Our Neglected Middle Children
A walk through the part of the store that everyone skips
When you walk into Uncharted, you can take one of three paths.
1) Head down the left side of the store. Here, tall bookcases on your right house sci fi, fantasy, horror, comics, manga, and graphic novels. The left wall is full of authors’ best guesses as to why people/the world are the way they are—religion, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology, mythology, mysticism, and the occult.
2) Step over sleepy Ramona and go straight down the middle, where you can disappear into literary fiction, our largest section.
3) Give Ramona some pets, then slip between the cash register and a shelf of small press books by local authors. Turn left. On your right will be handmade jewelry and an assortment of zines and tiny wonders produced by local artists, followed by young adult, middle grade, and picture books. On your left: more literary fiction, our staff picks, and poetry.
At the end of all three paths, you’ll come upon two long sets of shorter bookcases running perpendicular to the fiction and poetry. These are the bookcases that most often go overlooked.
Let me tell you what you’re missing.
Every fiction reader has their preferred genre, and for the majority of Uncharted’s customers, that’s sci fi or literary fiction. But this one is mine, and I am determined to find homes for all my neglected baby murder books.
Some cool things in this section as of late afternoon, Wednesday, September 15:
A used copy of the brand new Inspector Gamache novel by Louise Penny, The Madness of Crowds. Pristine hardcover that came out last month, for $13.50!
The first three books in Lisa Lutz’s Spellman series, about a dysfunctional family of private eyes anchored by 28-year-old Izzy. I tore through these books a few years ago, charmed by Izzy’s voice—funny, cynical, no-BS—and her ultrasmart teen sister, Rae, who is probably the better detective.
10 zillion airport novels, some of which your dad probably hasn’t read yet.
All of the books you see here, over to the second set of dividers, are plays!
I worry about this section like an anxious mother, because the books are so little. Most are so narrow, you can hardly read the spines without a magnifying glass—and those are the ones that aren’t saddle-stitched. How are my scrawny theater-kid babies supposed to find forever homes, when the browsing difficulty level is so high? Please come and buy a play, so I can relax a little.
Turn around, and you’ll find all our performing arts stuff—celebrity biographies and autobiographies, cultural criticism, sheet music, you name it. On the far right of those shelves, we have another scrappy little section close to my heart: anthologies. The appetizer samplers of literature! Look at these beauties. There’s a lot of fun 20th-century cover art here, as well as some enlightening glimpses into the tastes of various eras and editors.
Books About Books
Finally, we come to the most unjustly neglected section in the store. The scrabble tiles say “lit crit,” but it’s really just books on books—literary criticism, yes, but also author biographies, reading memoirs, reference works, and studies in the English language. If you’re a writer, editor, or amateur word nerd, you need to know about this section. Every time I go to tidy it, I end up sitting down and pulling out books I’ve never heard of but now desperately want to read.
Here’s a representative sample:
I don’t know why these books don’t move more often, except that they’re at the back of the store, and the lighting isn’t great. (Huh, I guess I do know why they don’t move more often.) It’s worth squinting and bending down, I promise.
E-books Now Available
Listen, I love a physical book, but I also love thinking, “I want to read that,” and then making the book magically appear within seconds. My Must Reads is an app that makes hundreds of thousands of e-books available to people who would rather support their favorite indie bookseller than a billionaire.
Here’s what you do:
1) Go to this list of independent booksellers.
2) Choose Uncharted Books from the list, so you’ll be shopping with us.
3) Buy a book—or scroll down and choose a free title—which will prompt you to create an account.
4) Download the My Must Reads app, sign in to the account you just created, and you’re off!
As always, you can also order new books through our Bookshop portal and audiobooks through Libro.fm. And make sure you follow us on Instagram, where Francis frequently runs sales on cool books that just came into the shop.
A New Book We’re Excited About
Now that you know how to buy new books from Uncharted, allow me to recommend Zoe Whittall’s The Spectacular, which pubbed in the U.S. this week. I am not usually one for multigenerational sagas, but I am one for Whittall’s sharp, funny, queer, feminist writing. (Her novel The Best Kind of People was a nuanced examination of how a reported sexual assault can upend multiple lives, and she’s written some of your favorite Baroness von Sketch sketches.) I’m already loving this new novel and want to finish the newsletter so I can go back to it. Check out this Lit Hub interview with Zoe, which will make you want to be her best friend.
A Forthcoming Book We’re Excited About
Friends of the store Blair Braverman and Quince Mountain have documented a year of their lives as mushers in words and heart-exploding sled dog pictures. I’ll be honest, it has us thinking about harnessing up Ramona and skijoring around Andersonville this winter. Anyway, when we mentioned this book on Twitter the other day, a bunch of people pre-ordered. If you weren’t one of them, now’s your chance.
Until next week,