Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We recently sent our dog away to boot camp. She can be a handful (my mother would have said that "she's a pistol"), high energy, easily distracted with strong ADD tendencies. We needed help. We are pleased with her intensive training, and have been working hard with her to make sure that she knows that what she learned at boot camp actually still applies at home too. This, in addition to making sure she gets a lot of exercise and our hectic work schedules plus the holidays, have meant feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

Today was a rough day for me. Our Christmas company had just left, I felt almost no rest from my brief (oh so brief!) day off, and today was my Monday, starting at 7am. I was feeling tired and not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. (There is a light at the end of the tunnel, right?)

When I got home after my long day at work, I let the pupper out of her crate. Therapist had taken her out to the field before she went to work. While I knew I didn't want to do an outside runaround with her, I decided to grab the dog trick book we had and see if I could work on anything with her.


I found two tricks that sounded fun. Putting her toys away, and playing hide and seek.

We recently brought her toy bin into the living room, and have wanted to teach her how to put her toys away. This book is perfect, giving step by step instructions. Many tricks have several simpler commands incorporated in them. I used what Shelby already knows, to "Bring it back!" to bring the toy to me, and then I added "Put it away!" as I held a treat over her toy bin. When she drops the toy (into the bin!) to get the treat, voila! She's done it! She put her toy away!

Of course, it didn't go quite that smoothly, she was very eager to get the treats and got so excited that she lost focus on what she was supposed to be doing, dropping her toys way before she got to me or the bin. But since boot camp, she has been much better able to stop and refocus. Yay!

We worked on that for a while, then played on hide and seek. Shelby knows "come" and "stay", two prerequisites for learning hide and seek. I had her "stay" on her "base" (which she does quite well). Then I went into the other room and told her to "Come find me!" She raced in and when she found me, I gave her a treat. She loves any game that has treats in it. "Finding" me in the next room was easy for her.

I made it harder. I went downstairs (we live in a three-story row house) and hid in the coat closet. I left the door open a tiny crack. There were no other doors open and only an empty hallway for her to explore. I called her to "come find me!" and she came racing down the stairs. She tried to open the (completely closed) door to the guest room, and she went to the (also completely closed) door to the garage. The closet door was open about half an inch, so I could see her looking around the hallway, trying to figure out where I was. Standing at attention, turning her head if she thought she heard anything, she looked very cute. I gave no signal to let her know where I was. She decided I wasn't down there, so raced back upstairs to the main floor. I heard her run from room to room, looking for me. I called again, "come find me!" She raced downstairs again. She looked around. I opened the door another half inch. She found me! (It was only her second try, I wanted her to have success.)

Then I based her and went upstairs to the third floor, hiding behind our bedroom door, and called for her to find me. She raced upstairs and jumped on the bed (which is okay in our house). She stood at attention. Looked around. Jumped to a different position. Looked around. Didn't see me. Standing at attention, oh so cute. The door closed a little bit with a draft and, she saw me! And she raced over to me to get her treat!

This was a fun game for both of us. I needed a little fun today, and I think maybe, so did she.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Requests

One of the busiest shopping days of the two favorite customers of the day...

"Can you tell me where the zombie section is?", asked a young man with a crew cut and wearing a college sweatshirt.

"We don't have a zombie section," I said. "Though there are quite a few zombie books. There's the ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE and WORLD WAR Z, do you know about those? I think those are on a promo table over here...", I say, walking toward the table. I said. "There are zombie books all over the store." I start walking. I hand him the ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE and WORLD WAR Z. Into the humor section and I handed him JACK AND JILL WENT UP TO KILL and the ZOMBIE HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK. "Over this way there are a few more..." and I hand him the ZEN OF ZOMBIE and ZOMBIES VS. NAZIS."


"Wow, thanks," he said.


A woman, maybe mid-50's, shoulder length brown hair, came up and asked if I could help her find the Judy Blume books.

