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Between Friends

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

Read more of her witty wonderful words
on her website: 

  • October 01, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    An Edison Research consumer survey wanted to know when audio book users were listening to their books.  Most of the time, it was while driving, 65 percent.  Relaxing before falling asleep was 52 percent.  Doing housework or chores was 45 percent. Since this adds up to 162 percent, someone’s listening during all of the above.  

    Meanwhile. . . .You don’t think authors suffer for their art?  E.B. White, who wrote Charlotte’s Web was asked to record it on tape for audio books.  It took him 17 tries before he could get through the spider’s death without crying.

    “Did you know reading aloud with your kids is the #1 way to help them achieve reading success in school?” So says Sarah Mackenzie, author and host of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast. Furthermore, “Reading aloud to your kids, even after they can read to themselves, is one of the best academic boosts you can give a child of any age.”  Besides, isn’t it fun for you, too, unless it’s the same picture book every night?

    For the older kiddies, the latest classroom sensation is classics in manga, comic books in the Japanese style. Teachers are enthusiastic about the books, which are notsimplified.  Hamlet, for instance, is more than 500 pages.  The goal of the publisher, Manga Classics, is to “create the most faithful adaptation possible in the graphic form.”  The thirteen titles available so far include Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Scarlet Letter. Visit mangaclassics.com for more information and lesson plans for interested teachers.  And good ol’ Longmont Library has several Manga Classics for you to enjoy!

    Finally, if you should be in Chicago, drop by the American Writers Museum.  One year old, it’s received rave reviews from Fodor’s, USA Today, and others.  Among the many exhibits are a Word Waterfall, a digital map of Hometown Authors, and a table of typewriters for visitors to add a sentence or two to an on-going story.  Learn more at americanwritersmuseum.org

    It’s October—-treat yourself to a good book.

  • September 01, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Have you ever wished you had enough books and shelves you’d need a ladder to reach the topmost?  Especially one of those sliding hooked-on-a-rail ladders?  Melvil Dewey encountered his first one of those in the late nineteenth century in a Philadelphia library. He was not amused; the bronze hooks running along a pipe made “an annoying metal-on-metal sound.”  Of course, there have been accidents, librarians falling off, sometimes fatal. Surely a partner with a belaying rope would solve that problem.

    Whether you love or hate e-books, they are no doubt here to stay.  But they are not doing as well as they once were. Sales fell 10 percent in 2017, and children’s stumbled the worst—-accounting for only 5 percent of all sales.  Somewhat surprising, even the young adult e-category was down 8 percent. Want to guess what the top-three traditionally published adult e-books last year were? (Answer below.)

    You all know the Boulder Book Store on Pearl Street Mall. Publishers Weeklyhas named it 2018’s Bookstore of the Year. In business for 45 years, the store is 20,000 square feet of new books (65%), used and remaindered books (16%), and non-book sidelines (19%), totaling 100,000 items for sale.  Be glad that come January, you don’t have to count their inventory.

    Meanwhile, Colorado’s Talking Book Library was named 2017’s best in the country by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, part of the Library of Congress. CTBL serves 7,200 patrons statewide who use audiobooks, Braille books, and large print books.

    How to Read Poetry Like a Professor by Professor Emeritus Thomas C. Foster (808.1FOS) tackles the questions of what, how, and why poetry.  I’ve studied poetry and write it myself, so I thought I’d scan through this in order to review it here.  But I ended up reading nearly every word.  Foster’s easy, conversational style makes it, as the cover says, “a quippy and sonorous guide to verse.” If poetry doesn’t thrill you, try his How to Read Novels . . . .

    The top-selling traditionally published adult e-books last year were 1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, 2. Origin by Dan Brown, and 3. Camino Island by John Grisham.

  • June 01, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    “The covers of this book are too far apart.”  Ambrose Bierce

    Prolific author Isaac Asimov once described a dream he’d had.  He’d died and gone to Heaven, where he confessed to the recording angel that he didn’t belong there: “I’m an atheist.”  The angel said, “We decide who qualifies. Not you.”  Asimov pondered this for a moment and then asked, “Is there a typewriter here that I can use?”  Waking, he saw significance in the dream. Heaven was the act of writing, and he had been in Heaven for more than half a century.

