Tag Archives: books for book lovers

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores: 2

atkins-bookshelf-booksThe guardians of the bookstores that are still standing are the intrepid booksellers. A bookseller is one part librarian, one part salesperson, one part teacher, and several parts book lover. Not only do they know their way around the store, they know their way around literature. Each day they answer dozens of questions and lead readers to the titles they seek. But not all of the customers’ questions warrant an intelligent, thoughtful answer. To shed some light on the amusing side of book selling, Jen Campbell and her colleagues gathered some of the most entertaining and baffling questions that customers posed, revealing the underbelly of the modern enlightened technological society — the semiliterate.

Customer holding a copy of Little Women: “Is this a book about really short people?

Customer holding up a copy of Hunger Games and a dieting book: “Which of these dieting books would you recommend?

A mother is holding Gone With the Wind. Her son asks, “Is that a book about farts?”

Customer: What is so great about The Great Gatsby, anyway? Was he a superhero or something?

Customer: Hi, I’m looking for a Bible for my mother but I’m not quite sure who the author is.

Read related posts: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores
Types of Book Readers

Why Read Dickens?
The Power of Literature
What are Your Most Cherished Books?

For further reading: More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell, Overlook (2013)


What Are the Books You Keep?

atkins-bookshelf-booksWe live in an age of convenience. In 2014, Americans spent more than $127 billion on gift cards. Purchasing gift cards requires little time, little effort and little thought. But there was a time, not too long ago, that people celebrated milestones or special occasions in the lives of loved ones by taking the time to think about a unique gift — a book. And there was a time that bookstores thrived where these people would go to browse the bookshelves or ask knowledgeable booksellers what they might recommend for that special occasion. Buying a book took some time, some effort, and a lot of thought. Books were not only meaningful to the giver, but could be especially meaningful for the recipient. Including an inscription or card in the book personalized the gift even more.

It is this form of gift-giving that is the focus of Jen Adams’s website (theBooksTheyGaveMe.com) and related book titled The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit. In the book’s introduction, Adams writes about the value of books as gifts: “Books can… have potent influences over us; giving someone the right book at the right time can change his life forever… Each [book that was kept] said something important about who we were at that moment. The books I own tell my life story, and the ones given me by the people I love offer special insight into the experiences that have made me who I am.”

Unlike gift cards, plastic or digital, books last. Adams elaborates: “In this age of the e-book, part of the appeal of being given a hard copy book as a gift is its tangible timelessness. Books are real… They don’t expire; they can’t disappear in a power surge.” Adams ends the introduction by remarking that although some of the people that gave her a book are no longer a part of her life, she still treasures the books that they gave her.

Adams’s book features a wide range of books (including fiction, children’s fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and reference books) along with short essays of why they are meaningful to the recipients. Below are a few titles from the book.

Paulo Coelho: By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
Antoine de Saint-Exupery: The Little Prince
Various authors: A Treasury of the World’s Best Loved Poems
Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet
Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters to a Young Poet
Slavomir Rawicz: The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom

If indeed a bookshelf tells the story of your life, what are the books you have kept that define who you are?

Read related posts: Why Read Dickens?
The Power of Literature
How Many Books Does the Average American Read?

For further reading: The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit by Jen Adams, Free Press (2012)
http://thebookstheygaveme.tumblr.com


Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores

atkins-bookshelf-booksNot too long ago, brick-and-mortar bookstores thrived. People actually drove to a bookstore — small, quirky independent stores (selling old or new books, or both) as well as the large big-box retailers (Crown, Borders, and Barnes and Noble) to get lost, if even for a fleeting hour, in a labyrinth of bookshelves, cherishing that distinctive aroma of books (bibliophiles know, of course, that nothing beats the smell of old books). As a reader walked through the stacks, the spines of hundreds books called out, luring the reader like a siren’s song: “Come, read me.”

