Category Archives: Commentary / Editorial

Bookrageous Episode 6; The ‘Best American’ Series

Episode six of the Bookrageous Podcast is live! This time out, Jenn (of JennIRL fame) and I were again joined by Paul Montgomery, host of the Fuzzy Typewriter podcast. Jenn, Paul and I chat about what we’ve been reading and discuss the yearly Best American series of books, get geeky, and talk about what we love about collections and anthologies. Enjoy, subscribe, and let us know what you’d like to see in future episodes!

Show notes and an embedded player are below.

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Genretastic – What Comes After Vampires?

No doubt about it – vampires are huge business. A day at the store isn’t complete unless I’ve sold at least one Stephanie Meyer book. Charlaine Harris isn’t far behind, and at this point more people have seen Sookie topless than have read a Michael Chabon book. On top of that, there are plenty of imitators similarly vampire-obsessed books (Vampire Academy, House of Night), parodies (Nightlight, Dick and Jane and Vampires) … hell, there are even vampire-obsessed hit squads. These books might even be changing the way teen brains work. I’m not a huge fan of the books I’ve mentioned so far, but I even got in on the fun with Justin Cronin’s The Passage.

But maybe you’re feeling a little vampired out. You need something new to read, and you’ve proven you don’t mind getting a bit of the supernatural into your fiction. However, jumping into some of the popular genres of genre fiction – horror, fantasy, sci-fi – can be super intimidating. What’s a guy to do, or where’s a girl to start?

Have no fear, gentle reader. There are plenty of awesome genres out there, and even more great jumping-on points. Scroll on down for a look at a couple fantastic species of stores, good books to get your feet wet, and where to go from there.



The Pitch; The dead live! The rules vary from book to book, but generally speaking we’re looking at undead (or, optimistically, re-alive) monsters with poor motor skills and a thirst for brains.

Start with; World War Z by Max Brooks. In his “oral history of the zombie war”, Brooks details the outbreak and spread of a virus (Solanum) that turns the living into flesh-hungry undead. WWZ is a big book with lots of ideas, and by writing it as an oral history Brooks is able to explore the political, environmental, and cultural impacts of an undead plague – along with all the action and tension you’d expect in a zombie movie.

Then read; The Walking Dead and The Reapers Are The Angels. In his ongoing comic series The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman basically looks at what happens in a zombie movie after the credits, exploring how a group of survivors could continue to function over a long period. In The Reapers Are The Angels, Alden Bell does his best Cormac McCarthy impression with a story of a 15-year-old girl struggling to survive in a crumbling US that isn’t dissimilar from the nation in The Road. Continue reading

Superb Storytelling on Portland’s East End

Is Munjoy Hill the most lit-friendly part of Portland? The Scratchpad Series at Mama’s Crowbar and new guerrilla storytelling outfit might be trying to make the case.

I’ve covered the Scratchpad Series, a regular works-in-progress fiction/nonfiction reading series, before. On August 17th, Scratchpad #3 will be going down at Mama’s Crowbar, Portland’s favorite East End bar for good,  cheap beer. There’s a fantastic line-up of performers for the series this time around, which includes Bridget M. Burns, Kate Sullivan-Jones and Tricia Pryce Henley. The event is free (per usual), which leave you with plenty of pocket change to spend at Mama’s cash-only bar. Scratchpad #3 starts at 7PM on August 17th. For more information and to submit your material for Scratchpad #4 in November, check out

Local writer and self-proclaimed “Some Dude on Munjoy Hill” Jake Christie has just started a flash fiction and independent publishing project called “Small Stories.” Jake describes Small Stories thusly;

Small Stories are just that: tiny little pieces of writing published in tiny little books, made available in tiny little envelopes on bulletin boards around Portland, Maine. Each book is 4.25″ x 2.75″ and eight pages long.

The stories are currently available at locations all over the peninsula; Hilltop Coffee, the North Star Music Cafe, Arabica Coffee, Longfellow Books and Bull Moose Music, to name a few places to pick up the teeny-tiny books. If you’re not a Portland native, Jake still has you covered.

If you can’t find the physical stories in the physical world, they’re also available in fake internet onlineland. The stories are all archived at as flash files, so you can click your way right through a story about interspecies infidelity or a metaphysical sandwich recipe from the comfort of your own home.

With 20 different stories already out on these boards (and more almost daily), there’s plenty of free reading to be had.

Whether you’re picking up booklets or listening to a performer, there’s a lot of free stories to hear up on Munjoy. Check ’em out – you can’t use that “no money” excuse any longer.

Revenge of the Literary T-Shirt!

