Postcard Books - Yes, Mini Books Sent By Mail - From Paravion Press At Binnacle Books

Photo Credit:    Izdihar Dabashi

Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Summer is a haze of rush and lull with lazy days stretching like evening shadows and busy days of bustling afternoon traffic. Sunny seasons in Beacon are filled with expressions of travel: tourists flooding in for the various festivals and serenity of this riverside city; residents trickling in and out of town.

Traveler or not, postcards offer a distinctive alternative to a stale phone call or a routine text as a way of staying in touch. Especially intriguing, however, are postcard books - mini books to be mailed - available at Binnacle Books, published by Beacon-based Paravion Press.

What is a postcard book? The publisher at Paravion Press, Will Brady, enlightens us: “The concept came about at the shop in Greece [Atlantis Books, which Will co-founded] because we wanted to give customers an alternative to postcards, something they could mail easily but which had a bit of literary substance to it.”

The first page of a postcard book, intended for your short letter to your recipient. The rest of the essay or short story is printed on the pages behind this one. An envelope is included.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The first page of a postcard book, intended for your short letter to your recipient. The rest of the essay or short story is printed on the pages behind this one. An envelope is included.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Binnacle Books, a charming bookstore nestled on Beacon’s Main Street, sells a collection of these postcard books. Postcard books are short reads meant to be sent by mail. Each book comes with an envelope and a blank first page titled “for your correspondence” for the sender to add in a few words of their own. Postcard books reveal a sense of thoughtfulness to the receiver, the sender having chosen a specific title to express a particular theme or message creatively through stories or essays in place of mundane phrases and cliché sayings.

Says Kate, co-owner of Binnacle Books about the postcard book project: “We love Paravion Press because the books are really beautiful, and because we think that the power of literature is the strongest when people connect with each other through it: Paravion builds in a charming and unexpected way to share literature and we love that. Will Brady designs and prints new editions of all the works, specifically to be mailed and shared. It's a whole engaging intellectual and aesthetic experience in a mailable form.”

What Inspires A Person To Send A Postcard Book?

One girl in the bookstore said that she loved the postcard books because they made available essays that were otherwise hard to find, usually lost in other larger collections of essays. Years ago, she said, a friend had sent her a PDF of an essay she loved. She re-discovered the essay through a postcard book from Paravion Press, and sent it back in postcard book form to her friend with a handwritten note on the intended first page. Postage is the same as a regular letter.

What Titles Are Available In These Postcard Books?

Inside of Binnacle, I found seven postcard book titles. Five are included in their first collection, appropriately titled “The First Series.” The collection includes:

  • “The Beauties” by Anton Chekhov

  • “On The Decay Of The Art Of Lying” by Mark Twain

  • “Sophistication” by Sherwood Anderson

  • “The Lumber-Room” by Saki

  • “Feuille d’Album” by Katherine Mansfield.

The single titles include “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll and “How the First Letter Was Written” by Rudyard Kipling. Available in a variety of muted colors, from dusty maroon and delicate ivory to powder blue and subtle green, the sophisticated aesthetic adds to the appeal of miniature books in the mail.

A postcard book, “On The Decay Of The Art Of Lying,” by Mark Twain. Available in Binnacle Books. Envelope is included with the package. Postage is the same as a regular letter.  Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

A postcard book, “On The Decay Of The Art Of Lying,” by Mark Twain. Available in Binnacle Books. Envelope is included with the package. Postage is the same as a regular letter.
Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

On Sending A Postcard Book To One’s Self…

Mark Twain’s “On The Decay Of The Art Of Lying” immediately caught my eye in my search for a birthday card to send to a friend; I figured a postcard book would provide sentiment and provoke conversation. I could not help but skim over the words inside, and before I knew it, I thoughtfully read the brief 11 pages of this curious piece. A balance of sharp critique and tongue-in-cheek remarks, Mark Twain crafted a refreshing, clever piece unraveling the psychology of lying.

To my delight, Paravion Press sells three more postcard book collections online including “The Madrid Series,” “The London Series,” and “The New York Series.”

Is it strange that I wish to collect as many as I can to send to myself?

Writerly Happenings: March Is Packed With Writerly Things To Do! New Writers Circle, Book Clubs and More


Nicole from the hit Netflix show “Nailed It.”

By Phoebe Zinman

“Hellooo again!!”