"Sure," I said, walking further into the children's section. "They're right over here on this endcap."

"No, not these. I want the ones for teenagers."

"Ah, those are over in this other area," I said, walking toward the teen section. As I get there I see that we are out of stock on the teen Judy Blume books. "And we don't have any in right now, I can check another store? Or order them in for you?", I tell her.

"No, that's okay," she said. "Can you recommend something for a 13 year old girl? A young 13 year old girl?"

"Sure. Do you know what she's read before or what she likes?", I asked.

"She's very religious," she said.

"Ah. Do you want a religious book for her?"

The woman shook her head no and gave me a meaningful look.

"You'd like her to have something that isn't religious?"

"Yes," she said.

"Is she very sheltered?"

"Yes," she said.

"You'd like to broaden her horizons a little bit?", I asked.

"Yes," she said, seeming to be more relieved with each question I asked.

"Well, I believe that anything a child reads that lets them imagine something different or think about different things is helpful...I have a few ideas...13, and a young 13 is a little tricky, there's a lot for high school aged kids and a lot of great stuff for a little younger kids." One that's great is THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, the boy in it is about 11, but he has some adventures. It's fun and gets kids thinking. Another great one is THE ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS. A girl is left on an island by her people, and she has to figure out how to survive. It sounds grim, but it isn't. Another great one is JULIE OF THE WOLVES. It's the story of an Eskimo girl who lives with wolves." I thought about THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, but thought that the parents of this girl wouldn't like that one, as the main character struggles against the strict confines of her religious community.


"These are great," she said. "I'll take a look at these and decide. Thank you for your help!"

About an hour later I was up at the register and she came up to check out with another bookseller. I stopped by and asked her, "So what did you decide?"

"I decided not to get a book at all. Her parents are too strict and they wouldn't like anything I'd want to pick out. Thank you for your help, though. I'm just going to go a different direction with a gift for her."

"You're welcome. Have a good holiday."

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

3 Diverse Books

I"m reading three interesting (and diverse!) books right now...

CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff
The story of two young men in war torn WWII Russia who, instead of being executed, are sent on a strange mission. They travel through the city and the countryside on their quest. Well written, a little intense at times.


WAR HORSE by Michael Morpurgo
Soon (very soon!) to be a movie by Steven Spielberg, this is categorized as a children's book. I just want to read it before seeing the movie.


I heard the very beginning of Tom Mueller's interview with NPR's Terry Gross on Fresh Air and was fascinated. Evidently there is much fraud in the olive oil world. What is labeled as pure and virgin (or extra virgin) may very well not be. I want to know about this.


What are you reading right now?

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Katniss vs. Bella

An Asian woman, shoulder length curly black hair, came to the register with her 2 daughters, and placed THE HUNGER GAMES on the counter.


I smiled when I saw it. "This is so good," I said. "Is this for you?", I asked the older daughter, who looked about 15.

"No," the mother said. "It's for this one," she said, pointing to her younger daughter. "Is it appropriate for her? She's in fifth grade, she's 11."

"Well, it is pretty intense." I paused. "Do you know what it's about?"

"No, I have no idea," the mother said.

"It's set in the future and the Hunger Games are a competition where they choose teenagers to compete. The teenagers fight to the death. There is only one survivor. There is a fair amount of violence."

The older daughter, curling her lip, said, "She's already read BREAKING DAWN," as though that covered all the violence and intensity she might ever encounter in a book.


Looking at the younger daughter, I said, "THE HUNGER GAMES is pretty intense, it's really good, though. Are your friends reading it?"

She nods her head.

I turned to the mother, "It might be pretty intense, though she may have to read it in school at some point. Quite a few classes and schools are now having it as required reading. There is a lot to talk about in these books. It would be a really good one for you to discuss with her."

I continued, "Also, one thing I really like about THE HUNGER GAMES is that Katniss, the main character, is a strong female. Not just strong physically, though she is that too, but strong in character." Alluding to the older daughter's BREAKING DAWN reference, I said, "She's a lot different than Bella in the Twilight series. I think Katniss is a much better literary role model than Bella."