    “I conceive that the right way to write a story for boys is to write so that it will not only interest boys but strongly interest any man who has ever been a boy. That immensely enlarges the audience.”  Mark Twain

    New York pharmaceutical manufacturer Eugene Scheifflin (1827-1906) was a big fan of Shakespeare. He also loved birds. He hit upon an epic plan to introduce to the United States every type of bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. Starlings made a brief appearance in Henry IV. The king ordered a soldier never to mention his brother-in-law’s name again, causing the soldier to dream of buying a starling that would repeat the name over and over. “Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak; Nothing but ‘Mortimer,’ and give it him.”  Over a two-year period, at great expense, Scheifflin imported 100 starlings to New York.  Today there are almost as many European starlings in North America as there are people.  Starlings are estimated to cause at least $800 million in crop damage in the United States every year, bring havoc to air traffic, and carry dozens of diseases deadly to livestock and humans. Ironically, four hundred years ago Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth warned,“What’s done cannot be undone.”

    “The older I get, the more acutely I am aware that the vast majority of what is written remains unread.”  Jhumpa Lahiri

    Have a happy June filled with quiet moments for reading whatever you want. 

  • May 01, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Now here’s something you don’t see every day: Dictionary Stories. That’s the title of an intriguing little collection of “short fictions and other findings.” The author, Jez Burrows, was looking up “study” in a  New Oxford American Dictionary when he noticed a curiously melodramatic example sentence following the definition: “He perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery.” Those few words sparked a unique idea. Dictionary example sentences (demonstrating usage of the word in a sentence) could be culled and combined into minuscule stories. The New York Times describes it as “sentences stolen from dictionaries and pasted together into tiny, delightful narratives.” Longmont Library doesn’t have this unusual book but will bring it over from Boulder if you ask nicely.

    Here’s something else about dictionaries. They add new words every year. In 2018, Merriam Webster is adding 850 words and definitions, including “wordie,” which is believed to have been first used in 1982, and means what you think it means — a lover of words. Some of the new words have been coined by Neil deGrasse Tyson. You know, the man from Cosmos. He doesn’t like the word “nonfiction.” He advocates redefining “faction” to mean the opposite of “fiction,” because “nonfiction” is a negation of “fiction,” and “a word shouldn’t be referenced for what it is not.” Search his name at the Library’s web site; you’ll be amazed at how many faction books he’s written. His goal is “perfect sentence[s]” which result in “science page-turners.”

    According to a recent government survey (if you can believe anything that comes from the nation’s capitol anymore), 9.4% of us between the ages of 15 and 24 read for pleasure or self-fulfillment on a typical day. The percentage increases gradually for ages 25 through 64, and then makes a big hop to 38.3% for folks 65 and older. That makes sense — we of the senior generation have more leisure hours for reading. Aging isn’t all bad!

    May your May bring good books and time to read them.

  • April 01, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Sue Grafton, author of the alphabet series which began with A is for Alibi and concluded with Y is for Yesterday died in December. Adding poignancy to her passing was her missing by one letter the publication of all twenty-six mystery novels. Z is for Zero will not be finished by anyone else, says her daughter Jamie Clark. Sue was adamant that her detective , Kinsey Millhone, never be sold to movies or TV, and no ghost writer would write novels about her. Good for Sue. Think of all the authors who are no longer with us, but who are still “writing” bestsellers. For instance, Margaret Truman has a new book out, Allied in Danger.

    Meanwhile, Janet Evanovich, who is alive and counting, published novel number twenty-two in her series in October (Tricky Twenty-Two). Considering the number of numbers there are, we can predict she has her work cut out for her.

    And meanwhile again, prolific mystery author Lawrence Block, who edited the new fiction anthology In Sunlight or in Shadow, seems on the verge of retirement. In the book’s introduction, he says, “I’ve been [writing fiction] for 60 years. And I’ve been getting the message lately that it may be something I can’t do anymore.” In addition to novels about burglars, private eyes, and hit men, Block wrote several books about writing, many short stories, and TV and movie scripts. So although we’re sorry he needs to retire, he’s entitled.

    Books by all of the aforementioned authors (even Margaret Truman) are in good supply at your friendly Longmont Library.

    Okay, here’s where the turtle comes in. The first American cookbook was published in Connecticut in 1796. The author was Amelia Simmons. It contained some strange recipes, such as pan-cooked eel, and a turtle dish that instructed, “About 9 o’clock hang up your turtle by the hind fins, cut [off] the head and save the blood.” No pictures were included. Thank goodness. No, this classic is not in the Longmont Library collection, but a book about this book is United Tastes.

