dgray-smith_50369's blog

David Gray-Smith - Bookseller in Manchester

DavidDavid Gray-Smith joined the team this past February, after moving to Vermont from eastern Mass. A fan of character studies, comics, folktales, philosophy, and all things waxing absurd, you'll find him most days on the Children's floor. Please bring him your questions and your dogs.

The Stranger by Albert Camus - Book Review

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The Stranger (Vintage International) By Albert Camus Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780679720201
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Vintage - March 13th, 1989

The Stranger does a very good job of placing the reader in a position where they're empathizing heavily with the suffering of people ordinarily cast as the "villains" of society. Meursault is accurately characterized as a psychopath—a man who really bears no sense of empathy or interpersonal remorse. Yet Camus does a very fine job of showing that those who dismiss him on these grounds are the ones in the wrong. A major advocate against the death penalty during his time, Camus makes clear the source of his distaste, precisely outlining why the supposedly "evil" ought be given the same consideration we afford others and allowed life. ~ Reviewed by David Gray-Smith


The Way Things Work Now by David Macaulay - Book Review

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The Way Things Work Now By David Macaulay Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780544824386
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Clarion Books - October 4th, 2016

My great-aunt gave me an older edition of this book when I was a kid, and I still feel the urge to flip through it from time to time. Possibly the best explanation of human technologies that exists for late elementary to middle schoolers. Not a light read, but worth its hefty weight in gold to any curious minds with the patience to sit & dig in. ~ Reviewed by David Gray-Smith


Snails & Monkey Tails: A Visual Guide to Punctuation & Symbols by Michael Arndt - Book Review

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Snails & Monkey Tails: A Visual Guide to Punctuation & Symbols By Michael Arndt Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780063061248
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Harper Design - March 22nd, 2022

A really cutely designed guide & quick overview to all the punctuation in the English language (& beyond!). It's laid out historically, in order of symbolic invention, but isn't shy to skip around to more modern information about a given mark once it's been introduced. Quite useful for reference purposes, especially towards the end where Arndt outlines all the shortcuts for typing less common punctuation that isn't present on a normal keyboard. Check it out if you're @ all interested in historical linguistics or just need a good coffee table book. ~ Reviewed by David Gray-Smith


Avalon: A novel by Nell Zink - Book Review

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Avalon: A novel By Nell Zink Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780593534892
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Knopf - May 24th, 2022

A book both at once the next "Great Californian Novel" and a quaint low-stakes coming of age love story. Or possibly enough a middle ground of both that it's neither. Open it up + read the first handful of pages. It's not really gonna make any sense (the book begins at the end of the story), but pay no mind to sensicality; why you should pick this up lies in its prose. Zink writes very strangely, and that's ½ the appeal. While it certainly "transports you to another world" & all that crap novels like doing, it's more eager to beguile you with the structure of the language itself. This book is marvelously playful with its language and is quite possibly the most fun I've had staring at symbols on paper all year! ~ Reviewed by David Gray-Smith


The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig - Book Review

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The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows By John Koenig Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781501153648
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 16th, 2021

As a kid in high school, I came across John Koenig's blog where he was sharing his new words. At first, I loved it! But boy was I frustrated when I found out he'd MADE THEM ALL UP! You can't just make up words!? So I went looking for the proper terms of emotion Koenig's words had supplanted; none existed save for his made-up ones. Looking into it more, some of these fake words had actually been taken on as real words in real dictionaries. Needless to say, my next couple days were one long existential crisis of realizing all words are made-up as these "fake" ones. Fast-forward to now, the dictionary's finally out in print and it's most everything you'd hope it could be: empowering, emotional, and deeply philosophical. Open it up, flip through, and you're virtually guaranteed to find an emotion you wish you could've placed before. Thank you Koenig, for putting words to these feelings we've neglected, and shame on English for not doing it sooner. ~ Reviewed by David Gray-Smith


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