The older daughter crossed her arms and looked away, clearly not in agreement with me.

Looking at the younger daughter I said, "I hope you enjoy it!"

You can find out more about each book (and even purchase it!) by clicking on the book cover. Purchasing through this link supports the blog. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Can I Help You? Um...

"Do you have a book with a picture of George Washington? When we show them a book that has a portrait of Washington, they say, "No, I want one with real photographs of George Washington."


"Do you have a book, it can be a children's book, that is a story about a donkey named Abner? My friend has a farm and she has a donkey named Abner and I think it would be really cute to give her a book about a donkey named Abner. Do you have one?"


"Do you have a book with pictures of dinosaurs (or unicorns or dragons)?" When we show them the books with illustrations, they say, "No, I want one with real photographs of dinosaurs (or unicorns or dragons)."


"Do you have a book, maybe a mystery, with a physical trainer as the main character? Maybe the physical trainer solves mysteries? I really like my physical trainer and that would be a good Christmas present, I think."


"I'm looking for a book. I don't know the title or the author but the main character is blonde. And the cover is blue. Do you have it?"


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Customers 31

I answered the phone at the bookstore and asked how I could help the caller.

In a thick African accent, the person (gender difficult to determine), said, "I want a book. This book is called DESTROYING THE WORKS OF WITCHCRAFT THROUGH FASTING AND PRAYER. It by Ruth Brown. It flat."

"Um, it's flat? The book is flat?"

"Yes. It's flat. It by Ruth Brown."

"I can order the Ruth Brown book for you, and we'll call when it comes in, would you like me to order it for you?"


"Yes. I would."


A tall woman, dyed light brown hair, faded coral lipstick, wearing a long black coat came up to the information desk.

"There's a book by Svetlana Stalin. She wrote a book about being Stalin's daughter. I heard about it on the radio. I think it's new. Do you have it? She also went by the name Lana Peters."

"Let me look, I'm not familiar with it." I search the computer, both our store-wide search and the internet. I don't find anything in our system by a Svetlana Stalin or Lana Peters. Doing a broader internet search reveals that Stalin's daughter wrote a book in 1967 called TWENTY LETTERS TO A FRIEND and her name was Svetlana Alliluyeva. I tell the customer what I find.


"She just died last week. I thought the book was new."

"I'm thinking that the book is older, though they may decide to re-release it, since she died. It would be interesting. They probably brought it up because she died."

"Yes, that's probably it. Thank you for checking on it for me."


A woman came to the register. She had long, wavy blond hair, was wearing a blue-green shirt and sweater.

She put Laura Schlessinger's PROPER CARE AND FEEDING OF HUSBANDS on the counter, and handed me the receipt. "I need to return this," she said.


"And the reason for the return?" I asked.

"It was stupid."

I laughed. She gave a small smile. I looked up as I was processing the return.

"It didn't work. After I read it my husband moved out and left me," she said.

"Oh," I said, instantly serious. "I'm so sorry."

Her face crumpled as she tried to hold back her tears.

Clicking on the book covers above takes you to Amazon's website where you can find out more about the books. Ordering them through the site helps support this blog (thank you!). You can also "like" us on facebook, or send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Prank by Adam Black

I am re-publishing this blog post...for some reason (as yet unknown technical difficulties) this blog post got deleted (?). Too strange. I need to figure out what that's about.

This post was originally published on November 29, 2011.

This was too excellent of a book to let this blog post go. So here it is. I apologize if it's a repeat for you. Thanks for understanding.

Have you heard about this book?


The story begins, and the town of Gill Falls, Missouri is flooding. Six-year-old Melissa Nevis is in a boat by herself, being carried by the floodwaters towards the falls. This child is in danger. This story must be told.

