Monday, August 29, 2011

Wonder Bar

A woman came up to the Information desk. She was about 5'10", maybe in her 60's, wearing a black, drapey shirt, with a bright pink and green scarf around her neck. Her hair was highlighted and windblown and she had lipliner with the lipstick faded out.

"I'm looking for a book," she said, "and I don't know the author. I'm pretty sure the title is Wonder Bar. I read about it, it's Wonder Bar."

"Hmm," I say as I check our system for the title. "I don't know that one, and that title isn't coming up in our system...could it be perhaps, Wonder Boys? Or Tender Bar? Those titles are similar..."

"No. Neither of those. It's fiction, I know that. It's Wonder Bar. I wish I could remember the author." she says.

"Well, let me look on the internet, see what I can find," I say. I search the internet, come up with no books with that title. "Do you know what it's about?"

"Let's see, it's about a boy who goes into bars and finds his father. No wait, he finds fathers. In a bar. Something like that." She waves her hand.

"Okay," I say, "I'll keep looking." She wanders away from the desk, evidently figuring that I won't find it. I search that basic plot line and come up with Tender Bar, which is a memoir about a boy who finds father figures as he spends time in a bar as he's growing up. I retrieve the book from the shelf and take it to her. "I think this might be it," I say. "It's not fiction, but it is a memoir about a boy who spends time in a bar and finds men who become father figures to him."

"That's IT!", she says. "Thank you so much!"

       The Tender Bar: A Memoir

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Friday, August 26, 2011

What I've Been Reading in 2011

Listed below are the books I've read in 2011...with a few comments thrown in for good measure!

Read in 2011:
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan (read the blog post!)
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
The Absent Traveler by Randall DeVallance
Bloodroot by Amy Greene
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (read the blog post!)
Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury (yes, THAT Cadbury! read the blog post!)
Annabel by Kathleen Winter (I know I blogged about this, and I still love this book)
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Delirious by Daniel Palmer
Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell (Not my favorite Vowell book)
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (about a girl growing up in a family of alligator wrestlers - quirky)
Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward
P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern (Pretty fluffy, but sweet)
Shadow Tag by Louise Erddrich
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simpson (I quite enjoyed this)
Among the Missing by Dan Chaon
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum
Needful Things by Stephen King
Bossypants by Tina Fey (Didn't like it as much as I wanted to, and I'm a huge Tina Fey fan!)
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (Therapist and I have both read this, and both want to read it again...intriguing, brilliantly done)
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (read the blog post!)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (read the blog post!)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (What a great trilogy!)
When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman (I may have to blog about this one...very good)
Contented Dementia by Oliver James (read the blog post!)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (Great psychological thriller)
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (Really good, a mystery of sorts)
Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman (The new book being passed around at work, Tom Violet and his problems are similar, though not quite as catastrophic, as Jonathan Tropper's main characters.)

Reading now:
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Oh, what fun!)
Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other by Sherry Turkle (A fascinating and insightful look at the impact of technology on our lives and relationships. Look for a blog post on this)

What are you reading now?

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Little Messages


We found strips of cardstock with this message printed on it sticking out of several of our titles by conservative authors (and yes, on the strip the word 'conservative' was spelled incorrectly). This happens pretty regularly, though most often the little messages usually slam liberal leaning books.

We find religious tracts in books by liberal authors, or in the Gay/Lesbian section of our store. People will move copies of The Bible to The New Age section, or place a Bible in front of a book about a liberal president or politician. They might turn all front facing books of a particular title backward, so customers can't see the title. It's as though they think that their strategically placed messages will change people's minds. Or maybe it's just to get people riled up.

At the store, we find it kind of amusing to see what people come up with to try to get their message across. I have to recommend spell-check, though.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Sending Books Away

I've sent some books away in the mail. Most often when I do this, it's books we've read that we're done with. Of course there are books that have come into our lives that we can't part with, or can't part with just yet. There are many, however, which have come into our lives for a brief time, and sometimes we feel as though we know just who to send them to.

There is Vanessa Diffenbaugh's THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, which I'm sending to a friend who makes amazing sugar flowers for wedding cakes (see her blog at The flower connection between her wedding cake flowers and this book is just too good to pass up.

     The Language of Flowers: A Novel

Tina Fey's BOSSYPANTS came into my life through to me as a random act of bookcrossing kindess (thank you icekween01!). This book has been sent to another bookcrosser who has wished for it.


Sherman Alexie's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN is also going to a bookcrosser.

     The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I am sending a Dover book of pictures of travel posters and postcards to a good friend and crafter. It was on a clearance table at work and has a picture of a poster of a mountain near where we grew up. I'm hoping she can use the pictures in some wonderful craft project. She is also a blogger! Her blog can be found here:

     Old-Time Travel Posters and Luggage Labels CD-ROM and Book (Dover Electronic Clip Art)

Seeing well-loved books on my bookshelf is wonderful. Passing books along to someone else is also wonderful. I love knowing that they will fall into other book lovers' hands.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Customers 26

Favorite customers one day:
Audrey, a woman in her late 70's or early 80's, grey hair, wearing a light blue sweater and using a cane, puts her books up on the counter and tells me she has to move into one of "those retirement places". "It'll be fine," she says, "but I won't have as much room for books as I have now." She puts her hand on her heart and says, "And I have to read!"

