Book Orgies

“Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.” –Virginia Woolf

Jack and I have different ideas of what our bookshop should look like. Left to my own devices, I would alphabetize the spice rack in three subcategories: Asian, Italian, and Other, while he would put all the paperwork in the house in one room and call it “the office.” (Come to think of it…)

However, we do agree on a few basic principles:

  • the books should be on shelves
  • there is some vague sense of separating fiction from non-fiction
  • the shop bathroom should be free of personal laundry

Beyond that, we have to negotiate.

Lately, though, the books seem to be fighting our best efforts, bent instead on mayhem and madness. Perhaps it’s the holiday spirit; they could just be gearing up for their office party (after all, tonight is St. Andrew’s Night). Still, every time we turn our back, the neat rows of Science Fiction and Fantasy leap from their shelves, race across the room, and jump into Christian fiction before we know what’s happening. We hear the flap of pages, and when we turn around, there’s a little pocket-sized Amish romance lying inside the covers of a Stephen King hardback. Looking smug.

That ain’t right, I tell ya.

Last night I went to bed secure in the knowledge that Mysteries and Thrillers had been tidied to perfection; this morning, there were three vampire paranormals lying in the floor, entwined with a John Sandford.

“Have you no shame?” I asked them, picking them up by their corners with a good hard shake. “Look at yourselves, pages splayed in lewd display, your covers bent backward. Where is your pride, your sense of decency?”

I’m pretty sure one of the paranormals belched.

So there it is: every day I go through the stacks, straightening, shelving, putting O’Brien back in front of Roberts, forcing Jack to separate Historic Fiction from Cookbooks, and at night when we head upstairs, we hear the noisemakers, the champagne corks, the swing of the chandelier as the Norton Literature volumes do somersaults into the punch bowl. {Sigh} Books today. What can you do?

Don’t forget today is the last day for the November Caption Contest. Scroll back to the photo in the blog and leave your caption under Comments.

The Whalen Legacy

We miss shopsitter Andrew Whalen’s sensible, stolid presence at the downstairs table, working on his Mac. (He’s the only tech geek we know who has a Mac. We always suspected he had an e-reader, but he either didn’t bring it with him from NYC or never brought it down from his room.)

More than anything, we miss Andrew’s organizational mind. One of our favorite customers came in the other day, a nice guy who favors Westerns. He went back to the man-cave where these are shelved and emerged a few minutes later, a large stack in his arms and a puzzled expression on his face.

“What happened back ‘er?” he asked. (He has a beautiful mountain accent.)

“What? Where?” asked Jack, leaping to his feet in alarm at the prospect of a fallen shelf, pet accident, or other bookselling disaster.

“ ‘S so … neat,” our customer responded. “Like ‘s been cleaned, or sumpin. Just took me a minute tuh find ever’thin’ I wanted.”

Andrew, kiddo, you set the bar too high. We’re not sure how long we can carry on.

Editor’s note: The cookies with which Andrew’s mom ransomed him (scroll back to the blog COOKIE EXTORTION for the full story) were so good, we ordered two boxes for far-away gifts. Best of both shopping worlds: the simplicity of a single click while supporting a small business. (Cookie Glass is her company, if you want to look. We unequivocally endorse all Mrs. Whalen’s products!)