And so it is, told in the way that news stories are told these days, through Facebook posts, news articles, breaking news bulletins, fan pages, commentary, open letters, and interviews, etc. Reading this feels like following a real news story online.

We, as news/entertainment consumers, have learned to pay attention to information differently than we used to. We skim and scan, focusing our attention on stories or threads or posts that interest us and skipping the rest.

In addition, the news media is no longer as concerned about making sure that the facts are correct or that they are reporting accurately. “News” is now more a race to see who can reveal the story first and make the most people pay attention to their story the fastest.

Black believes that these phenomena have ramifications for how we think, how we process information, as well as how truth is presented and accepted.

Black briefly presents this in a foreword, and brilliantly illustrates it in THE PRANK. I was drawn in by the author’s premise, and following the story of Melissa Nevis was entertaining (because isn’t that what news is?), penetrating and perceptive.

The author wrote this story as if it were a breaking online news story (A Child is in Danger! What is going to happen? Here is the latest on Melissa Nevis!), and he expects that readers will read it as they would an actual online news story, skimming, sometimes skipping, reading the posts and threads and information that interest us in the moment.

As I read, there was some skimming - not much skipping - I was eager to find out what happened next in the Melissa Nevis saga. At the same time I found myself considering questions raised by his premise and the story itself...

How does reading this way inform how we perceive the world? If we gather information in this way, and if the news media races to produce information without making sure their information is correct, how do we, how can we, know what the truth is? And, of course, what’s happening with Melissa Nevis?!

This book would be a great book for a book group. It raises questions about the news and truth and how we - individually and collectively - perceive and react to what we see online.

Is this perhaps malignant phenomena of this digital age in which we live? Discuss.

I have been telling everybody about this book. I've ordered copies into the bookstore where I work and will have it featured in the store. This is a book worth reading.

Note: I find it at least a little bit ironic that I am telling you about this book in a of the media highlighted in the book. Not that blogs are intrinsically malignant, it's just another example of how we gather information. How many of you reading this right now cherry-pick your way through blogs? My guess? We all do.

Many thanks to Artless Dodges Press who sent me a copy to read and review. You can order this book by clicking on the book cover, which helps support the blog as well as this new and promising author. Thanks for checking out the blog!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Long story short..." (?)

I am a Bookcrosser, and have been a part of Bookcrossing since 2002. The Bookcrossing premise is simple...the idea is that most of us have too many books that we're never going to read again. Why not pass those books along to other people who might be interested in them, but do so anonymously, and in a sort of random, serendipitous way.

Here's how it works. Through Bookcrossing, as a (free!) member, you register a book. The book will be given an ID number. That number needs to be in the book (usually on the inside front cover). Then you can "release" the book, leaving it - strategically or randomly - out in the world somewhere, at a coffee shop, on a park bench, or, as I have done (as you'll see), in a mall. Someone else will (hopefully!) pick it up, journal it, read it, and pass it along to further the book on its Bookcrossing journey. The great thing about it is that when the book gets journalled, you get the notification and can follow it on its journey.

Anyway. I released a book at Pioneer Place mall over two years ago (Simon Winchester's, THE MAN WHO LOVED CHINA, in case you were wondering), and it never got journalled. This does sometimes happen. But then sometimes, we get lucky. I got this journal entry the other day about that very same Simon Winchester book...

