Happy International Coffee Day!
Ah, and how splendidly a good book and a cup o’ joe go together. In honor of this day, here are a few things books have taught us about coffee …
Bitter by Jennifer McLagan:
The amount of bitterness in coffee comes less from the presence of caffeine than it does from the method of brewing and roasting the beans. 
Coffee for Roses by C.L. Fornari:
This one’s for the coffee-lovin’ gardeners out there: The old wives’ tale that coffee grounds work wonders for growing roses isn’t exactly true. Sure, it’s not a bad thing — but it’s not necessarily special, either; any organic material as fertilizer will do.
Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World by Mark Pendergrast:
The introduction of coffee had a “sobering up” effect on the Western world, as the previous drink of choice was most often booze (morning beer soup was actually a thing). 
While it acted as an intellectual and creative stimulant — the French and American Revolutions were planned in coffeehouses, Pendergrast says — it was also a symbol of colonialism. Europeans spread the growth of coffee bean trees, but often used slaves to do it. 
In America, the events surrounding the Boston Tea Party (as well as cost difference) may have caused the adoption of coffee over tea. John Adams even wrote in a letter to his wife that he’d have to swap beverages for patriotic reasons.
-Intern Bita
Image via Your Coffee Guru

Happy International Coffee Day!

Ah, and how splendidly a good book and a cup o’ joe go together. In honor of this day, here are a few things books have taught us about coffee …

Bitter by Jennifer McLagan:

  • The amount of bitterness in coffee comes less from the presence of caffeine than it does from the method of brewing and roasting the beans.

Coffee for Roses by C.L. Fornari:

  • This one’s for the coffee-lovin’ gardeners out there: The old wives’ tale that coffee grounds work wonders for growing roses isn’t exactly true. Sure, it’s not a bad thing — but it’s not necessarily special, either; any organic material as fertilizer will do.

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World by Mark Pendergrast:

  • The introduction of coffee had a “sobering up” effect on the Western world, as the previous drink of choice was most often booze (morning beer soup was actually a thing).
  • While it acted as an intellectual and creative stimulant — the French and American Revolutions were planned in coffeehouses, Pendergrast says — it was also a symbol of colonialism. Europeans spread the growth of coffee bean trees, but often used slaves to do it.
  • In America, the events surrounding the Boston Tea Party (as well as cost difference) may have caused the adoption of coffee over tea. John Adams even wrote in a letter to his wife that he’d have to swap beverages for patriotic reasons.

-Intern Bita

Image via Your Coffee Guru

On Sunday night, the finalists for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize got together in an intimate Manhattan bar to read the books for which they were nominated. (The winner of the annual prize, which recognizes one outstanding debut work of fiction, will be announced Monday evening at the PEN Literary Awards Ceremony.)

If you couldn’t squeeze into a booth at the small, crowded bar, have no fear: You can listen to all of the readings before the audio goes live on PEN’s website later today. The crop of nominees include Anthony Marra, Said Sayrafiezadeh, Ian Stansel, Shawn Vestal and Hanya Yanagihara, whose writing was read by Katie Kitamura.

More book news here.

Time for #FridayReads! Here’s what we’re working on:

Editors Deb George and Alicia Montgomery are finishing Gone Girl.

Book News blogger Colin Dwyer: The Wilds by Julia Elliott (out Oct. 14). Reviewing it in October. Just a few pages in right now, but the first story already has me rapt, and more than a little bit unsettled. It’s like seeing a horror so elegantly rendered it’s almost beautiful — if it didn’t make my skin crawl. Hopefully the rest of the stories live up to the opening.

Code Switch’s Kat Chow: I’m reading Alex Tizon’s  relatively recent memoir, Big Little Man.

Team member Beth: Boy On Ice by John Branch

Team member Rose: I’m reading The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (out Nov. 11).

Lynette Clemetson: This weekend I’m starting The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. I am eager to read it. I am also really dreading it.

Code Switch’s Carline Watson is in the same boat: Next on my pile of books to read is The Short Tragic Life of Robert Peace but having just finished Charles Blow’s memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, I fear I may have to tackle something a little lighter first.

Editor Luis Clemens:Fighting  to Honor a Father’s Last Wish: To Die at Home.”  Wow. What a story.

Code Switch’s Matt Thompson: I just finished The Magician King by Lev Grossman. Here was my journey of reading that book: a) early chapters - “This is wry, but it won’t age well.” b) early-middle - “This is kinda fun, but I could be doing other things.” c) middle - “OK. I get it now. This is kind of boring, and I don’t particularly care about Quentin.” d) late middle - “Hmm, OK, I’m sorta into this.” e) late - “WHAT?! WHAT WAS THAT? PLEASE DON’T.” f) end - “I’m mildly curious about book three, but not enough to read this chapter excerpt.”

TV Critic Eric Deggans: I’m reading this compelling profile of one Eric H. Holder Jr. from Politico magazine.

Code Switch’s Karen Grigsby Bates: Startig Charles Blow’s memoir, Fire Shut Up In My Bones.  Guessing it’s going to open a dialogue about abuse and the subsequent, long-term ripples it makes in the black community.  

Intern Bita: The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. Shout-out to Colin, whose review of it I fact-checked (thanks for the page numbers, homie!), thus being utterly convinced it would strike a chord in my heart. And it does <3 <3

This week in author birthdays…

Stephen King, September 21

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs." - On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

F. Scott Fitzgerald, September 24

"I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again." - This Side of Paradise

William Faulkner, September 25

"I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth." - As I Lay Dying

Shel Silverstein, September 25

"And all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet." - Where the Sidewalk Ends

T.S. Eliot, September 26

"Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take, towards the door we never opened, into the rose garden." - Four Quartets

- Intern Bita

Images from top left: Courtesy of Scribner, via DRAW PAINT PRINT, via shelsilverstein.com, via scott & zelda fitzgerald and via Out of Print

Quotes via Goodreads

The record label behind Nirvana, Soundgarden and, more recently, The Shins is getting into books. This week, Seattle-based Sub Pop released a haiku collection by author and musician Danny Bland, paired with photos from Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli and calligraphy by Exene Cervenka, co-founder of the band X.
Sub Pop&#8217;s pedigree is fitting — Bland&#8217;s three-line nuggets, like this one, would have felt right at home in the heyday of grunge:
in the melee of blackout-curtained misconduct you belong to me

More book news here.

The record label behind Nirvana, Soundgarden and, more recently, The Shins is getting into books. This week, Seattle-based Sub Pop released a haiku collection by author and musician Danny Bland, paired with photos from Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli and calligraphy by Exene Cervenka, co-founder of the band X.

Sub Pop’s pedigree is fitting — Bland’s three-line nuggets, like this one, would have felt right at home in the heyday of grunge:

in the melee of
blackout-curtained misconduct
you belong to me

More book news here.

Today’s the last day to put your bids in for parts of Ray Bradbury’s estate, which are being auctioned off this week. Some interesting items are on the auction block, including a spade that Bradbury wrote a poem about (bidding starts at $5,000), and three paintings that made their way onto Bradbury’s book covers: Addams Family cartoonist Charles Addams’ 1946 painting of a gothic mansion was used on the cover of Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned (bidding stars at $32,500); Louis Glanzman’s tattooed man painting was commissioned for a 1963 edition of The Illustrated Man (bidding starts at $15,000); and Dean Ellis’ Red Illustrated Man was commissioned for a 1969 edition of that same book (bidding starts at $6,000).

Uh, anyone wanna go in on the spade? 

-Nicole