    T.S. Eliot was right. April is the cruelest month. Especially the 15th.

  • March 01, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    “The Library of Congress is the greatest library in the world. If you ever get down about American culture, [remember that] there are more public libraries in this country than there are Starbucks.” David McCullough

    Here’s a fun anthology if you like fantasy: Ex Libris: Stories of Librarians, Libraries and Lore. Available at the inimitable Longmont Library, this book includes such authors as Kage Baker, Elizabeth Bear, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and other Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy award winners. Be thankful our library is nothing like the ones depicted herein.

    “My resolution was to read more so I put the subtitles on my TV.” Unknown

    You’ve noticed that James Patterson likes to co-author novels with other suspense writers. In June, Knopf/Doubleday will publish The President is Missing, and Patterson’s co-author is none other than Bill Clinton. Also, as if he weren’t busy enough, Patterson wants to teach you how to write a mystery. For $90, you can take an online class involving videos, reading material, exercises, and critiques. If you visit masterclass.com I’m pretty sure no salesman will call.

    “[Creative writing] really isn’t like any other kind of work, for it must come from a great emotional upheaval of the soul of the writer himself; and if that emotional upheaval is not present, it must come from the works of any other writers which happen to be handy and easily imitated.” So said humorist Robert Benchley. For a good time, search for him in the library catalog. He also claimed he needed to actually live the lives of his characters, which took considerable time in Cannes, Nice, gambling, drinking. “It was not until I decided to tell stories about old men who just sit in their rooms and shell walnuts that I ever got around to doing any work.”

    “Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” Henry Ward Beecher.

    “How about the public library?” CC

  • February 01, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Did you hear about the discovery of Blackbeard the Pirate’s sunken flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, off the North Carolina Coast? Incredibly, fragments of paper with still legible words were found wedged inside a breech-loading cannon in the warm waters. After much research, the fragments were determined to be from a 1712 first edition of A Voyage to the South Seas and Round the World, Perform’d in the Years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711, by Captain Edward Cooke. Sorry — you won’t find a copy of it in the Longmont Library.

    You know the saying that something is “lost in translation”? The January 15th issue of the New Yorker ponders how close to the original a literary translator should hold. “Nabokov, who was fluent in three languages and wrote in two of them, believed that ‘the clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase.'” The Korean media has criticized Deborah Smith, who translated author Han Kang’s novel The Vegetarian, for embellishing Kang’s spare style with adverbs and other words not in the original. Nevertheless, the novel won the Man Booker International Prize for both Kang and Smith. Our fine library *does* have two copies of this book.

    Ever wonder why a periodical is called a magazine? It’s because numerous articles are “stored” therein. The Arabic word for storehouse is “makhzan,” and was originally applied to a place used by the army for storing arms. In 1731, the Gentleman’s Magazine appeared, the first to use the term.

    “If you don’t read books you only live one life…. If you read books you live a thousand lives.” So say Hector Cantu and Carlos Castellanos, creators of the comic strip Baldo. And writers, especially fiction writers, experience similar benefits as they work on stories. Tennessee Williams once remarked, “I always have a roomful of company.” David Samuels puts it this way: “Reading [and writing] requires a loner’s temperament, a high tolerance for silence, and an unhealthy preference for the company of people who are imaginary or dead.”

    Doesn’t reading about reading make you want to read?

  • January 01, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Do you have trouble finding time to read? What you need is a six-word memoir. Longmont Library has the 2008 collection published by Smith Magazine editors Fershleiser and Smith, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Several other editions have been published since, including one for teens, I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets. Examples?

    • Time to start over again, again.
    • Kissed many frogs. Finally found prince.
    • Wife. Daughter. Dog. Home. Miss them.
    • He still needs me at 64.
    • If only he wasn’t a Republican.

    Supposedly, Ernest Hemingway once bet friends that he could write a six-word story that would make people cry, and he won the ten-dollar wager. “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”

    Okay, pop quiz. What does the word “wuthering” mean in Wuthering Heights? [Long pause while you think.] Do the words “froonce”  or “queach” help? Me neither, if I hadn’t had The Word Museum by Jeffrey Kacirk in front of me. Apparently, when the wind froonces through the trees and queaches the branches, the sound is a rustling that is represented by the onomatopoeic word “wuther.”