19 November, 2011
Ok well, long story short- My friend found this book at Pioneer Place mall in Portland, Or. USA in January 2009. She left the book at my apartment in Vancouver, WA when she returned home to California. The book sat in the corner of my closet, obscured by the detritus of my existence. I rediscovered the book as I was packing to move out of that apartment in September 2011 in preparation for my upcoming deployment to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. "What an awesome place that would be to leave this book!" I exclaimed. I took the book with me to Antarctica, intending to find a good spot at McMurdo to leave the book. Unfortunately before this ever happened, I was horribly injured in a freak accident involving several Kiwi Army soldiers, one large weddel seal, a tri-wall container of medical waste and one entire pallet of Speight's Old Dark on the sea ice about two and a half miles off the shore of Ross Island, following the Great McMurdo Halloween Party of 2011. There may have been a violation or twelve of the Antarctic Treaty so the details of this incident will have to remain a mystery, for obvious reasons. Anyway I was medevac'd out of Antarctica before I ever had a chance to deposit the book and now here I sit, on my last night in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the public internet kiosk of The Legendary Elms Hotel, typing madly late into the night and reviewing MRI images of my mangled musculoskeletal system and suddenly the realization washes over me like the lava that any day will be begin to flow from the majestic summit of Mount Erebus, which looms over the population of McMurdo Station like the ever present blade of that great proverbial guillotine. "Holy shit!" I exclaim, "I still have that fucking book." That's right, I hand carried the damn thing all the way to Fucking Antarctica and failed to leave it behind, then I spent another week in New Zealand and never once even thought about the damn book, and now only 9 hours before I board a flight for that miserable filth hole, Los Angeles, CA where a team of highly skilled surgeons will begin the work of refurbishing my rotten corpse, I deposit the book here, on the cheap wooden veneer that lines the desk on which resides the bacteria ridden keyboard on which I type. There are others in this hotel right now who are heading the other way, down to The Ice, to that vast expanse of frozen mystery from which I just came and to which I wish I was accompanying them. I see them wandering the halls of this very hotel, wandering the streets of this very city, drinking it's beer and marveling at it's lovely Botanical Garden. I see them wide eyed in anticipation of the adventure ahead of them, the adventure which, for me, was cut short, my blood staining the ice of the Ross Sea. My hope is that one of these great explorers, the bearers of the same mad wanderlust that brought me to the bottom of the world will find this book and do with it as I had intended. I will return to my beloved Terra Incognita next year. Healed, rested and wide eyed as ever in anticipation of the new adventure that will lay ahead. And when I return, if I find this book again, inhabiting that frozen land that warms my heart like no other place, maybe then I'll get around to reading the damn thing, I'm sure it's very good.

I think this is the mother of all journal entries, at least that I've received. It's been awfully fun...AND, the best thing about it is that I met my partner at a Bookcrossing gathering over six years ago.

You can check out Bookcrossing at the home page here:

And you can look at my Bookcrossing page here:

You can keep your eyes out for finding a Bookcrossing never know when you may find one!

Thanks for checking out the blog! You can "like" us on facebook, send email to us: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com, and subscribe to the blog right here on this page.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Book in an Insult?

One of my favorite customers came in yesterday. She's a little challenging to deal with due to having some health issues that make it hard for her to speak clearly. When she calls, it's hard to understand her, though she's cheerful and pleasant to deal with. Here is the blog post about an interaction I had with her...

Yesterday when she came in I greeted her warmly. She smiled and seemed glad to see me as well.

Then she noticed the book I had next to my register. We are doing a holiday book drive for a local elementary school and they specifically requested bilingual books. I had La Telerana de Carlota (CHARLOTTE'S WEB in Spanish) on a plexi display easel.


"That's an insult, is what that is," she said, her smile now gone. "Unbelievable. Why would they DO that? I wonder what he would have thought about seeing his book in Spanish," she said, pointing at the author's name.

"Maybe he would have been glad that more kids could read his story," I said. She didn't seem to hear me.

"There's no benefit to being English any more." She shook her head. "It's an insult."

I finished her transaction and thanked her for shopping with us.


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Help for Finding a Book I Loved

When I was little there was a book called (I'm pretty sure), THE LITTLE WITCH. I loved this book, checking it out of the library many times. In it, a little girl is a witch. She wants to be a good witch. Her mother is a bad witch. I don't know the author, don't know the name of any of the characters, and I'm not 100% sure of the title. I do remember how much I loved this book.

I would like to find this book and read it again. I have searched for this book over the years, in used bookstores, and, of course, on the internet, with no success. There are too many books, both in and out of print, with the title THE LITTLE WITCH. Disappointing, but not surprising.

