Archive for February, 2011

Random Thoughts:

 I’ve recently noticed that almost any book that I read, I find to be a good book…I think it has a lot to do with the books and authors them I am reading…I’m familiar with the authors, and enjoy the genres. 

“’Tis the good reader that makes the good book; a good head cannot read amiss: in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakeably meant for his ear.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Today’s Quote:

“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh (A  Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist.)

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Free Fall In Crimson by John G. MacDonald

I just finished reading John D. MacDonald’s, Free Fall In Crimson, number 19 in the Travis McGee novels.  In this story McGee comes close to losing his status as a legendary “sleuth/crime-fighter” when he agrees to track down the killers who brutally murdered an ailing millionaire — Ellis Esterland.  He renews an unfinished adventure with a famous–and over sexed–Hollywood actress, Lysa Dean who leads him into a very nasty nest of murderers involving a motorcycle gang, pornographic movies, and mad balloonists. Within the story McGee rediscovers the old lesson–that only when he came close to the edge of death is he completely alive.  In the end, justice is served to the guilty; as one would expect in Travis McGee novel. Unfortunately, several innocent characters do not escape death, however, through planning and cunning McGee lives to fight another day; perhaps a little wiser and cautious as well.  An excellent read.

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“A library of wisdom, is more precious than all wealth, and all things that are desirable cannot be compared to it. Whoever therefore claims to be zealous of truth, of happiness, of wisdom or knowledge, must become a lover of books.”

– Wisdom Quote

“No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library”

– Samuel Johnson



If you could only select 100 books for your library, What would you select?

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I recently came across an interesting Blog: zenhabits.net written by Leo Babauta.  Check it out it is an adventure in reading and wisdom.  Here is just a sampling:

the brief guide

less TV, more reading
less shopping, more outdoors
less clutter, more space
less rush, more slowness
less consuming, more creating
less junk, more real food
less busywork, more impact
less driving, more walking
less noise, more solitude
less focus on the future, more on the present

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I write a lot about the books I read, various authors, as well quotes from some of my favorite authors. What I haven’t written about are the bookstores that I frequent. My wife and I love to frequent almost any kind of bookstore or venue purveying the printed word…the Internet, library sales, christian bookstores, used bookstores, garage sales, and flea-markets.  Although we shop several bookstores, we have over the years made Borders our store of choice.  We have done this for a couple of reasons, one is that their Preferred Readers Card is FREE and second because they email weekly coupons for significant percentages off.  I have known for quite some time that they could not keep deep discounting every week, just to drive traffic into the store.   I kept telling my wife that they couldn’t keep this up forever, eventually all this discounting was going to catch up with them…I’ve been in the business too long not to know, that you can’t operate on less than standard margins.  So it wasn’t any surprise when I read in the news that Borders had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  They plan to close 200 locations, and do some serious trimming and reorganization…which is too little too late.

The unfortunate aspect about their demise is that Borders use to be one of the most significant influences in the bookselling world; unlike Barnes and Nobel, or other chain stores, they had their roots in independent bookselling.  The Borders brothers, Tom and Louis set the standard for the definitive independent bookstore, stocking not only contemporary titles, but literary, academic, and esoteric titles.

Back in the early 80’s, when the brothers still owned the  company, and the flag-ship store was still operating on State Street in Ann Arbor, I had lunch with Tom Borders.  I guess you could call it an informal job interview…later I had a formal interview, and had to take an exam, testing my literary knowledge, but not my business acumen.    Although I didn’t get the job, (a marketing position, that I would not have been very good at it), I often wonder if I failed to get the job because my literary acumen was too low.  However, after the brothers sold the company, the mission became more about the value of the company stock as opposed to the value of the books or the bookstores.  The talk in the business world today is that the company failed to keep pace with the changing world of publishing; they missed the Internet wave, and they got into the e-book world too late.  All that may be true, but the real issue is quality, literary bookstores cannot be mass-merchandised…corporations can’t mass produce an intelligent staff, who make quality recommendations, and who make quality book acquisitions , and provide quality assistance…it just can’t be packaged.  All that quality, is similar to intellectual property ─ it is creative, an art, rather than a science or discipline.

Shopping in Borders today is frustrating, even embarrassing, their inventory in many sections is lacking in both breadth and depth.  They have lots of “stuff”, but not books.  I will hate to see them fold up and leave the playing-field, but as I recently read, Borders has been dead for some time now, they just need to determine where they are going to bury the body.

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Today’s Quote:

Lord! when you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night – there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.

~Christopher Morley

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Today’s Quote:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
– William Shakespeare Macbeth, 5. 5.

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Book Lover by Robert Service

I keep collecting books I know
I’ll never, never read;
My wife and daughter tell me so,
And yet I never head.
Please make me, says some wistful tome,
A wee bit of yourself.
And so I take my treasure home,
And tuck it in a shelf.

And now my very shelves complain;
They jam and over-spill.
They say: Why don’t you ease our strain?
some day, I say, I will.
So book by book they plead and sigh;
I pick and dip and scan;
Then put them back, distrest that I
Am such a busy man.

Now, there’s my Boswell and my Sterne,
my Gibbon and Defoe;
To savour Swift I’ll never learn,
Montaigne I may not know.
On Bacon I will never sup,
For Shakespeare I’ve no time;
Because I’m busy making up
These jingly bits of rhyme.

Chekov is caviare to me,
While Stendhal makes me snore;
Poor Proust is not my cup of tea,
And Balzac is a bore.
I have their books, I love their names,
And yet alas! they head,
With Lawrence, Joyce and Henry James,
My Roster of Unread.

I think it would be very well
If I commit a crime,
And get put in a prison cell
And not allowed to rhyme;
Yet given all these worthy books
According to my need,
I now caress with loving looks,
But never, never read.

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Reverend Randollph and the Holy Terror by Charles Merrill Smith

I just finished the fourth book in the Reverend Randollph mystery series, Reverend Randollph and the Holy Terror by Charles Merrill Smith. The author presents another well constructed mystery…although I did figure out “who-done-it” before it was revealed in the story.  In this fast paced mystery, filled with lots of church history and interesting theological facts, the author has Reverend Randollph marrying the beautiful Chicago TV personality, Samantha Stack, while assisting the Chicago Police department in tacking-down a serial killer — who the press has labeled the “Holy Terror”.  Throughout the story the killer sends poison pen-letters, in the form of poems to sinful Chicago clergymen before killing them.  Reverend Randollph, also receives a couple of poison poems, and two attempts are made on his life.  With several clues provided by Samantha, the third attempt on Randollph’s life is foiled when a trap is sent for the “Holy Terror” by the Reverend, his friends, and detective, Mike Casey of the Chicago PD. When the trap is sprung the “Terror’s” rationale for the murders fall into place…and the mystery is solved.

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