Ideally, I’d like you to have heard that “Helloooo” in the voice of Nicole from “Nailed It,” but since that’s not likely we will move on immediately to…

“What Are You Reading?” The Co-Worker Edition

At my new full-time job, I surveyed women I work with, who are surviving working with me, in order to bring you these highly skilled and marketable reading recommendations. To keep their persons anonymous, I have revealed them only by nicknames.

The HBIC sent an email marked with High Importance and instructions not to delete her cosigning of Karen Moning’s “Highlander” series (this co-worker is indeed a fan of all things magic and supernatural and Irish).

writerly happenings caleb carr.jpg

The Chorus Line duo is all about jazz hands. One is reading “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr, which combines suspense, historical fiction and justice (what more does one really need?), while the other is feeling the women’s empowerment of “We” by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel.

The Little Bird is making sure her glam new highlights didn’t fry any brain cells by staying up all night reading “Neverwhere” by sometime Hudson Valley resident Neil Gaiman and feeling very dreamy about it.

And the Silver Fox is multitasking as usual, with “Purity” by Jonathan Franzen and “All About Love” by bell hooks (also on my list).

As for myself, I just started “The Ticking is the Bomb” by Nick Flynn and am withholding comment until later because I’m cold-hearted like that. 

“What’s Going On? I’m Losing My Mind In This Weather!”

So what’s going on in the writerly corners of the Hudson Valley that you can get out to, since we are all about to lose our minds in the weather soup that is March?


A new game in town (at least to me) is the Writer’s Circle at the Garrison Institute on Wednesday, March 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, looking super lovely and free of charge. Bonus round: It includes time for meditation, reflection, writing, and sharing.


Binnacle Books in Beacon is doing its boozy book club at Denning’s Point Distillery on Wednesday, March 13, and you want to be there. “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah (of The Daily Show) is what’s on the menu. Get 10% off the book at the store, and $5 cocktails to sip whilst you tilt your head thoughtfully. 

P.S. EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you Binnacle Books for becoming a regular sponsor of A Little Beacon Blog’s Shopping Guide! It’s quite an honor to have an independent bookstore show their appreciation and value with a sponsorship!

Hudson Valley Writer’s Workshop has their monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 6, and a Facebook page full of other things to investigate.

Split Rock Books in Cold Spring is on winter vacation until Monday, March 4, with limited hours until then. I’m personally pleased as punch for any small business owners who take a little time to recharge. And they are going to need it for March, because whatever your book club preference may be (History, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Kids Club) they have you covered this month. Also on tap in March: a drawing night, fermentation workshop, and readings by locals and beyond.

John Blesso is hosting the second Adult Stories reading series at Oak Vino on Friday, March 8, with a great lineup of writers telling “true stories of an offbeat, edgy, or emotionally-challenging nature told without notes or pages.” $5 and please arrive on time at 7 pm so as not to interrupt. (I’m side-eyeing myself here, if that’s anatomically possible.)


Get Lit on Sunday, March 10, features two speakers about award-winning children’s literature power couple James Ransome (illustrator) and Lesa Cline-Ransome (author). In addition to their collaborations on books about Serena and Venus Williams, Harriet Tubman, Louis Armstrong and Alvin Ailey, James is also the artist behind the beautiful mural at the Adriance Library in Poughkeepsie.

Lucky us! Get Lit founder Julie Chibbaro is doing a an ongoing writing workshop for teens called “Write Your Own Adventure” for ages 12-15 on four Thursdays (March 7-28), and an adult writing intensive on Saturday, March 30, at the Howland Library in Beacon. Also free! See here for details.


Stop in to Quinn’s on Tuesday, March 12, and stay a while as readers from Ruth Danon’s Live Writing workshop take to the stage at 7 pm. I am not reading this time, but I will be eating some pickled plum and clapping like mad for them.


Meanwhile, The Artichoke Storytelling Series at the Howland Cultural Center, hosted by Drew Prochaska, is SOLD OUT! It features storytellers from The Moth, Risk! and Story Collider, as well as Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening. If you were considering moving to Beacon, Fishkill, or Wappingers (anywhere close to the Howland Cultural Center), this new series is a pretty compelling reason!

On Tuesday, March 26, you can start your National Poetry Month festivities early (move over, St. Paddy’s Day) up in Tivoli with this brilliant mashup of poetry and philosophy at Murray’s Coffeeshop (the coffee is super good there) from Bard College and the Poetry Foundation. “The Words We Live By: Poetry and Philosophy in Conversation” features poet Fred Moten and author Robert Gooding-Williams, and looks to be a deep well. It’s introduced by this quote by Hannah Arendt: “The storehouse of memory is kept and watched over by the poets, whose business it is to find and make the words we live by.”