Just last night I stumbled onto Abe Books. On their website, Abe Books hosts a forum called Abesleuth, where you can post about the book you're looking for and people can post if they know it! You can also purchase books directly through their site.

This is wonderful! I haven't posted my request (yet!), but shall do so soon. I'll let you know if I find this long lost favorite book.

Thanks for stopping by the blog! You can post comments here, "like" us on facebook, subscribe to the blog, and email us at: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Customers 30

A man, greyish, thinning hair, about 6"1', wearing jeans and a blue all-weather jacket, came up to the counter.

"Can I help you?" I asked.

"I'm looking for a book about Ireland," he said.

"Do you want travel/guide books about Ireland? Or more books with photos in them? Or..."

"I'd like one with photographs in them, sort of a coffee table book," he said.

"Well, let me see what we might have. There are a couple of places to look. Often in our bargain section there are books about Ireland," I said, walking toward the section. "Yes, here's one on on Spain...I'm not seeing Ireland right here," walking towards another bay to try and find another one.

"Did you know that Ireland was named after a goddess? The goddess Eire, E-I-R-E, was who they worshiped, so the name of the country is literally from Eire's land, which became Ireland."

"Hmmm, oh, I didn't know that," I said.

"And England," he said, warming up to his subject, "comes from Anglo-land, the people were called Anglos, as in Anglo-Saxon, so the name of the country came from Anglo-land and is now today England."

"Ah," I murmured. We were now in the pictorial book section of travel..."I'm not seeing anything on Ireland here, we have a lot that is more local. We have some books on Ireland in the general travel section, but they are really guide books."

"Yes," he said. "I don't need a guide book. Do you have any calendars?"

"We do!" I said. "And I know we have some on Ireland." I start walking towards the calendars.

"And did you know that Scotland derived its name from originally being called the Picts. The king of the Picts was originally called Rex Pictorum, but then they changed it to Rex Alban, which is translated as King of Scots, so the land became known as Scotland."

"Hmm, I didn't know that," I said. "Here are two Ireland calendars, and there might be more. This is the area they'd be in."

"Oh, that's great, just great. Thank you very much," he said. "This is just what I'm looking for."

I left him to look at the calendars. About 20 minutes later he came up to the register with two calendars to purchase, one about Ireland, the other showing Landscapes of Britain.

"Here's what I found," he said. "These will be great. Now if you want to find out more about the history of names...let's see, I was just reading about it in National Geographic, and it's right here..." He picks up a copy of National Geographic from the magazine rack that is right next to my register. "Let's see, it gives a lot of background and history..." He's flipping through the magazine... "Oh, here it is, the cover story. Anyway. It's a good article. You could look at it if you want to find out more about how places got their names. Thank you for your help."

"Sure, have a good day."


A man about in his mid 70's, blue rain jacket on, walked up to the information desk with a slight limp.

"Sandwiches," he said. "There's a book called SANDWICHES. Do you have it?"

I start searching in the computer."There are quite a few books with SANDWICHES as the title, do you know anything else about it?"

"It was featured in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago. And the author's name is Ron. I don't know the last name."

"Okay, hmm, I'm not getting anything with the title SANDWICHES and Ron, though there are quite a few books with SANDWICHES as the title...I'm going to search on the internet and see what might come up."

"Okay, I'm going to have to go sit down. I continue to search, using Google to search for the book, using Wall Street Journal and Sandwiches as search words. I find a book called SCANWICHES by Jon Chonko that has pictures of sandwiches, and print out an information page about the book.


I find him sitting in the children's section on a bench. "I did find a book called SCANWICHES that was featured in the Wall Street Journal, I'm wondering if this is the book you're looking for."

"That's it," he says. "That's the one."

"We don't have it in the store, but I can order it for you, would you like to do that?"

"Yes, I would," he says, starting to get up.

"Do you need to stay here? I can just get your information and place the order," I said.

