Just ask a bookseller!

We’re deep into tourist season, for which we’re grateful. Visitors from all points pass through our doors. We love hearing their impressions of this place, and are generally happy to answer the usual and not so usual questions we’re asked.

You want directions? Restaurant recommendations?  Need a place  to rent?  A job,  a husband, maybe? Well, just ask your local bookseller! Sure Yelp,  Air bnb and GPS have satisfied most, but some prefer the personal touch. And while it’s nice to be thought of as knowledgeable, sometimes it’s just impossible to satisfy every inquiry.

“What do you do in here all day?” someone once asked.

Another wanted to know if a certain local author would make a suitable mate. No comment!

One admired a devotional candle we have on display near the spirituality books. I explained the candle was not for sale, but could be found in the supermarket. “But which aisle would they be in?”

One sunny weekend, a woman burst in. “Hellooo?” she called.  “Where’s the best place to buy steak?” That’s a new one, we thought …and we don’t even eat red meat.  I wondered how to parlay this into a book sale. Recommend Omnivore’s Dilemma?  Instead I suggested  the butcher at Schiavoni’s Market.   I gave directions to the shop. “But I don’t regularly buy steak,” I confessed. She seemed disappointed. “Then where’s the best place to buy fish?”

Has a bookseller helped you with a non-book-related question? Let us know.

Walt is coming!

“Starting from Paumanok”, and continuing all day in Sag Harbor, community readers will gather at Canio’s on Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m. until around 6 p.m. to read from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Don’t miss a chance to meet “Mr. Whitman Long Island,” aka Darrel Blaine Ford, who in his eighties and with a long white beard bears a striking resemblance to America’s most well known poet. When he was only a child, Mr. Ford took a very long bicycle ride from his home near the South Shore to the  Whitman birthplace in West Hills.  Whitman himself trekked up and down Long Island from Brooklyn out to Montauk with regular visits to his sister in Greenport.

On Friday, May 20 at 6 p.m. learn more about Whitman on Long Island with speaker William T. Walter, president of the Whitman Birthplace who will join us at Canio’s and set us on the right path for our all-day reading on Saturday.

Finally, pick up a copy of Leaves, a tin of Whitman’s green tea blend, or if you’re reading with us, you’ll receive a commemorative button. And don’t miss our after-party, Saturday evening….after all, we’re celebrating Whitman’s birthday!

Put the kettle on, and savor the good life!

We love good books; we love an excellent cup of tea. We thought we’d combine the pleasures of both and offer a selection of “Literary Teas” to accompany your next novel or poetry purchase. We’re featuring black and green tea blends  inspired by Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, James Joyce and Emily Dickinson. Each is a distinctive blend that captures elements of the writers’ works whether it’s the jasmine scent of Emily’s rose inflected blend, or the bold golden malty cup of the James Joyce variety, these high quality teas (certified Kosher) from Simpson & Vail known for their superior teas since 1929, make a lovely Mother’s Day or host gift. Or just treat yourself to an experience that reminds us, life is beautiful, one cup at a time.

Poet Grace Schulman Honored

We’re thrilled to join in celebrating poet Grace Schulman, winner of the 2016 Frost Medal, the highest award given by The Poetry Society of America. Grace has been a frequent reader at Canio’s Books, and we can’t think of a better person to receive this honor. Her poetry, essays and literary criticism have long been among our favorite works and are always highly recommended by our staff. Her poems about the East End landscape, about New York street corners, about jazz, aging and love are living examples of what poetry aspires to: transforming the lived experience into art.

Grace joins highly esteemed previous winners of the Forst Award: Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Lucille Clifton, Charles Simic, Marilyn Nelson, and Kamau Brathwaite, the 2015 recipient.

Grace Schulman is author of seven volumes of poetry including Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems, The Paintings of Our Lives, and most recently Without a Claim.   She is editor of The Poems of Marianne Moore. Her essay collection is First Loves and Other Adventures. Grace has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award for Poetry, and  a Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY, the former director of the Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y, 1974-84, and former poetry editor of The Nation, 1971-2006. A lifetime of achievements, indeed! But what’s more, Grace is someone who lives out her name. Congratulations, Grace!

 

More Moby Madness

Another busman’s holiday this time up the Massachusetts coast to attend the 20th annual Moby-Dick marathon reading at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Melville aficionados came from near and far (Fairhaven, MA and California respectively), and read in languages ranging from English to Dutch, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Hebrew, Spanish. Some 6000 listened via podcast from all points around the globe including Australia and the Arctic! Nathanial Philbrick, whose In the Heart of the Sea, is now playing in theaters, was the kick-off reader who got to utter the famous opening line, “Call me Ishmael.” A mini-marathon was held for children reading a much abbreviated version in one hour. The full-blown reading lasted 25 hours or so with intrepid readers sleeping overnight in the museum. A new Herman Melville room was dedicated, and a 4-hour reading in Portuguese was such a success, it will likely be repeated in years to come.

