"It's all about supporting our library"

Between Friends

Welcome to our monthly column,
written by our beloved Carol Cail. 

Read more of her witty wonderful words
on her website: 

  • March 01, 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Are you ready to be amazed?  The May, 2019 issue of Glamour carried an article about Danielle Steel, in which much was revealed about the bestselling novelist.  She was born in New York, grew up in France, was married twice, has nine children, sold her very first novel at age 19, and has published 179 books [yes, that’s 179, but it might be several more by the time you read this].  The Numbers Game, her latest, is coming out in March.  [There’s a library waiting list for it.]  She uses not a computer but a 1946 Olympia standard typewriter, works 20 to 24 hours a day, usually sleeps less than four hours a night, and often has five or six novels underway simultaneously.  If you’d like to view her custom desk, built to look like a stack of three of her bestselling novels, go to glamour.com.  

    “A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it.”  Danielle Steel

    Here’s a library acquisition for you if you love to read and love music, especially rock and roll——Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life, by John O’Connell.  In short essays, music journalist O’Connell examines how each book influenced the musician’s life and work.  In 1975, when Bowie was filming The Man Who Fell to Earth, the Sunday Times wrote:  “Bowie hates aircraft so he mostly travels across the states by train, carrying his mobile bibliotheque in special trunks which open out with all his books neatly displayed on shelves.  In New Mexico, the volumes dealt mainly with the occult, his current enthusiasm.”

    “Reading is, among much else, an escape — into other people, other perspectives, other consciousnesses.  It takes you out of yourself, only to put you back there infinitely enriched.”  John O’Connell.

    There are numerous books we would have been denied the pleasure of reading if the authors had not persisted in spite of harsh rejections.  For instance, Moby Dick.  An editor who disliked the concept of the whale suggested that Captain Ahab struggle instead “with a depravity toward young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens.”  Would Moby Mermaid have been a classic?

  • January 01, 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Let’s begin the new year by all-hailing our wondrous public library.  Here are a few quotations for you to recite to your favorite librarian:

    • At the moment we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better.  [Barack Obama, ALA annual conference keynote address] 
    • The free library is a living room to an ordinary citizen, a treasury to a researcher, and a chamber of horrors to a dictator.  [Bengt Holmqvist] 
    • Where else could a member of the public linger for over ten hours without being questioned?   [Barry Bowes]
    • I must say that I find television very educational.  The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book.  [Groucho Marx]
    For more of this kind of thing, check out The Librarian’s Book of Quotes, compiled by Tatyana Eckstrand (020 ECK).

    The November 11, 2019 issue of The New Yorker has an interesting article under the title “The Gentleman from Indiana.”  It begins, “Can you name the only three writers who have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction twice?“  The Library of America recently reissued two such novels in one volume: The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams, by—did you know?—Booth Tarkington.  Nine of his thirty or so novels were bestsellers in their day.  Remember Penrod?  Longmont Library has that, plus the new double-novel publication, and a lot more, including DVDs of the books that were made into movies. You can find The New Yorker in the library’s magazine collection.  Oh, the other two Pulitzer Prize authors?  Faulkner and Updike. 

    Here’s another test of your memory.  Sniglets.  Barbara Wallraff, a senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly updated the idea of “a word that someone is looking for, which other people helpfully try to find or coin,” i.e. a word that should have been in the dictionary but isn’t; for example: the runny stuff that comes out of the bottle before the mustard does—“musquirt.”  Wallraff’s book, Word Fugitives, is available from the Boulder Library by way of the Longmont Library.

    May your 2020 be happy happy.

  • November 01, 2019 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    If you enjoy cozy mystery novels, have you noticed how many use a librarian as the amateur sleuth protagonist?  Nora Cage’s tales of mayhem are narrated by a bookmobile librarian in Georgia.  Allison Brooks writes about a Connecticut library with a resident ghost librarian. Mary Lou Kirwin’s librarian Karen Nash is not at home working in Minnesota when she discovers bodies; she’s traveling to or living in England; but the plots do involve books — she finds romance with a handsome bookseller — and one murder weapon is a bookcase full of rare editions.  Search the catalog for “library mysteries” for these and similar page-turners.  A number of fun-sounding children’s books come up, too.

