Lots of Books, Lots of Books, and One Almost-Not-A-Book

Danielle Steel

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  

“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?

*Written by Carol Cail. Read more from Carol at

Quotations, Quizzes and Made-up Words

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.

*Written by Carol Cail. Read more from Carol at

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

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  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

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