Monday, July 14, 2014

Literary Tourism: Jack Kerouac's Grave

This weekend, I took a trip to beautiful New England and stopped a little on the way. My favorite stop was Jack Kerouac's grave in Lowell, MA. You may know Kerouac as one of the great Beat poets, the author of On The Road, and a rabblerouser who loved to drink and adventure.

Lowell, MA is Kerouac's hometown. He was born there in 1922 and Lowell has a lot of love for him. There are a few different websites regarding self-guided Kerouac tours through Lowell, and the city has a Kerouac Festival each October.

When I stop at literary greats' grave sites, I usually bring a piece of theirs along to read at the site. My partner read Kerouac's poem, 113th Chorus (which you can read here) and I read his poem, How to Meditate (read it here). In finding Kerouac's unassuming gravestone, I found that many other people had also recently stopped by to memorialize him. Left on his stone were twelve stones, two sticks, a blue candle (melting in the warm sun), two handwritten notes (which I did not open, out of respect), and an unlit cigarette.

Taking part in this trek created a strong connection between me and the others who have walked along Seventh Street in the Edson Cemetery, searching for the place where the body of the late, great creator of the Beat generation lies forevermore.

In the comments, tell me a time that you have visited the grave site of a literary great, and whether you left anything, read anything, and how you felt about the experience.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Literary Road Trip: Mid-Atlantic & New England

gorgeous artwork from
I'll be heading up to Massachusetts for some family-related events this weekend and decided to drive. Because of this, I will have ample opportunity to stop on the side of the road and read excerpts from my favorite authors at their gravesites, homes of birth, or local bookstores (where I may or may not exhaust all of my spending money). I have also purchased Wally Lamb's We are Water audiobook to accompany me on this 8-hour drive (it's actually a 23-hour audiobook). I have been taking suggestions all day because I plan to do at least one stop in each of the following states: Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York (City), Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. If you have any suggestions, leave 'em in the comments. Head back over here in a week or so to check out my adventures!

-Ann Marie

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Books (and Beer) Reviews!

I know we've moved a lot of the book club info over to Facebook (and it truly works better over there), so now, I'm going to start reviewing books on here! If you have a book that you'd like me to review, email me over at I am considering pairing these books with beer reviews as well, so that might be a thing.

I'll be posting my first book review up soon!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Thank you for checking out Bookmarks & Barstools! We are still reading, meeting & eating together, but are not using this blog much anymore. Please head over to our Facebook group for more information!

Thank you for your interest!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

June - Choose Your Own Adventure

April's theme is LGBTQ, as it is Pride Month. This theme includes LGBTQ themes or authors, so please choose the book that you'd most like to read on the monthly poll. Here are some descriptions of each book, all of which are pulled from Goodreads.

The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family by Dan Savage
Dan Savage's mother wants him to get married. His boyfriend, Terry, says "no thanks" because he doesn't want to act like a straight person. Their six-year-old son DJ says his two dads aren't "allowed" to get married, but that he'd like to come to the reception and eat cake. Throw into the mix Dan's straight siblings, whose varied choices form a microcosm of how Americans are approaching marriage these days, and you get a rollicking family memoir that will have everyone-gay or straight, right or left, single or married-howling with laughter and rethinking their notions of marriage and all it entails.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license...records my first name simply as Cal."
So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today by Kate Bornstein
A stunningly original memoir of a nice Jewish boy who joined the Church of Scientology and left twelve years later, ultimately transitioning to a woman. A few years later, she stopped calling herself a woman and became famous as a gender outlaw.
Kate Bornstein—gender theorist, performance artist, author—is set to change lives with her compelling memoir. Wickedly funny and disarmingly honest, this is Bornstein's most intimate book yet, encompassing her early childhood and adolescence, college at Brown, a life in the theater, three marriages and fatherhood, the Scientology hierarchy, transsexual life, LGBTQ politics, and life on the road as a sought-after speaker.

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Jeanette, orphaned sensitive, intelligent and rebellious, is adopted by a family of evangelists and gloomy industrialized north of Great Britain. Her childhood becomes a surreal blend of sermons, catechism, rattle of tambourine in church orchestra and late adaptation to the rigors of the educational system. However, as Jeanette approaching adolescence, a career missionary to start preparing parents to lose their aura, the young discover their sexuality at all orthodox and family silence falls apart. Jeanette will have to choose between the truth and the truth of her soul Bible and courageous decision that will be the beginning of a path winding between original and unusual landmarks of destiny.

