January 29, 2012


Book delivery wagon at the Discovery Shop.

I flat out love books. They were my escape and my salvation as a child, and they offer comfort and reward for me today after a long day. Best of all, I get to work with them as a volunteer. They can easily be the bane of my existence too.

I was talking to the cookbook lady Friday as I put that load of cookbooks out on the shelves. She was hovering over my wagon load. Politely. Another lady was digging in the piles as the cook book lady and I chatted.

Her mother died this year as did her most supportive husband. This was also the year of the Kindle and the Nook. “They did my business in,” she told me. She closed her store and does everything online now.

I still read real paper books though you could have caught me hefting a Kindle at Frye’s this last week. My hands told me that the weights are still similar to a good hardbound book, so books resting on a lap pillow are still in my life.

After I got everything shelved, I stepped back and watched them cut my stock in half. The young woman was just beginning her start as a cookbook collector. She took my recommendation and bought the James Beard’s American Cooking and the newly reissued Culinary Arts Institute giant ‘50’s compendium. I grabbed the children’s Fanny’s at Chez Panisse Cookbook and the Supper Cookbook by Cunningham unfortunately on high acid paper. The cookbook lady took everything else of interest.

Rarely do we have so many cookbooks in the store at one time. We do have a lot of hardbound fiction that I won’t read myself. Novels with unhappy endings, novels that all say “bestseller” on their covers, books on how to please your boss, and endless romances in every guise flock to my shelves….and don’t always go out. We discard something that’s sat on the shelf after three months. Month before last, we had two mountains of books go to Father Joe’s St. Vincent de Paul’s. Last month, we had one giant mountain of books go to Father Joe’s.

Worst of all. I bring books home every time I work at the store. I reversed the trend this week by bringing home two hardbounds and taking two bags full to the shop. I have to be honest with myself. I’m never going to read poetry by Edgar Guest. I’m not into particularly bloody mysteries despite the fact that I love Box. His writing transcends the fact that his blood and gore out uglies everyone else’s. And I’m tired of grim works though I have just finished the newest Crais. Now that was beyond grim.

Something in me is changing, perhaps diminishing in some fashion. I find myself skimming books. Oh, shame on me. And I no longer keep every book that comes in to the house. Perhaps my brain is just simpler in it’s aging. I will keep the Crais as I keep all the Stephanie Plums. Yes, that film was really delightful. G loved it too. Yes, now there’s something worth bringing home and keeping just like all the books.


  1. Your brain probably needs a rest from reading for a while. I think your curiosity will come back soon. I have two Nigella Lawson books and have used a few of her recipes. I went and removed about 25 for the charity just last week. Wish your lived closer! I am almost finished reading Cutting for Stone which is about two Indian twins growing up in Ethiopia and become doctors. It is written with lots of medical gore, Ethiopian history but also a good story.

  2. I can't say how it happens, but somewhere your brain looks at a book, or even a whole genre, and says, "I've had enough; I don't need these any more."

    What I would love more than ever is to set up a library that does with a relational database what we used to do with a good card catalog. I think most libraries don't bother with much cataloguing any more; they just use what someone else did. I'm left-brained, and I loved cataloguing.

  3. I love reading also, and I love books. I am trying to cut down on the number of books we have though.

    I have gone to Kindle. It is ok, but never satisfies me like a book. I have gone out a bought a few books that I first put on my Kindle because I wanted the book! I'm a mess when it comes to books.

  4. I just got a Kindle because I can make the type larger and it's easier for me to read. I'm still having trouble. That said, I have to admit there are increasing numbers of books I know I will never read. Your list exemplifies those. Trouble with the Kindle is it specializes in what I don't want to read. Nook is even worse. Well, I read slowly these days, so maybe I'll be able to find things I want as I go along.

  5. Oh yummy - I love talking about books! And I have sensed that you are a rapid reader - I hope you give yourself the pleaseure of keeping a list of every book you read!! (listmaker that I am)...Sometimes I wonder what happens to the books I read - I know they become a part of me, but sometimes when I start to have a conversation about something I have read, I have the darndest time conjuring up the book, story,characters etc. Here I am walking around with maybe hundreds of thousands of books in me...but where are they when I need them? I read everything including cereal boxes. I just discovered that Great Expectations is on my phone - free! Can you imagine reading a book on a phone? But finding this treasure again I am deep in the life of Pip and the forever bride in between scrabble plays.

  6. I got behind on my reading with my friends here. You know how that goes. So....catching up and loving it! Of course, I love them too.... but I need my books!

  7. I definitely find my reading taste changing as I grow older. I'm trying to ride the waves with it and let all the reading material go that I felt like I "needed" to read. Who cares now? I read what pleases me these days.

  8. I need my books, still have many old favorites in the house. I have taken to getting them from the library or a friend first these days before I buy anything for keeps. The Kindle and Nook users are growing in number and I am attracted but so far I've resisted.

  9. We have a new charity shop and it takes its books seriously so I'm using it rather like a library. I buy a couple of books, read them and then return them. They seem delighted:)

  10. You know my husband was not for the Kindle when I first decided to buy it. He preferred his paperbacks. Do you know who's reading on the Kindle now so that I can't get to it? Tsk!

  11. All us folks who think real books need nurturing thank you for your support. I may have two computers but no device for reading. Everyone should read Sunday N.Y. Times article about how Amazon is well on way to destroying book publishing.

    Holding mine as long as possible!

    Having a good time with your links about cookbooks.


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