Dear Friends and Readers,
Thank you for your continuing support. Months ago (a lifetime ago) we were uncertain we’d get through this crazy*%!# year. Ordering has been day-to-day or last minute –and although we aren’t setting sales records, we feel blessed and lucky. We’re grateful for your encouragement and generosity –and looking forward to a new year and a change in direction.
Part of sending out newsletters is hoping we might receive orders (and honestly that’s what keeps us in business). We also feel that sharing this connection with our community is important and we’re grateful for that. Reading is a lifetime adventure and connecting people with good books helps keep us going forward. Mail order is a new adventure and we’re learning as we go.
In this last letter of the year, we’d like to honor the local artists and writers who’ve helped make our lives more bearable. Their creativity brings beauty and meaning to life, shaping the form of our community. Author and farmer Wendell Berry, discusses the idea in his essay “Wallace Stegner and the Great Community” from his book What Are People For? –Berry was a student of Stegner’s at the Stanford University writing program. Fellow students in his class included Ken Kesey, Ernest Gaines and Nancy Packer. Berry thought the best explanation of discovering community through creative ideas was found in these words by Stegner:
Thought is neither instant nor noisy…It thrives best in solitude, in quite, and in the company of the past, the great community of recorded human experience. That recorded experience is essential whether one hopes to re-assert some aspect of it, or attack it.
This creative community Berry describes is “immense and diverse” like the Library of Congress–and is all of recorded human experience. Promoting the view that community is both regional and wider than we can imagine is part of our mission, as it should be with any bookstore or library. Celebrating the local, the recent website magazine Detour Detroit has become a force in promoting Detroit arts and culture to the world. Their appreciation of 25 Notable Detroit and Michigan Books of 2020 is a helpful guide we can all share-in and support. Reading locally helps widen our experience of reading, tuning into our surroundings.
The Literary Hub, a blog associated with Bookshop.org, recently ran a post of Notable Literary Deaths of 2020, to honor their lives. Surprised by the length and talent on the list, it brought back fond memories of those authors we’ve shared in past signings, meetings, and readings at Book Beat. Some of those included Mary Higgins Clark, Tomie dePaola, Stanley Crouch, Diane Di Prima, and recently our own beloved Naomi Long Madgett (1923–2020) — a poet, educator, founding publisher of the Lotus press, Detroit Poet Laureate, and “Godmother of African-American Poetry.” At Mz Madgett’s last reading at Book Beat, famed fashion photographer Bruce Weber came out to photograph her for Women’s Wear Daily.
In the New York Times obituary of Naomi Long Madgett, they quote from her famous poem “Midway” (1959) “a response to Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that found racial segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional. Taking its rhythms from spirituals, its three stanzas note the terrible histories of African-Americans and celebrate the milestone of social progress, while acknowledging how much more still needed to be accomplished.” The last lines of the poem conclude:
I’ve seen the daylight breaking high above the bough.
I’ve found my destination and I’ve made my vow;
So whether you abhor me
Or deride me or ignore me
Mighty mountains loom before me and I won’t stop now.
Our holiday newsletter has a new group of small press reviews by Tom Bowden and an interview with Dale Carlson, author of a novel guide to Detroit through architectural ornament in his guidebook: Corrado Parducci: A Field Guide to Detroit’s Architectural Sculptor. You may not recognize the name, but if you’ve spent time in Detroit, you’ve likely seen his artwork. Illustrated with over 360 photographs, the Parducci field guide is an inexpensive way of exploring the city’s architectural decoration and sculpture from the 1920s-1970s.
Michael Dirda wrote in his Washington Post column, “In a last-ditch effort to regain what is usually called “the holiday spirit,” I’ve taken to fleeing the present, at least now and then, and reading my way into another era.” Dirda suggests the reading cure for depression is the British “tea cozy“ — the small English village retreat novels published in the 1920s –and he could be right. They seem now to be a response to the aftermath of the first World War and the great influenza pandemic of 1918.
E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia series, and P.G. Woodhouse’s “musical comedies without the music,” were the “most celebrated” of these types of British novels. Dirda’s recommendations includes obscurities like Daisy Ashford’s The Young Visitors, and Barry Pain’s The Eliza Stories. A personal favorite of this genre is Lolly Willows, a hilarious bestselling novel of 1926 by Sylvia Townsend Warner about an English village run by a coven of witches and a gardner who is the Devil, that inspired Virginia Woolf to become a writer.
The year 2020 might remind you of the third chapter in A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh (1926): “In which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle.” The Woozle was a mysterious and perhaps hostile creature wandering through the Hundred Acre Woods. Pooh was certain of the Woozle’s existence, and circled a tree with Piglet while tracking one down. It was a frustrating adventure for Pooh, and for many readers too, who were baffled by the elusive Woozle.
Milne was a successful writer before Pooh and a selection of his best non-fiction and whimsical writings were collected in Happy Half-Hours, from Notting Hill editions. “Milne’s gift to write amusingly about the most trivial things is a kind of blessing. The kind that can put you back together again when all else fails.” –Frank Cottrell-Boyce wrote from the book’s introduction. Milne’s children’s books were a comforting vision of the last days of childhood –a reaction to a time of great uncertainty, strife and war.
