Tag Archives: Jack Beck

Books a Bazillion

In which Jack returns to writing his weekly blog post, and sighs patiently over a subject known only too well to bookslingers everywhere.

garbage-landfill¬†Yesterday one of our cafe regulars asked if we bought books. I explained that we didn’t, but gave store credit if the trade-ins met our needs and standards.

“Oh, I can just donate them,” he said, and headed for his van.

That seemed like a clue that these weren’t going to be top of the line, but I went out to watch him struggle up the front steps with an enormous TV box–the kind I advise folk not to use, as they weigh a ton when full of books.

A better man would have helped, but I admit to you my moral failing: I knew what was coming and just didn’t care.

A quick glance established that most of his donations were older Grishams and Pattersons; to add insult to injury, they were minus their dust jackets. After explaining as gently as I could that¬† these were pretty much useless to us, I raked through to find eight acceptable hardbacks as well as more (useless) battered paperbacks. At this point he shrugged and said he’d got them from a friend.

(So – a friendship wall?)

This was the third time in as many days we’d had much the same experience, having to explain that we don’t take hardbacks minus their jackets, torn or stained paperbacks, romances including Danielle Steel or kids’ coloring books already colored in. It’s the law of used book shops: people don’t want to dump, so they donate. And they mean well for the most part, but a couple months of that, and customers will have a hard time differentiating your shop from a dump site.

Surveying our store the other week, with its spiraling pinwheels of shelves moving toward the center of every room, eking out the final frontiers of space, I resolved to become even more choosy about what to accept. And perhaps instigate a cull.

After all, folk are generally pretty sanguine when I explain our policy. What I hope is that people will begin to weed out themselves before bringing stuff to us, but in the meantime, I’ll stifle a sigh. And maybe help with the box next time.

Perhaps I can build a garden wall somewhere with all those jacketless Grishams and Pattersons? Wendy would like that….

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, blue funks, book repair, bookstore management, crafting, humor, Life reflections, reading, small town USA

The Monday Book: THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford

In which Jack guest blogs a book review
I don’t read all that many novels, tending more towards history or memoir as a rule. But Wendy and I headed off recently to our remote hideaway cabin in Tennessee, armed with some leftovers from ‘World Book Night’. These included Hotel, which she thought I might like.
Completely captured within a page or two, I could hardly put it down. More than that, I didn’t want to immediately start another one, in order to savor the ‘afterglow’ of Hotel. That may be the first time I’ve ever consciously done that.
The story concerns a Chinese American boy called Henry and a Japanese American girl named Keiko who live in Seattle around the time when Japanese are being rounded up and sent to ‘detention camps’ further inland for the duration of the war.
This seems like it would be a simple ‘boy meets girl’ tale in an historic setting, but there’s much more to it. For a start they are in their early teens and the relationship is (for most of the book) entirely innocent and really about childhood friendship. Hotel more explores the relationship between parents and children, and between different races and generations and all against a turbulent period in history. There’s even a search for a ‘holy grail’.
The detail and painstaking research may explain why I liked it so much. From the speakeasies of wartime Seattle to the bleak windswept detention camps of the mid-West, the author puts you right there, peering over the shoulders of the characters.
Without wishing to spoil this for anyone else, I wish there could have been at least one more chapter, though.
A very enthusiastic ‘two thumbs up’ from this reviewer!

 

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Filed under between books, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, out of things to read, publishing, reading, small town USA, writing, YA fiction