It happens to us all.

17 04 2010

We’ve all done it.

You get so wrapped up in a book you borrow from your public library that you just can’t let it go.

Or you have the best of intentions about returning the book or books promptly, but somehow Time just slips away from you.

George Washington racks up late fees at NY library.

…Both books were due on Nov. 2, 1789.

New York Society Library head librarian Mark Bartlett says the institution isn’t seeking payment of the fines, but would love to get the books back.

The ledger also lists books being taken out by other founding fathers, including Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and John Jay….

I confess to having kept out a copy of a prose translation of ORLANDO FURIOSO from my college library for an entire summer. I’d just discovered Theodore Sturgeon through the short story collection STURGEON IS ALIVE AND WELL…, and the tale “To Here and the Easel” struck an anvilicious chord with me.

But I did return my book and pay my fine, eventually. Perhaps George will, too.



Bookseller mufti, storyteller joys.

13 04 2010

This morning dawned “gray with an ‘a’ ” – the gray hue of dirty socks, not the crisp jagged grey of stone – and thus the perfect way to combat it is by donning brilliant attire.

And it paid off at the bookstore, where a little girl and her baby brother found common ground with me in the colors we both wore. They were fascinated by what I call my Crayola vest, with its dark purple base, inset mirrors, and patchworks of gold, green, orange, tan, and pink, as well as by my hot pink stockings and hot pink sash.

Children will always notice what you’re wearing. I still have neighborhood kids who are now teenagers or college-bound tell me that they remember my storyteller outfits from more than a decade ago, like my playful rendition of Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk, or my terrifying recounting of the Bloody Beast of Ruddigore as imagined by Judy Sierra.


Three fictional characters who serve as sartorial-bibliophiliac-polymath muses for me are: Miss Frizzle, especially when she goes into astronomy-mode; Crinkleroot, who is my eldest brother in disguise; and Miss Bindergarten, who always reminds me so much of one of my former coworkers, down to the chunky-alphabet-block necklace.

And there’s plenty of real-life counterparts in the professional storytelling world… Story Guys, Story Ladies, teachers, bards, naturalists, and plenty in between.

The Professional Storytellers Network on Ning

Make someone’s world brighter. Share a book, tell a tale, grow a scientist.


[FEATURE] On the Nightstand, January 2010.

18 01 2010

I have to admit that I was an inattentive blogger in 2009, and I will try to right this slackness in 2010.

A little late, since we are more than halfway through the month, but let’s get a discussion started.


I had taken home a big pile of 2008 advance reader copies at one point, and am only now getting to read them, mixed in with some re-reads.

Currently on the headboard of my bed are the following books….

1] ARCs:

* GRACELING by Kristin Cashore – completed, need to review. I was impressed with this debut novel and now need to dig up FIRE.

* NICK OF TIME by Ted Bell – halfway through. Enjoying immensely for the subject matter, even if it has some definite narrative flaws.


* SOON I WILL BE INVINCIBLE by Austin Grossman

* THE GIRL IN A SWING by Richard Adams



What’s on *your* nightstand, Gentle Readers?


Reinventing the database wheel.

3 12 2009

This is an inquiry post, my Gentle Readers, that may turn into a rant later.

Are you aware of any webpages acting as author databases and bibliographies, especially genre-specific ones, that DO NOT reference as a buying source?

It’s my contrarian independent bookseller streak showing, I know, and I truly do not wish to offend those of my Gentle Readers who are authors and depend on listings to impress their publishers with book sales.

But I am trying not to have to make my own database, and would love to find one that suggests as a place to help customers shop locally for their favourites. I wouldn’t even mind if it had IndieBound alongside Amazon, as long as Amazon wasn’t considered the be-all and end-all of book shopping.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer me.


Books here, books there, books books everywhere!

21 09 2009

I’ve been given a bit of a kickstart in digging this blog out of mothballs by Adam Lipkin. We had a brief exchange about reading several books at once, based on where we were at any given moment and what we were doing.