    We’ll be right back after the following commercial: Free Books!  How does this sound?  Two Free Books per hour for work you’ll enjoy?  Free Books!  The Friends need Your help with the Book Sales which raise so much money every month for your library.  Free Books!   We especially need volunteers to help set up and take down Book Sales like the one coming up November 14 through 17.  Free Books!  Click here for the link.  Now back to your blog in-progress.

    Here’s one you might find interesting——Reading Behind Bars: a Memoir of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian (027.665092).  The author, Jill Grunenwald, spent two years as the librarian at a men’s minimum-security prison in northern Ohio.  She was in her twenties, and this was her first job out of college.  In this poignant and funny account, she details the daily routine and not-so-routine workings of the facility, where one of the few pleasures is “free” time in the library, and the only “escape” is reading.

    According to website BookBrowse, 88 per cent of private book clubs are all-women groups. Nearly half of library and other public groups include men.  The main criteria for choosing which book to read is “one that will provoke good conversation.”  My club’s criteria is “one the library has enough copies of!”

    Give thanks for books. . . .

  • October 01, 2019 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Libraries throughout the U.S. are lending patrons all kinds of things besides books and CDs, including paddleboards, fishing rods, weed eaters, cake pans, ukuleles, even clothing.  Are you aware of the cool wonders you can borrow from the Longmont Public Library?  How about a GoPro camera with all the trimmings (tripod, for instance)?  Or a telescope?  A DVD/Blue-Ray disc player?  Even a WiFi Hotspot, which I’m not familiar with but it sounds impressive.  You have to be an adult (sorry, kids); check out at the second floor information desk.  You can keep the item for seven days and the penalty is $20 per day if you forget.  For more information go to https://www.longmontcolorado.gov/departments/departments-e-m/library/library-of-things.  You’ll be glad you did.

    Good news for romance enthusiasts—Harlequin has formed “studios” which along with Canada’s CTV network will turn the publisher’s novels into more than 20 made-for-television movies.  Since Harlequin owns some 50,000 titles, if the movies are a hit they could entertain us for decades.

    Ever start a book and begin to bog down?  Here’s some advice from Roberto Estreitinho who is a social media specialist.  “A short bonus regarding long reads: in case of doubt, skip to the conclusion.  If it’s worthy of understanding how the author got there, read it all.  If not, congratulations.  You’ve just avoided wasting time.”

    And have you heard about The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to  Build the World’s Greatest Library by Edward Wilson-Lee (010.92colon)?  Columbus’s son Hernando Colon was 13 when he sailed with his dad on the explorer’s last voyage.  He grew up dreaming of a library that would include absolutely everything from everywhere—books, art prints, pamphlets, posters, ballads, newsletters, manuscripts, even pornography.  He collected 15,000 to 20,000 books from around the world, and mourned the 1,637 that were lost in a shipwreck in 1522.  His collection today still consists of 4,000 items.  Wouldn’t Hernando be amazed at what’s in today’s libraries!  (See the first paragraph above.)

    Not all trick-or-treaters would be thrilled with bookmarks.  Give ‘em a choice and see.

  • May 01, 2019 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Children’s author Roald Dahl issued this behest: 

    “So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
    Go throw your TV set away,
    And in its place you can install
    A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

    Here following are observations from other people worth quoting.

    Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything. [Tomie dePaola]

    Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.[Mason Cooley]

    A book is a dream that you hold in your hand. [Neil Gaiman]

    No furniture is so charming as books. [Sydney Smith]

    Wear the old coat and buy the new book. [Austin Phelps]

    The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. [St. Augustine]

    It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it. [Oscar Wilde]

    Books are like lobster shells; we surround ourselves with ‘em, then we grow out of ‘em and leave ‘em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development. [Dorothy L. Sayers]

    Properly, we should read for power.  Man reading should be man intensely alive.  The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand. [Ezra Pound] 

    We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there, too. [Anonymous]

    There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It’s like falling in love. [Christopher Morley] 

    A good book is enjoyable.  A great book sets off a bomb inside you. [Ned Hepburn]

    Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. [Angela Carter]

    No two people ever read the same book. [Edmund Wilson]

    The book you don’t read won’t help. [Jim Rohn]

    I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage. [Charles De Secondat]

    I think it is good that books still exist, but they do make me sleepy. [Frank Zappa]

    I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound—if I can remember any of the damn things. [Dorothy Parker]

