Books, bookstores, and bookshelves

Books, bookstores, and bookshelves could certainly be a book in itself. So where and when to begin?

I may be the foremost expert on the subject. Because in my life I have been a reader, builder, seller, writer, and teacher – all at a high level.

the earlier reading starts the better
girls begin reading early
building out the interior of my cabin - built-in bookshelves came right after the woodstove.
First ever bookshelf

When I was three my father would read to me. It was 1952. We lived in Montgomery, Alabama. Elevation 240 feet. I wish I had a picture of that because it is my longest lasting memory. I would sit in his lap and he would read Greek mythology to me.

However, I don’t.

But, I do have the above pictures, of my step-daughter, Nicola, reading to my niece, Amber – when she was three, in 1978. Left of that is Nicola with her father, in 1982. The bookshelf behind them is a built-in, constructed by myself, that frames the east facing window in my first adult home. The bookshelf is floor-to-ceiling and made of recycled barnwood. The shelf was the first interior work I did on the cabin that I’d purchased in 1972, in Conifer, Colorado. Elevation 8,400 feet. I was twenty-two.

It was a very good year.

My first business
Castlewoods: timeless furniture. TRUE!

Later on, in 1985, I started a cabinetmaking, fine woodworking business, Castlewoods Timeless Furniture.

I built a workshop on the property adjacent to the cabin, built and sold hand-crafted bookshelves for homeowners and businesses. (Among many other items deemed of value to individuals.)

Built mostly of local trees and wood.
The “barn”, or where I built bookshelves, etc.
Stand alone oak bookcases for Greenwood Travel
Oak bookcases. 1988. $300.

Still further on down the road of books, bookstores, and bookshelves, I became a bookseller, building and owning a shop in Evergreen, Colorado: Stories: A Bookstore. Elevation 7,800 feet. It was 2001.

2001-2 Evergreen, Colorado. The best of times.
My bookstore @ the Elk Bridge Center

Believe it or not, I had to close the shop in the spring of 2002. After  two years of looking for a better location … I sold my house and moved to Lincoln City, Oregon. Elevation  89 feet.

There, at Oregon Coast Community College, I took a class in creative writing. Subsequently, I wrote opinion pieces for the local newspaper, got published in various publications, and finished “in the money” in various writing contests. Encouraged, I began writing my first novel, Attachment: A Novel of War and Peace.

And then

Later, in 2006, I was back in Colorado and published Attachment.

It was a very good year.

I was fifty-six, living the good “writer’s life” in Poudre Canyon. Elevation 7,400 feet. Happy (mostly) as “a pig in shit”.

But that, as all good things must, came to an end. I needed a change of scene and some money. I applied for, and was hired, a job as a creative writing instructor for Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado. Elevation 5,280 feet.

So there you have a very brief story of my life of books, bookstores, and bookshelves. Why I am a first order “bookie” (see below for definition). My bona fides follow.

Five books

everyone should read. It is my sincere belief there are too many books. Yes, it’s true. At the turn of the century (2000) when I was a bookseller, there were 50-80 thousand books published a year (in the US). Now, the number is closer to 300,000!

Because of that, my age, experience, education, and expertise (and in the interest of time management), I recommend these five books everyone should read:

  1. War and Peace (1869) Leo Tolstoy. It is a fictional account of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. In Election 2016 I (factitiously, maybe), suggest that reading, then taking and passing, a written exam on the book should be a requirement for voting. (pg. 19)
  2. Gone With the Wind (1936) Margaret Mitchell. This story is a fictional account of America’s civil war from the point of view of a headstrong, beautiful, white, privileged women in Atlanta, Georgia.
  3. Sometimes a Great Notion (1963) Ken Kesey. This book describes America in the early sixties, after the Korean war, via the Stamper family. The Stampers are a conflicted, loyal, family of tough “sons-of-bitches”, in the Oregon coastal mountains who make their living via logging; and do battle with their union “communist” neighbors.
  4. Infinite Jest (1996) David Foster Wallace. The story told is one of inner conflict, or war, of that which goes on inside of a person’s own mind. It’s about addiction, competition, entertainment,  via the “privileged” Incandenza family. The setting is America at the beginning of twenty-first century. I’m not sure a “test” of any kind could ever be devised.
  5. Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us. (2019) Donald Trump Jr. Unlike the other books, this is non-fiction. Or is it? A memoir, it tells an (almost) unbelievable tale of America in the second decade of the Twenty-first Century, and the election of 2016. The story is one of jealousy, hate, struggle, determination, belief and faith – that is, again (almost) unbelievable. The book recounts and predicts what happens next, with regard to the Trump family and America. 

