Category Archives: A Family Business

Chapter 722 Don’t Call It A Comeback, Or, The Bookseller Returns

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Bookmark courtesy of my friends at The Book Shop in Covina, California.

For several months now, I’ve been trying to return to regular posting on the blog and every time I do, it seems my time for writing is thwarted by other circumstances. I’m back. Again. For now. Don’t call it a comeback, because posting may not last and it definitely won’t be daily, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Where have I been the past few months?

Are you ready for this?

I’ve expanded my bibliophilic duties to include along with bookselling another job I used to do long ago and really enjoyed. That’s right, I’ve been working at a local high school since last April.

And I’ve been tutoring some visiting students from China in English since the fall semester began.

As of last week, I began teaching freshmen and sophomore English — five classes of about 30 students apiece.

Why?

There are various reasons, many of which are interesting only to me.  One of the reasons that is worth mentioning to the book-loving readers of this blog is that if there is to be a next generation of book collectors, we who sell books must first encourage a generation of book lovers, of people who understand that reading a printed book is a different experience than reading a back-lit screen.  Many antiquarian booksellers worry about whether the generation coming up — a generation raised on the digital device — will, when they come of age, bother with something as archaic as book collecting.  Some even wonder if they’ll bother with something as archaic as book reading. 🙂

Being a mother of two people who are part of the digital generation, I have an especially vested interest in this concern.  I want my own children and my students to know the satisfaction of reading well-chosen words. The scent of ink sunk into fibrous paper like salve into a wound. The alluring glint of gleaming gilt, beckoning a reader to the contents inside. The story of another, someone whom the poetry of Christopher Morley describes as “A voice of human laughter or distress/A word that no one needs as much as I.” The satisfying “thunk” of a well-read book slammed shut when the story is spent. The passionate discussion of what makes a book great. Books provide pleasure and insight on all levels.

Idealistic?

Naive?

Crazy?

Perhaps.

But so antiquarian bookselling seemed to me when I started Book Hunter’s Holiday back in 2007, and I’m still here.

It goes without saying that Book Hunter’s Holiday will keep on bookin’. I’m not closing the business, but you’ll see less of me online than in previous years. I’ll definitely see you at the 46th International Antiquarian Book Fair in San Francisco in February. In the meantime, look for some posts to preview what I’ll be bringing to the fair.

See you in the stacks and in the classroom!

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Chapter 716 Back to Work, Back to School, Back to Books

If you’re still checking on this blog after the past several months, I am amazed. And if you’re still there, yes, I am still here. The blog and I have been silent for months for a variety of reasons, most of which are not compelling to anyone but me. To all who have emailed or called or asked in person, thank you. I very much appreciate all who noticed my absence and took the time to check in with me. And even if you didn’t notice my “radio silence” until you read this very post, thanks for reading right now. I am happy to report that I am fine, that my family is fine, and that Book Hunter’s Holiday is still here. There are a few new things to report about Book Hunter’s Holiday, and I’ll elaborate on that next time I post, which will likely be after this coming weekend’s Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair.

(Poster above is a 1940 Works Progress Administration poster. I saw it recently on a bookish website, but I am sorry to say I can’t recall which one. In any case, thanks to the person who first posted it.)

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 714 Why I Haven’t Written Lately

Happy to say that Phase One of the new roof is complete. The old roof was removed and the new roof is now on. Next up is an electrical inspection in the attic and then new insulation. Did I mention that my kids are home from school this week (Easter Break), too? And another new opportunity, about which I will write some other time, has popped up, too.  Not much book work going on these days, but I promise I’ll be back just as soon as I can.

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Chapter 709 Barter Books, Or, The Story of “Keep Calm and Carry On”

I have a goal in mind. Some may call it a fantasy, but it’s real. It’s a goal. I will do it some day, even if it’s not for years. (Oh, my, this goal is starting to sound a lot like Catalogue #2.) My goal is to take a literary tour of England. I’ve been there once before, years ago, for a few days shortly after graduating college. I visited some of the usual tourist spots — London (the British Library!), Stratford (birthplace of Shakespeare!), Cambridge (I liked it so much when I visited that I sent my parents a postcard asking them to send money so I could stay and go to school there — they didn’t).

Even though I’ve been lucky enough to visit England once, I didn’t have enough time to see many of the places I wanted to. I’d like to go to London Rare Books School. I’d like to tour the Lake District (home of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth and other poets). I’d like to visit Oxford. I’d like to tour a grand old country house. I’d like to enjoy tea and a scone the British way. But most of all, when I return, I’d like to visit the bookshops of England.

I was reminded of my goal of visiting England and its bookshops when I saw this video today about Barter Books, which is one of the most beautiful bookshops I’ve seen in a while.

