Monday, September 27, 2010


I answered the phone and a woman asked if we had any books on deep brain stimulation.

"Deep brain stimulation? I don't know for sure," I said, perusing our section on medical books in my head, "I think that might be too technical for us to carry in the store, but I'll look it up."

"Or even if you can tell me what's available, I want to see what might be appropriate for me."

"Ah, here are some, but they are classified as textbooks and are pretty expensive, and a lot of them talk about how to perform the procedure, not about the pros and cons of the procedure." I named some titles (clinical and technical, most of them) and prices (upwards of $150, many of them).

"Is there anything related to deep brain stimulation and Parkinson's?", she asked.

"It looks as though deep brain stimulation is used for epilepsy, mental health issues and Parkinson's." I told her the titles that seemed to relate to Parkinson's. Then I said, "My dad had Parkinson's. I never heard of this procedure."

"Your dad had Parkinson's? Was he older when he was diagnosed?"

"Yes, he was. In his 60's."

"I was diagnosed at 38. It's a pretty major procedure, I want to find out more about it and see if it might be something that might work for me. I still have a 10 year old son. Does your list describe the books?"

"It does, but I have to click on each one. Do you have access to the internet?"

"I don't, that's why I called."

"Well, these books are really too technical for us to carry in the store, we can order them, but then you don't know if it's what you want and you've already paid for them. What you might do is go to a medical school library, or a university library, they might have something there, and you wouldn't have to buy them."

"Oh, that's a good idea," she said with relief. "I'll do that."

"Well, good luck. I hope everything goes well."


A woman was looking at the Self-Improvement section. "Is there anything I can help you with?", I asked.

"I wanted to know where any books are about death and grieving. Also I'm looking for a book called The Shack. Have you heard of it? I'd like it on audio if you have it."


"We should have it on audio, let me check." After much searching, I did find it and gave it to her.

"Now can you show me the death and dying section? I just lost my daughter."

"Oh, I'm so sorry. It's right over here. If I can ask, when did she die?"

"It was on her birthday, she was 34, so I had quite a bit of time with her. Oh, sorry, here I am rambling on and I didn't even answer your question. September 2, she died September 2. She had been battling with the disease of alcoholism for a long time, and...", she paused.

"I'm so sorry. There's one book in particular I'm looking for...ah here it is.

                         How to Survive the Loss of a Child: Filling the Emptiness and Rebuilding Your Life

"That's perfect, that's just what I need. Oh my goodness. I've been trying to tell my husband how it is, how you put all this energy and love into another person, teach them, love them, and it's not like when your grandparents die or even your parents, this is your CHILD. I haven't been able to explain it very well to him. I haven't been doing very well with it. I'm sorry, I'm rambling again."

"It's only been a few weeks, not very long since you lost her," I said. "It's okay."

"No. Fortunately all the family was all together for a wedding two days after she died, so everyone was there. Now I'm heading home and it'll just be me when I get there. I thought I could use some extra help for the drive back and then when I get there." She reached out and touched my arm. "Thank you so much for all your help and your time. These are just what I needed."

You can email me, Bibliophile, at 2of3Rs@gmailDOTcom. I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Full Moon?

Is it the full moon that brings out the interesting people? One evening this week that did have a full moon, we had...

...the woman who lay down in front of the information desk because she was tired.

...the man who wanted to see a book that had pictures of demons in it. Every night when he goes to bed, a demon with snakes attacks him, and he wanted to see pictures so he could identify which demon is the attacking one. One of the booksellers was helping him, and found a few books. Then the man asked for books about necrophilia. The bookseller decided he was done helping him. Therapist suggested we get a crisis line phone number to have on hand. Probably a good idea.

And to me the most disturbing...the teenager who wanted to find books about the second amendment of the constitution. He wanted to know when it was legal to shoot someone.

You can email me, Bibliophile, at 2of3Rs@gmailDOTcom. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

2010 Reads

I've read the 47 books below so far in 2010. They are listed in the order in which I read them...

The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor
Cowboy and Wills by Monica Holloway
Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Impatient With Desire by Gabrielle Burton
Imperfect Endings by Zoe Fitzgerald Carter
Tweak by Nic Sheff
Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato
I Want to be Left Behind by Brenda Peterson
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson
Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky
Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Tinkers by Paul Harding
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
I'm Sorry You Feel That Way by Diana Joseph
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
Unfinished Business by Lee Kravitz
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
One Good Dog by Susan Wilson
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
Through a Dog's Eyes by Jennifer Arnold
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
The Nimrod Flip Out by Etgar Keret (strange and at the same time lovely stories)
John Dies at the End by David Wong (comedy! horror!)

Right now I'm reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, which, by the way, I started before Oprah selected it as her most recent book club pick (not that it matters).

