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Archive for the ‘Bookstores’ Category

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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TheBookstoreA

I am in the midst of reading The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell. It’s a lovely, TheBookshopBookfast reading book and one any bookstore fan should read. But more of that later.

In the book, she mentions The Bookstore in Wigtown, Scotland. So, I went to their website, which is: http://www.the-bookshop.com/.

If you do nothing else, just watch the video. Who says bookstore workers don’t have rhythm?

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TheBookstoreDid you ever read a book and the more you got into it, the more it seems like you read it already but nothing in your records shows that you did? I didn’t blog about it. It’s not in my Librarything library. Yet, the more I read The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler, the more I remembered reading it…but maybe not.

The plot is simple. Brit Esme Gardner is on scholarship at Columbia to study art history, in particular Thiebaud. Several weeks into her New York residency, she attends an art gallery event and meets the ultra rich, ultra suave Mitchel van Leuven, an old monied guy. During their one and only unprotected sexual encounter, Esme gets pregnant. After deciding to keep the baby, she must then decide to tell or not tell Mitchell. Since they’re not an ‘item’, she decides against it. Thinking that money might come in handy with a baby on the way, Esme sees a help wanted since in the Owl Bookstore that she frequents and gets the job. Of course she ultimately does tell the father. You can guess the rest. It is no secret that Mitchell is a shit and ultimately her bookstore friends win out.

The book jacket says “A sharply observed and evocative tale of learning to face reality without giving up your dreams, The Bookstore is sheer enchantment from start to finish.” And it is. You’ll fall in love with Esme, with the bookstore employees and customers. You’ll truly hate Mitchell, right from the start. So, people who aren’t familiar with this particular bookstore, but love bookstores in general, will certainly enjoy this book.

Ms. Meyler, actually British herself, worked in a bookstore on Broadway in the upper west side, which apparently is a source for her bookstore.Westsider2 I have no doubt it is Westsider Books on Broadway between 80th and 81st Streets. When she new_york_361_westsider_books_4e9348a06a1074578c000273_store_main_newdescribes the narrow staircase with books on both sides, this is what I envision. I can see the books two deep on the shelves. I can picture the cramped quarters upstairs and the books going all the way up to the ceiling.

So, for me, the book had an extraWestsiders3added attraction. I wondered, as I read the book, whether Ms. Meyler was working on any of the days I wandered through its aisles. It’s definitely possible. 

So, the two things you should do are : (i) read The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler and (ii) go to Westsider Books. Enjoy.

 

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StoriedLifeOfAJFikryI guess Book Page said best. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry “…is as enchanting a book as you will read this year.” And so it is. Although it is a love story, it is NOT, I repeat, NOT chick lit. There is a cop in it, so guys, you can read it and not be embarrassed.

So, I said it is a love story but it is the love of a man and literature, the love of a man and a child, the love of a man and a woman. It is not false or mushy or contrived. It is genuine love.

I’m finding that less and less do I want to summarize the plot of some of these wonderful books that I’ve recently read. Even a short synopsis may taint your opinion before opening the cover. So instead, the format is interesting. Each chapter begins with A. J.’s short analysis of a short story, because to him good short stories are the ultimate in writing achievements. Then it goes on to tell the story, somehow relating it to the critique.

A. J. Fikry is the owner of Island Books on Alice Island, Washington State, thus the book connection. That is the extent of my synopsis. You’ll have to take my word and the word of most of the critics who have reviewed the book. It’s worth reading. As a matter of fact, I’m toying with the idea of buying a copy (I borrowed my library’s copy). That’s how much I liked it. It’s on the top of my list of 2014 adult books. I think teens might like it as well. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. After you read it, let me know what you think.

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Happy Holidays

I know many of us are all stressed out, bogged down with last minute gift shopping, bucking the crowds at the malls. It’s interesting to note that in the past week, we’ve had three outbreaks of fisticuffs at the library, a telling indicator of the stress caused by the materialism of the holidays, the economy and world events.

So, while I know it’s difficult, I hope that this holiday season we take time out to appreciate the meaning of the holidays…the miracles we overlook every day like a child’s laughter, the sun casting its light on us in the morning and lowering in the evening, the vision of a family of deer, their white tails receding in the distance as they bound over the hillside, white fields of virgin snow in the winter transforming into fertile fields of greenery each spring. I could go on and on.