"No, I'm okay now. I just had to sit for a bit," he said.

He follows me back to the information desk and I get the book ordered for him.

"Thank you," he says.


A woman, late 60's, dyed short brown hair, faded lipstick, comes up to me while I'm at the register. "Do you have any Christmas mysteries?"

"We do, though but they don't have their own section, they'd be mixed in with the regular mysteries, though a few of them might be on a Christmas table or in a new release display. I can get someone to help you find some."

"Oh, that's okay. I'll come back. I was already over in the mystery section. I don't usually read mysteries, only at Christmas! I don't know what that's about, really. I don't know, maybe I just like a little murder around the holidays, you know, something scary lurking behind the Christmas tree."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cats in the Stacks

I answered the phone at the bookstore where I work...”Thanks for calling, how can I help you?”

“Hello! This is Connie Billings. And your name is?” She paused barely long enough for me to tell her my name. “This is the store right by the mall, isn’t it? Oh I love it there, I live there! I’m wondering if you can help me find a book I’m looking for?” Her voice went up at the end of each sentence.

“Sure, I can help with that.”

Almost before I finished by sentence, she started in... “Oh great! I’m reading this wonderful book and I’m wondering if there’s a second one, if it might be a series. It’s called CATS IN THE STACKS. It’s a mystery. Oh it’s wonderful! The author is Miranda James, and here’s how to spell her name, her first name is spelled M-I-R-A-N-D-A, and the last name, J-A-M-E-S. The book is CATS IN THE STACKS. There’s a picture of a coon cat on the cover. Oh, I’m really enjoying this book. I think it might be the first in a series....”

As she’s talking, I’m looking it up on the computer and find that there are indeed two books in the series.

“Yes, you’re right, there are actually two books in the CATS IN THE STACKS series, and the first one is called MURDER PAST DUE...”


“Yes! That’s the one I’m reading right now! You said that there is another book in the series? I thought that there might be! Oh this is great! Do you have the second one there?”

“The second one is called CLASSIFIED AS MURDER...”

“And does it have a picture of that cat on the cover? Oh I love that cat!”

“It does,” I said.

“So what is the second one called?” she asked, her voice still going up at the end of every sentence.

“It’s called CLASSIFIED AS MURDER. I don’t have it in the store, but I can order it for you.”


“You can? That would be wonderful! I’m reading the first one out loud to my cat and she just loves hearing about the cat in the book! Sometimes I say WOW (and her voice really goes up at the end of that word) and my cat loves that, and then I saw MEOW and she thinks I’m saying WOW but I tell her it’s MEOW, that’s M-E-O-W!” She takes a breath. “This is just great! So I can order the second book?”

“It is actually on order for the store, so I’ll get your information and we can call you when it comes in.”

“My name is Connie Billings, I’ve ordered things from you before, I live really close to your store. Oh, I’m just thrilled that there’s a second book! MY cat will be so thrilled when I read it to her! Thank you so much for your help! Have a great day!”


If you are looking for a book to read to your cat, Connie thinks that the CATS IN THE STACKS series is terrific.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Recommendations...light, short and funny

One of Therapist's co-workers is in a book group and asked for some recommendations. One of my favorite questions! Her parameters were that it be "light, fairly short, and FUNNY." Here's the list I sent...

Bill Bryson is one of my favorite authors for funny and light...A WALK IN THE WOODS is his chronicle of his attempt to hike the Appalachian trail (over 2000 miles) with his buddy, neither of whom have any business being out of doors. One of my other favorites of his is his collection of essays called I'M A STRANGER HERE MYSELF, his observations about the U.S. after living abroad for 20 years. Some of the essays are poignant, some are laugh out loud funny, some are insightful. (non-fiction)


