Readings at The Rubaiyat

Last Friday was the third monthly open mic reading event at the shop and I think it is safe to say that we are hitting our stride in this event. The first one we did was a joint-event with the seven year anniversary of the bookstore, so it was quite a bit bigger than the group is now, but I think the smaller group is almost preferable. It’s not as intimate as our craft nights or book club nights, but it retains that sort of comfortable, friendly atmosphere.

An interesting thing happened this time. Although there is never any set theme to these events, and even though all our readers signed up independently of each other, Amy was the first to notice that all of the readings this month seemed to dovetail into each other. The evening started with a reading from Mere Christianity about the universality of basic human morality, which was followed by a reading from a memoir about the unique right of passage when a child learns that their parents are human and flawed even if they try hard to be good parents. Following that was a reading from Bill Nye’s book about how science depends on people being able to admit they were wrong and amend their beliefs. The final reading (by me: hey!) was selections from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet about allowing our loved ones to be their own people and about how the role of the teacher is to lead people to their own understanding.

Kind of funny how that happens, huh?

It makes me think of how, sometimes, if you read more than one book at a time, this odd thing will happen where it’s like your books are talking to each other. You will read something in one book, then see that same idea explored in a different way in another book at the same time.

Maybe you should give it a try. Book monogamy isn’t enforced by the Bookshop.

As always, if you are interested in giving a reading, just contact the shop and we can get you on the list. There isn’t any theme, as I mentioned, but your selection has to be appropriate for all audiences and can’t take longer than fifteen minutes to read aloud.

You can read anything you like. Poetry, nonfiction, original works, it’s all on the table.

If it means something to you, we would love to hear it too.

The next Open Mic Reading is scheduled for April 13, and you certainly don’t have to be reading to come and listen.

Bookish Recipes: Roast Beef Leftover Edition

Last week we shared the recipe for Ken’s famous roast beef. If you made that recipe, it’s likely that you will have some leftovers, so for the next two weeks we will be sharing some of the bookstore’s favorite things to do with the roast beef leftovers to really make them stretch.

Amy’s favorite way to eat the roast beef leftovers is in a special gluten-free sandwich. If you come into the store around noon, there is a good chance that she will be eating one of these sandwiches, lovingly made by Ken.

The first step is to get your gluten free bread out of the freezer and let it thaw, since gluten free bread is often frozen. Making this sandwich on a gluten free English muffin is optional (but not really. It’s better on an English muffin)

Then toast the bread. This is Amy’s sandwich so we will say that you run it through the toaster one and a half times. She recommends that the muffin be toasted to a golden black color.

While the bread is toasting, fix a plate of shredded roast beef with your cheese slice placed on top of it. Put this plate in the microwave just long enough to melt the cheese (about 25 seconds.)

Once the bread pops, slather it with enough butter to make what’s known as “butter soup,” which is a technical term that means that the bread is so soaked with butter that is squishes wonderfully when you bite into it.

Assemble the sandwich and cut it on the diagonal. That the sandwich is cut on the diagonal is of utmost importance. There’s a trick to cutting an English muffin diagonally, but it can be done by making sure that the corners of your cheese slice in the sandwich are diagonal when you cut the sandwich.

This sandwich pairs well with Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. Just like a roast beef sandwich, this book is like an old familiar friend.

Bookish Recipes: Roast Beef

The Rubaiyat bookshop in downtown Caldwell has more than just books. We also have a house gnome. Ken the house gnome provides food and muscle for the book ladies and, in order to make sure that he is included in the shop’s online presence, we are beginning a new segment here on the blog. Every so often, Ken will stop by to share some of his most tried and true recipes, in the hopes that our fans and customers can get an authentic taste of the bookshop right from their own homes.

For our first in the series, Ken is sharing a roast recipe that is the perfect thing to cook while you curl up with a new book from the Rubaiyat. As it cooks in the slow cooker for a whole day, your home will be filled with the gorgeous scent of this comfy, easy dinner.

