“Libraries were havens for everyone, he might’ve told her, not just the clean and productive.”

midnight book coverThe Brown Baggers met on Thursday, January 16 to discuss Matthew Sullivan’s novel, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore.  Sullivan, a short story writer and former bookseller at The Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver and Brookline Booksmith in Boston, pays homage to his bookselling days with this literary mystery set in a Denver bookstore. 

When Joey, a regular patron at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, commits suicide in the shop, the life of bookstore clerk Lydia is turned upside down. Bequeathed with Joey’s possessions, Lydia finds herself unraveling a series mysterious clues Joey has left hidden in books. As she gets closer to deciphering Joey’s message, Lydia must confront a violent memory of her own past with unanswered questions, including the identity of a murderer known as the Hammerman.

Many of the Brown Baggers noted that as a mystery, the book kept them on their toes. Like any good psychological thriller, Sullivan keeps his readers guessing as he balances two puzzles: Joey’s cryptic messages and the cold case from Lydia’s childhood.  No one was able to identify the murderer before they were identified, which kept them wanting to read on. As a “literary mystery,” however, the book felt too contrived and not as well written as others in the genre. Despite the intricate plot, or perhaps because of it, there were too many coincidences and the connections between seemingly unrelated characters too farfetched to be realistic. 

The Brown Baggers will discuss The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe on Thursday, February 20 at 12pm in the Central Library and newcomers are always welcome.

Other Books Mentioned:

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie




The Art of Gathering

artofgatheringWhile there was not an official title to discuss, a small contingent of the Books on Tap group gathered on 1/2/20 at Champion Brewery to toast the New Year.   We also celebrated one member’s upcoming retirement and another member’s project that has been receiving local publicity.


But no Books on Tap meeting goes without recommending a couple of books, so here are a few that were mentioned:

The Art of Gathering

City of Girls


And here are the upcoming titles for discussion at Books on Tap:


“It make one’s mouth hurt to speak with such forced merriment.”

holidays on ice.jpgBooks on Tap read  David Sedaris’s essay collection Holiday’s on Ice  at Champion Brewery on December 5. Originally published in 1997 the dated bigotry leaps from the page in 2019. Overall we found the humor crueler than we expected and liked his personal stories better than his fiction. While we didn’t all finish each essay, we did agree that the popularly staged “Santaland Diaries”  had the funniest moments, especially when performed by Sedaris with his Billie Holiday impersonation. We also recommend listening to Julia Sweeney’s  reading of “Season’s Greetings to our Friends and Family!!!” and seeing Sinterklass in action in the Netherlands. 

Sedaris’ favorite character is his mother, who appears in almost every personal story. His parents are awful in his recounting and we assume Sedaris is using humor to cope. But that is part of the appeal: the universality of the screwed up family and the relief in finding out that ours isn’t the worst. 

More Information:

About the author 

About the book 

Other works 

Other humorous authors book mentioned:

Ian Fraser

Woody Allen

Roz Chas

Jenny Lawson

Tina Fey

Dave Barry

Bill Bryson

Trevor Noah


 Books on Tap Information:

  • No January meeting
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (February 6)
  • Same Page Title TBA (March 5)
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (April 2)
  • There, There by Tommy Orange (May 7)
  • Clock Dance by Anne Tyler (June 4)


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