Monday, April 20, 2009

Blue Books / People's Pocket Series

I have had several people comment or ask questions about a small, incomplete set of books that I have. My last posting for the Read-a-thon noted that I was reading one for my last book. Kent State University Library has a collection of them and their description of of the publisher is reprinted here:

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1888-1951) began publishing his "Little Blue Books" in 1919 in order for classic works of literature to be available for a much lower price than usual, at five or ten cents each. His association with the Socialist party led him to buy the Socialist paper Appeal to Reason along with their printing press, which he used to publish a number of his books. The books became widely popular, and by 1949, over 300,000,000 had been sold. The series includes over a thousand titles spanning a wide range of material, from novels to philisophical tracts to advice manuals. The first several hundred books include mostly previously published pieces, but the series later expanded to include original works as well. Some of these are edited versions of more extensive pieces and some are completely original.

I have discovered a Facebook page for collectors, a fabulous collecting site, another collectors page, some for sale, a curious bio about the couple and an online edition of his novel "Dust", and, of course, a Wikipedia article.

I often wondered why I was drawn to them and then saw that Harlan Ellison remembers them from his mis-spent youth. Guess I'm in good company.

I'll be posting my modest collection on E-bay shortly as I clean out stuff from my apartment

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hour 24

just finished "Paperback Thriller" by Lynn Meyer - meh!
and Miraculous Revenge by George Bernard Shaw (People's Pocket Series)

current tally

8 books
1214 pages (slow reader - easily distracted) yeah !!! I made it past 1000
7 cups of tea (hmm...isn't that a book title)
1 Peach mango green tea Crystal light
1 bowl of Honey bunches of oats with peaches
1 small pizza
graham crackers with peanut butter
1 orange chicken dinner
1 banana
1 apple blossom with cream (gotta get that freezer cleaned out)
Many pieces of Hersheys all Natural Extra Dark assortment

Here are the challenge questions for the last hour
1. Which hour was most daunting for you? that would have been around hour 20
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Don't have a clue
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? It depends how large you want this to be but better publicity might have helped
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I was skeptical about many of the challenges but they really kept me focused and gave me a break each hour
5. How many books did you read? 8
6. What were the names of the books you read?
The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan
Dr. Ebenezer's Book and Liquor Store by Gerald Rosen
Help I'm a Prisoner in the library by Eth Clifford
How to Travel with a Salmon by Umberto Eco
Rab and His Friends by Dr. John Brown
Exploring the Book of Kells by George Otto Simms
Paperback thriller by Lynn Meyer
Miraculous Revenge by George Bernard Shaw
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
The Longest Trip Home - it had me in tears by the end
8. Which did you enjoy least?
Paperback thriller - it was dated and pretty boring for a thriller
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I would probably do this again and would just like to read but probably do it for charity

I'm going to finish out the hour by reading from my collection of Little Blue Books

Hour 23

only 2 more hours to go - I was going to chuck out the book I'm reading because I'm finding it a bit tedious but did a quick google only to find out that it is included in a study on feminism and the crime novel - so I guess I'll plod along and finish up the exploits of Sarah Chayse and the mystery of who has burgled her office

I'm not doing the challenge this hour because it is for those readers who are doing the readathon for charity - maybe next year

Hour 22

this is insane - why am I still up trying to read?? what was I thinking?? just as I was about to nod off the BBC news at the top of the hour came on and I decided to check for the hourly challenge - apparently we need to write a silly limerick

so here goes

There once was a Denver book reader
Who thought that she had it within her
To summon the power
For twenty-four hours
To read without being a sleeper

Now I will try and finish my book

Hour 21

I really feel like I am starting to fade but I'll try one more challenge. This hour we are supposed to blog about Dewey who started the Read-athon. I never got to know her while she was alive but after poking around a bit on her website, I have to say I would have loved to have known her. I am especially taken with the Weekly Geeks which is a good way to keep readers on task and clean up unfinished business. Dewey must have been the mother hen and I'm only sorry that I came to the party a little to late to know her.

I think that is all I have in me for now

Hour 20

woohoo - I made it this far so I might as well keep going

from my stack of unread books I have chosen "Paperback Thriller", a piece of 1970's crime fiction that I suspect is not all that good

I'll let you know more next hour (javascript:void(0)assuming I am still awake and reading)

the challenge this hour was for people who have participated in all four of Dewey's Read-A-thons so that lets me out for another hour

back to the book

Hour 19

I just finished "Exploring the Book of Kells" which does have some lovely illustrations - a charming little book

ok - this hour the challenge is to visit three readers and post comments on their blogs - watch out because here I come

Blondie Rocket

then I have to go and find something new to read

current tally

7 books
1012 pages (slow reader - easily distracted) yeah !!! I made it past 1000
7 cups of tea (hmm...isn't that a book title)
1 bowl of Honey bunches of oats with peaches
1 small pizza
graham crackers with peanut butter
orange chicken
apple blossom with cream

Hour 18

the challenge this hour is to post about books we have re-read.