The guardians of these literary oases were — and are for those bookstores still standing — the intrepid booksellers. A bookseller is one part librarian, one part salesperson, one part teacher, and several parts book lover. Not only did they know their way around the store, they knew their way around literature. Each day they would answer dozens of questions and lead readers to the titles they sought. But not all of the customers’ questions warranted an intelligent, thoughtful answer. To shed some light on the amusing side of book selling, Jen Campbell and her colleagues gathered some of the most entertaining and baffling questions that customers posed, revealing the underbelly of the modern enlightened technological society — the semiliterate.

I’m looking for some books on my kid’s summer reading list. Do you have a copy of Tequila Mockingbird?
Where do you keep Hamlet? You know “to be or not to be?” Is it in with philosophy?
Excuse me, but do you have Flowers for Arugula?
Hi, my kid needs The Count of Monte Crisco for Honors English.
Did Charles Dickens every write anything fun?
Do you have any Willa Catheter?
Where are your fictional novels?
Who wrote the Bible? I can’t remember.
Do you have a book that interprets life?
[Customer holding up copy of Joyce’s Ulysses] Why is this book so long? Isn’t it supposed to be set in a single day? How can this many pages of things happen to one person in one day?

Read related posts: Types of Book Readers
Why Read Dickens?
The Power of Literature
What are Your Most Cherished Books?

For further reading: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell, Overlook (2012)


What Are Your Most Cherished Books?

atkins-bookshelf-booksIn Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book, Ray Bradbury recounts the story of how his aunt, who was more like a sister to him, gave him a book that changed his life: “It was the Depression and we had no money. But we had books at hand. One afternoon [Aunt] Neva brought out a huge volume [from our attic] that weighed ten pounds. It was Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe. I had never heard of Poe and had never seen that book. She handed it to me and said. ‘Young man, read this! You’re going to love it! I’ve loved Poe all my life and now it’s up to you.’ … I plunged in and got drunk immediately. I was nine years old and never read anything like it; I fell in love completely with Edgar Allan Poe.” Many years later, Bradbury’s aunt passed away and left that book to him. Decades later, at the age of 90, Bradbury explains that he never forgot that precious gift: “[The strongest memory] is my remembrance of that wonderful Poe book that she introduced me to all those years ago… [the book] that changed my life.”

Indeed the books that we keep on our bookshelves serve as intellectual or developmental milestones along our journey in life. Sometimes if you’re lucky like Bradbury, one of those books just might be the one that changed — or can change — your life. What is your most cherished book?

Read related post: The Power of Literature
Why Read Dickens?
50 Books that Will Change Your Life

For further reading: Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book, edited by Sean Manning, Da Capo Press (2010)


The Memory of the World

“[In August of 1992] 1.5 million books in the Bosnia National and University Library in Sarajevo were destroyed. With this, a chapter of the history of humanity vanished. Too much of our heritage is lost like this in the heat of conflicts… Too much lies hidden and inaccessible in libraries, museums, and archives. This documentary heritage carries the memory of human experience. It is a vehicle for identity and a wellspring of knowledge and wisdom.”  Introduction from The Memory of the World.

In 1992, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) developed the Memory of the World Program to safeguard the world’s most important documents that form the historical record of human experience. Documents are selected for their world significance, authenticity, rarity, beauty, craftsmanship, and emotional power. In each odd-numbered year, participating countries nominate documents for inclusion in the list. To date, the Memory of the World Register includes more than 245 documentary items including clay tablets, manuscripts, recordings, photographs, films, and web pages.

In 2012, UNESCO published the book, The Memory of the World: The Treasures that Record Our History From 1700 BC to the Present Day, highlighting some of the documents that have been included in the Register. Some of the more well-known documents include the Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, The Book of Kells, Bayeux Tapestry, De Revolutionibus Libri Sex, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9, D minor, op. 125, The Wizard of Oz, and the Diaries of Anne Frank.

Read related post: The Books that Shaped America

For further reading: The Memory of the World: The Treasures that Record Our History From 1700 BC to the Present Day, Forward by Irina Bokova, Harper Collins (2012)
http://www.unesco.org
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list.


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