Book Shelves, Bookstores, Books

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 Weekly has 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.
*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at

Library of Congress, The President is Missing and Robert Benchley

“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 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

*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at
*Originally published in March 2018

Ford Motor Company, Card Catalogs and Jack Reacher

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.

*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at
*Originally published in November 2017

Libraries, Libraries, Libraries!

Our splendiferous Longmont Public Library has a number of books in its collection which are about libraries. The following very different examples just go to show you.

The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World is not a book to be taken lightly. It is so big and well-endowed, you may want to read it in a cozy corner of the library, rather than wrangle it home in your little red wagon. The color photographs of sumptuous rooms in opulent, historic libraries display sculptures, murals, carvings, gilt, acres of dark wood, marble, and shelves holding ranks of brown books that would surely disintegrate if touched. Not a James Patterson or Danielle Steel among them. Except, of course, in the United States also beautiful Library of Congress, which attempts to stock copies of every US copyrighted book — more than 17 million an counting — plus maps, photographs, drawings, films, audio media, and on and on.

Down Cut Shin Creek is the opposite of the above book. It’s a plain and skinny nonfiction book about the Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky. The picture are black and white, which is fitting since the setting is the hollows of the Cumberland Mountains during the Great Depression. In the 30s, President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration sent librarians on horseback into the back country to bring books to adults and children. Also fittingly, you can find copies of this little book in both the adult and children’s sections of the library.

If you enjoy cozy novels, you may already know about the Library Lovers Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay. Titles listed in the Longmont Library catalog include Due or Die and A Likely Story. Others are stocked by the Boulder Public Library, and all you have to do is let the Longmont Library know that you want them. Isn’t modern technology wonderful when it works? Anyway, as you no doubt guessed, Ms. McKinlay draws on her own experiences as a librarian to give authenticity to her characters and settings. (It’s hoped that her experiences did not include murders.)

“There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.” Bertrand Russell

*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at
*Originally published in May 2017