Here’s mine:

My “bathtub” book [what’s the point of having a clawfoot tub in an old house if you can’t read in it?]: TOM JONES by Henry Fielding. This was a “discard” from the local state library.

My “backpack” book: WAR OF THE WITCHES by Maite Carranza. Easily digestible on the bus while running errands.

My “porch” book: TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY by John Steinbeck. This is normally an annual ritual re-read in summer, after the completion of DANDELION WINE. 2009 has been anything but normal for me, and thus this has been moved to become an autumn indulgence.

My “bedside” books: An ARC of Kate DiCamillo’s THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT, my BEA scores of INSTITUTIONAL MEMORY by Gary Frank and WATER WITCH by Deborah Leblanc, and the first EREC REX book by Kaza Kingsley.

I’m curious, Gentle Readers, if you [a] read several books at a time and [b] keep books stashed all over your living spaces.


Books are what the reader brings to them.

4 05 2009

Now, THERE’S a loaded statement… “books are what the reader brings to them”. Even I, in my occasional self-absorption, don’t believe that entirely.

Books are *mostly* what the author brings to the reader. It’s the author’s words in print on paper or in pixels on a reading device or in soundwaves on recordings, after all, conveyed TO the reader… not the other way around… right?

I’ve had a few experiences lately, however, which tell me otherwise. And maybe I *am* being a little self-absorbed lately, but please indulge me a little longer, Gentle Readers, while I explore this.


A few months ago, an author colleague of mine was clearing out her library and gave me copies of RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris and NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman.

I had read RED DRAGON before… I had “been meaning to get around to” NEVERWHERE, but “getting around to it” hadn’t happened until KT dropped the books off at my dealer table at 3Pi-Con.

I re-read RED DRAGON last month. I’m reading NEVERWHERE now.


I first read RED DRAGON during the first summer I lived away from home in 1982; I was doing a work-study at the college library & renting a porch room in a classmate’s apartment. It was a hot, lonely summer in the Bronx for the most part, punctuated by a few bright spots, but most of my memories of that summer revolve around lying on my couch-bed in my sunporch room, listening to city street noises over the whine of the oscillating fan and reading books.

The atmosphere of that time and place seeped into my subconsciousness so much that when I’ve tried to recall the 19-year-old I was, I remember every book I read that summer as being set in New York City.

Those who’ve read RED DRAGON know that only one chapter is set in New York City.

RED DRAGON when read in 1982 frightened the 19-year-old child I was then… a child living essentially alone [my roommate worked nights, so we seldom saw each other], on her own for the first time, all alone in The Big Bad City of eight million.

RED DRAGON when read in 2009 by a forty-something-year-old is a fascinating read, not a frightening one. It has a clever construct of dictating past events in the main character’s life to such a marked degree that the reader thinks that he or she is reading a sequel to a book he or she has already read… a book that doesn’t exist.

The reaction I took away when I finished RED DRAGON last month was satisfaction, not fear. I’m literally a different person than I was when I read it the first time, and thus it’s literally a different book, illustrating my point of “books are what the reader brings to them”.


NEVERWHERE is a “new” book to me, although I’ve read quite a bit of Neil Gaiman’s other work – AMERICAN GODS, STARDUST, GOOD OMENS [yes, I know that’s only half a Gaiman book], and most of his SANDMAN comics. I’m about two chapters into NEVERWHERE, and although I’m reading it in 2009, I’m already back, emotionally and mentally, to where I was in the early-to-mid-Nineties when it was written.

I remember other things I read back then, and it’s not terribly hard for me to imagine I’m curled up in bed in the townhouse on the cobblestone street where we lived in 1996. I expect to hear Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge and Enya and Enigma when I turn on the radio, and I look beside me as I turn the pages and am startled not to see or feel a white cat purring beside me.

Strange, isn’t it, how a book can make one feel.

Stranger yet is how one’s mind can influence the impact of a book.