I’m adding this place to the list of things I’d like to see when I get to England some day. I think you should, too. Meanwhile, Keep Calm and Carry On!

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 708 “We May Live Without Friends, We May Live Without Books” . . . I Hope I Never Have To

I had a house call this weekend, and purchased a few new books which, if you can make it, you will see at the upcoming Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair, to be held March 24. On the cover of one of the books, a cook book, is the following verse:

While I agree that “civilized man cannot live without cooks,” I’m not so sure I like the part that says, “We may live without friends, we may live without books . . .”  I suppose we may live without those things, but I sure hope I never have to.

We’re busy around here this week managing one sick child, school, several basketball practices, and one Championship basketball game on Thursday night! Keep your fingers crossed that Tom will feel better in time for his game and that, having won two playoff games over the weekend, they win their big game Thursday night. Also, let’s hope that Huck stays healthy so I don’t have to deal with two sick kids at once. 🙂

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 692 Fun While It Lasted

If you follow American football, then you already know — my hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers, lost to the New York Giants today. They will not be going to the Superbowl this year. Sad. Still, it was an exciting first season for the 49ers new coach, Jim Harbaugh. There was actually a whiff of the magical “dynasty” years of the 1980s, the decade when the 49ers, led by Coach Bill Walsh, won many Superbowl games. I actually look forward to next season.

I must say that I’m relieved about one thing. Had the 49ers won today, they would be playing in the Superbowl game on Sunday, February 5.

So what, you ask?

Well, Feburary 5 is the last day of the San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair. Had the 49ers been in the Superbowl on February 5, all of San Francisco, fervent football fans or no, would have skipped the book fair to watch the game. While I know that the worlds of book collectors and football fans rarely intersect, all Bay Area citizens, even those like me who don’t follow football, would have been home watching their home team play in the big game. Now that two East Coast teams are in the Superbowl (New England Patriots vs. New York Giants), most San Franciscans won’t give a hoot. Maybe they could give the book fair a try?

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 684 My Favorite Christmas Gift — A Clean House, Or, Enjoy It While It Lasts

Well here it is, the night before Christmas Eve. It’s been quiet on the blog this week because I’ve been cooking and cleaning and baking and wrapping gifts and just having fun with family and friends. And selling a few books. And working on a special project for the February book fairs. I’m enjoying everything, but being the introvert that I truly am, I crave more time to read and to write for the blog.

We’re hosting dinner for 10 at our house tomorrow night, and I’ve made ahead as much of the food as I can. Tom and Huck, who have been off of school all week, were recruited today to help clean the house. Despite not being thrilled to do chores during Christmas vacation, they did a fantastic job. In fact, I think that the clean house they left me is the best Christmas present they can give me. It was at my behest that they did these tasks, but they did a good job, and spent most of the day making our house look nice. Having company for dinner is good motivation to really clean the house well.  The boys washed windows — inside and out,  cleaned baseboards, helped change sheets on beds, cleaned the bathrooms, and cleaned up the dumping ground room we affectionately call the Play Room. I’ve been trying to figure out where to put all of the books that are usually all over the dining room table and another table that is usually where the Christmas tree is now baking batches of fudge, toffee, and cookies and am almost finished. Dinner is prepped for tomorrow night’s feast and presents are wrapped and under the tree. Here are a few pictures of the tree and the living room (probably the cleanest I shall ever see it). Note the absence of antiquarian books in the photo. This cleanliness and lack of book clutter surely will not last more than 24 hours, so enjoy it while it lasts.

And here are some of my favorite book-related Christmas ornaments. (Yeah, that’s right. I have book-themed Christmas ornaments. Just a few.) 😉

This is a lovely printer’s device that was made into an ornament by the very talented and crafty Jennifer Johnson at The Book Shop in Covina, California.

I made my mom buy me this ornament a few years ago. She thought it was ugly (I do, too), but I laughed when I read it and had to have it:

My mom bought me this ornament in 2007, the year I started Book Hunter’s Holiday. I’ve written about it once before:

I got this ornament when I went to Rare Book School at University of Virginia. I took a short field trip to Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. Since I am a big fan of Thomas Jefferson, Rare Book School, and blue and white china plates, it seemed like the perfect souvenir of my trip. (That’s Jefferson’s home pictured on the plate.)

I got this ornament at the Surveyor’s House (aka one of the many childhood homes of my favorite author, Laura Ingalls Wilder) when I visited De Smet, South Dakota on an RV trip across country with my family.  This particular house is featured in Wilder’s book, By the Shores of Silver Lake.

And last but not least is this little memento of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. I got it during this year’s Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading the blog. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, know that I am thinking of you and am thankful for you this holiday season. You’re part of what makes bookselling such fun!

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