Monday, January 31, 2011

Pain Free?

A wiry older man with white hair and beard came up to the register for checkout. He had one book to buy. It was Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain by Pete Egoscue.

"I buy a lot of these. I have used it, I've given it to friend and relatives. It really works." He shook his head. "It sounds silly to think that one book could make so much difference, but this one DOES. It's amazing."


"That's great," I say, not thinking much of it.

"I can't tell you how many people I've given it to, and it's helped all of them. People with back pain or knee pain or neck pain...instead of surgery or drugs, his method works."

I start to pay more attention. "My knee has been bothering me, my doctor wants me to do physical therapy."

"You should really look at this book. It's amazing how well it works. It gets rid of the pain. Completely rid of the pain."

"Hmmm. I don't like pain, and I'm not all that thrilled about physical therapy...I may just take a look at it."

"I think you should. Good luck!," he said as he walked out of the store.

My knee had been swollen and very painful. My doctor had recommended physical therapy, and medication, and a brace.

I did look at the book. I bought it.

It took me a few weeks to take the time to read any of it, and then a few days to start doing any of the exercises. Egoscue presents exercises that target specific areas, knees, feet, hips, backs, etc. His theory is that the way we move in our daily lives causes our body to get out of alignment. His exercises are designed to bring the body back into alignment. He says that the first time the exercises are tried, you should feel better. With his exercises, one shouldn't need medication or physical therapy or braces.

I tried the exercises, and my knee DID feel better that first day. I've been doing the exercises fairly regularly and my knee is a LOT better. No more swelling and the pain is almost completely gone.

The white haired man was right.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Customers 17

Customer: Do you have the book about Robin Hood?

Me: A specific book about Robin Hood or just a book on Robin Hood?

Customer: No, a particular one. You know, it's about Robin Hood. I know it saw it in here...I think it was right over here when I was here before, but I could be wrong about that.

Me: If I put Robin Hood into the computer's search, I'll get lots of it a kids' book? Fiction? Science Fiction/Fantasy?

Customer: No, it's not a kids' book. I don't know, I thought it was right over here before.

Me: Well, let me the one you're looking for just called Robin Hood?

Customer: Yes, it's called Robin Hood. It's part of a trilogy.

Me: A trilogy? (ah, we might be getting somewhere) Do you know the name of the author? Or titles of the other books in the trilogy? Because, like I said, just putting in Robin Hood brings up a LOT of books.

Customer: Yes, the second one is called Scarlet and the third one is called Tuck.

Me: Ah. (searching) Here is it. Stephen Lawhead is the author. It's in science fiction/fantasy. We should have all of them. The first one is called Hood. (taking her over to the section) Here they are.

Customer: Oh, thank you! I never would have found them!

     Hood (The King Raven Trilogy, Book 1)   Scarlet (The King Raven, Book 2)   Tuck (The King Raven Trilogy)

Customer: I'm looking for books about eating well.

Me: Cookbooks? Or diet books?

Customer: Cookbooks. About eating well.

Me: We have a section in cookbooks about healthy eating...

Customer: No, no, it's called Eating Well.

Me: Oh, sorry. Let me look it up.

Customer: It's just called Eating Well. It's also a magazine. It's a pretty large book. Well, not that large. (she looked impatient with me)

Me: There are several books books with EatingWell as part of the title.

Customer: No, it's just called EatingWell. (adamant)

Me: (again) There are several books that look as though they are put out by the same people who do the magazine. I'm not seeing one that is just called EatingWell...There's The Essential EatingWell Cookbook, there's The Simple Art of EatingWell, there's The EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook, there's EatingWell Serves Two...

Customer: The title is just EatingWell.

Me: (walking over to the section) Let me show you what we have in stock...we have The Essential EatingWell Cookbook and The Simple Art of EatingWell...

Customer: (takes the second book) This is it! That's exactly it! Thank you so much!

Me: Sure. I'm glad we had it for you.