“Going forward” …

The elements of a story are:

  1. Title
  2. Plot
  3. Characterization
  4. Style
  5. Theme (big ideas)
  6. Setting

Your story

What is it? May I offer some clues (without cost).

You: “What the fuck? for Free? This is America!”

Feng Shui

Examine your space, where you (and they, your books) live. Examine as an objective observer, a scientist. Trust me, it matters. Maybe you’re not a “bookie”, and that’s okay, too. Notwithstanding, Feng Shui still matters. But for this discussion – I’m talking books.

So you’re a “bookie”. In other words – a person who loves books, reading, writing, and thinking. My definition is gleaned from my very best buyer of books when I was a seller of books. She (of course) called herself, and I, “bookies”.

What of your bookshelves? What are they made of? Where are they located? And then, how do you arrange them?

Snoop

is a book by a PhD, Sam Gosling, whose hypothesis is: You can tell a lot about a person based upon their stuff and how they keep it. I agree.

Literacy (why I drink)

research is scary, frightening, an actual call to alarm when it comes to 2020. Here is the latest. The bottom line is that only 2% of the population is above average when it comes to being able to read, analyze, and understand written words! Most importantly – that eliminates 31% of the 33% of the adult population that have four-year college degrees! (No wonder the experts are often wrong.)

The elements of story:

[Not learned in the classroom.]

Title: Election 2016: The Great Divide, The Great Debate

Perfect.

Plot: The Closing of the American Mind

Also known as: Reverse Darwinism

Characterization:

Wonder Woman – over time becoming dominate. And but also – neurotic, introverted, disagreeable, controlling, and narrow minded. Perhaps she is overcompensating for insecurities?

Superman – is dying. He is being cancelled.

There is an ongoing and never-ending war between the sexes and races. (Which natural and sexual selection seems not to have an answer for.)

Style:

is level five. In other words, understanding this book requires superior reading comprehension. Or, advanced synthesis  analysis combined with elaborative processing. Rare but not uncommon. It is an active first person narrative. (Best example is Hunter S. Thompson. Also known as Gonzo Journalism.)

Setting:

Oregon’s central coast, and the high altitude of Colorado’s continental divide and front range. Moreover, the 21st Century on planet earth – the third rock from the sun.

Theme:

That War is a Force that gives us MeaningIn other words – war is everlasting. War is within and without.

Red and Blue. Orange and Green. War is Boomeritis!

We are on the Eve of Destruction

Or maybe not?

What’s it all mean?

When looking for a mate, a partner in life, a person to be with you in the raising of your prodigy, offspring, your child(ren) – pay the f**k attention to EVERYTHING! But especially:

  • Can/do they read?
  • What/who do they read?
  • Where do they read?
  • Where and how is their mind displayed and ordered?
  • When do they read?
  • Why do they read?

Some statistics

from my time as a bookseller and writing instructor. This is not polled data! It is real.

Eighty percent (80%) of the buyers of books were grown women. Seventy percent (70%) of students in my creative writing class were grown women. Why? is a question worth looking into.

What’s it all mean, 2.0

And yet – men dominate the bestseller lists. Or do they?

There is a Wikipedia list.

Is Hemingway, Thompson, Crichton, or Wallace on it? Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts are.

What we need is some:

Mercy Now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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