The Woozle Effect is also a scientific term when “a lack evidence misleads individuals, groups and the public into thinking or believing there is evidence…” During this past year many fellow citizens have gone off Woozle hunting, some just now awakening to their footsteps in the snow, and others may never catch up with them. The Woozle is a kind of monster inside all of us, this unknown other we fear, something we each must confront and deal with.
An abundance of excellent new books this year has helped make it more enjoyable and interesting. Sharing books with friends and others is an excellent way to let them know you love them. We hope this Covid year will get behind us soon, and until then, we can all curl up with a few good books until the Woozle-weather passes. Stay safe, eat well and take care of each other. Wishing everyone a joyous, peaceful holiday.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Love & good readings,
Cary, Colleen and the Book Beat staff
Our Best Selling Books of December 2020
1. A Promised Land
2. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse
4. Shadow of the Wind
5. Black Bottom Saints
6. Ready Player Two
7. The Vanishing Half
8. Bag Man
9. What It’s Like To Be A Bird
10. Shuggie Bain
Thank you for ordering direct from Book Beat when you can. We often use Bookshop.org links, since sales benefit us as an affiliate and a small portion of sales supports all other indie bookstores.
We sometimes link to our backroom gallery,
–a direct mail order site to Book Beat where we post unique, out-of-print, signed books, and original art.
More than kisses, letters mingle souls
Since Book Beat began, we’ve always devoted a small space to note cards, stationary, postcards, books and other accessories devoted to letter writing and those who practice it. Everyone enjoys receiving personalized mail and the intimate connection of the handwritten note. Letters brings joy and light.
“Your letter is a forever keepsake, to be read and re-read throughout life. Words written in 2020, the year we will never forget. The year when many of us feel … forgotten.” –photographer Linda Solomon writes on the importance of letter writing in the Detroit Free Press
Operation Santa is a letter writing and answering campaign set up by the USPS. Real letters by children are written to Santa and shared online. Letters can be adopted and requests can be filled by individuals or teams.
Visit our online collection of stationary and the lost art of letter writing at Bookshop.org: Letter writing, notecards and postcards. Stay in touch with those you know and love.
Kresge Literary and Visual Artist Awards
Applications for Fellowships are accepted through January 15 visit: guidelines and key dates.
Applications can be made online at: applications.
“Kresge Artist Fellowships are $25,000 awards plus professional development support for emerging and established metro Detroit artists. Fellowships recognize creative vision and commitment to excellence across awide range of artistic disciplines, including artists who have been academically trained, self-taught artists, and artists whose art forms have been passed down through cultural heritage.”
The Gilda Award is a $5000 grant, named on behalf of Gilda Snowdon, a beloved Detroit artist and educator. The Gilda Award is given to “artists who are early in their artistic career, are gaining momentum and who demonstrate exceptional potential through creative risk-taking and pushing the boundaries of their chosen art form.”
Dan Rather on What Unites Us
Dan Rather at the age of eighty-nine was recently chosen as a spokesperson for indie bookstores during 2020. The ABA created a national campaign to promote live Zoom meetings with Mr. Rather. “Author, journalist, and former national evening news anchor Dan Rather is the 2020 spokesperson for Indies First, the American Booksellers Association’s national campaign in support of independent bookstores that took place on Small Business Saturday (November 28).”
“I wanted to do a book to say, listen, there’s not only hope, but there’s a lot of reason to hope. Provided that we put ourselves together and remember those core values.” –Dan Rather npr interview
We regret not being able to share all of the terrific ideas and promotions the good American Bookselling Association has presented us with, but here’s a Zoom interview with Mr. Rather and Jennifer Steinhauer, a reporter for The New York Times, discussing What Unites Us sponsored by the iconic Washington D.C. indie bookstore Politics and Prose.
Holiday Hours & Ordering Information
We are open for curbside pickup or in store browsing by appointment.
Dec. 24, Christmas eve: 10 AM-5 PM, closed Christmas Dec. 25, open Sat., Dec. 26 10 AM-7 PM, Dec. 27, Sunday 12-5, Dec.28 -30 10 AM-7 PM Dec. 31 New Years Eve: 10 AM- 5 PM, closed New Years Day January 1st, regular hours resume on January 2nd onward.
To place an order directly, or arrange an in store browsing appointment please call us at (248) 968-1190 or email: BookBeatOrders@gmail.com
As an affiliate bookstore with Bookshop.org, we appreciate your purchasing through them if unable to buy from us direct, and if Bookshop is out-of-stock of the book you want, please call or write us. Books we list on Bookshop are usually stocked at Book Beat, and we’re always happy to try and special order directly from the publisher.
The calendars of 2021 are here: 2021 Calendars, (with many more available in store.)
Suggestions made by Indie booksellers nationwide: Indie Next December 2020
We’ve removed our out-of-print inventory with ABE and Biblio temporarily, and will be adding them soon beginning sometime in January. A few titles will be reserved for direct sale through our website.
Book Beat reading group selection
Our World lit reading group is discussing Shadow of the Wind in late January. Please RSVP if you’re interested, and we will include your name on future reading group notices. Copies of Shadow of the Wind are in stock now at the bookstore and we offer a 15% discount on reading group books. More information on our selection can be found HERE.
There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.
— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol