Allison

Allison is the President of Vroman’s Bookstore, as well as Book Soup in West Hollywood.

“The cure for unhappiness is happiness. I don’t care what anyone says.”
-Elizabeth McCracken, Niagara Falls All Over Again


Allison writes for the Huffington Post! Check out her articles: Books I've Loved and Lost, Losing My Literary Virginity, Writing a Life, and Literary Seductions; check out her bio here

A few of Allison's favorites

The Hours, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Gilead, Housekeeping, Anonymity, What Makes Sammy Run, Diet for a Small Planet, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, The Annotated Alice: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lolita, Sartre, Ibsen, The Art of Happiness, The People's History of the United States, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Tao of Physics, Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jonathan Lethem, House of Leaves, The Letters of Emily Dickinson, The History of Love, Smilla's Sense of Snow, Heart of Darkness, Franny and Zooey, White Noise, City of Thieves, Loverboy, Tao Te Ching, Mary Oliver, The Happiness Project, Packing for Mars, and on and on . . .



$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780307277251
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage, 6/2010
The Guardian once called de Botton “an absolute pair-of-aching balls of a man - a slapheaded, ruby-lipped pop philosopher who's forged a lucrative career stating the bleeding obvious.” And I would guess that even de Botton would admit that there's some truth in this description. But the fact remains that de Botton is an extraordinarily intelligent, keen observer whose writing is interesting, provocative, and, arguably, important.

In Vroman's circles de Botton's best known for his book How Proust Can Change Your Life, a philosophical piece by its own merit, that is sometimes used as a substitute for those too intimidated or too busy to go to the source and read Proust themselves. Personally, I think his best work is The Architecture of Happiness, a series of essays that discuss, among other things, how our interior lives are reflected in our exterior landscapes of houses, building, and cities.

De Botton's newest book is The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, the end result of his two years travelling the world interviewing people about their jobs and visiting various workplaces. De Botton reports and ruminates on the strange surreal facts about where we spend our daily lives, as well as the larger meaning of what we do and why it matters. A career counselor, a painter, television executives, bisquik manufacturers, and a man who installs electricity pylons, these are just a few of the many, varied occupations de Botton explores with his customary attention to detail and humor. Perhaps the timing of his book's publication, in the midst of a recession that has made the word “job” synonymous with “paycheck”, is in itself intended to be provocative. In the end though, de Botton merely offers up his observations; it's up to us what meaning we derive from them.

Recommended by Allison

A Reliable Wife (Paperback)

$14.95
ISBN-13: 9781565129771
Availability: Probably In Stock -- Call to confirm
Published: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1/2010
1900s Wisconsin. A small town near Chicago. A dismal winter. A man with a past places a newspaper ad to find “a reliable wife”.  A woman answers his ad, a woman with a past... I can’t tell you a single thing more about this book without spoiling it for you. Congruent with the content, the book itself is seductive: full of twists and turns, sex and suspense. It’s a gothic, page turner and a wild ride, worth the sleep I lost staying up all night finishing it. 

Recommended by Allison


$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780812973990
Availability: Probably In Stock -- Call to confirm
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 6/2010
The cover blurb for Let the Great World Spin, from bestselling author Frank McCourt, reads: “Now I worry about Colum McCann. What is he going to do after this blockbuster groundbreaking heartbreaking symphony of a novel?” Frankly, I’m more concerned about myself right now, for what can I possibly read next that won’t pale in comparison to this ambitious, beautiful, breathtaking book.

If you’ve watched the lovely documentary, Man on Wire, then you’re familiar with the dazzling feat of Philippe Petit, an ordinary man who, in August 1974, walked a tightrope wire between the World Trade Towers in New York City. Using this extraordinary act as the touchstone to which he returns over and over again, McCann has written a novel about ten different individuals, each walking their own metaphorical tightrope. Set in New York, all of the individuals’ stories (an Irish immigrant, a man of God, an heroin addicted prostitute, a mother mourning her son, a young wife and artist, and a Park Avenue judge, among others) intertwine, all told in the shadow of the man on the wire.

This is a significant social novel about the radically changing America of the 70s. It’s a quiet novel about the daily lives of ordinary people. It is a quintessential New York novel, pulsing with the characters and noise and beauty of The Big Apple. It’s a novel about faith and Vietnam and forgiveness and right and wrong. It is as big as a man attempting to walk in midair, and as small as a man putting one foot in front of the other.

One could argue what the central theme of this multifaceted novel is, given the kaleidoscopic nature of the narrative. But it is difficult to escape the sense of loss that permeates every page, as much from the knowledge that the Towers no longer stand, as from anything that the author has written on the page.

I fell in love with this book within the first five pages. I was afraid to read further for fear that it would disappoint me. It didn’t. Ultimately, McCann dazzles.

Recommended by Allison


On Chesil Beach (Paperback)

$14.00
ISBN-13: 9780307386175
Availability: Probably In Stock -- Call to confirm
Published: Anchor, 6/2008
This small jewel of a book is impeccably written, and impossible to forget. Award winning novelist McEwan tells the story of one couple's wedding night, but the book is about how our lives are forever changed by the words that go unspoken.

Recommended by Allison


$17.00
ISBN-13: 9780312427900
Availability: Probably In Stock -- Call to confirm
Published: Picador, 8/2008
In a science fiction thought experiment, Weisman imagines what would happen to the earth if humans were suddenly gone. In doing so he sheds light on the power of nature and our impact on the future. Fascinating!

Recommended by Allison


Any Bitter Thing (Paperback)

$13.95
ISBN-13: 9780345477682
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Ballantine Books, 4/2006
It’s my job to talk about books, but sometimes a book comes along that’s so beautiful, that it leaves even a seasoned veteran like myself at a loss for words. I can’t truly do justice to this deeply moving, wonderfully written novel, about a 30-year-old woman’s near fatal accident and the resulting convergence of her past and present, in a simple synopsis. Suffice it to say, the book is about faith: in God, in a marriage, and ultimately in ourselves, and it’s the best thing I’ve read in a long time. A rich treasure for book club discussion, or a satisfying treat for yourself. As my friend Margaret said when she sent me a copy, ”I’m so glad that you still have the pleasure of reading it in your future.”

Recommended by Allison


Only Revolutions (Paperback)

$18.95
ISBN-13: 9780375713903
Availability: Probably In Stock -- Call to confirm
Published: Pantheon, 7/2007
His haunting, experimental fiction has made the talented and sexy Mark Z. Danielewski a literary rock star. But Danielewski is the real thing, a writer who clearly knows and respects the literary tradition that has come before him, while forging a path all his own. Only Revolutions was a National Book Award nominee, and is destined to become a cult classic. These parallel monologues of two teenage lovers come together in a tour de force.

Recommended by Allison