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Friday, June 30, 2006

Bibliothecary in a Box

Go visit us at Box of Books. Many thanks to Ella for hosting the party!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Eight, in which Books are found on Television

Few television executives have figured out how to make books profitable for them. Masterpiece Theatre does a decent job dramatizing the classics. C-SPAN offers the venerable Book-TV which focuses on non-fiction. Weekends they fill with interviews--the best have been entire afternoons with authors such as Shelby Foote and Isabel Allende--and events such as readings and signings and panel discussions. Charlie Rose seems to interview a lot of authors. Do we see a not-for-profit pattern?

If you don't mind something not quite so serious, there are a couple wonderful shows geared toward children. Between the Lions is about a family of well-to-do lions that lives in a mansion and likes to read books. There are a lot of segments that are similar to what we remember about Sesame Street: a recital of words ending in -at, a celebration of the letter e; sounding out words. There is also a white-haired man who makes noises and is generally a little bit creepy. But then there are the wonderful parts that delight the viewer: Brian McKnight sings a love song about homonyms; Dr. Ruth Wordheimer helps troubled readers; and the antics of the lion cubs are fun. In today's episode, they followed a treasure map that told them to "Turn left" then "Turn left" then "Turn left"--at which point they were baffled, bemused, and resigned--then "Turn left again" then "Take twenty-seven steps to the left." They end up in the library and are instructed to remove the seventh book from the left on the second shelf. They find it, entitled, appropriately enough, The Seventh Book from the Left on the Second Shelf. Our favorite regular feature is "Gawain's Word" hosted by Sir Gawain in full armor. He introduces us to two knights who will ride at one another and form a word. Sir Gr and Sir Ape charge hard and crash into the word grape. Excellent!

An even better show is about a dog named Wishbone. This little Jack Russell loves to sit, stay, and read. (He also has his own series of books, with titles like The Hunchdog of Notre Dame.) And as soon as his paws start turning the pages, his mind begins imagining himself in the story. A voice-over tells the audience what is going through his canine cranium. He might become a four-legged Robin Hood, complete with pointed green feathered Erroll Flynn cap, bow, and arrows. In the mean time, his pack leaders are involved in some sort of drama that is similar in theme to the book Wishbone is all barked up over. This dog enacts all kinds of classic literary scenes and makes them fun. After he turns the last page, he lays his head down and, one would assume, dreams about cats or bones or the Eukanuba World Championships. The pack leaders learn something from their experience, and we learn that a tired dog is a good dog. Roof!

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Nine, in which is presented the fourth Review of the Slaves of Golconda

If not for the Slaves of Golconda, your Bibliothecary most likely would never have picked up a book by Muriel Spark. Now, in the past two months, we have read two: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Loitering With Intent. The second was not the book we had proposed to read for extra credit, but it was at hand, and the other wasn't. So, having read two novels by an author we were aware of but had never been interested in, we thank Sylvia for her choice.

We were surprised to learn Muriel Spark just died two months ago. In 1993 she became Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, in recognition of her services to literature. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is Ms. Spark's sixth novel, originally published 1961. Time magazine recently listed it among their 100 Best English-Language Novels since 1923. In her autobiography, Ms. Spark identified Miss Christina Kay and the James Gillespie School in Edinburgh as the models for Brodie and the Marcia Blaine Junior School where she teaches. Loitering With Intent is Ms. Spark's sixteenth novel, published in 1981.

Let us dispense with the second book first.

Loitering With Intent

The narrator, a novelist called Fleur Talbot, is enlisted by a wealthy old man called Sir Quentin to help ghost-write the autobiographies of his circle of friends. She finds their stories boring, and so proceeds to embellish them. The more she comes to know the members of the Autobiographical Association, the more they remind her of characters in the novel she has been writing, until she begins to suspect she has been hired merely to mine her fiction. When Sir Quentin accuses her of misusing him and his friends as models for her novel, she must quickly figure out who is on her side and who is not in order to prevent Sir Quentin from destroying the manuscript.

Fleur seems to be a good woman, befriending the elderly mother of Sir Quentin when everyone else tries to shut her away. She maintains a casual relationship with the wife of her former lover, even after she discovers the woman has betrayed her. She completes her novels, she perseveres, she is not a victim. She learns from her experience, which she marks as the end of her poverty and her youth. Still, she is just one of a strange lot of people who seem to deserve one another. None of the Autobiographical Association seem to have a purpose in life, and perhaps it is thus they are so easily lured in by Sir Quentin.