A caregiver brought Geraldine into the store. Geraldine is in her late 90's, her long white hair is pinned up on her head, and she was wearing a blue and pink checked shirt. She uses a walker, and is so stooped, she's almost at a 90 degree angle to the floor. She's hard of hearing, her speech is hard to understand. Her caregiver says she would like to see an atlas, a world atlas as a gift for her brother, who is turning 90. And do we have any large picture books of Japan? He would like that as well. She would also like a book on Spanish verbs. She is fluent in Spanish, but would like to brush up on some verbs.

Riley, about 9 years old, came up to me and told me he was having problems with his e-reader. He'd already called the customer support line, and they'd talked him through a factory reset of his device and it still was having problems. His mom was standing back a bit, there to offer help if needed, but letting him do all the talking. He explained the problem to me and told me about what he'd done so far to get help. We did some troubleshooting and then helped him get a replacement. Quite impressive for a 9 year old!

The customer who, when telling me how to spell her name which had several S's in it, said:
"C as in 'candy', A as in 'apple', S as in 'sunshine', S as in 'sunshine'...

The couple buying a shopping bag with a picture of a cover of To Kill a Mockingbird on it who said:
"...and the best thing about getting this bag is that she can use this bag for trick-or-treating, because she's dressing up like Scout for Halloween!"

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Scent of the Missing and a Stroke

A woman with short dark hair, wearing a black linen dress wrapped in a large purple scarf came to the counter. She saw SCENT OF THE MISSING, which I have displayed next to my register.

       Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog

I told her about the book, how Susannah Charleson trained Puzzle, the dog on the cover, to work Search and Rescue, how hard the training is, how amazing it is what the dogs can do.

"I know, dogs are amazing," she said. "I had a lab, well, I've had two labs. The yellow lab I had before was wonderful. I've had three strokes. After one of them, I was using a walker. At the same time, my in-laws were also using walkers. When we came into the house, the dog would come greet us, and back up in front of all of us, backing, backing, until we were all seated. She was keeping an eye on all of us, making sure we made it to the seat safely. She knew we were fairly precarious!"

"Oh, wow. That's wonderful, what a great dog."

"Yes, I miss her. Now I have a chocolate lab, and he's also amazing. After another one of the strokes, one of my legs would tremor really badly. When it did that, he would come and lay his body on top of my leg. And it would stop the tremor." She shakes her head and smiles, remembering. She reaches out and touches the cover picture of Puzzle. "I think I need to buy this. It would be good for me."

I happily sold her a copy.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More on the Book Link Changes

So it seems that Barnes and Noble is not eliminating their affiliate program altogether. They are just "changing networks". I will be on the lookout for the new network. Will not be adding it to older posts, just to newer ones as I go along.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Some Book Link Changes on the Blog!

I'm having to go through all the blog posts and re-do some of the book links. Barnes and Noble has discontinued their affiliate program, so all of the book covers that previously linked to Barnes and Noble will now be linked to Amazon.

It's too bad, Barnes and Noble has a significant online book ordering presence. I'm not sure what precipitated their decision to do away with their affiliate program, I'm just complying with their request to remove the links.

As the links are being changed, I have to republish the individual blog posts. I am hoping that they just reappear under the original dates they were posted. I apologize for any inconvenience or awkwardness in the blog!

Thanks for understanding!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Good Reads!

What good books I’ve been reading lately!

I just finished BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S.J. Watson. At first we’d only gotten a few in at the store. It was selling quickly, so when we got more copies in, I got one.

When Christine awakens every morning, she has no memory of her life in the present time. She remembers herself as a child and a young woman, but has no recollection of the past 20 (or so) years of her life. She wakes up next to a man and has no idea that he’s her husband. Each day is a challenge of remembering, piecing her life back together…until she goes to bed and forgets it all over again. How did this happen? Can she get better? I won’t say more about the story, too much information would spoil it. Great read!

        Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel

I also recently read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It’s been selling like crazy and everyone who has read it that I’ve talked to really liked it, staff and customers alike. Shelved in the “Teen” section, schools are even making it a reading requirement.

And well it should. It’s a stunning premise. Set in the future, the United States is no more. Katniss and her family live in District 12, the coal mining district. Every year there is a contest. Two teen-agers are chose from each district and the people in control orchestrate Hunger Games, where the children fight to the death. The last teen alive wins. This barbaric tradition began as a way to remind the people in the districts who is in control. I liked this much more than I thought I would. Definitely worth the read!

   The Hunger Games   Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)   Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3)

A customer recommended THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE. She, a recent transplant from Atlanta, came to our store to connect with a bookstore in her new neighborhood. Short-ish, short brown hair, wearing cargo shorts and talking really fast, she told me that this was her favorite book. Ever. I’d been looking at it for a few weeks and finally just bought it. I’m about halfway in and am enjoying it.

Calli, a seven-year-old girl who doesn’t speak, is missing. So is her best friend, Petra. Why doesn’t Calli speak? Why are they missing? Will the girls be found? Told from several points of view, including Calli’s, Petra’s, Calli’s mother, the deputy sheriff in charge of the investigation, Calli’s brother, and Petra’s father, I get deeper into the families and their stories and am really enjoying it.

        The Weight of Silence

I just bought a copy (finally) of Erik Larson’s DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY. I’ve heard (for years!) how good it is, that it is non-fiction, but that it reads like a novel. He has a new book out, which has been selling well. One of my co-workers also decided to finally read DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY and says it’s as good as everyone has been saying. All right then!

        The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

What are you reading?

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