Christopher Moore...I love him. Some of his books are really wacky and out there (Roberto the talking fruit bat is a recurring character in a lot of his books...and that's not one of the really wacky characters), and he also has books that are 'about' something...LAMB is about Christianity...A DIRTY JOB is about death...FLUKE has environmental themes. COYOTE BLUE is one of my favorites...and yes, he is funny. Warning, he can be raunchy. (fiction)


I recently read DOMESTIC VIOLETS by Matthew Norman. It is fairly new, and is only available in paperback. It's pretty funny and can read my blog post about it here... (fiction)


In that blog post I mention Jonathan Tropper...I really like him as well...his books can also be a little raunchy, so another warning. His main characters tend to get into bad situations and make bad choices...In THE BOOK OF JOE, his main character writes a best-selling novel based his people from his hometown. He did not paint the people in his novel in a very favorable light. He never intended to return to his hometown ever again. Then his father had a stroke and he had to go back. He was did not receive a very warm welcome home. Chaos (or close to it) ensues. (fiction)


Nora Ephron, I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman is one suggested by one of my co-workers. She said it might be funny if there are women in the book group of a certain age...or it might be funnier to woman of a certain age, as it's Ephron's reflections about aging. (non-fiction)


FUNNY IN FARSI by Firoozeh Dumas... This was also recommended by one of my co-workers who liked it. She said that the author says things like, "I'm the one they call to do an author event when they can't get that guy who wrote The Kite Runner." Funny in Farsi is the author's memoir about being Iranian in America. (non-fiction)


THE BRIEF AND FRIGHTENING REIGN OF PHIL by George Saunders was suggested by another co-worker. He said it was biting and funny. I've started to read it a couple of times (and it's really short!) and couldn't get into wasn't my cup of tea, but might be someone else's! (fiction)


You can't really go wrong with David Sedaris...he is often on NPR's This American Life, and hewrites about his life. One of his first was HOLIDAYS ON ICE, where he talks about one Christmas where he was a department store elf during the Christmas season. ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY and WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES are two of my favorites of his...absolutely laugh out loud funny. In WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES, he talks about his quest to quit smoking. To do so, he moves to Japan for a few months, you know, to change his routine. (non-fiction)


Sarah Vowell, another NPR veteran, has several books. My favorite of hers is her first, TAKE THE CANNOLI. They are essays with her unique take on the world. Her more recent books are about history, she's definitely done her homework about the history, and makes it more accessible, but like I said, her first is my favorite of hers. (non-fiction)


Chuck Klosterman started out as a rock music reviewer. I first read his SEX, DRUGS AND COCOA PUFFS which are essays about all sorts of things. Music, pop culture, religion...he's great. (non-fiction)


Lots of people love THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams. It is the first in a series. I read this first one, and liked it all right. It's wacky (I don't always love wacky). It is set in space...didn't do it for me, but lots of people think it's great. (fiction)


THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster is one of my all-time favorite books. Yes, it's considered a kid's book, and I think it's brilliant. Milo is bored. He comes home one day and finds a tollbooth and a little car. He starts out on a journey, accompanied by a Watch Dog, Tock. Milo discovers all sorts of things about the world and himself. It's clever and fun...this is a masterpiece. (fiction)


HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS Francois Lelord...I just saw this on the shelf yesterday and don't know much about it. I'd never heard of it. The cover has kind of 60's artwork on it. Hector is a psychiatrist. I liked how it looked and how it started. I don't know anyone who has read it. (how's that for a recommendation?) (fiction)


Lynne Truss is a British columnist. She has a collection of columns called MAKING THE CAT LAUGH which is absolutely hilarious. (non-fiction)


HAPPINESS by Will Ferguson is another fun it, someone writes a self-help book that WORKS. Everyone's problems are solved after reading this book, relationships are fixed, financial problems are no more...which causes all sorts of problems, since so much of our society is built on the problems and fixing them. Ferguson is Canadian, so this book may be a bit harder to find, though it still is around. It was originally published under the title GENERICA. (fiction...Ferguson also has a few non-fiction titles, which are also good)


What would you recommend?

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