Tuesday, November 24, 2009

tis the season

I was halfway through a second helping of pumpkin ice cream at my sister’s pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving party this weekend when it occurred to me: The holidays have begun. Eating season has begun. (For me, eating, like sunshine in Southern California, is perennial, but sometimes the sun is extra bright, you know?)

This week I will attempt to bake sweet potato pie, which might sound like a respectably heady undertaking if I were going to make the crust. But Vons already took care of that for me, so I just have the filling to worry about. And I’m still worried.

But not worried enough to actually make a practice pie before inflicting it on AK’s family. This way I’ll know for sure that they like me for me, not just for my baking skills. Also, there’s a reason that grocery stores are open and stocked with pre-made pies on Thursday morning, right?

While we’re on the subject of American holiday pastimes: It’s not just eating season but shopping season. Apparently I am into practice shopping, because Sara, Dave, AK and I hit up a few stores in Burbank on Saturday, but I only bought one tiny present. At this rate, I should have my shopping done by March.

Or I could make a single stop at one of Greater L.A.’s awesome independent bookstores, and buy the peeps on my list some books by one of Greater L.A.’s awesome indie presses.

I hope you’ll do the same. My theory is that karma is extra intense around the holidays, and if your sweet potatoes were grown without pesticides and your reading material doesn’t come from a store that is actively trying to drive others out of business—well, Karma Santa is going to put you on his good list, don’t you think?

For SoCal locales, see below.* For other ideas, check out the Bookstore People blog.

Southern California-based Presses:
Ammo Books: one-of-a-kind titles featuring amazing design, thoughtful writing, and exquisite printing
Angel City Press: nostalgic yet cool illustrated books
Arktoi Books: poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that give lesbian writers access to “the conversation”
Cahuenga Press: poetry that honors creative freedom and cooperation
Cloverfield Press: books as visually beautiful as they are intellectually and emotionally stimulating
Dzanc Books: literary fiction that falls outside the mainstream
Gorsky Press: risk-taking books that encourage readers to re-examine society
Green Integer: essays, manifestos, speeches, epistles, narratives, and more
Les Figues Press: aesthetic conversations between readers, writers, and artists, with an avant-garde emphasis
Make Now Press: contemporary works of constraint and conceptual literature
Otis Books/Seismicity: contemporary fiction, poetry, essays, creative non-fiction and translation
Perceval Press: art, critical writing, and poetry
P S Books: micro-press that publishes conceptually motivated series on a project by project basis
Red Hen Press: works of literary excellence that have been overlooked by mainstream presses
San Diego City Works Press: local, ethnic, political, and border writing
Santa Monica Press: offbeat looks at pop culture, lively how-to books, film history, travel, and humor
Tsehai Publishers: literary fiction and serious nonfiction, with an emphasis on first-time authors and writers from under-served communities
What Books Press: books by L.A.-based writers whose work spans the full scope of the past quarter century

Independent Bookstores:
Book Soup, West Hollywood
Chevalier’s Books, Larchmont Village
Diesel, Brentwood and Malibu
Equator Books, Venice
Eso Won Books, Leimert Park
Family, Fairfax District
Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse, La Cañada
IMIX Bookstore, Eagle Rock
Metropolis Books, Downtown
Portrait of a Bookstore, Studio City
Sierra Madre Books, Sierra Madre
Skylight Books, Los Feliz
Small World Books, Venice
Stories, Echo Park
Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore
Village Books, Pacific Palisades
Village Bookshop, Glendora
Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena

*List brought to you by FOPTT. Funny-tasting pie brought to you by Cheryl and Cheryl only.


Michael DeAntonio said...

I'm buying everyone I know prewrapped gift baskets from Wal-Mart.

Then I'll give them Hall Mark cards so they know I'm sincere.

Cheryl said...

Well, as long as the baskets include I nice cheese log, I'm down.

Peter Varvel said...

An impressive list!
Someone at work told me that the secret to baking a good sweet potato pie was to use yams.
Clear as mud.

Jesi said...

i would buy books but i am making my own presents. i will be framing my poems along with a photo that i took. i am also decorating the frames with beads and stuff. i'll prolly be done by june.

and i have to admit i'm getting an employee appreciation discount of 40% at borders. that's hard to beat. but i encourage others to shop at independent bookstores. i suppose that doesn't count.

Cheryl said...

PV: I heard that most of the yams sold in the U.S. are actually a type of sweet potato. Just to keep things nice and confusing.

J: I talk big, but ultimately I can't argue with a hefty employee discount. All book-buying is good, and all gift-making is even better.

Jamie Asaye FitzGerald said...

I'm happy to say I bought some books at Skylight the other day. Some were presents, many were for me, greedy me :D

Cheryl said...

But it's the kind of greed that you can feel good about!