People. Love. T-shirts.

In the year and a half or so that I’ve been writing this blog, the most popular post by far has been my round-up of literary t-shirts. In the face of overwhelming demand for shirts that show how bookish and clever you are, I’ve decided to go back to the well. Geeky shirts? Cool shirts? Nostalgia? Jerseys? This list has it all.

Scroll on down for 14 more of the raddest shirts you can get your grubby little mitts on.


Not a Book! from Busted Tees – Might as well start off the list with a shot across the bow of e-readers. Yes, I think devices like the Kindle are very cool. Yes, I think the future of books relies, in part, in embracing digital. Yes, it’s cool to get new releases cheaper than hardcovers. But it’s time to face the fact that, while you’re reading, it’s not a book.

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Updates on Updates


I’m still alive!

Hi all. Sincerely sorry about the lack of updates recently. While there are a couple good reasons tangentially related to Brews + Books that I’ve been away from the site (brewing/bottling beer, devouring a couple books), the biggest reason is called Assassin’s Creed II. I was lucky enough to go to PAX East this weekend, and fell back into gaming hard for the days before and after the show.

I know, excuses excuses. Forgive me my transgressions, because I have a few updates on other sites for your reading pleasure – along with some stuff logged to go up here in the next week.

At the other sites;

Over at, my most recent article is about my favorite drinks; not just beer and booze, but coffee, soda and tea as well. Check out Lovely Libations; What’s Your Pleasure and chime in with your favorites. In other Murmur news, if you haven’t had a chance to read Lost City of Z yet there’s plenty of time for you to get through it before our book club discussion starts on the site next week.

On my Hop Press blog for, I’ve got two new articles up. Last week I wrote a recap of Bonjour!Fest, Novare Res’ annual big beer festival. This week, I’ve got Part Three in my massive beer tour of Maine. For this installment, I focus on some of the bars and brewers of the state capitol and midcoast.

By this time next week, you can expect a look at an upcoming Portland reading entitled 306 Reasons, book posts for Don’t Smell the Floss and Tall, Skinny, Bitter, some info on the Mikkeller event at Novare, and my thoughts on the Saison Rue from The Bruery and a couple other beers I recently received.

Thanks for sticking with me during skiing/video game season. I’ll get back on the blogging horse ASAP … just as soon as I finish this next level …

Free Ways to Sell More Books

books_money_crop380wMoney, money, money. It all comes down to money, right?

I’m happy to report that, still high from the great news coming from the Winter Institute this Spring, I don’t think that independent bookstores are a dying breed. There’s still little question, however, that money is tight in this economy – especially for retailers. Frequently, money for advertising and other outreach programs is the first think to come off the budget. In the short term, it might look like it makes sense – things that don’t show a super-obvious return on investment get excised. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the old rule of “location, location, location.” A lot of getting customers through the door comes down to making sure they know you’re there and invested in the community.

This list is an attempt to clue booksellers in on some of the things they can take advantage of – online and off – to reach out to customers. Since the economist in me is avoiding sticky topics like opportunity costs and the fact that a little bit of time needs to be invested in each of these things, they are essentially free.

That’s right, free.

Check out a few of the ways that your store can reach out to your customers, online and off. Hey, I’ve even provided examples you can follow if you’re interested! What have you got to lose? Continue reading

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

60-minute-ipaRecently, Mike from Belching Monkey posed a seemingly simple question on Twitter – what are your 3 favorite IPAs? It’s probably an easy question for most people that enjoy having a bit of beer, but for a geek like me it took quite a while to whittle the IPAs I’ve had down to the top three. Although I struggled quite a bit to come up with beers two and three, coming up with my favorite was easy.

That distinction goes to the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.

I haven’t really made my love of the Dogfish Head Brewery a secret here on Brews and Books. My guest posters and myself have written quite lovingly about a number of different brews from the Delaware powerhouse. Hell, I even pushed a Dogfish beer on the community at by incorporating beer in the site book club. But none of the crazy, unique beers they produce hit me quite the same way as one of their tasty (and surprisingly traditional) brews.

Here’s how the brewery describes the India Pale Ale;

Our 60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped – more than 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil (getting a vibe yet of where the name came from?). 60 Minute is a session India Pale Ale brewed with a slew of great NorthWest hops. A powerful, but balanced East Coast I.P.A. with a lot of citrusy hop character. The session beer for hardcore beer enthusiasts!

So, tons of hops, lots of citrus, and the ever-important balance – sounds great coming from the brewer’s mouth, but what does it all mean? Follow me down the tasting rabbit hole after the jump.

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