     The Simple Art of EatingWell: 400 Easy Recipes, Tips and Techniques for Delicious, Healthy Meals (EatingWell)   The EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook: 150 Delicious Recipes for Simple, Everyday Suppers in 45 Minutes or Less   The Essential EatingWell Cookbook: Good Carbs, Good Fats, Great Flavors (EatingWell)

Customer: I'm looking for this book. It says you have it here. (he holds out a phone with a tiny picture of a book. I can barely read the title)

Me: Do you have a product number for it?

Customer: I don't know, it's YOUR website.

Me: Okay, I'll try to look it up, can I see the title again, please? (I check the computer) Ah, it comes up but it's not in the store. I can order it for you.

Customer: Well it says right on it that you have it in the store. (and sure enough, there is a white banner across the corner of the book that says "In Store")

Me: I think that means that you can read it in the store on your electronic device. We don't actually have the book in the store, but I can order it for you.

Customer: Why would I want you to do that? For $9.99 I can get it as an e-book.

Me: You sure can. Okay, then.

        Acting -- Make It Your Business: How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success As a Working Actor

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Possible Staff Recommendation Themes

We have a new guy at work. I asked him to select a book for this month's Staff Recommendations, and told him about how we do that.

"There's usually a theme, you pick a book, write a little blurb, I type it up and we put it on the bay for customers to see. There didn't used to be a theme, but one (long, slow) Fourth of July here at the store, we got the idea of having a theme. The first theme we came up with was that the author of whatever book they picked had to have a birthday in August (the upcoming month). For October the theme was the scariest book they'd ever read. This month it's Books We LOVE (leading into Valentine's Day)." (The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan on the top shelf.)

"Oh, I see," he said. "So how about a month where you pick books where you hated the ending?"

I laughed. "That's probably not the best way to sell the books. I sure like the idea, though, and I know exactly which one I'd pick. The Horse Whisperer. A friend of mine read it and she threw it across the room as soon as she finished the last page because she was so disgusted with the ending. I read it and agreed with her, I thought the ending was a cop out."

He laughed. "Okay, right, probably not the best."

For the rest of the day I was thinking of other possible themes, some of which may be showing up in our Staff Recommendations Bay in the near future...

Desert Island book you'd take to a desert island.

A Book That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

A Book That Changed My Life

The Most Moving Book I Ever Read

Anyone have any other ideas of themes that might help SELL books?

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Friday, January 14, 2011

What Some Booksellers are Reading

The store manager started it. She made it her staff recommendation for this month and is telling everyone (staff and customers) to buy it and read it.

And we are.


David Levithan, creative author that he is, tells a love story through dictionary definitions. Small and spare, one definition to a page, some of the entries are luminous with insight and poignancy. Alternating between being on the cusp of a new and lovely relationship and the messy and sometimes heartbreaking middle, each entry gives insight into the relationship.

In quiet moments at the store (which we're now beginning to have again now that the holiday rush is slowing down), we've been reading entries out loud to each other.

Some of my favorites...

"blemish, n.
The slight acne scars. The penny-sized, penny-shaped birthmark right above your knee. The dot below your shoulder that must have been from when you had chicken pox in third grade. The scratch on your neck - did I do that?
The brief transcript of moments, written on the body, is so deeply satisfying to read."

"encroach, v.
The first three nights we spent together, I couldn't sleep. I wasn't used to your breathing, your feet on my legs, your weight in the bed. In truth, I still sleep better when I'm alone. But now I allow that sleep isn't always the most important thing."

Some of my other favorites...meander, latitude, corrode,elegy, nomenclature, contiguous, paleontology, sacrosanct, woo.

Oh my, what a wonderful book.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Customers 16

A woman with graying shoulder length hair, wearing a blue turtleneck and a darker blue coat came up to the register. She had with her 2 audio books, Bill Clinton's autobiography and Jane Fonda's autobiography.

         My Life So Far

"I'd like to return these if I can. I don't have a receipt, but as you can see, they've never been opened," she said.