I know I’ve been blessed this year with family and friends. As the year draws to a close, I relish looking back at the year’s events and the happiness they’ve brought: holidays in Cape Cod and Warwick with Susan, graduations, new jobs, new apartments. We tend to dwell on the negative, but let’s resolve to dwell on the positive from now on.

So, from my family to yours, we all wish you a happy holiday season.

Ed

P.S. May the season be filled with the wonderousness of books and the worlds they open to all of us. And where do you get these great books? At your libraries and independent bookstores. So, support them! You need them and they need you. (I had to put this in!)

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I buy my share of used books and I typically start with the major online sellers, BarnesandNoble.com, Alibris, Abe’s Books and Amazon.  What’s nice about them though, is that they steer you to independent, online retailers and sometimes, for some reason or other you strike up a conversation with them or something about them strikes your fancy and you become a customer.

And so it was with Marie of LD Books. I bought a book from her and because of the tight wrapping, I ended up nicking the book with a scissor when I opened it. Being a stickler for unblemished books when I can get them, I wrote to Marie suggesting in the future that she leave a little scissor room on the package so customers can get their scissors under the tape and open the package without damaging the book. Really and truly, a constructive suggestion. Marie ended up refunding my purchase price, despite my protestations. (I donated the proceeds to an upstate library that lost much of its children’s collection due to flooding.) She also asked whether it would be alright to suggest future books should they come her way.

And then there is CDBaby who, when confirming my order wrote: ”

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, November 23, 2011.
We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Sigh…
We miss you already. We’ll be right here at http://cdbaby.com/, patiently awaiting your return.”
There is something about the small guy. Mystery on Main in Brattleboro, VT or the Old Bookstore in Unionville, NY or CD Baby or LD Books–and these are only a few. They provide you with more than a product.  They provide you with old fashioned customer service.  They earn their reputation the hard way…by working hard to make customers happy.
So, forget about Amazon’s request that you scan a book at a local bookstore and then buy it through Amazon for a 5% discount.  Amazon will never, ever, give you the excellent customer service that the independent bookstores will give you.  So, please, please, please patronize your local book stores and music stores. They deserve your business.

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Last Saturday, in the midst of the snow storm, I told you Susan and I set out for Old Books, the Unionville, NY bookstore.  The owner, William McDonnell is a friendly sort of guy and, once you’re there for a bit, he begins to warm up and chat with you.

After searching for a while, I came up with this copy of Anatole France’s The Crimes of Sylvestre Bonnard, published in Boston in 1911. As you can guess, the cover attracted me.

Bill said that between 1880 and 1910 book covers reached new levels of sophistication and were works of art.  If you look closely, you can see the artist’s initials in the lower right corner.  Book designing was big business.  Unfortunately, around 1910, wonderful book cover designs gave way to the paper book jacket.

So, now I’m on the search for more information about book covers between 1880-1910.  I’ve ordered some books through interlibrary loan, contacted an author of a paper on the subject who is sending me a copy of her paper and I’ll see what I can dig up.  This may be a whole new area of book collecting for me.  (I’ve got all those Warwick bookshelves to fill up.)

Susan asked me whether I’m going to read this copy of the book or get a copy out of the library.  But I think I’ve got to read this one, while being very careful–the paper is thin.  But this is a beautiful book that should be enjoyed both by looking at it and reading it.  I’ll let you know how it is.

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Susan and I started out early Saturday (maybe late morning) for the Old Bookstore in Unionville, NJ.  It was snowing lightly and, of course, we got a little lost, so it took us longer to get there than it should have.  The owner is a nice guy and once you’re there for a few minutes, he starts chatting with you and gets kind of friendly.  But more about the bookstore in another post…I promise.

Anyway, poor Harley was in the car while we browsed and by the time we came out, it was snowing harder.  Leave it to us to get lost coming home as well.

As we sat in the living room watching the snow fall and accumulate, all of the sudden I watched as a 15 – 20 foot pine tree fell across our yard, on top of our little Colorado spruce. Poor little guy.  Susan and I sawed off a few branches later to make sure he was unscathed.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, as we sat we heard CRACK!!!!! and watched and listened as branches fell. The next morning we saw what we had lost…not too bad, considering the weight of the snow bowed many of our tree branches and shrubs.

But we did learn one thing, folks.  If a Tree Falls in the Forest, it does make a sound, regardless of who’s there to hear it.

Hope you all weren’t affected by this past weekend’s snow storm.

Ed

P.S.  Off to bake a blueberry bundt cake.  We’ll see how that comes out.

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