The Book That Smacked Me Upside the Head | A Blog Post by Margaret Couch, Accounts Payable at Blair

Margaret and Narnia

In many households, parents read books to their children. My clearest memories of being read to were after dinner and on car rides heading for family vacation or visiting distant relatives. For me, after-dinner reading time was especially magical. One of my first book memories is hearing C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series. We heard one chapter at a time after dinner. That meant that sometimes I had to wait a whole day to find out what happened next. Perhaps the surprises were leaked, but I don’t remember that part. I remember only the magic Narniaof listening to the written word and being shown the pictures so skillfully rendered by Pauline Baynes that accompanied the text. My mother was usually the reader. She instilled in me a love of reading, but also a love of reading out loud.

So, in the natural order of things, I read to my children. Not only early-childhood books, but books that engaged them even as they grew to early teens. Harry Potter was a favorite. Even when they were old enough to read the books to themselves, they begged me to read them aloud. I can’t think of a more satisfying legacy to pass along than the passion for reading, but more importantly the passion for reading aloud.


Illustration above is by Pauline Baynes from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


Happy Birthday, NASCAR! | A Blog Post by Artie Sparrow

Did you know NASCAR was officially incorporated on this date in 1948? Celebrating this milestone is a great excuse to pick up a copy of Jerry Bledsoe’s World’s Number One, Flat-Out, All-Time, Great Stock Car Racing Book. According to Car and Driver magazine, it’s “the finest book on any kind of motor racing.”

Mostly it’s just really entertaining, even if you’re not a big fan of auto racing. Bledsoe is a master storyteller (infamous in our office as a great guy to get talking), and this is a perfect subject for him: colorful characters who operate on the fringes of the law.

Ever wonder what really happened in the old Richard Pryor movie Greased Lightning? Or why Tom Wolfe called Junior Johnson the “Last American Hero”? Read this book to find out and to discover several other memorable tales of men who lived and sometimes died on the edge.


The Book That Smacked Me Upside the Head | A Blog Post by Carolyn Sakowski, President of Blair

Carolyn as Peter PanI was five years old when Walt Disney released the animated classic Peter Pan—a fact brought home to me constantly with the wave of commercials for its “60th anniversary” release. I was the target market. I was the perfect age to respond to make-believe and fall in love with a tale about staying a child forever.

Carolyn and Her Sister

Sister Margaret Sakowski Moore (left) and Carolyn hold two books from their extensive Little Golden Books collection

I didn’t discover Neverland through the J. M. Barrie classic like those before me. Like most of my generation, Walt Disney introduced me to Peter Pan.

About the same time the movie was released, Simon & Schuster came out with a Little Golden Book called Peter Pan and Wendy. This edition made no mention of J. M. Barrie anywhere except on the copyright page. A woman named Annie North Bedford got the credit for condensing the Disney movie into a 26-page book that sold for 25 cents. Eyvind Earle, a Disney illustrator, created the watercolors based on scenes from the movie.

Carolyn with Her Sister and Grandma

Carolyn (left), her grandmother Margaret Dunlap, and her sister Margaret reading the Sunday newspaper

Although this version of Peter Pan lacked the literary value or Mr. Barrie’s original, it still had a powerful effect on this five-year-old. I would look out my bedroom window at night and search for the “second star to the right.” I was sure I could fly, just like the characters in my book.

When Barrie’s stage adaptation—called Peter Pan: The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up—was produced, he included a special note in his dedication: “After the first production, I had to add something to the play at the request of parents about no one being able to fly until fairy dust had been blown on him; so many children having gone home and tried it from their beds and needed surgical attention.”

Peter Pan Hat

I guess I, too, overlooked the role Tinker Bell’s pixie dust played in making flight possible. One night, I got right up on the headboard of my bed and took my leap of faith. I flew, all right—right into the footboard. I lost my front two baby teeth. Their imprint remained on that footboard until we got rid of that bed years later.

So, this book did not smack me upside the head. It simply caused me to smack myself. However, it was one of the first books to transport me to a completely new world. I still believe in magic, and I have done my best to remain a child forever.

Display Your Daddies for Cash Bookseller Display Contest


9780895875938-cov2.inddMarch 5, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of Patsy Cline’s death by plane crash. It is also the publication date of the debut novel, Long Gone Daddies, by David Wesley Williams. What do these two events have in common besides the date? Look for David Williams’s contribution to the Huffington Post on March 5 to find out. If you can’t wait until then, download the first chapter at or read it on your e-reader at Goodreads.


March also kicks off the “Display Your Daddies for Cash” bookseller display contest. The contest is open to individual bookstores within the United States that create an in-store display for Long Gone Daddies for at least one week between March 1 and March 31, 2013. To enter the contest, submit up to five photographs of the display to John F. Blair, Publisher at or by mailing to:

Display Your Daddies for Cash Contest
John F. Blair, Publisher
1406 Plaza Drive
Winston-Salem, NC 27103

Entries will be judged by the staff at John F. Blair on the basis of originality, customer appeal, and presentation. The winner will be announced by April 15, 2013. The winning bookstore will receive $500 from John F. Blair, Publisher, and a signed, first-edition copy of Long Gone Daddies by David Wesley Williams. For the official rules, other contest details, and display resources, visit

Anxious to get things started, we created our own display here at Blair. We had a lot of fun making paper planes (and burning them) and creating “note quotes” featuring advance praise for Long Gone Daddies. We can’t wait to see what booksellers do with their own displays!



Blair Staff Enjoys the BOOKMARKS Moveable Feast

Yesterday, Blair staff got together to celebrate Sunday literary-style! The BOOKMARKS’ Moveable Feast was held at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) and hosted 14 authors, including Blair’s own Judy Goldman, author of Losing My SisterIt was great catching up with our beloved author!

Moveable Feast Collage

Blair Staff at the BOOKMARKS Moveable Feast

While munching on delicious snacks, we also got to chat with several other authors who visited our table:

  • Penelope Niven, who promised a yet-to-be-determined prize to the first airline passenger she catches reading Thornton Wilder: A Life
  • Emily Colin, who showed us the awesome trailer for her new novel, The Memory Thief
  • Christopher Castellani, who gave us the inside scoop on how his new novel, All This Talk of Love, connects to his other books
  • Wiley Cash, who told us all about A Land More Kind Than Home and growing up in North Carolina (snake-handlers and all)
  • Holly Goddard Jones, whose new book, The Next Time You See Me, explores the disappearance of a woman before information moved at the speed of smartphones
  • Dana Sachs, whose grandmother became a model at 97 and was the inspiration for Sachs’s new novel, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace

AND we won prizes! While Heath Simpson and Shannon Pierce got to take home giveaway books, I’m lucky enough to be dating the winner of two Isabel Allende tickets!

All in all, a pretty great way to spend a Sunday. Thanks to BOOKMARKS, SECCA, and all the authors who made it such a great event!

To learn more about BOOKMARKS and their events, visit