"Without a receipt I have to be able to track the transaction to do any kind of return," I said. "Did you pay with a credit card?"

"I might have, I don't remember. It might have been a few years ago." (our return policy is within 60 days with a receipt or way to track the transaction. I'm thinking this doesn't look good.)

"Well, if you have the credit card, I can do a search and see if we can find the transaction in the system." I try a couple of her credit cards, plus her in-store membership. Nothing works, the transaction is not found, which means she bought them quite a while ago.

"I'm sorry, without a way to track it, I can't do the return."

"Oh," she says. "I just lost my job on Friday. So I'm trying to get back any money I can."

I feel awful. "I'm so sorry. I wish I was able to do something."

"And you know what else?," she said with some feeling. "I just started dating this guy and he's a Vietnam vet. He has some strong feelings about Jane Fonda."

"Ah," I said. "And I'm guessing they aren't favorable feelings."

"Uh, no, not at all. And the thing is, I like Jane Fonda. But I don't even want him to see that I have this audio book of hers. So that's another reason I wanted to return it. I didn't want him to see it. I guess I could try and sell it at a garage sale."

"Or ebay," I said. "You could try selling it online. Just a thought."

"Oh, right," she said. "I didn't even think about selling them online." She smiled. "I might just try that. Just to get them out of the house."

"Good luck!"


A grey-haired Asian woman with a pink coat and a black, white and pink plaid scarf came in looking worried, pencilled eyebrows furrowed.

"I am wondering if you have any Christian books? Any books, or magazines about Christianity?"

"We do, we have quite a large selection of Christian books. I can get someone to take you over there," I said.

"Well, actually, are there any Christian magazines? In particular, magazines for someone, an adult person, who needs to socialize? Who needs to get out more? Who needs to get a job?"

I'm trying to think...our store doesn't carry that many Christian magazines. I can think of 2 or 3, none of which specifically deal with helping people develop social skills. I tell her this. "You might have better luck with books. Our self-improvement section, our psychology section, or even our Christian Inspiration section would have books on social skills. And in our business section we have books about how to get a job. We can look up and see what might available."

"No, no, I would like to know what magazines you have that would help with that. Not books."

"Okay, well, we might have a few, I'm not sure they are Christian, though."

"That's all right, they don't have to be Christian, can you just show me what you have?"

Another bookseller volunteers to take her over to the magazines. I'm thinking they aren't going to find much. I get busy with other things, and a little later I see the same woman checking out at with the person who took her to the magazines. After she leaves, I ask the bookseller why she just wanted magazines.

"She was trying to buy for someone who doesn't read, so she didn't want to get him a book, but she was trying to help him. I found a few things, not really exactly what she was looking for."

"If he doesn't read, she probably thinks that magazines are more accessible for him, which may be the case. Some people are intimidated by books."

Another bookseller chimed in, "He just needs to get out and join a club or something, a bowling league, a chess club, just to get out and be with people."

"You're probably right. It's good that she wants to help him. I'm not sure a magazine is going to do the trick," I said.

         Life:beautiful Magazine (114 Ideas, projects and recipes for a fabulous New Year, Winter 2010)

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Two Books from 2010

Before moving onto to 2011 reads, there are 2 books I read in 2010 that I'd like to mention. One I really liked, the other I did not like as well.

The first is The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins. Released in 2007, it was touted as the best book of the year by The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, among others. How did I miss this?

Then I remembered. In 2007 I wasn't working at a bookstore, my mother was dying; my attention was not much directed toward books.


Using her own name for one of the characters, she combines Marianne Wiggins's (fictitious) search for her father with discovering and unveiling a story about Edward S. Curtis, photographer of Indians and presidents.

I loved how she wove together the two stories, the modern day story about Marianne and then the story of Edward and his wife, Clara. More than that, though, some passages stunned me with their insight and beauty. For instance, she talks about photography as a medium...