Phew! That was a lot of must-dos for this month. If you hear of any throughout the year, email me at

EDITOR’S NOTE: Surprise! An Editor’s Note, because we couldn’t just stop writing in the Writerly Happenings section! If you love this Writerly Happening series as much as we do, and if you love helping promote writers and illustrators and books, then consider becoming a regular Supporting Sponsor! You can get your logo published bright and shiny at the top of this article, and each article we publish a month. Or, if you are a regular person with no business but really want to be a Sponsoring Individual, you can! Please see our Media Kit page for details, and other opportunities for sponsorship. All of our sponsoring advertisers help us get the word out, pay our writers, and grow this publication as a self-sustaining, family-friendly business. Thank you!

A Big Thank You To Our Supporting Sponsors Of The Shopping Guide!

A big Thank You to the sponsors and supporting businesses of A Little Beacon Blog’s Shopping Guide!

This is a Guide we created that includes all shops in Beacon (if we missed you, email us!), and businesses have the opportunity to stand out with a Sponsor Spot to show readers photos inside of their shops, and special events.

Supporting Sponsors include Luxe Optique, Lambs Hill Bridal Boutique, Binnacle Books and La Mère Clothing + Goods. Thank you so much! Your ongoing support helps us maintain these Guides, and produce the Happening This Weekend newsletter that everybody loves that comes out on Fridays. We’re busy working on that today!

An exciting weekend is coming up, with Second Saturday and the Parade of Green! You can always visit the Shopping Guide here, that lists all shops with addresses and links. Share with your friends who are visiting! Or use it yourself to go inside the stores! You'll be so happy you did.

If you run a business and are interested in participating, click here to our Media Kit for details.

Postbooks - Books To Be Mailed

Books meant to be mailed - better than a postcard, according to and available at Binnacle Books. We agree! In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, #putastamponit!

Binnacle Books is a sponsor of A Little Beacon Blog’s Shopping Guide, and helps make it possible for us to get the word out about everything local! Thank you for supporting businesses who support us! Click on the Guides + Calendars tabs above to get the Shopping Guide, and get the lowdown on all the shops in Beacon from one place.


Writerly Happenings: Live Storytelling, Book Releases & New Writing Opportunities!

Hi Hi Hi! It’s Phoebe here. It’s been so long, I know, did you miss me? We wanted to wait til after the holidays to round up the best of the local literary scene and now we have eaten all the brie and there are so many good writerly happenings afoot to attend! We will do them all! We are leaning in to 2019! Actually, we are so tired, we are mostly falling over, but the love of the written word sustains us, does it not? (Love of the written word, and brie - life sustainers.)

But first we need to discuss what to read right now. This is the transitional part, like when Mr. Rogers changes his shoes and cardigan. (Why, oh why, won’t he ever pick the red one?) 

So… I’m currently reading “The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz, which is threatening to turn me into the woman with too many rings on who can’t shut up about the amazingly transformational book she is reading. Also I just ate up the delicious entirety of the new memoir “She Wants It” by Jill Soloway, the creator of “Transparent,” and I highly recommend. Still working on “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje.

I also asked around for recs. Kristen Holt-Browning, writer and editor and co-producer of Get Lit, just finished reading “Northwood” by Maryse Meijer, a sort of novella-in-poems. She says it's a dark, twisty, fairytale-ish story of desire and obsession and also a physically gorgeous object, with white text printed on black pages. Sounds fierce.

Extremely well-published and well-coifed writer Lily Burana is reading “Thick” by Kiese Laymon, and “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel” by Alexander Chee. She’s happily frolicking in the bumper crop of essay collections that have been published in the past few years.

Ok. I’m ready now. Let’s lean/fall/dive/plunge/bellyflop on in.

January 2019 Writerly Happenings 

This Weekend!

The Artichoke at the Howland. Saturday, January 12, 7:30 pm, is sold out online, but not sure if there will be additional tickets at the door. Mentioning here anyway because it is just so cool that this is coming to Beacon. It’s an evening of live storytelling by The Artichoke, hosted by Drew Prochaska and featuring Sandi Marx (seven-time Grand Slam Winner, The Moth), Jeff Simmermon (Grand Slam Winner, The Moth; This American Life), Drew Prochaska (Risk!; Story Collider), Richard Cardillo (Risk!; Stories from the Stage, Susan Kent (The Moth), Micaela Blei (Grand Slam Winner, The Moth), Vanessa Golenia (Risk!) and John Blesso. Can’t get in? Well there’s another chance to do something similar on Sunday the 20th, but you must read on.