This is a novel that contains a bit of mystery, a hint of suspense, and much reference to the writing life. It was easy to fall into, quick to read, and confusing only if we tried to keep accurate track of time--Fleur is in the present, beginning her story in the near past, from where she flashes back to the distant past, and then freely refers back to the present now and again.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

There is near the end of the novel a paragraph that succinctly describes Jean Brodie:
She thinks she is Providence, thought Sandy, she thinks she is the God of Calvin, she sees the beginning and the end. And Sandy thought, too, the woman is an unconscious Lesbian. And many theories from the books of psychology categorised Miss Brodie, but failed to obliterate her image from the canvases of one-armed Teddy Lloyd.
Though Miss Brodie teaches her students many things outside the standard school curriculum, she does not reveal everything. The girls begin to fill in the spaces in their instruction with their own imaginings, much like the other teachers do in their knowledge of Miss Brodie. Two of the girls fabricate a series of love letters between Miss Brodie and Gordon Lowther, the music teacher. The last letter of the series is the only one presented, and provides a moment of great humor. Ms. Spark does a wonderful job of capturing the thoughts of pre-teen girls on the edge of obsession about sex. They have Miss Brodie recall a moment of passion with Lowther, and then go on to say:
"I may permit misconduct to occur again from time to time as an outlet because I am in my Prime."
And the closing:
"Allow me, in conclusion, to congratulate you warmly upon your sexual intercourse, as well as your singing."
We have a soft place for unorthodox school teachers. To a great extent, modern public education in America has devolved into mere skills training so that students will become productive members of the economy. Anyone who teaches critical thinking to students, as Miss Brodie clearly does, gets a gold star beside their name on our classroom poster. We had the privilege of a teacher who would take class outdoors on fine days; a teacher who taught algebra in advance of the curriculum; and a political science teacher who showed murder/mystery films in class, and who would discuss anything. What joy to have John Keating for a teacher.

Unfortunately, it feels as if Miss Brodie goes a little too far. We had an uneasy feeling when she would speak of her personal life with her grade-school girls. And she seemed to prefer the company of these girls, who she so easily influenced, and over whom she held a position of authority, to the company of her peers, by whom she felt mainly threatened. She does engage in a love affair, yet it does not strike us as genuine, and she suggests with determination that one of her girls become the lover, in her place, of her true love interest, Teddy Lloyd. While Miss Brodie is dismissed in the end because of politics alone, and she regularly champions her strong morals, her influence over the children borders uncomfortably on exploitation.

Lurking hidden by her prime, hypocrisy clouds much of Miss Brodie's thoughts and teachings. Why does she believe it would be unseemly for her to become the lover of a married man, but it would be fine for one of her students? Why does she urge her students to be individualists, but try to keep them together under her wing--the Brodie set--and sing the praises of the fascisti?

Several things struck us about both novels. First, they are brief in length. They might be called novellas--The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was published first in a magazine--and yet they feel to us more like an expanded slice-of-life short story, or maybe even a whole pie of life. They do not create a world, though, as most of the best novels do.

Second, Miss Brodie and Sir Quentin are both characters who aspire to gather others around them and manipulate, if not control, them. In these two cases, the end result is not in their favor. According to the Literary Encyclopedia, these are both personifications of a control figure that Ms. Spark uses frequently in her fiction.

Third, Ms. Spark's narratives moved back and forth in time. Though we began The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with the mildest of confusion, the shifts were done extremely well. Within the space of a few sentences, even within the same paragraph, the reader would move from past to future and then back to present. For aspiring writers who desire to do the same, Ms. Spark provides a fine example of how to accomplish it smoothly, clearly, and without disruption to the story. Time is so fluid in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, it would require careful study to plot the events in chronological order and determine whether or not the skips are purposeful to the novel, or merely an omniscient style with which Ms. Spark is comfortable, and proficient.