  • April 01, 2019 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    If you search on the library’s website for author Mardy Grothe, you’ll find several books on various wordplay topics, including metaphors, aphorisms, and -ifisms.  Oxymoronica (428GRO) is one of the most rewarding.  A dictionary definition: “Ox-y-mor-on-i-ca (OK-se-mor-ON-uh-ca) noun, plural: Any variety of tantalizing, self-contradictory statements or observations that on the surface appear false or illogical, but at a deeper level are true, often profoundly true.”  Examples?  “Common sense is not so common.” – [Voltaire].  “The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.” – Ursula K. Le Guin. “I’m as pure as the driven slush.” – [Tallulah Bankhead}. P.G. Wodehouse wrote the following oxymoronic dedication to his 1926 book, Heart of a Goof:  “To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.”

    One of the very best places to lose yourself on-line is Futilitycloset.com.  The owner/operator of this information trove is Gregg Ross, who describes it as a database of more than 10,000 items. . .“entertaining curiosities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics, designed to help you waste time as enjoyably as possible.”  Here following are two example anecdotes—-paraphrased so I don’t get into trouble over copyright!

    1. During his Oxford University days, Oscar Wilde was assigned a bit of the New Testament to orally translate from Greek to English. Midway, the examiner, satisfied, called a halt.  Wilde is purported to have said, “Oh, do let me go on.  I want to see how it ends.”  
    2. Poet Robert Lowell spent a few days in jail for refusing to register for the draft during World War II.  He shared a cell, or one within talking distance, with Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, a member of the Mob.  Lepke introduced himself as being in for killing somebody. He wanted to know what Lowell’s crime was.  “I’m in for refusing to kill.”  (The more you think about it, the more it makes you think.)

    And from our old friend Anonymous comes this exhortation:  “TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six.  Open your child’s imagination.  Open a book.”

  • March 01, 2019 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    First, a rather scary reminder from Henry David Thoreau.  “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

    Here’s a game you probably haven’t played, since a city rail transit service is the main requirement. It’s “Metro Poems,” invented by Jacques Jouet, who frequented the Paris Metro in the mid-1990s. The rules are easy but sound difficult to follow. You board the train, and as soon as it leaves the station, you mentally compose the first line of a poem.  When the train stops at the second station, you write the line down.  You think of a second line to the poem while the train travels to the third station. When the train stops, you write the second line down. And so on from stop to stop. You aren’t allowed to write anything while the train is moving.  You aren’t allowed to think of another line while the train is stopped.  When you reach your destination station and disembark, you write the last line on the platform. If you take the Paris Metro, you’ll have to think fast, because the average run between two stations is a minute and a half.

    If you aren’t a versifier, here’s another way to entertain yourself when there’s nothing better to do. Some readers viewing Jack Dann’s 1984 science fiction novel, The Man Who Melted, noticed the wording of the cover seemed to run together thus: The Man Who Melted Jack Dunn.  This led folks to look for other amusing amalgamations of titles and authors.  For example: The Joy of Cooking Irma S. Rombauer,  Contact Carl Sagan, and Flush Virginia Wolf. I found one on my bookshelf which rather perturbs me—Death Kindly Stopped Carol Cail.

    Mark Twain could always be relied on to render a wise and succinct quote.  Here’s one:  “The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail.  The trouble with most fictions is that you want them all to land in hell together, as quickly as possible.”

    May all the books you borrow or buy turn out to be heavenly.

  • February 01, 2019 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    The next time you’re browsing between bookshelves in the library, consider this.  In 1968, at Northwestern University, an empty section of wood shelving fell against other shelves that were full of books in a domino effect that dumped 264,000 books, ruining more than 8,000 of them. The avalanche shattered solid oak chairs and flattened metal footstools.  No one was injured.  However, deaths have been reported in similar catastrophes.  Earthquakes can be especially destructive to libraries. The information for this account came from a Longmont Library book appropriately called The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders (027.009KEL).  The author is Stuart Kells, a book historian. When looking for this and other reading material, you may wish to leave your bike helmet on.

    You may not recognize the name, Todd H. Bol (1956—2018), but you’ve no doubt heard about what he did.  This was the remarkable man who, to honor his late mother, erected a wooden doll house stocked with books in his yard for his neighbors and strangers to use as a library—the Little Free Library.  The idea was simple—take books, donate books—and it caught on fast.  Currently there are more than 75,000 Little Free Libraries around the world, and probably more that the organization he founded doesn’t know about. Longmont has at least one—you can locate it on the map at littlefreelibrary.org. Also on that website is information about how to set up your own book-sharing station.  P.S. The Longmont Library has three of our own Little Free Libraries in our community — located at Affolter Park, Rothrock Dell Park and Kanemoto Park. Check ’em out!