At the pre-reading Friday night dinner and presentation, we met a father and son, age 16,  from nearby Huntington. It was the son’s second experience at the New Bedford marathon. His proud father beamed with love and pride as the young man read clearly and forcefully later that weekend on Sunday morning. We met the great, great grandson of Melville, who with his two nephews also took their turns at the reader’s podium.  Author Philip Hoare whose book The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea, is a best-seller at Canio’s, infused his reading with dramatic flair that brought the story to life. Mr. Hoare mentioned another Moby marathon reading in April in Provincetown. Sounds like good reason for another road-trip!

For the famous sermon scene, some 300 audience members scurried over to the Seaman’s Bethel across the street from the museum where a real-life pastor gave an inspired rendition of that Jonah story. The entire assembly joined in signing the hymn accompanied on organ and with help from the local church’s choir.

Kathryn was reader #5 on the list of 180 stand-by readers. Reading slots as well as seats at the opening and close of the event, are, in the words of organizers, “competitive.” At a pre-marathon event with members of The Herman Melville Society, an august group of literary scholars from various universities, Maryann was awarded a button reading, “I Stumped the Scholars” for her question: “How does Melville’s Moby-Dick speak to 21st century woman readers?”

If you’d like to offer your own response, we’d love to hear from you.

Sag Harbor As Inspiration This Holiday Season

It’s that deep water port that makes all the difference. It’s what sets Sag Harbor apart from its flatland farm-town neighbors. It’s here where whalers, sailors, tradesmen, sturdy women, and visitors from four corners streamed through our little village bringing the exotic to our local shores. With them came the flavors and faces of distant ports. After whales vanished, busy factories drew workers to fire bricks, wind ropes, polish silver and solder watchcases. More recently, it drew painter Whitney Hansen from Santa Barbara and photographer Ann Chwatsky from New York City. They and countless other writers, painters, photographers, musicians came to find and create a community of artists of various stripes.  “It’s not just the light, ” Ann Chwatsky said during a talk  she and Whitney gave this fall at the bookshop, “but knowing that every day artists are at work in their studios here.” It’s that artists’ energy that gives her inspiration.

For 35 years Canio’s Books has been continuing the tradition of supporting and cultivating the East End’s creative community. With holiday shopping in mind, we offer suggestions for the aspiring creative on your list: For a recommendation about excellent books on writing, check with Maryann; for a sample of beautiful and affordable art and photography books, check with Kathryn. Both are offering workshops this winter, and a gift certificate to one of those would make an inspired holiday present. Our collection of local interest books is arguably the largest on the East End with lots of new titles plus some recently acquired out-of-print collectibles. Everyone knows to come to Canio’s for poetry, but we also have a hand-picked selection of literary novels and non-fiction by local writers perfect for winter reading retreats. Artwork and handicrafts by locals are also available.

We wish all our customers, friends and family a bright and inspired holiday season. Please join us at our holiday reception, Saturday, December 19 after a reading with acclaimed fiction-writer Simon Van Booy at 5 p.m. Peace & good reading to all.

Join Canio’s Book Groups!

You’ve asked and we’re responding with plans for two book discussions this fall/winter. After the outpouring of interest in the Moby Dick Marathon this June, some have wondered, what about the women? We think Sena Jeter Naslund’s Ahab’s Wife is the perfect response. Taking off from a passing reference in Melville’s Moby-Dick, Naslund spins an engrossing epic of the adventures of one feisty woman. “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last,” she says in the book’s opening line. Hold fast to the ropes, dear readers, you’re in for one unforgettable Nantucket sleigh ride.

We’ve also heard the cry for “more Steinbeck!” So we’re starting with the novel he wrote while living in Sag Harbor. Set in the fictional New Baytown and inspired by Sag Harbor, Winter of Our Discontent explores the moral crisis faced by one Ethan Hawley, son of Pilgrim Fathers and whaling captains, now a  clerk at the town’s grocery store (think Schiavoni’s).

Each group will be led by a guest facilitator. Sign up for the groups and receive a discount on purchase of the books.


Canio's Books is located at 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963. You can drop an email to info@caniosbooks.com, or even check out some of our stock online. Thanks for visiting our blog!

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