Finally, Ms. Spark writes in a style in both books that to us is reminiscent of John Gardner. Both writers seem completely in control of their stories. Their books read pleasantly, with a careful workmanship flavor. The language is correct and exact. Despite all these qualities, their books stir little emotion. There are no characters we identify with or root for. We would probably not recommend them for enjoyment, yet we wouldn't offer them up at the next book burning. We struggled to find much to say beyond a synopsis of both Ms. Spark's books. Though Julie enjoyed Loitering With Intent, Suzanne commented that she had read the book but had no recollection of it at all. That is how it seems to us to be with Ms. Spark: we read her books, and then we move on to the next book in the TBR pile.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Interlude: Redirect

We don't often do this, so take note. If you enjoy intelligent, insightful, and incandescent writing about literature, there is a wonderful blog we have chanced upon by following a comment on So Many Books. Prepare to be grabbed, sucked in, and eager for more when you visit Tales from the Reading Room. Go there. Now.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chapter One Hundred Twenty Seven, in which the Bookshop turns One

On 10 June, our bookshop, Mad About Books, marked its first anniversary. In most ways it has not felt like a year, and it is amazing to note how fast twelve months can pass. This blog began mainly as a way to record our experiences as a bookshop owner. The forces of evolution have turned it into the musings of a book-fancier, with an occassional sandwich for Ella. The transformation feels natural, yet we wanted to take a few lines to revisit some of our earlier points, and bring us back to where we came from so we can see better where we are today.

Throughout the year we have improved our selection of books, and increased the categories, like history, that our customers have asked for. On our book hunts we have located many specific books people have asked for. When people have asked us to order a book for them, we have done that for them as a service, not for profit. The accounts for our first year have closed in the red. Expenses have been steady and what we expected, with the exception of a high electricity bill. We also had the unexpected expense of repairing a malfunctioning "S" in our neon "BOOKS" sign. We offer fresh coffee nearly every day, which most people pass on, as well as mints at the counter, and classical music in the air.

We have met some interesting, odd, irritating, and wonderful people. We have discovered that some (older) people do not want to pay any more than garage sale prices for a book. A few people have happily used us a convenient way to find books that they have wanted in places far away, and bring them to them. Many of our regulars come in regularly and purchase a couple books at a time. Tourists--we are located on the back road to a popular state park--who stop unexpectedly usually find something they want, or purchase something of mild interest simply to have a book at hand while they are traveling. Occassionally someone comes in and buys everything we have by one author, or about one subject. A few people have said they would come back, and asked us to hold books, and we have not seen them again.

We had one bad check from a woman who had come in a few times, brought others in with her, and made previous purchases. She asked us to order some books for her on the internet, and when the check bounced, she had left town and was no where to be found. Though the internet payment terminal we use has been easy and trouble-free, credit and debit cards are costly, and we lose a big chunk of those sales to fees and commissions. We had a liberal trade policy last year, which we refined and tightened at the start of this year, and trades are still a regular part of our business. We have acquired very good books in this way, some that sold the next day. We have also received donations, books left at the door when the store was closed, and books that people asked us to pass on to charitable organizations. When we first opened, we made a handful of outright purchases, and have since stopped that practise completely.

To celebrate our first year, we put on a week-long Anniversary Sale. We arranged to be open every day, for extended hours. Based upon the successes of other booksellers, we decided to take a percentage off our prices every day, beginning the first day at 10% and gradually increasing, ending the last day at 75%. Book-fanciers who had shopped our store in the past received in the mail an announcement with details of the sale. We also took out two newspaper advertisements, in each of the two largest publications in our area, which announced the event and hours, but did not specify the discounts. We constructed an A-frame sign announcing "Used Books" to display on the sidewalk to attract a bit of attention from the street. On the windows we used a washable paint stick to shout out "Storewide Sale" and the percentage off for the day.

The special announcements were prepared long in advance, using Constant Contact, and sent by email or snail mail. The Constant Contact service is free below a certain threshhold, was easy to use, and produced a nice result. We also created our newspaper ads using Adobe, and were able to email them to the newspapers and have them printed in two days, which was much more convenient than having to drive out to the presses and then approve copy. One newspaper billed us, which is nice, and the other required payment up front because we did not have a contract with them. Our choice was to run the ads on Friday, the day before the start of the sale, but due to a few last-minute changes we made, the earliest we could run was that Saturday, which may not have been as effective for us.

We are not normally open on Sunday. We have tried it several times, and except for the Grand Opening weekend, we have never had any business. This Sunday was different, and proved to be one of our best sales days that week. Pulling that day out of the sequence, we realized progressively larger sales every day despite taking a progressively larger markdown. The number of books we sold, however, fell far below our expectations. If the sale solely accounted for the business on Sunday, should we continue to open a few hours that day and offer special discounts?

There was also concern from advisers that advertising the increasing discount to the public would simply encourage everyone to wait to shop until the last day. Though our ads suggested the possibility that someone else might buy the book one wanted at a slightly smaller discount, we agreed to make the change. Though the number of sales we did on the last day exceeded the other days, we also saw regular customers come early in the week, and several of them come in two or three times during the week. Our number one interest was in generating sales, turning our books (which our landlord and creditors do not take as payment) into cash (which they do). If we had publicized the increasing markdowns, would we have had more receipts?

