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Murder by the Books, Prison Escapism, and Book Clubbing

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. . . .

*Written by Carol Cail. Read more from Carol at carolcail.com

Modern Libraries and an Ancient One

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.

*Written by Carol Cail. Read more from Carol at carolcail.com

The Writing Life, Part Two

By the time you read this, given the changeableness already demonstrated, my facts may be out of date.  First, President Trump’s tariff on all books imported from China was to be 25 percent; then it was 10 percent and to go into effect September first, then not all books just all books except religious books (Bibles and Korans), and then children’s books would be exempt until December 15th because “We’re doing this for the Christmas season just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers.” 

“Politics is not a bad profession.  If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.”  Ronald Reagan

An essay in the June 17th Publishers Weekly argued against tariffs on books.  A large percentage of books for children of all ages are printed in China for U.S. publishers.  In 2017, the average retail price for an illustrated juvenile book was $20.01.  Underfunded public libraries and bookstores operating on slender margins will face new financial challenges.   Publishers having to pass on the extra cost of tariffs would impact sales to families and to libraries already on tight budgets.

“Beneath the rule of men entirely great/ The pen is mightier than the sword.”  Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  

Of course, anything that affects the publishing industry badly, trickles down to the authors, editors, agents, and publicists.  The July /August issue of Poets & Writers reports  that opportunities for publishing careers are shrinking.  “Over the past two decades, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people workings in book publishing has plummeted from just more than 91,000 in 1997 to roughly 60,000 at the end of 2018.”

“Advice to writers: sometimes you just have to stop writing.  Even before you begin.”  Stanislaw J. Lec

Still, not all the statistics are grim.  First-time author Cliff Sim’s nonfiction book Team of Vipers went from number twelve to number six on Amazon’s bestseller list after our president’s no-stars revue on Twitter.

*Written by Carol Cail. Read more from Carol at carolcail.com

The Writing Life, Part One

The Authors Guild, founded in 1912 as The Authors League of America, is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization of writers.  From time to time, the guild conducts a survey of its members’ incomes, “to learn how best to align our work with today’s authors’ needs.”  The 2018 survey was completed by 5,067 published authors—-traditionally published, self-published, and hybrid-published.  [Hybrid publishers are a new trend; they form partnerships with authors, both parties sharing costs and profits equally.]  The median writing-related income  was $6,080, down 42% from the 2009 survey.  Poverty level incomes make it impossible for writers to support themselves on writing alone.  Why the decline?  Self-publishing and inexpensive e-books mean there are more books on the market than ever before, yet in spite of the boom in quantity, the total number of books sold has been flat for the past five years.  Supply exceeding demand results in less revenue per author.

“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”  Jules Renard  (1864-1910)

And that ain’t all, folks.  Newspaper advertising and circulation revenues in the U. S. are down, way down.  Advertising in 2006 brought in $49 billion, in 2016 it was $18 billion.  Why?  That’s right.  Readers are turning to digital distributors of news—Facebook , Google, etc.—so newspapers are struggling and disappearing.  In the 1960s through the 1990s, total Sunday circulation was more than 60 million.  In 2016, it was 38 million, the lowest since 1945. 

“The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it.”   Leo Rosten

Ahhh, but all is not lost.  Have you heard of the Future Library?  In a protected forest north of Oslo, Norway, 1,000 spruce trees have been planted in a project that will let them mature until 2114, when they will be harvested and made into paper for a collection of books.  Writers are invited to contribute unpublished works in any genre or language.  Amid the current pessimistic prognoses for print, the Future Library is a bright spot of optimism.

To be continued . . . .

*Written by Carol Cail. Read more from Carol at carolcail.com

The All-Quotations Column

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]

*Written by Carol Cail. Read more from Carol at carolcail.com