    How time gallops by. Award-winning writer for children and teens Beverly Cleary is now 102, going on 103. Her advice to readers is, “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it yourself.”  If you do aspire to write, keep in mind what Gilbert K. Chesterton said: “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”  And Mark Twain observed, “A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.”  Obviously that didn’t apply to War and Peace. 

  • January 01, 2019 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    “I had an old typewriter and a big idea.”  J.K. Rowling

    When Norm and I operated Daily Office Supply on Main Street (1978 to 2002), customers would frequently gift us with manual typewriters, some of which still worked.  We would express thanks and carry them to the basement to gather dust. A few years ago, novelist Cormac McCarthy’s manual Olivetti was purchased at a Christie’s auction for $245,500. I’m guessing (hoping) we didn’t leave anything that valuable moldering at Daily. But lately, people are developing a nostalgia for the sound, sight, smell, and touch of a good, old Smith Corona, Remington Rand, or Olympia.  “The steady resurgence of typewriter love among writers,” an article in The Authors Guild Bulletin observes, “may be a reaction to how tech-mad the world has become.  Like yoga, meditation or contemplative chewing, typewriters slow you down and help you focus.”  When you’re using a computer, it’s all too easy to jump from a writing project to an Internet browser. And consider the security and privacy of a typewriter compared to a computer. If you are interested in regressing to years B.C. (Before Computers), check out The Typewriter Revolution: a Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century by Richard Polt (681.62POL).

    “All fiction is largely autobiographical and much of autobiography is, of course, fiction.”  P.D. James

    If you’re a Gorey fan, you should take a look at Mark Dery’s new biography of him, Born to be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (700.92GoreyDER). Being such a private man, Gorey would have hated this thorough and thoroughly entertaining tome. It follows him from babyhood to his death, with footnotes and an impressive bibliography. You’ll no doubt need to renew the book at least once to take it all in. I was afraid to skip, afraid I’d miss something. If you aren’t familiar with Gorey’s wonderful art and weird words, search for Amphigorey in the library catalog. Maybe don’t, if you’re averse to subjects macabre. 

    “Books. Cats. Life is Good.”  Edward Gorey

    Thanks for reading!  Be safe and well in 2019.

  • November 01, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    You remember Get Smart’s joke gadget, the Cone of Silence? Have you heard of a real privacy invention called the Isolator Helmet, meant to give a writer peace and quiet for working? You can buy it on-line for about $35,000. An amusing essay in the August 20th Publishers Weekly sent me in search of information about Hugo Gernsback, inventor, writer, editor, publisher, and the fellow for whom the science fiction award Hugo is named. He founded the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926, and was known for questionable business practices; his writers received extremely low fees and sometimes none at all. He owned 80 patented inventions at his death in 1967, including the aforementioned helmet. It resembles a diver’s helmet, with a box at the mouth for smoking, and an oxygen tank which costs extra.  Somehow those two features don’t seem compatible. 

    Speaking of ridiculous. . . . Can you fathom why prisons in North Carolina won’t allow inmates to read The American Heritage Dictionary or The Dog Encyclopedia?  Book censorship is common in U.S. prisons, and the outlawed titles are sometimes hard to explain. The Authors Guild reports that Books Through Bars, an organization which provides books to prison inmates, had trouble in 2017 with the New York State Department of Corrections denying delivery of books. Since the same policy barred care packages from loved ones, much public outrage led to Governor Andrew Cuomo rescinding the ruling. In Texas, 10,000 titles banned from prisons include a collection of Dave Barry’s humor, and the pop-up version of A Charlie Brown Christmas. 

    So aren’t we fortunate to be able to walk into our lovely library and check out armloads of uncensored books?  If you don’t mind waiting in line for one with more than a hundred readers ahead of you, consider putting a hold on The Library Book by Susan Orlean. (The line is shorter for the audio, e-book, or large print version.) Ms. Orlean has written a tribute to public libraries in general, and, in particular, an account of the 1986 Los Angeles Central Library fire, the worst American library fire ever; about 400,000 books were destroyed and 700,000 more damaged. 

    A big thank-you to book publishers everywhere!

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