Also on Second Saturday is a book release event for Traffic Street Press’ "Trafficking in Poetry" series. The book "Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands" is a collaboration between Paulette Myers-Rich, the visual artist Greg Slick and poet Seán Monagle. A limited number of copies are available for purchase at the book signing at No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works on Main Street from 3 to 8 pm. 

Get Lit is happening this Sunday, January 13, from 5 to 8 pm at Oak Vino. The featured speakers will be authors Jessie Chaffee and Brendan Kiely, and as always, anyone who wants to read is invited to sign up to do so at the beginning of the event - bring two or three pages of original writing to share. But also if you are new to writing, or sharing your writing, you answer the monthly prompt about what your New Year’s resolutions are, and then sign up for a one-minute slot. Literally, it’s just a hot minute.

Also In January!

On Sunday, January 20 at Dogwood at 5 pm, John Blesso will be hosting the first installment of “Adult Stories,” a new and developing monthly storytelling series that intends to be like The Moth, but edgier. He’s looking for people willing to share “funny stories, harrowing stories, sex stories, emotionally charged stories, and inebriation/bad-choice stories.” If you’re interested please send him pitches for stories between six and ten minutes long! He’s working with Donna Minkowitz and Drew Prochaska on this, if you miss The Artichoke, or just want more storytelling. All the stories!

What’s that about local memoir writer Donna Minkowitz? Funky Spunky Literature Night (Redux) is a game-show-like Community Memoir Write-a-Thon with prizes for the best sentences and scenes that audience members write about their own lives. She will be joined by professional storyteller Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi at Quinn’s on Wednesday, January 30, from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. She’s also got an 8-Week Memoir-Writing Workshop coming up, focused on craft, particularly on using the five senses, lyricism, emotion, storytelling, and critical insight to create profound and relatable works of memoir. Wednesday nights from February 6 through March 27, 7 to 9 pm. To apply, please email with a one-page writing sample.

Poet and teacher extraordinaire Ruth Danon (to whom I’m a bit partial, not going to even pretend otherwise) is going to start writing improvisation classes the week of January 29. Currently she’s planning on Tuesdays, from 9:30 am to 12 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, but the time can be flexible based on everyone’s schedules… The fee is $275 for eight weeks and includes a private conference (at least one) and a public reading. Contact for more information.

Beacon’s magnificent Binnacle Books is featuring “The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai for its next book club. I loved that book. So, so much sobbing. This month the book club will meet at the bookstore, but often is at Dennings Point Distillery.

And just downstream (or not, as our majestic and tidal Hudson River flows both ways) in Cold Spring, Split Rock books has a million events, or at least five, to get you through January and smarter on the other end.

The divine “Out Stealing Horses” by Per Petterson was the January book club choice at the Beacon Library, and we were sad to miss it, but the pick for February is “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaedra Patrick and it sounds charming. The Butterfield Library in Cold Spring has a writing workshop with Susan Wallach in January and almost always a box of free books to rummage.

As always, we want to big up independent bookstores that may be a bit farther afield:

Rough Draft in Kingston has happy hours, sip and writes and plenty of other happenings; the Golden Notebook in Woodstock has a terrific event lineup, as usual; and we are wanting to go check out Oblong Books which has somehow escaped our research until now. We’ll report back next month.

Now dear reader, go put on a cardigan and some fresh slippers and get to it. Write! Read! Make it happen!

Beacon Local Nate Chinen Publishes Jazz Book “Playing Changes” - Order at Binnacle Books

Literary talent alert for the Hudson Valley and Beacon in particular! Our own Beaconite Nate Chinen, an American jazz critic, New York Times music critic, and Director of Editorial Content at WBGO Jazz, has released his book, Playing Changes, published by Knopf Doubleday Books. I'm placing my order at our local bookstore, Binnacle Books! It's so easy to pop into Binnacle to order whatever I'm looking to read, with assistance from the helpful person behind the counter.

Here’s what it’s about, according to Google Books: “One of jazz’s leading critics gives us an invigorating, richly detailed portrait of the artists and events that have shaped the music of our time. Grounded in authority and brimming with style, Playing Changes is the first book to take the measure of this exhilarating moment: it is a compelling argument for the resiliency of the art form and a rejoinder to any claims about its calcification or demise.” It earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly - this book is kind of a big deal!

Looking forward to reading the hardcover edition!