    Are you a Jeopardy fan? The November/December American Libraries Magazine featured an interesting article about the show’s librarian contestants. About 150 of them have competed since 2005, and thirty become Champions. Some of the comments:

    • When it’s your turn, you go up to the stage, and there’s a little stand behind each podium that goes up and down so they can get all the contestants to be about the same height.
    • They send you home with a tote bag, a cap, and a ballpoint pen that looks like the buzzer.
    • Not too much has changed. You do get a lot of creepy messages on Facebook for a little while.

    Librarian or not, how can you get to be on Jeopardy? Go to americanlibrariesmagazine.org to find out.

    “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey

  • December 01, 2017 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    November was NaNoWriMo. No, that has nothing to do with Robin Williams’ Mork. The National Novel Writing Month challenges creative people worldwide to draft a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. In operation since 1999, NaNoWriMo expected 350,000 writers to take part this year. And there have been many successes — 449 published novels, at least 80 of them with Big Five publishers. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen was conceived as a NaNoWriMo manuscript. More information is available at NaNoWriMo.org. You have a year to think about what you would like to write.

    Also in November, Museum of the Bible held a grand opening in Washington, D.C. The 430,000 square-foot museum, largest in the city, would take a visitor nine eight-hour days to see it all. One feature is a walk-through exhibit of a n ancient city excavated on a hilltop over the Valley of Elah, traditionally the site of the showdown between David and Goliath. A tourist attraction of literally biblical proportions.

    A few months back, Beverly Cleary, author of the Ramona Quimby picture books and so many others for young readers, turned 101. Her first was published in 1950. Since then, 91 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. When she was in eighth grade, a teacher assigned a creative writing paragraph, one that described something. Beverly didn’t receive her usual good grade on it, and that disappointment influenced her writing style for years thereafter. Which was okay; kids often told her they liked her books because they didn’t have much description.

    Here’s a question to liven up any party. Do you know what makes a word a “piano word”? It’s a word in which all the letters can be played on a musical instrument. “Cabbage” is one. Now everyone can have fun thinking of other examples. And by the way, easily confused words, such as “ideal” and “idea” are sometimes known by the provocative term “dangerous pairs.”

    “Between Friends” is brought to you by carolcail.com, and Carol herself, whose memory isn’t what it was, but she still knows all the words to “Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” And she remembers all her Friends at the Longmont Library. Have a happy Christmas.

  • November 01, 2017 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    In 1955, the Ford Motor Company asked Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Marianne Moore to suggest a name for a new car they were developing. They wanted to convey a “feeling of elegance, fleetness, advanced features and design.” Ms. Moore did compose a long list of possibles, including The Anticipator, The Utopian Turtletop, The Pastelogram, and The Mongoose Civique. From other sources, Ford received more than 6000 suggestions. Do you know the name they settled on? The answer is below.

    Isn’t it great to browse the Longmont Library’s extensive computer inventory of books, videos, CDs and more, even from your home? But do you ever miss sorting through the old-fangled card catalog? The Library of Congress has published a lovely tribute, The Card Catalog. During the French Revolution, librarians used blank-backed playing cards to write books’ details, leading to the modern index cards we used and loved. “On December 21, 1980, the last new cards were filed in the [Library of Congress’s] Main Reading Room’s card catalog…no additional cards were ever added.” Far-sighted librarians lobbied to keep these “unique historical document[s]” out of the trash. You can see some of them in this book, by reserving it by computer!

    Reacher Said Nothing. If those three words mean something to you, you are the reader this book is for. The rest of the title is Lee Child and the Making of Make Me. The author, Andy Martin, spent much of one year with Child as he wrote his twentieth Jack Reacher thriller. You fans will enjoy such revelations as where the names “Reacher” and “Child” came from. You’ll be surprised at how Child comes up with his bestsellers.

    “If you were a member of Jesse James’s band and people asked you what you were, you wouldn’t say, “Well, I’m a desperado.” You’d say something like, ‘I work in banks,’ or ‘I’ve done some railroad work.’ It took me a long time just to say, ‘I’m a writer.’ It’s really embarrassing.” Roy Blount, Jr.

    The name Ford chose because it had “an air of gaiety and zest” was Edsel.

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