This particular roast pairs particularly well with the novels of Patrick McManus



One roast. Ken says that, following this recipe, he has never met a roast he didn’t like. Even inexpensive, “poorer quality” roasts will become delicious when cooked in this recipe.

Better Than Beef Bullion (or your preferred beef bullion or stock)

One Onion, cut into fourths

8 Whole Carrots

One Tablespoon of Diced Garlic



Dissolve the beef bullion in enough hot water to cover the roast in your slow cooker

Toss in the roast, and pour the bullion/water over it until it’s covered.

Toss in the veggies and garlic

Now this is the most important part. Make sure you do all of this the evening before you plan on eating the roast. Turn the cooker on low and leave it alone. Do not give in to the temptation of the smell during the following day until dinner time.

If you need a knife to serve the roast, you haven’t cooked it long enough. If you need a slotted spoon to serve the roast, you’ve cooked it perfectly.

This recipe makes incredibly versatile leftovers. Recipes for Gourmet Roast Beef sandwiches and Beef Soup will be coming next.

First Monthly Open Mic Night

Last week, we held our first monthly open mic night to great success. The shop was packed with familiar and unfamiliar faces and the readings included everything from Nevil Shute to a poem by Maurice Careme said in French by the resident six year old.

This particular open mic event was special on two accounts. Firstly, because it was the first time we’d done it. And secondly, because it also marked out seventh year anniversary of the shop being opened. It was so good to see all our friends there celebrating with us and reminding us of all the wonderful, bookish relationships we have made so far along the way.

Starting now, Open Mic Readings will take place on the second Friday of each month, starting at 6pm. Anyone is welcome to come and read, either from their own writing or a favorite book or poem, but please call the store first to make sure you get a time slot and consider the content of your reading in regards to the mixed audience (this is an all ages event.)

With the Lightnings by David Drake

David Drake is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now one of the major authors of the military science fiction genre. Drake served two years as an enlisted interrogator with the 11th Armored Cav in Vietnam and Combodia.

With the Lightnings is book one of a space opera series which is worthy of the time spent reading. The two main protagonist’s families have been mortal enemies, though both Adele Mundy and Daniel Leary are members of the Cinnabar Empire. Empires Cinnabar and Alliance are enemies, at this time. Cinnabar has internal politics that are bitter and fierce. Kostroma is a rich planet that is the prize of the contest and the pot in which the story is placed. There is a bad guy that you will love to hate, a spacer crew to be formed and loyalties to be forged. A rollicking good tale. The bad guy gets his, the man doesn’t get the girl. The man does get a lasting friendship with a smart, rapier witted family enemy; a friendship based in respect.

This is a must read for anyone who enjoys military science fiction; a novel that is re-readable.


Seventh Anniversary Celebration

Coming up on January 12th, we are going to be celebrating seven years in the bookselling business! Time flies and, even though it’s been a rough road sometimes (literally, have you seen the construction on our street?) we are going strong and loving every step on our journey.

We thought that, especially this coming year, it would be fabulous to have a celebration right in the shop to commemorate seven years and ring in many more to come. And what better way to celebrate a bookshop than with an open mic reading? Volunteers will be taking the stage to read their favorite poems or bits of prose, either from published works or their own writing. It will be an all ages event, but wine will be served.

Along with a cake. Obviously.

Doing a reading isn’t required for anyone coming to the celebration, but it is highly encouraged. If you would like to reserve a time to do a reading, contact the shop through phone or facebook.

Local Authors Open House

With the construction of the plaza making downtown Caldwell harder to navigate, our local businesses are taking a hit. However, the literary community continues to have a vibrant home at the Rubaiyat bookstore.