For the readathon, the only one one which is a reread for me is Dr. Ebenezer's Book and Liquor Store by Gerald Rosen. I first encountered this book in 1980 and have cherished it ever since, often sending it to my friends who are also booksellers. It is a weird, funky, San Francisco hippie tale about a burnt-out scientist who runs a book and liquor store (look for my earlier posts) - it's really quite silly but I have read this book probably once a year since 1980 - I love it because it made me think about the kind of bookstore that I would have one day - while I didn't sell liquor in mine, I did have a cast of characters like Doc did, characters that I dearly miss since closing my store some four years ago. Is it any wonder I used for one of the first challenges?

Other books that I reread include "Parnassus on Wheels", "The Wind in the Willows" and Kafka's "The Metamorphosis". They are old friends to me and I find some nuance that I missed before every time that I read them.

Hour 17

I just finished Umberto Eco's "How to Travel with a Salmon" - I like the blurb on the back
"Imagine an urban Garrison Keillor, raised on Kafka, schooled at the Sorbonne and utterly indifferent to cats and you've got a fair picture of Umberto Eco"

I picked up a small book that I have had in my possession for many years and decided to read it - Rab and his friends by Dr. John Brown - a sweet little piece written by a Scottish doctor about a dog and his master - here is the description of my copy, printed in 1908 by T.N. Fouls
Little Prose Masterpieces Series
Each volume of this series measures 5 1/2 by 2 3/4 inches. Printed on fine hand-made paper. tastefully decorated, with large initials in red, and in Japanese vellum wrapper, 6D net

I loved is so much I scanned the cover for everyone to see

the current tally is

6 books
940 pages (slow reader - easily distracted)
6 cups of tea (hmm...isn't that a book title)
1 bowl of Honey bunches of oats with peaches
1 small pizza
graham crackers with peanut butter
orange chicken
apple blossom with cream

Hour 16

the challenge for this hour gave us a choice, the first of which dealt with Peeps. Now my natural inclination would have been to take anything to do with Peeps but alas, I am Peepless. Instead I had the most fun trying to guess accents. I love this site and if it wasn't so late for me I would try and do it all over again. My score was a pretty pathetic 28 although I managed to pick up some bonus points by guessing the city as well as the country. Some of the clips were too short for me to be really sure but I found it an incredibly useful site which I hope to be able to use when I move to South Korea to teach English.

now to finish off Umberto Eco

Hour 15

I'm halfway through Umberto Eco's (the Name of the Rose) "How to travel with a Salmon" - what fun - this collection of essays are garnered from his culture columns - they runt the gamut from traveling with a salmon and his frustration with the hotel's computer to his justification for building a personal library. He has given me the perfect retort to those people who look at all of my books and say "Have you read all of these?" "No, these are the ones I have to read by the end of the month. I keep the others in my office"

this hour's challenge is do something creative to express the day - I'll have to think about that one


update - here is my entry for "You know you're participating in a Read-A-thon when..."

Hour 14

I'm finished with Doc Ebenezer - I love this book and if you need a copy you can easily find one online

ok the challenge this hour has to do with Non-fiction books. Tammy wants to know:
What is you favorite non-fiction book and why?
What genre(s) do you enjoy and are there particular writers that you would recommend to others? If you don't read non-fiction, why not?

I am a huge fan of non-fiction and as a matter of fact my next book to read is a collection of essays by Umberto Eco. I generally love history, science and biographies. Non-fiction authors that I have recently read include John Baxter (A Pound of Paper), John Grogan (The Longest Trip Home), Nicholas A. Basbanes (Patience and Fortitude), Paul Collins (Sixpence House) and Lawrence Goldstone (Out of the Flames) - I love books about books

so my score so far is
3 books
654 pages (slow reader - easily distracted)
3 cups of tea (hmm...isn't that a book title) add another cup
1 bowl of Honey bunches of oats with peaches
1 small pizza
graham crackers with peanut butter

Hour 13

before I post my answers to the new challenge here is another quote from Dr. Ebenezer

He has often said that your twenties are when you find out there are walls in the world and throw yourself against them in your rage. Maturity is when you see there are also doors, and then you accept the walls and begin to walk through the doors.

ok here are the questions

1. What are you reading right now? Dr. Ebenezer's Book and Liquor Store

2. How many books have you read so far? this is my 3rd

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I have a collection of Umberto Eco essays I want to try and read

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? nope -a snowstorm canceled everything that I had already planned to do

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? the only interruptions were doing the challenges - I live by myself

