need to sign up, just show up!


New Repertory Theatre in Watertown presents the stage musical adaptation of THE LITTLE PRINCE, the beloved family novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Filled with enchanting music and heartfelt lyrics, this musical adventure is perfect for all ages this holiday season. Brookline Booksmith patrons can receive $10 off tickets by using code TLP10. Please call the New Rep Box office at 617-923-8487 or order tickets online at

I don't even really know what this is all about, but if I were a kid I would definitely want to build a Box Tower City. Join up this Thursday, Nov. 20 at 3pm in the Rabbit Hole at the Main Branch of the Brookline Public Library for this fun 6-8 year old craft program! The whole gang will be constructing a box tower city just for the Children's Room!


There is a little playground sing-song chant that came home with Libbie last week. She's in kindergarten. The first two lines are from the original version, the last line she came up with in a moment of inspiration last night at the dinner table. Here it is:

Girls go to col-lege to get more knowl-edge,
Boys go to Ju-piter to get more stu-pider,
Dad stays he-re to get more be-er!

Thanks for reading,

currently reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
currently appreciating this.

email me, if you'd like to make this a conversation.


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brookline booksmith
279 Harvard St.
Coolidge Corner, Brookline
an easy block from the Coolidge Corner T-stop on the C line
Dana Brigham, Co-owner and Store Manager

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