"Edward had been there she (Clara) couldn't help but realize. That was something unique to photography, that a photograph elicited - that sense of being there - that painting more or less finessed. You could paint from your imagination - her father frequently had - but in order to produce a photograph you had to put yourself within a visual range, you had to be there and that locus carried with it its own intimacy. The photographer was acting for you with his eyes, acting as your own eyes would. It was a contract between the artist and the viewer that few painters could make and it was deeply personal, she saw, because she could not look at any photograph of Edward's without thinking about Edward, himself, about the man behind the camera, about how and why he had positioned himself where he had. What he did when he made photographs was an adventure, she saw, it was adventurous - as well as beautiful - and what she learned looking at his photographs made her feel even more thrilled to know him, thrilled to have his company, to be called his Scout."

Stunning passages, a great story...I'm so glad to have discovered The Shadow Catcher.

Padgett Powell's The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?, on the other hand, was a strange one for me.

The entire book is questions. The question mark after the subtitle is apt, it speaks to the content being entirely questions and it is questionable as to whether this is a novel or not. That it is being shelved in the fiction section does not necessarily make it so, in my opinion.

It doesn't make it so in the author's opinion, either. Padgett Powell started asking questions in emails; he never intended it to be a book. A publishing house asked to publish it as a book, specifically as a novel - because novels sell better than anything else.

               The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? (P.S.)

This book took a different kind of reading for me. I found myself starting to read like I read a novel, fairly quickly, wanting to get into the story. And there just wasn't one. I'd skim through some of the questions, and then slow down for others.

It was questions, lots of questions. Some were intriguing, others not so much. Some of the questions were ones I was interested in answering. And many were not.

Often when reading, I'm looking to get out of myself, to get to another place. In fiction, it's to get into a story. With non-fiction, it's to learn about something other than me. While I certainly have read my share of self-help books, some of which have been excellent and extremely helpful, I didn't want this book to be one. Or this wasn't the right time for an exercise in introspection.

Progressing through the book, I found myself not always wanting to pick it up after putting it down.

Would I recommend this? Probably not. Not as a novel. I would have enjoyed this as an essay. Or an article in a magazine. Shorter.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Books Read in 2010

Below are the books I read in is satisfying to look at the list and remember ones I really enjoyed. Some of my favorites are pictured below the list.

Read in 2010:
1. The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
2. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
4. Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor
5. Cowboy and Wills by Monica Holloway
6. Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
7. Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
8. One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
9. Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
10. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
11. Impatient With Desire by Gabrielle Burton
12. Imperfect Endings by Zoe Fitzgerald Carter
13. Tweak by Nic Sheff
14. Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato
15. I Want to be Left Behind by Brenda Peterson
16. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
17. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
18. Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
19. The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
20. Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa
21. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
22. Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
23. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
24. The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
25. Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson
26. Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky
27. Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
28. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
29. The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley
30. The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
31. The Passage by Justin Cronin
32. Tinkers by Paul Harding
33. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
34. I'm Sorry You Feel That Way by Diana Joseph
35. Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
36. Unfinished Business by Lee Kravitz
37. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
38. One Good Dog by Susan Wilson
39. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
40. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
41. Through a Dog's Eyes by Jennifer Arnold
42. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
43. A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
44. The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
45. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
46. The Nimrod Flip Out by Etgar Keret
47. John Dies at the End by David Wong
48. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
49. I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson
50. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
51. Room by Emma Donoghue
52. The Wave by Susan Casey
53. The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst
54. At Home by Bill Bryson
55. Salamander by Thomas Wharton
56. Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles
57. Mark Twain's Autobiography
58. It's a Book by Lane Smith
59. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
60. Daring to Eat a Peach by Joseph Zeppetello
61. The Taking Tree by Shrill Travesty
62. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
63. Alberic the Wise by Norton Juster
64. The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell
65. The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins

   The Last Chinese Chef: A Novel        Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog        The Bluest Eye (Vintage International)               Drinking: A Love Story     It's a Book               The Passage     Mathilda Savitch: A Novel     The Nobodies Album: A Novel

What were your favorite reads in 2010?

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