As we head into February, we’d like to send you a great big Valentine, and our thanks for being a wonderful customer! As the COVID 19 vaccinations are beginning, we look forward to greater normalcy in 2021.
Celebrating 20 years!
This year is the 20th anniversary of the founding of Beagle Books, and we’re celebrating all year long! The 20th of each month we’ll give away a bag stuffed with books and bookish swag. Enter every time you’re in the store, no purchase necessary. If you can’t get in, email email@example.com to enter. These are the only two ways to enter the drawing. (Note: prize bags must be picked up as we are unable to mail them. We will hold, however.)
This works OK, but we're excited about our permanent solution.
A few weeks ago, we had an experience which was horrifying, although in retrospect we have to laugh about it. The weather forecast for Park Rapids was for a snowstorm, possibly a blizzard. The amount of snow wasn’t great, but the wind was fierce. So fierce, in fact, that it repeatedly blew open our front door and slammed it into the hand railing outside. We were afraid the glass in the door would shatter. Thank goodness Bob is a handy guy. He put a bumper on the railing and rigged the door with bungee cords. Not attractive, but it works. We’ve consulted with our handyman, and he is going to build an entryway over the front steps. It will break the wind and also cover the steps, keeping them dry and ice-free. We’ll be sad to see our iconic green awning go, but think it’s a practical solution to the problem of the poltergeist swinging the door open. Work starts in a few days, and we’ll post pictures on Facebook.
Night In was virtual this year, and it was fun to have people from all over the country join us! Folks from Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, North Dakota, Ohio, California, and all over Minnesota were part of the group. Half of Jen and Sally’s book talks are below in Staff Picks; the rest will be in next month’s newsletter. Books are available in the store and at our online store. Special thanks to Jason Gobble, a Random House rep, for joining us, and to Tom Geraedts, our tech guy!
Be mine, Valentine!
Valentine’s Day is coming, and we’ve got you covered! We have a large number of Valentine’s cards and themed books. Books are always a good gift, and we can help you pick the right one for your sweetie—and gift wrap it!
What’s new in the store?
Amanda Gorman, the Presidential Innaugural poet, has a book coming.
We have just learned that the release of the version of special edition of The Hill We Climb poem is going to be March 16! (It was originally scheduled for April.) See more about Amanda Gorman below.
I can say two paradoxical things about this wonderful book. It’s about the aftermath of a horrific event—a mass shooting on a college campus—and it’s often funny.
William Kessler, a professor at the fictional Lothrup College in north-central Minnesota, is trying to put his life back together after the shooting. He’s uncomfortable being called the hero of the event, in which his son was killed. Afterwards, William had a breakdown, his wife divorced him, and he’s never told anyone the full story of what happened that day.
A number of students were in the building where William’s office was located, and they didn’t receive the college’s active-shooter alert in time. When William discovers the alert was botched and the college is trying to cover it up, he wants to come forward with the information he has found. He’s in an ethical dilemma, because there would be difficult consequences if he made such a disclosure.
At the same time, William is experiencing the therapeutic effects of a close friendship, a new dog, the love of his family, the power of a new relationship, and the importance of meaningful work. And fishing.
I found this book to be a page-turner with lots to think about.
Doug Mayfield is also the author of Angle of Declination, which the Sister Wolf group enjoyed discussing in person with him.
We have it from Louise Penny herself that the next Inspector Gamache book is titled The Madness of Crowds. It’s set in Three Pines and will be released August 24! (This is not the final cover.)
Book covers are linked to our online store,
where you’ll find a description of each book. Some of these books also have links to our reviews!*
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
With this edition of our newsletter, we introduce a new column, devoted to poetry!
To start us off, here’s part of the latest list of Poetry Bestsellers from the American Booksellers Association. (See the entire list.)
Home Body, Rupi Kaur Devotions, Mary Oliver Dearly: New Poems, Margaret Atwood What Kind of Woman, Kate Baer The Lost Spells, Robert MacFarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris
Were you completely captivated by Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem at President Biden’s inauguration? You’re not alone. We’ve had a number of requests for it. A book containing just The Hill We Climb will be released March 16 and will cost $15.99. You can pre-order it now and have a delightful surprise for yourself when we contact you in March that your copy is in!
In Septmeber a book titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems will include the title poem. Go to our online store to pre-order and to learn more.
Also coming in September is Change Sings… a picture book written by Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long! (We’re BIG fans of Loren around here—he’s the creator of the Otis books and also illustrated Obama’s Of Thee I Sing picture book.). Here’s a teaser:
"I can hear change humming In its loudest, proudest song. I don't fear change coming, And so I sing along."
Jay Jarvis Masters
I have become a sort of Pema Chodronite this past year, consuming as much of her writing as I can. For those of you who read Pema Chodron, you know of her friend, Jay Jarvis Masters, a death-row inmate at San Quentin. Last September, I read and reviewed an excellent biography of Masters by David Sheff called The Buddhist on Death Row. I’ve been reading Masters’ book Finding Freedom and it includes a poem he wrote, incredibly powerful, and award-winning! Below is Masters’ poem, courtesy of PEN.
RECIPE FOR PRISON PRUNO
June 16, 2005
Take ten peeled oranges,
Jarvis Masters, it is the judgment and sentence of this court,
one 8 oz. bowl of fruit cocktail,
that the charged information was true,
squeeze the fruit into a small plastic bag,
and the jury having previously, on said date,
and put the juice along with the mash inside,
found that the penalty shall be death,
add 16 oz. of water and seal the bag tightly.
and this Court having, on August 20, 1991,
Place the bag into your sink,
denied your motion for a new trial,
and heat it with hot running water for 15 minutes.
it is the order of this Court that you suffer death,
wrap towels around the bag to keep it warm for fermentation.
said penalty to be inflicted within the walls of San Quentin,
Stash the bag in your cell undisturbed for 48 hours.
at which place you shall be put to death,
When the time has elapsed,
in the manner prescribed by law,
add 40 to 60 cubes of white sugar,
the date later to be fixed by the Court in warrant of execution.
six teaspoons of ketchup,
You are remanded to the custody of the warden of San Quentin,
then heat again for 30 minutes,
to be held by him pending final
secure the bag as done before,
determination of your appeal.
then stash the bag undisturbed again for 72 hours.
It is so ordered.
Reheat daily for 15 minutes.
In witness whereof,
After 72 hours,
I have hereon set my hand as Judge of this Superior Court,
with a spoon, skim off the mash,
and I have caused the seal of this Court to be affixed thereto.
pour the remaining portion into two 18 oz. cups.
May God have mercy on your soul.
Joy Harjo, of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation, is doing an online poetry reading on February 18. She is the author of nine books of poetry and a memoir. Harjo was named United States Poet Laureate in 2019, the first Native American to hold the position.
If you read no other poetry this month (and what a month wasted that would be!), I urge you to read Kwame Alexander’s Light for the World to See. It’s the kind of poetry that’s, ahem, accessible (some poets cringe at that term, but I find it to be useful). It focuses on the black lives that clearly didn’t matter to America. The pages of the poem are sometimes black with yellow and/or white font, sometimes white with black and/or gray font, and sometimes gray with black and/or white and/or yellow font. It’s a striking visual. The words of the poem are different sizes, sometimes all in caps, and not confined to straight lines. The poem is divided into three parts: I. American Bullet Points, II. Take a Knee, and III. The Undefeated. This is a poem intended not just for victims or the oppressed, but for us. Read this poem. Share it with someone else. Read it again. Talk about it.