Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

It was hard to believe that someone could write 227 pages on library card catalogs, but in reality, three quarters of those pages are photos. Written by the Library of Congress, The Card Catalog: Books, Cards and Literary Treasures includes a short history on the evolution of the card catalog and is mostly a venue to display various books in its collection (mostly first editions)…alongside of which is a copy of an index card from a card catalog. This is all fine with me.


For those of us who are library users, the card catalog is a thing of the past…unless, like me, you have one in your home. Those user friendly little index cards detailing the pertinent information about a book have gone electronic and there is no more flipping through cards to find what you’re looking for…as lamented by various authors and poets when asked to sign catalog cards of their works for an exhibit.

The various great libraries of the world, especially the one in ancient Alexandria, needed some way of cataloging their holdings. As writing surfaces evolved from papyrus to codex to paper, the ability to catalog library holdings improved, both from the framework of the writing implements as well as the system by which items were cataloged. Most of us are familiar with the Dewey Decimal System and some of us with the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

The Library of Congress itself evolved from a library to support the fledgling United States Congress to becoming the premier library in the world, supplying cataloging information to libraries worldwide.

One tidbit of note: in the initial training programs for librarians in the United States, the penmanship of an index card used for cataloging purposes was one of the courses.

If you’re looking for some easy reading about books or want to learn a little bit about the cataloging of books, The Card Catalog is an enjoyable two day read. Book lovers will enjoy this immensely.


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TheLittleParisBookshopLet me start of by saying The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is not a guy book. I don’t normally segregate books by the gender of the reader, but in this case it’s the truth.

Jean Perdu (which means ‘lost’ in French) is truly lost. His lover, Manon, left him 21 years ago and he still hasn’t gotten over it. His apartment is devoid of furniture and he has a huge jigsaw puzzle on his floor, which he takes apart on completion and begins anew.

He lives in a small apartment building inhabited by a peculiar group of neighbors. One is a young and acclaimed writer, Max Jordan, who is hiding from his adoring fans, especially those expecting a new book which is not forthcoming. A new arrival is Catherine who has been in a loveless marriage for 20 years and has recently been thrown out by her husband with nothing but the clothes on her back. It is inevitable that Perdu and Catherine, two lost souls, would meet.

Perdu is a book seller (which is what attracted me to the book initially). His shop is a barge docked on the Seine and he considers it a Literary Apothecary. According to him, he can see into people’s souls and know exactly what book to prescribe to mend a broken heart or a broken soul.

For reasons you need to find out for yourself, Perdu impulsively pulls anchor and embarks upon a voyage. Of course you know it’s a voyage of self discovery. At the last minute, Max jumps on board and the two experience this life voyage together. As per the Publishers Weekly review, “Though George’s prose is sometimes a bit overwrought and the “physician, heal thyself” plot device has been done to death, her cast of engaging characters [on the river voyage and in the apartment building] keeps the story moving. Her sumptuous descriptions of both food and literature will leave readers unsure whether to run to the nearest library or the nearest bistro.” I agree, and the recipes she includes at the end of the book are an added bonus.

George’s prose do get a little bogged down, but there are some gems as well. Such as when Perdu is pondering his life,  “Where did the last twenty years go? The south is a vivd blue, Catherine. Your color is missing here. It would make everything shine all the more brightly.” Her discussion of literature is way beyond my comfort zone, both the real and the fictional literature. I much prefer her descriptions of the river towns the duo stop at and the quirky people that inhabit them.

I consider myself somewhat of a romantic but the story was a little over the top for me. Yes, we all have regrets and we’ve all suffered romantic heartbreaks, but to have put ones life on hold for 21 years seems a bit much to me.

The Little Paris Bookshop is an ode to love of the life long kind. I’m sure it exists and I wish I had experienced it as a young man. In some respects I’m jealous of Perdu. But in many others, I’m glad I’m not him. Your opinion?

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TheBookshopBookThere are readers. There are library people and there are bookstore people and while they aren’t mutually exclusive, they aren’t necessarily the same. Someone I know only likes libraries because of their neatness and order and can’t even abide the used book sale shelves we have in the library. Others love the unexpected you can find in a bookstore, especially a used book store…the clutter in the midst of which you find that book you didn’t know you were looking for.

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell is primarily for the used book store lovers, although Ms. Campbell does mention several modern, pristine looking bookstores, as well. Segmented by geographic area, she picks out the unusual, the odd, the bookstore that will attract bookstore lovers. There is the bookstore that is on a 60 foot narrowboat that runs up and down the canals in Lichfield, UK, “…where there’s tea and biscuits and a sneaky glass of wine…there are sofas to sit on, and refreshments to be had…” Makes you want to go there, huh?

Or how about Wigtown, the National Book Town of Scotland where you will find The Bookshop. For a small fee, you can join the Random Book Club, in which they will send (anywhere in the world) you a random second hand book every month. I joined and Susan just received her first book. She can’t wait to read it. You MUST watch the video on their website.

There is Tell a Story in Portugal whose goal is to “…promote Portuguese literature by selling English translations of its works to British tourists from a bookshop van that tours the country.” The Libraria Acqua Alta in Venice which overlooks the canal. I can’t imagine the moisture in those book pages.

Fjaerland Book Town in Norway has a wonderful view of snow covered mountains. The Biblioburro in Colombia, South America is a man on his burro making sure people in the outskirts have material to read.

I could go on an on. There are famous bookstores, like the Strand in New York and unknown bookstores. The book includes comments by bookstore owners, many of whom had always wanted to own a bookstore but wouldn’t take the chance until retirement age. Ms. Campbell includes Bookish Facts, and Some Wonderful Things scattered throughout, as well as comments by authors, again both famous and somewhat less so. She covers six of the seven continents…no bookstores in Antarctica, I gather.

I found this to be a charming book and one I will consult as we plan our next trip, both here and abroad. Do yuou love bookstores? If so, go to your nearest one and pick up a copy of The Bookshop Book.


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