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

OMG! Word by Word, Quiet Please and John Irving

Doncha love a good simile? Have a few:

  • A woman in high-heeled shoes is “like a cat on scissors…”
  • A set of teeth is “like a row of bombed houses…”
  • A woman so thin, she looked “like a stocking full of hangers…”
  • Kissing him as “like kissing an overripe plum…”
  • His signature was “like a snarl of thread…”

Word by Word: the Secret Life of Dictionaries was written by Kory Stamper, a Merriam Webster lexicographer, who turns what could have been a stodgy topic into an entertaining revelation of the construction of a dictionary. In addition, the book is chockfull [adj., prob. fr. choken to choke * full, 15th century: full to the limit] of interesting information. Would you have guessed that the first “modern dictionary”, one aimed at everyone, not only scholars, and included everyday words, not just fancy ones, was published in 1721? Plus, it introduced word histories, usage notes, and stress marks so people could pronounce words they’d never heard. Another tidbit from Stamper: When was “OMG” first used in correspondence? The answer is below.

Scott Douglas’s Quiet Please is an account of his librarian career and a history of libraries. He says children were not allowed to use public libraries until the 1850s. None other than Melvil Dewey advocated the ban on kids; he argued they would be too disruptive and destructive. Times change, fortunately. See the happy young cardholders nowadays, checking out armloads of books and taking part in programs the Longmont Library thinks up just for them. Wouldn’t Mr. D be shocked and awed!

John Irving, in a book for neophyte writers wrote: “I think of the reader as far more intelligent than I am, but a child — a kind of hyperactive prodigy, a reading wizard. Interest this child and he will put up with anything — he will understand everything too. But fail to seize and hold this child’s attention at the beginning, and he will never come back to you. This is your reader, paradoxically, a genius with the concentration span of a rabbit.”

“OMG” appeared in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917. OMG!

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