We wondered at the start of the week if we should pull off some of the higher-priced books as the days passed, so that a particularly valuable or rare book was not selling for a particularly meagre amount. Ultimately, we left the books on the shelf, and the scenario above did not occur. In the past we had someone comment that our books were priced high. Based on an informal survey of other book dealers, half the cover price is the norm for a used book, and we are typically priced at and below that. Do the results of our sale then mean that the books we offer are not priced too high, but are not of interest?

After expenses, the sale yielded a decent profit. We have also had several good days since then. Several people asked if we were closing. There is no feeling that the venture has been a failure, or that the shop cannot be a profitable business. As long as time and other commitments allow, we will continue to refine our model, serving the basic needs of our book-fanciers as well as exposing our community to better books, we will continue to get the word out through mailings, newspaper, billboards (one of which has been up for over six months now thanks to a special contact), and maybe trying radio as well. Most of all, we will continue to enjoy books.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chapter One Hundred Twenty Six, in which your Bibliothecary is Calm Assertive

Dear Readers, if either of you are not interested in something that doesn't have to do with books, feel free to skip this post and click over to one of the fine blogs listed along the right. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy something incredible.

A few years ago we found ourself in the position, for a variety of reasons, of needing a dog. After looking around for a little while, we finally splurged on a purebred beagle puppy. He is a beautiful dog and a warm companion, and he brought joy and comfort to our life. He also enjoyed chewing the couch. We had limited experience with dogs, though the Silent Partner had veterinary experience. The extent of our training was the common steps: No, Sit, Stay, Come, and Good Boy. This was adequate until last year, when another puppy became available, and joined our family.

Our second dog was reputedly a cocker/springer mix. In appearance and behavior he quickly contradicted this lineage, proving himself much more some sort of collie/wolf mix. He introduced a more aggressive dominant trait into the family, manifesting itself in jealousy over toys and bones or affection given to anyone else, and a determined willfulness. He also enjoyed chewing the couch. The extent of our training was the common steps: No, Sit, Stay, Come, and Good Boy. This was adequate until last week, when another dog was spotted at the shelter, and joined our family.

The first two dogs were Good Boys sometimes. They played together well. They would dart out the door given a chance and run around the four surrounding houses. The first particularly enjoyed ripping things apart, and they often growled over a favorite blanket. We did the best we knew how in raising them.

Some time last winter we were surfing across the vast wasteland of television and happened to see a dog, so we stopped to watch. The dog was appearing on the National Geographic Channel program Dog Whisperer, by Cesar Millan, who "rehabilitates dogs and trains people". We were immediately hooked.

The first thing that amazed us about Cesar was the ease with which he took control of any dog in any situation. He would literally walk into a home and break a dog of an unwanted behavior--something the owner had fought for over a year--within two minutes, with a look, a finger, and a "Shhhh." Based on a life lived among dogs, and the experience he has gained operating his Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles, Cesar has an uncanny ability to identify symptoms of imbalance in a dog, figure out what is causing the imbalance, and offer a prescription for returning the dog to a balanced state.

His theory of dog happiness boils down to three things: Exercise, Discipline, and Affection. Given in that order, he believes all dogs will be able to achieve the balanced life they lead in their natural state. Issues that he sees in dogs typically arise because dogs are given affection first, or exclusively, with little or few rules, boundaries, and limitations. Dogs also follow only calm assertive leaders, and in the absence of one will attempt to fill that role. The centerpiece of this theory is the Walk. A twice-daily walk of one hour replicates for a dog the natural process of migrating in a pack for food and water, followed by a period of play and rest. A tired dog is a good dog.

Cesar does not teach the common No, Sit, Stay, Come, Good Dog commands. Those are more like skills a dog can learn. He simply brings a dog out of any issues it has developed, and then teaches the owner to be a calm assertive leader. People go wrong when they try to apply human psychology on dogs. For instance, petting a dog that jumps up on you reinforces its dominant behavior. Picking up and soothing a frightened dog nurtures its frightened state of mind. Pack leaders do not tolerate fights, or weakness; they do not ask their followers if they are ready to go, or threaten to withhold dinner if they misbehave; they do immediately correct any unwanted behavior and then move on. Time and again Cesar demonstrates, almost exclusively by the energy he projects, any dog will follow in a calm submissive manner any calm assertive leader.