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How quickly the time flies - I can't believe that I have been doing this for 12 hours

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Hard to say - some of the challenges will only work for the first couple of people answering them (like the first line one)

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I would plan a better collection of books in advance - really break them up for style and length

9. Are you getting tired yet? not yet

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Keep the teapot full - it seems to work for me

Hour 12

wow - nearly halfway through - the challenge this hour was to join Bookcrossing and let Debbie at Readerbuzz know your id and pick three books from her list - that was a cinch since I've had a bookcrossing account for a long time but really hadn't used it since I took the crazy cross-country trip to see the Pirates and visit Dennis which is when I started this blog - funny how things come full circle isn't it?

so my score so far is
2 books
430 pages (slow reader - easily distracted)
3 cups of tea (hmm...isn't that a book title)
1 bowl of Honey bunches of oats with peaches
1 small pizza
graham crackers with peanut butter

time to rummage for something interesting

Hour 11

well I needed a break so I did a quick read of "Help! I'm a prisoner in the Library" - cute story of two girls who wander into a library during a snowstorm and get locked in - silly and lighthearted but good on a snowy readathon day. For this hour's challenge we are supposed to write a letter so I think I will write one to the girls locked in the library

here is my letter

Dear Mary Rose and Jo-Beth:

I know you girls were scared when your dad left you in the car but what were you thinking when you left the car to look for a bathroom? I mean, couldn't you have just squatted outside the car and then quickly gotten back in and locked the doors like your dad said? I know you were scared of Miss Finton at first, but did you have to eat her chicken? I don't care if the power was out, it would have taken a long time before the food would have gone bad. I'm glad you have a new baby brother but I hope you teach him to do what your dad says so he will stay safe.

ps next time you want to visit a library you can come to mine

(to the girl in "Help I'm a prisoner in the library)

Hour 10

I'm about halfway through Doc Ebenezer (It's a quick read if you have read it before) and had forgotten some of my favorite passages - time to share

"When I first thought of the store, I figured a guy would come in with a problem and I could listen to him and recommend Plato or the Buddha or Sigmund Freud or whatever. But then I realized, with some people, their problems are so bad all you can recommend is Johnny walker and come back tomorrow and we'll try to start again"

if you have ever had your own store you can appreciate the comings and goings - ting-ling

the challenge for this hour has to do with Books crossing over to TV - think I'll pass on that one although I have another three hours to complete it


update to answer the challenge

I'm not big on series books although I got initially hooked on the Sue Grafton's A is for Alibi ... and so on. She got pretty boring by the letter J - I think they would make a good series for TV

The books that I love that need to be made into movies include "Parnassus on Wheels", "Eat, Pray, Love", "The Rule of Four", "The Shadow of the Wind"

I don't watch a lot of TV any more but the series "House" might make for good medical thrillers a la Crichton

Hour 9

well that was wild - I'm trying to finish up Grogan's book and I hear my sister on the radio - she was the Wait wait Don't Tell Me contestant and somehow or another I missed her post about it

anyway I finished "The Longest Road Home" and have to tell you that it was a wonderful book. It is about Grogan's relationship with his father and life in a crazy Catholic household. The last third of the book deals with his father's illness. Somehow or another much of what he had to say hit home for me as I am preparing to make a trip home to visit my folks before I leave the country. My dad is starting to fade and is getting ready for a knee replacement and somehow or another I am overly concerned.

so my tally is 1 book, 334 pages, 2 cups of tea and 1 walk - time to start book number 2 "Dr. Ebenezer's Book and Liquor Store" by Gerald Rosen (I've read it before but haven't touched it in a long time)

I'm not bothering with the challenge because everyone else has posted the correct answers to the first lines - I sort of expected/hoped to see "Mother died today or was it yesterday" but alas, it was not to be.

Hour 8

this is a pretty easy challenge and I will get it out of the way so that I can finish my book

Jessica at the Curious Reader wants to know stuff about our local library. This is great because as we all know, this is National Library Week. Rather than answer about the library where I work, I think I'll talk about the library that I use.

1. What is the name of your local library? What city is it located in?
I go to the Blair-Caldwell branch of the Denver Public Library. A pic is posted in my walk post..

2. How often do you go to the library? If you're a regular, do the staff know you?

Lately I have been going there almost daily. I am on a movie and book marathon before leaving the country and I can order what I want online and it gets to the branch which is right by the light rail station that I use almost every day. The staff may not know my name but we chat about my selections in music and movies


3. Do you browse while you're there or just pick up items you have placed on reserve?

It is a fairly small branch that is always crowded. I browse for music and movies and then am always surprised that something I requested has arrived when I go to check everything out.

4. What is your favorite thing about your local library?

It is a clean, well-lit building that houses an incredible research collection and assorted community rooms. It really is the heart of the Five Points neighborhood. I love my library even when the bums outside give me a hard time.

