“None of it happened and all of it’s true” – Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth

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Photo by Heidi Ross
Ann Patchett in the back storeroom at Parnassus Books with her dog, Sparky (photo: Heidi Ross)

Those of us who work and shop at Parnassus Books have a unique perspective on Ann Patchett’s novels, because we witness their creation at somewhat close range. We’re here in the store when Ann comes in to pick up a stack of books she has ordered for research. We’re hanging around when she finishes a morning of writing and brings her pup Sparky over to run around the shop. We weigh in on characters’ names and book cover designs, and we celebrate when the manuscript has finally been turned in. But we’re not inside Ann’s head. We know some things about the story, but we don’t know all the ins and outs and whys and hows — unless, of course, we ask. Read the rest of this entry »

Life’s a Sitcom… For the Shop Dogs

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Did you see the interview Ann Patchett did with the American Booksellers Association last week, where she said working in a bookstore is “like being in a sitcom”? It’s true, although what you probably didn’t know is that she’s not talking about the human booksellers. She’s talking about us, the shop dogs of Parnassus Books. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeff Zentner Interviews Jason Miller, Hilarity Ensues

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Hi – Jeff Zentner here. Recently, I had the great honor of blurbing the book Red Dog, the second book in the Slim in Little Egypt series by Nashville crime novel author Jason Miller. Here’s what I had to say about it: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors IRL: A Quick Quiz with Colson Whitehead and Yaa Gyasi

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No one, not even the most prolific artist, makes art constantly. Everyone needs a little time to rest and take things in, to balance producing with consuming. And that makes us wonder: What do great writers read, watch, do, eat, and daydream about — not when they’re working or researching, but in their downtime? Getting back to the name of this column — “Authors IRL (In Real Life)” — we’ve developed a little quiz to find out. Read the rest of this entry »

Beach Bag Refill: More Great Summer Books

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Summer? Oh, it’s not over until we say it’s over. Read the rest of this entry »

The Secret Lives of Books

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This is a special investigative report by the shop dogs of Parnassus Books. Have you seen the film, The Secret Life of Pets? We haven’t, because dogs aren’t allowed in theaters, but we get the gist. And while we know that the idea of dogs getting into mischief when no one’s looking is totally ludicrous, we have our suspicions about what the books in our store have been doing when the shop-people aren’t here.  Read the rest of this entry »

Middle School Booksellers Report: What We’re Really Reading This Summer

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If you’ve been in the young readers section of our store lately, you may have seen a couple of middle schoolers wearing name tags and hanging around. These bookstore kids (kind of like shop dogs, but human — the children of booksellers) spend a lot of time reading while their mom is working, and this year they struck a deal: for every required summer-reading book they had to read for school, they were allowed to pick a couple of books they wanted just for fun. Here’s their list of the ones they loved best. Read the rest of this entry »