Well-behaved dogs are a joy to see and be around. It is the transformation of the owners that is truly amazing and wonderful. In nearly every episode of his program, there is a revelation for the owner, and from the moment they understand and accept his theory, everything falls into place. Could it be tricks of television, crafty camera angles and lighting effects, or careful editing so the audience only sees the success? Possibly. The absolute proof would be witnessing Cesar in action.

Small business owners do not typically have a lot of spare money with which to purchase triple-digit tickets to dog-training seminars. Our situation is no different, but when we saw on the Cesar Millan Center website that one of the stops on his 2006 Summer Tour would be only 100 miles away, we had no choice but to splurge.

So we now take you back to Saturday 10 June. The scheduled four-hour seminar also included a half-hour lunch of chips, beverages, fruit, bread, and muffins. The event was held in a performing arts theatre that was filled to its approximately 700-person capacity. When we arrived we purchased a "Pack Leader" shirt and a training DVD. We also met Cesar's wife as she walked among the vendors and volunteers to encourage and thank them. Programs were distributed, announcements were made, and a brief introductory video was shown.

Cesar came onstage to a round of applause. He is in person exactly as he is on television. What we only glimpse on television, though, is his wonderful sense of humor, and his uncanny talent for impersonating dogs. Throughout the seminar, he acted out the various moods of dogs which he described, to great fanfare. He talked about his theory and methods, and gave specific relatable examples of every situation. He revealed much of his own life, in story as well as in following the cues from his wife, who sat in the front row with head set and watch so she could keep her husband on task and on time. And finally came the proof: a dog from the local pet rescue that was hosting and benefitting from the event was brought onstage. The volunteer walked around with the dog as Cesar talked, and then he began to point out what he saw as the problems in the volunteer's behavior and the resulting issues with the dog's behavior. The volunteer had her head down and her shoulders drooping. She was being led by the dog. The dog was curious but a bit unsure of his new surroundings. Cesar took the leash and walked across the stage chest out, shoulders high, head up, and the dog was immediately in step right at his side. He stopped, and the dog sat beside him. Then he imitated the posture, and more importantly the energy, of the volunteer; the dog immediately was pulling on the leash and wandering as they walked. He explained what was happening, demonstrated once again, and when the volunteer took the leash back to take the dog offstage, the dog took her. She hadn't learned a thing. But we had!

The third dog to join our pack is a cocker spaniel rescue. Though not a puppy, Cesar reminds us that dogs live in the moment, and this new member is being treated from the start the Dog Whisperer way. We have improved our relationships with our other dogs, and are all melding into a nice pack. After only a week of daily walks, we can now allow our dogs to walk with us without touching the leash. The walk beside us, pay attention to our calm assertive energy, and if they need a correction, they are still dragging the leash behind them, and a step on the end snaps them back in place. Amazing enough, especially for the second dog, who bucked and resisted the leash like a wild stallion when we first began walking him.

Poeple on the television program are typically speechless, amazed, awed, embarassed, and always thankful. One woman called her experience with Cesar "personal and spiritual growth". To us, this is the strength of Cesar's methods, that he does not merely train one's dog, but he empowers one, builds one's confidence, and makes one not just a better pack leader, but a better person as well. Our experience of him is totally uplifting, a complete joy. We watch his television program every time it is on, reruns too. And as in one episode, when he helped a dog overcome its fears and begin to socialize with special needs individuals, both people and dog learning from and being enriched by the experience, Cesar's unabashed joy is obvious, as he commented with tears barely held back. He shows how dogs are here not just to be our companions, but also to teach us about life and to help us become better human beings. That is what makes him special.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Chapter One Hundred Twenty Five, in which your Bibliothecary shops for Books one last Time

This evening, when the last tent is struck, the book sale put on by the North Shore Chapter of the Brandeis University National Women's Committee every year since 1958 will be history. Though the event offered over 400,000 books, and helped raise up to $300,000 annually for the university, costs are becoming prohibitive and, more importantly, volunteers are becoming scarce.

The size of this sale means it is a year-long project. Volunteers are needed to collect, sort, and store books continually. When the time comes, books need to be moved and displayed, then maintained and tallied for the thousands of book-fanciers who flock to the big tents. Regular volunteers have aged beyond these capabilities, and the numbers of new volunteers are few.

