literature

Jon Ronson to Read at Parnassus April 14

shamedThis is the moment I’ve been waiting for all year. Parnassus Books announced today that they will welcome author Jon Ronson for a reading on April 14 at 6:30. Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed will be released tomorrow, March 31, and I can’t wait.

Everyone was re-posting this NYT Magazine piece Ronson published in February that’s an excerpt from the new book. The piece is about Justine Sacco, a woman whose life was literally ruined after she posted the kind of racist tweet that a lot of white people think is too ironic to be racist. Sacco got off a plane to find her life in shambles. Ronson identifies himself as a shamer and gets inside the shame spiral that many observe from the outside. But public shaming wasn’t invented with the Internet, of course, and I’m hoping the new book will examine how it has been enacted in other times and cultures and what it does to shamers psychologically. (FYI, I just shamed a stranger on Twitter for being racist. I shamed another stranger on Facebook five hours ago for supporting the Indiana Religious Bullshit bill. I will probably shame again before bed. What is it about exercising moral superiority that is so goddamn gratifying? And how close is this to Ronson’s research for The Psychopath Test?)

Ronson has a way of diving into a subject and letting it lead him. It might take him to a Bilderberg meeting, on a road trip with a terse Northern Ireland politician, or into the open arms of many (possible) psychopaths. He follows the story and the people he meets in often riotous escapades that leave us simply enamored with the human race, even as it disappoints us. He relays these experiences through sharp journalistic prose that’s infused with his curiosity and wry wit. Ronson is a perfectly delightful writer.

If you’ve never been a fan of audio books, he will change your mind. He reads The Psychopath Test, Them: Adventures with Extremists, Lost at Sea, and Frank. (I’m hoping he does The Men Who Stare at Goats because that narrator is horrible.) Hearing Ronson read his work is such a treat. He’s a hoot to follow on Twitter and his blog sometimes follows up with people we get to know in his books. Get there early and buy his book. Hell, but ALL his books.

Here he is on the Daily Show the other day talking about So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

Parnassus is located at 3900 Hillsboro Pike in the Hillsboro Plaza Shopping Center.

Book Hunting

Something about Nashville (namely, my boyfriend) has moved me toward the digital and audio read, so I decided to spend the afternoon exploring Nashville’s independent book stores. To me, a big bonus of living in a city is the likelihood of finding a good, independent bookstore, and Nashville is no exception.  One of my favorite places in NYC is The Strand. It claims to house 18 miles of books in narrow aisles, piled upon displays, and stacked on the floor. Inevitably, to reach the title of my desire, I had to mount one of their 20 foot ladders and make my shaky ascent.  Much like the rest of New York, in The Strand, you’re surrounded by people, yet completely alone in your world to feel the crushing weight of 18 miles of books that you simply must read before you die.

So, former New Yorkers, to find similar variety, visit McKay Used Books, CDs, Movies and More. Load up on classics for pennies. This is not hyperbole, my friends. Many titles go for 1 or 2 cents, a dime, a quarter. Really popular titles may get you up to $5.50. They have genres galore, too. And, they buy and trade, so after you move your 700 book library across the country, go ahead and sell those bad boys your first chance, like I did.  Your back (and boyfriend) will thank you when you move again.

Image

The stacks at Rhino Books.

If St. Mark’s Books was more your thing–you’re looking for less traffic and a less daunting selection–go to Parnassus Books in Green Hills. Co-owned by Nashville author Ann Patchett, Parnassus offers new books, hosts events and readings, and runs a popular book club, switching titles each month. The management’s selection veers toward women writers and best sellers.  (Milling around, I was never more aware of how gendered book covers are.) If you’re child-ridden (really? and from New York?) kids will find the children’s section cozy and intimate.

Brooklynites who favored Tea Lounge on Union Street for their java will feel at home in Rhino Booksellers near Lipscomb University. Crammed with used books–even in the restroom!–this store carries all the charms of the past including collectibles and rare books. Although the organization is wonky (I saw The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter in three different places), the staff is friendly and knowledgable. They’ll help you find what you need. Their Southern Literature section is a must-see, and they don’t mind if you make yourself comfortable in one of the armchairs to peruse your top choices and eavesdrop on the conversations of locals who hold court as if it’s a front porch in the summer time. Sweet tea, anyone?

Image

If you’re like me, you spent countless afternoons drifting through Unnamable Books in the Village. Check out BookmanBookwoman in HIllsboro Village. They sell used and new books, their staff picks totally rock, and their collection spans two store fronts and winding back rooms. It’s a quiet place, and no one will be in your way. It’s mercifully free of children, the staff is unobtrusive but friendly, and for cryingoutloud, you get to explore alcoves of books! The last stop on my book hunting excursion, I picked up a new copy of The Girl with Curious Hair and headed home, just as it began to rain.

Image

Bookwoman, Hillsboro Village.

Image

Bookman, Hillsboro Village.