                                             Freedom: A Novel

For my birthday I received Carolyn Parkhurst's The Nobodies Album, Sara Gruen's Ape House and I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson, all tantalizing me from the shelf.

The Nobodies Album          Ape House: A Novel

I also want to read a book called The Wave by Susan Casey, about huge ocean waves, kind of science-y and seems to combine some story with weather/ocean science, etc., maybe along the lines of A Perfect Storm. It looks fascinating and it starts well.


Right now I don't feel as though I can read fast enough. There truly are too many books, and not enough time...

NOTE: You can email Bibliophile at 2of3RsATgmailDOTcom. I'd love to hear from you!
Look for us on Facebook - NOT The New York Times Book Review - we have our own page!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Best Customer Request of the Day

A guy in a football jersey came up to the register and asked if we carry Cliff Notes. I told him we carry mostly Spark Notes, and a few Cliff Notes.

"What are Spark Notes?", he asked.

"They are a lot like Cliff Notes, just a different brand," I said.

"I'm looking for a particular book in Cliff Notes," he said.

"If you go to the Information Desk, they can look it up and tell you if we have it or if it comes in Spark Notes or Cliff Notes," I told him.

He said, "The book is called, Beyond the Influence".

We keep a lot of copies of this book on hand, as it is often court ordered for DUI's.

                                             Beyond the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism

"Oh, that probably isn't available in Spark Notes," I said. "We have the actual book, though."

"EVERYone has the book," he said glumly. "I want the Cliff Notes."


Look for us on Facebook! NOT The New York Times Book Review...we have our own page!
You can email me, Bibliophile, at 2of3RsATgmailDOTcom. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ick, times 2

A tall, thin man, maybe late 20's, early 30's, wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, a cap, and carrying a Starbucks cup wanted to find a book. "The Mystery Method", he said.

Heading to the computer, I was thinking, business? exercise? I get to the computer and find the book...The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women Into Bed. We had it.


We get these calls. A man will call and if a woman answers, he'll ask which books or magazines we have about sex. (Presumably they hang up if a male answers, as the guys never talk to people who ask these questions.) The caller wants us to talk about the books, describe them, to go into detail. This day one of my co-workers got the call. He wanted her to tell him which magazines we had, specifically which magazines we carry about fetishes. About armpits. yes, really.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Stars My Destination

"Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
      William Blake

Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination, has been touted to be the best science fiction novel ever. Whether it actually is or not needs to be determined by others more versed in science fiction.

Neil Gaiman, who wrote the introduction for the version I read, called this book a "perfect cyberpunk novel, including protocyber elements, such as multinational corporate intrigue, a dangerous and mysterious hyperscientific McGuffin (PyrE), an amoral hero, and a supercool Thief Woman."

Set in the year 2436, all across galaxies, Gully Foyle is a grunt pursuing revenge. Through his adventures and mis-adventures, he becomes moral. Bester crafts Foyle's transformation well.

While I'm sure I didn't fully appreciate all of the science in this science fiction novel, I did love seeing Bester's imaginings of the future, where tattoo-ing is a dead art (hard to imagine now, perhaps it was easier to imagine in the 1950's) and space travel is accomplished by "jaunting".

I loved how Bester used Gully's tattoo in the story. In the beginning Foyle has a horrific tattoo of a tiger on his face. The tattoo gets removed and how that affects Foyle's emotions is brilliant.

The book was originally titled "Tiger, Tiger", which seems a more apt title to me (and several others who have read the book).

Alfred Bester first worked for DC Comics in the 1940's and 50's, moving into short stories and then novels. This, his second novel, was published in 1956. According to the author's bio in the book, in his will he left his estate to his bartender, which I thought was great.

There is no link to a new copy of this book, as it is no longer in print. You may be able to find it at a good used bookstore (like Powell's in Portland, Oregon), or elsewhere online.

Note: You can email me, Bibliophile, at 2of3RsATgmailDOTcom. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Bird In Hand by Christina Baker Kline

I perused what others had said about Christina Baker Kline's newest book, "Bird in Hand", and agreed with some, absolutely and steadfastly disagreed with others, and could go either way on some of the comments where I noticed that the reader came to know the characters in a different way than I envisioned them.
"Bird in Hand" focuses on the relationship of a quartet of two couples whose intentions and desires are not always in line with whom they are coupled with. I found it an honest expose of human nature in relationships: honestly told with no sugar coating.
People are not always who they seem nor do they always do the "right thing". What is behind their mask and who is touched by the decision to do what is "right for them" but wrong for others they may love makes a story that feels not only genuine but well told.
Beyond her writing style appealing to me, so does her human-ness as she goes back and reviews the cracks that were obviously in the foundation of each separate coupling to begin with.
As I read the book I kept telling my partner that I wasn't sure who I should be sad for. I think that is a strength of the book, not a weakness, that we know each of the characters so well that we don't want anyone to be left behind or without. We take turns getting mad at each well described foible that we are sure we would have noticed and not dismissed along the way.