We have attended this huge sale all but one of the last eight years, and it has always been something to look forward to. Typically the sale runs nine days, and our attendance was always on the first Monday, after the crowds subsided, and the out-of-towners have returned home. There has always been a good selection of books still available after the opening weekend, and we would usually spend about four hours filling a shopping cart. This year, however, travel had taken us in the vicinity of the sale on the opening weekend, and so we take you back to Sunday, 11 June.

There were considerably more people than during the week. The line to get inside just before opening stretched around three sides of one circus-sized tent. Still, this sale accomodates the crowd easily, with books displayed on large sturdy tables spaced wide apart so people can pass with two shopping carts and still leave room for browsers on either side. The books occupy two of the huge tents, and there is a smaller tent for sorting, and a medium-sized tent for checkout. By the time we had our cart full, the line to check out was forty-five minutes long. Several people (or perhaps one person several times) were overheard saying the crowds were "the worst they have ever seen in their life." We presumed they meant that the number of people was the most ever seen at this book sale. Of course, this is a charity event, not meant as a service to book-fanciers, or to offer good books at low prices, but to raise money for the cause of education, so we think it would be more appropriate for people to look beyond their personal experience to observe that turnout for this event was the best ever seen.

We did not mourn the closing of this event. We did, however, think: every year this group collects close to a half-million books donated by the community; and wonder: where would all those books go in future years? Without a group to collect books, would people simply leave them to rot in their cellar, or throw them in the dumpster? And, unable to turn such a fund-raising project into a full-time career, was there something we could possibly do to help ensure these books still had a place to go?

Flash back not quite so far to Friday, 16 June. Palatine's Little City Foundation announces it will be taking over operation of the labor-intensive fund-raiser. They will use the same storage facility, and hope to pitch the grand tents in the same location. The books are saved!

Now look to the future and mark your calendars for the first week in June 2007. We will see you there.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Chapter One Hundred Twenty Four, in which a Book Sale is attended

Today was the rain date for the local public library book sale. This was good for your Bibliothecary, as the original date was last week, and we were out of town. As the sale is held outside in front of the library, the cool rain of last week caused the postponement, being detrimental to books, though probably more comfortable for book-fanciers than the humid heat of today.

The week before last we had been given an advance look at many of the books by the librarian, and bought a handful. The price she asks is ridiculously low (more on that to follow) and we were happy to pay a bit more for the privilege of an early private shopping experience. Still we wanted to make an appearance, and to check for anything that might have been overlooked.

Just before the opening at 9:00am we walked the block and a half to the library, and there was already many people filling up their arms and bags and boxes. A few people who had come to our bookshop were seen and greeted. We plucked about five books that caught our eye. The librarian saw us and introduced us to one of the board members, who shook our hand and commented that we had helped the library in many ways. In just the past month, we have raised over $175 for the library, and donated about 500 volumes for the stacks and the sale.

The volunteer who added our books up at checkout said we owed $1.25. We questioned that number. She pointed out that a couple of the books were hardcover and cost fifty cents each! We told her to get out of town. She recalculated and decided the correct price was probably $2.25. She was probably correct, but we had already written out our check for ten dollars. No, thank you, we did not need change. There is no conceivable reason not to take possession of a few nice books and make a nominal donation to support the library and its programs all at the same time. The librarian thanked us enthusiastically for coming.

The event was well attended, and we need to try to ride that success at our bookshop. Perhaps next year we can hold a sale on the same day and donate half of the proceeds to the library. In addition, we would like to help improve the sale. An indoor venue would be invaluable, obviously to avoid another postponement due to weather, but also to allow more set-up time, a longer selling period, and an overall better shopping experience. A greater number of donations would also be pursued. The community has lots of potential for growth, and this book sale is just one example and an easy step to take.

Chapter One Hundred Twenty Three, in which your Bibliothecary attempts to regain Balance

Who would have thought nearly one month would pass ere another entry was posted here? Dear Readers, you both must have wondered what bookish fate had befallen your Bibliothecary. Let us reassure one and all: we have merely been out of balance.

A full-time job that pays for a full-time habit, along with managing a household and leading a pack of five others leaves us with precious little time to devote to anything else. Obligations to the Slaves of Golconda and Estella's Revenge consume more time. This is not to say that nothing else has happened, but blogging about them is typically a weight that sinks directly to the bottom of the priority list.

Our hope for the next year is to simplify and gain some time in which to relax, sit back and look at the stars or chase squirrels in the yard or--dare we dream!--read. For now, we would like to take you on a trip to the recent past. The next few posts will flashback progressively further in time, so those who have not yet lost all interest can catch-up and continue to follow the adventures of this book-fancier.