Hour 7

so here I am, up to my knees in tears having finished Chapter 30 of Grogan's book (this is the chapter in which he describes the box he built for his father) when I remember that another hour has passed and there must be a new challenge - of course!! now we have to talk a walk and take pics and post them on our blogs - yikes!!! it's already quarter after so I dashed out the door with my camera and umbrella and did the literary tour of Fiona's neighborhood (at least what you can see in 3 square blocks)

First off, it snowed in Denver yesterday and now it has turned to rain - the great big piles of white fluffy stuff are turning into soggy mush. So please bear with me. I will do some initial posting, make the link necessary and then come back and finish the post.

The first pic is facing West from my front porch. If it wasn't raining you would see the Rocky Mountains.

Next I am facing East across a vacant lot - I just wanted to show the snow

Going East another block I am seeing the famous Sonny Lawson ballfield, made famous by Jack Kerouac who spent a lot of time in this neighborhood. Two days ago this park was full of springtime softball and lots of bums - I forgot to mention this would be the Kerouac Literary Tour of my neighborhood

Turning North along Welton Street I had to show you my favorite haunt, the Blair Caldwell branch of the Denver Public Library - everyone should have a fabulous library within walking distance of their home.

Continuing North a couple of blocks I wanted to capture the heart of the Five Points neighborhood and favorite Jazz haunt of Mr. Kerouac, the famous Rossonian Hotel and bar.

At this point I figured I was running out of time so I headed West towards Curtis Street, turned South and hit the Puritan Pie Company that Neal Cassady wrote about. Neil and Jack spent a lot of hours hanging around here.

Across the street is the site of Neal's boyhood home, now an ultramodern collection of lofts.

And then looking back across the street you have the building where Neal's father had a barber shop.

Later I'll add pics of some of the other Kerouac haunts in Denver.

Hour 6

this hour's mini-challenge involves creating a comic that has something to do with the readathon. Well that counts me out as I lack the artistic gene. Instead I will post a link to one of my favorite comics, Unshelved, the most recent of which seems appropriate for today

Hour 5

well the challenge this hour had to do with posting Youtube videos of something funny - I couldn't resist adding the first episode of Black Books

ok - back to Grogan

Hour 4

This hour the challenge was to visit three blogs and post comments. If you want to see my comments cruise by the following blogs


manga - eccentrics - knitters - quite the eclectic crew we have here

I'm on my second cup of tea and loving Grogan's tale of growing up in a Catholic family in the sixties and seventies - I am about to embark on his college years - for those of us who lived through similar times it is a sheer pleasure to know that somebody remembers what it was really like

Hour 3

I lied - I couldn't get the challenge out of my head so I picked up one o my favorite books that I haven't visited in some time, Dr. Ebenezer's Book and Liquor Store by Gerald Rosen.

Here is the blurb:

Dr. Ebenezer's Book and Liquor store is a touching and wonderful comic novel about the search for love and purpose in trying times. Dr. Ebenezer, a disillusioned nuclear scientist, gives up his family and career and embarks on a quest for truth in the back streets of San Francisco, a world of unorthodox ideas and unconventional sex. His unique emporium, a combination book and liquor store, provides a haven for people in search of knowledge and comfort. Odd characters drift in and out of his store and his life - a showgirl turned poet, a one-legged hippie alcoholic, a Japanese-American waitress trying to reconcile her Western upbringing and her Oriental heritage, a mad biologist fired from his teaching job for biting a student.

and now my tableau

I'm going to add that I took a look at the next challenge and have to say that I didn't recognize any book from the cover clips - I need to read more books!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hour 2

Well I got some more reading done but I was distracted by the Hour 2 challenege which was to create a tableau for one of the books in my pile - every technology failure that one can imagine has taken place so I think I will skip this one - back to Grogan

Hour 1

I'm starting with John Grogan's (Marley & Me) bio "the Longest Trip Home". I've been putting this off but we are reading it for our book club next week.

Where are you reading from today?
I'm in Denver. Right now it's very early, snowing outside and I'm in bed reading while listening to NPR - I love Saturday mornings

three facts about me
I'm a librarian
I've been a bookseller
I've also been a pizza delivery expert

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
I don't have a specific number but I have an apartment full of unread books

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
no specific goals because I have never done this before

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
I'm a newbie so I don't know

Dewey's Read-A-Thon

A snowstorm gives one a lot of time to stay indoors and curl up with a good book..or several good books. Tomorrow morning (6am MST) the 24 hour read-a-thon starts and everything that I had previously planned to do has been canceled. Guess I have no excuse to ignore that stack of books just waiting to be read. It's not too late to sign up and there are prizes to be won.