Describing one of the quartet when he has finally made the break, Ms. Kline writes,

Charlie Feels as though he's been thawed out, freed from a block of ice. How bizarre to say you're leaving and then just...leave. He never imagined it would be so easy--that, like a wizard in a legend, speaking the words would make it so. Something this monumental should be more challenging; he should have had to walk through fire, outwit a dragon, hack through thorny brambles. Find his way through a maze before he was allowed to walk out the door.

This is not a novel for romantics. It is a novel for realists who believe that love can have happy beginnings and expected middles and still have room for an ending that has four different levels of satisfaction for people still trying to sort out if beginnings always come before endings.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Customers 11

A woman came to the register and asked for a book she'd had put on hold. "It's that new one, The Power." She looked to be in her 60's or 70's, had a bronze helmet of hair, heavy silver jewelry, a low-cut silver satin blouse with a silver fabric mesh jacket over it. "If you haven't read her first one (The Secret), you should", she told me. "It's absolutely wonderful. You should read this one too! You should read both of them!"

The Power(Amazon)(Barnes and Noble)


A thin, dark-haired man came up to the register with two books. Coping with Anxiety and The Emotional Brain. He signed his credit card slip with the tiniest signature I've ever seen.

Coping with Anxiety: 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear & Worry(Amazon)(Barnes & Noble)


We often find empty wrappers from the Men's Sophisticates (Penthouse, Playboy, etc.) magazines. And then we find the actual magazines. Later. In the men's bathroom. Behind the toilet seat cover holders. Or in the baby changing fixture. Or on the floore. Ick.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Genie Lady, The Dallas Cowboys, and Red-Hot Sex

That was the second time he's been in. Both times he's worn a Dallas Cowboys jersey with the name Romo on the back and a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap, and shoes with colors that match. He looked like he was in his 40's. He came to make sure that the book he wanted is still on hold for him. What is the book? Sports Illustrated The Dallas Cowboys: 50 Years of Football. A nice hardcover book. He wanted to buy it but didn't have enough money. Each time he's been in he's asked me to hold it longer. "Until payday." So today was the last day of his second extended hold. Tomorrow I'll have to take it off the hold shelf. What do you want to bet that he comes in, in his Cowboys regalia, to put it on hold yet again?

Sports Illustrated The Dallas Cowboys: 50 Years of Football(Amazon)      (Barnes and Noble)


A man who looked to be in his mid-50's, graying hair, moustache, brought two of the same book up to the counter, Cosmo's Guide to Red-Hot Sex. "I'm getting two," he said. "His and hers, if you know what I mean", he said, leaning over the counter toward me. "This way we can read and ask each other questions. You know, how things are going", he said, leaning in further. His nudge-nudging and wink-winking' was more pronouncement than innuendo. "This'll be great", he said with a big smile. He started flipping through the book. I was glad he was pleased with his purchase, but I didn't need to know any more about how he was going to be using the books. "That'll be $17.96, please," I said.

Cosmo's Guide to Red-Hot Sex(Amazon)      (Barnes & Noble)


The Genie Lady came into the store today! Of course I didn't know who she was when she came up to the register. She told me her name, told me she'd had a book on order but it had been several weeks ago.

"It was the Encyclopedia of Spirits", she said. "I want to find out about genies."

"Ah, yes, I remember that order", I told her. If you'll remember, I pulled the book from the hold shelf because the order had expired. I checked the store inventory. The book was no longer in the store. I told her that the book wasn't there, and would she like to order it? Have me check another store?

"There isn't much about genies available", she said. "I'd like to see this book." She decided to have it sent to her home. She didn't seem disappointed or frustrated that the book was gone. It was a warm day, and she mentioned several times how warm she was. One eye seemed to look in a different direction than the other.

When it came in before, I looked at it, because I knew it was for her and I wanted to know, DID it talk about the "rules" about genies? There wasn't anything in there about genie rules. Not much at all about genies. It talked about djinn being kind of related to genies, but that was about it. I couldn't figure out how to tell her, or if I should tell her, that I'd looked at the book because I was trying to see what a book did say about genies because I'd heard about her (most interesting) request. After she left, I did do a search for any other books there might be about genies, but found nothing. I have a feeling she may be back after she's looked at the book she ordered to return it. How DOES one find out the rules about genies?

Note: You can email me, Bibliophile, at 2of3RsATgmailDOTcom
I can thank Therapist for the clever email address...if you read it out -
two of three R's, and the one I don't do is 'rithmetic. In case you were wondering.