On Saturday the 18th, the Rubaiyat bookshop in downtown Caldwell hosted the first Local Author Open House. The cozy shop was chock full of authors of books spanning genres and age groups, from paranormal romance, to poetry, to non-fiction and everything in between. Snacks were eaten and friends were made at this comfortable, motivational event. Writers can tend to be an introverted bunch, so events like this are great for getting artists together to support one another and make connections with like minds. It was also a good opportunity for book lovers to come and visit with the authors of some of the great books sold at the bookstore.

The bookshop also hosts a local authors book club, where anyone can come and read books written by people in our own community and discover local talent.

The Rubaiyat bookstore is well on it’s way to becoming a hub of the creative community in Caldwell. With events like the authors open house, the local authors book club, and an upcoming open-Mic poetry event, the Rubaiyat is there to support local artists and book lovers. As the construction downtown makes it more and more difficult for the small businesses who have made their home there, it’s more important than ever for the community to, in turn, support our friends doing business downtown.

Book Review: A Town Like Alice

Nevil Shute (Norway) was an English novelist and aeronautical engineer. A Town Like Alice is a story about working for what you want.  It is also a love story.

Englishwoman Jean Paget survives a Japanese death walk during World War II only to find that she cannot return to the youthful interests of the pre-war girl.  Coming into an inheritance, she returns to Malaysia to repay kindness received from the natives during her ordeal.  While there, she discovers that Joe, the young Australian man who helped her during the war, has also survived.  Jean decides to go to Australia to find Joe, stopping briefly in Alice Springs, a lovely town in the Australian outback. Continuing her search, Jean arrives in Willstown, a scattering of buildings near the station where Joe is employed.  Willstown residents have outbackitis, the firm belief that because it is located in the outback of Australia that it will never be anything. And, indeed, there are few women and no reason for women to stay  there. And no Joe because he has gone to England to search for her.  While Jean waits for Joe’s return, she turns her mind to ways to improve Willstown.  Since Alice Springs is a lovely town, it must be possible.  And you will have to read the book for the rest of the story!

Shute’s writing style is brisk and spare; his story lines are clean with well rounded characters and clean endings.  I think “A Town Like Alice” should be required senior year reading.


Book Review: Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker

Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker

Mildred Walker (Schemm) (May 2, 1905 – May 27, 1998) an American novelist, who published 12 novels, was nominated for the National Book Award. She graduated from Wells College and from the University of Michigan. She was a faculty member at Wells College from 1955 to 1968.

I have received many requests for this book over the last five years, so when a copy finally crossed my desk, I moved it to the top of my reading pile.

Winter Wheat is a classic “coming of age” novel published in 1944.  This classic story is now a women’s history lesson and an accurate history of the settling of the west between World War I and World War II.  

The story opens with Ellen’s hopes of attending university in Minnesota. Away from the family wheat ranch for the first time, Ellen finds love and believes her future settled.  When her city fiancé is dismayed by his visit to the dry-land wheat ranch and calls off their marriage, complicated by a poor harvest, Ellen is left adrift and unable to return to university. The following winter is a time of maturing and learning to cope with life. Her adventures will seem horrific to the young women of today, but are much like my own mother’s stories of her girlhood.

This is a well written book, interesting as both a coming of age novel for girls as well as a history. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in agricultural history, women’s history or Montana history.

Book Review: Wild Berries of the West

Wild Berries of the West by Betty B. Derig and Margaret C. Fuller, illustrated by Mimi Osborne


Betty B. Derig has a master’s in history from the University of Montana. Derig has written numerous articles and four books on western history, including Roadside History of Idaho. Margaret C. Fuller has a biology degree from Stanford University and is a freelance writer.

Wild Berries of the West covers the northwest from the Rocky Mountains to the pacific coast, north to British Columbia and south into northern Mexico.  It is well written with beautiful identification photographs of many of the listed plants.  This field guide includes Native American lore, recipes, medicinal uses and gardening tips. The illustrated glossary of plant parts is clear and easily understood.

Wild Berries of the West is a good, solid field guide that would fit into the libraries of both the beginning naturalist and advanced survivalist.  I would recommend this book to anyone interested in native flora