While England Sleeps by David Leavitt
Set against the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe, While England Sleeps tells the story of the love affair between Brian Botsford, an upper-class young writer, and Edward Phelan, an idealistic, self-educated employee of the London Underground and a member of the Communist party. Though by far the better educated of the two Brian is also more callow, convinced that his homosexuality is something he will outgrow. Edward, on the other hand, possesses 'an unproblematic capacity to accept' both Brian and the unorthodox nature of their love for each other - until one day, at the urging of his wealthy aunt Constance, Brian agrees to be set up with a 'suitable' young woman...and soon enough Edward is pushed to the point of crisis. Fleeing, he volunteers to fight in Spain, where he ends up in prison. Brian, responsible for Edward's flight, must pursue him across Europe, into the violent chaos of war.

Please vote in the poll no later than May 20th. Thank you! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

April - Book Pick & Date

April is National Poetry Month! We will be reading The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands by Nick Flynn. I know that some of you are anxious about reading poetry, but this book club is not about being "correct" in your feelings or analysis of poetry (I don't think that there is even such thing as being "correct" in that sense), but instead it's just to read & enjoy the poems together. Nick Flynn is a wonderful poet and I hope everyone enjoys it.

We will be meeting at the amazing Birroteca (seriously, that place has incredible food & a huge beer selection) on April 27th at 1:00pm. I look forward to seeing all of you there!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure - April

April's theme is poetry, so please choose the book that you'd most like to read on the monthly poll. Here are some descriptions of each book, all of which are pulled from Amazon.

A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The title of this book is taken from Henry Miller's "Into the Night Life" and expresses the way Lawrence Ferlinghetti felt about these poems when he wrote them during a short period in the 1950's - as if they were, taken together, a kind of Coney Island of the mind, a kind of circus of the soul.

The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands
by Nick Flynn

What begins as a meditation on love and the body soon breaks down into a collage of voices culled from media reports, childhood memories, testimonies from Abu Ghraib detainees, passages from documentary films, overheard conversations, and scraps of poems and song, only to reassemble with a gathering sonic force. It’s as if all the noise that fills our days were a storm, yet at the center is a quiet place, but to get there you must first pass through the storm, with eyes wide open, singing. Each poem becomes a hallucinatory, shifting experience, through jump cut, lyric persuasion, and deadpan utterance.

Low Parish by Steven Leyva

awaiting description
Useless Landscape by D.A. Powell
In D. A. Powell’s fifth book of poetry, the rollicking line he has made his signature becomes the taut, more discursive means to describing beauty, singing a dirge, directing an ironic smile, or questioning who in any given setting is the instructor and who is the pupil. This is a book that explores the darker side of divisions and developments, which shows how the interstitial spaces of boonies, backstage, bathhouse, or bar are locations of desire. With Powell’s witty banter, emotional resolve, and powerful lyricism, this collection demonstrates his exhilarating range.

The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck
This collection of stunningly beautiful poems encompasses the natural, human, and spiritual realms, and is bound together by the universal themes of time and mortality. With clarity and sureness of craft, Gluck's poetry questions, explores, and finally celebrates the ordeal of being alive.

Deadest Rapper Alive: The Rise of Lil' Wayne and the Fall of Urban Youth by Jomo K. Johnson
Labeled as one of the most polarizing urban book releases of 2011 — Deadest Rapper Alive gives a microscopic social analysis of Rap Superstar Lil Wayne. The Author challenges Lil’ Wayne’s fans and critics — to take a greater look into the rise, career, and impact of the cultural icon.” Written with a unique intellectual prowess and a near exhaustive knowledge of the Artist’s rise to fame, Jomo Johnson’s, Deadest Rapper Alive is a razor sharp exegesis of not only Lil’ Wayne’s body of work – but the impact of his philosophy upon Urban Youth. Mainstream Hip Hop Fans, Parents, and Social Critics alike would do well to read the book that has arguably ended the rap reign of Lil’ Wayne.

Who's the Best Rapper? Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas by Ronald Crawford
Ronald Crawford, a therapist and author uses hip-hop lyrics and dialog sessions to increase literacy and stimulate healing among at-risk youth

Thank you and please vote no later than March 15th.