Books *A*Thousand.

About once a day, someone will step into the little charity book store that I co-manage here, on the north shore of Long Island, and stand, as if in shock, in the narrow aisle that is the main thoroughfare of our cubby hole, and bleat, “Is this the whole store?”

Yes, yes it is. Our used book store is really small. Into this charming space we cram (my educated guess) a little over 2,000 books.

That number includes a few duplicates. The most-duplicated book in our stock is this:

We have four different copies of this book: original hardback, paperback, hard-bound paperback, and a special abridged version for younger readers. This book came out in 2010 when the author, Wes Moore, went on Oprah when she was still on TV, whereupon it sold what we in the publishing business call “a shit load”*** and now, seven years after its pub date, it is STILL #250 on So I bought one of the copies and read it.

In brief, this book is about two kids named Wes Moore who were born blocks apart within a year of each other in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and both had difficult childhoods; one grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence.

The ex-Rhodes scholar is the author of the book. The “other” Wes Moore became a grandfather at age 36 while he was in prison. Is it crappy of me to say that I grew weary of the other Wes Moore’s story? His tale is a dreary accumulation of the predictable poor choices that have become cliche in urban culture which, as the other Wes Moore shows, are not the inevitable price you have to pay for being poor in America.

As soon as I bought one of the four copies that we had in the store, another copy came in. So if you are looking for The Other Wes Moore, we have one that is right for you. (Price: $1.)

***The Other Wes Moore sold 140,000 in paperback in 2012. That’s all I could find. I hope you find this interesting because I, as an author, find sales figures fascinating.

We also have three copies of this:

Original pub date, 2003. 80 million copies sold.

Price: 50 cents. I haven’t read it, and probably never will.  One of our volunteer book sellers was helping me shelve a batch of new donations, which included a copy of this book, and she asked me if this was Fiction or Not. (Please note that it says, right on the cover, A Novel.) The scary thing is, this volunteer used to be a high school teacher.

We used to have three copies of this delightful number:

Original pub date, 2008. 10 million copies sold world-wide.

We are currently sold out of this title because I kept recommending it to customers who liked fiction and/or books set in Paris. I read this book and liked it far more than I thought I would, and I like this cover immensely for reasons I can’t really explain. Maybe because it does not give anything away, or maybe because it reminds me of Vermeer’s paintings. Feel free to discuss.

We currently have three copies of this:

Original pub date, 2005. As of 2014, it has sold 7 million copies in 35 languages.

I like the Freakonomics podcast but I’ve never read the book, so I brought a paperback copy home with me. I must have looked at this cover 20 times (I admire its jazzy colors, and lime green is a particular favorite of mine) before I realized that the apple is photoshopped to have an orange inside it. I love it!! This is a very sophisticated image, and is a clever way to illustrate that Levitt and Dubner are masters at comparing apples to oranges.

P.S. I was wondering if that “apples and oranges” idiom was translatable to other languages, so I tried to find the foreign editions of this book’s cover. I could only find the Hindi version:

Some color scheme, but weirder.

So I guess that the answer to my wondering is, “No.”

I’m reading the chapter about selling crack cocaine in the 1990s. According to Levitt and Dubner, it was a lot like selling nylon stockings in the 1940s. More contemporarily, Levitt and Dubner explain the allure of selling crack cocaine on the street by situating the whole illegal drugs enterprise within the context of other American businesses. That’s how I came upon this on page 104:

In the glamour professions — movies, sports, music, fashion — there is a different dynamic at play. Even in second-tier glamour industries like publishing, advertising, and media, swarms of bright young people throw themselves at grunt jobs that pay poorly and demand unstinting devotion. 

Say what, now?

As I have had three books published, I consider myself to be part of the publishing business which, I have always smugly assured myself and others, gives me one of the most deliriously glamorous jobs in the whole world. Now I find out that it’s a second-tier glamour industry??

I also want to know, Is there a third tier?

I definitely want to know what jobs are on that list.

Oh, Dear Readers, it’s been a tough few weeks here in the der Drmpfian demise of democracy. The obscenity of government officials quoting the Bible to defend taking children away from their immigrant parents got me so depressed that I could see no other way of lifting my misery than to go to the local shelter and adopt a DoG.

No, I didn’t get a DoG, but only because I need one that is OK with cats (8 of ’em, at last count) and the shelter didn’t have any they could vouch for. I spent some time with a cute 10-year old Puggle named Barry, who, sadly, did not pass muster when I asked the crucial question, “Is he house broken?” (Been there, done that.)

A Puggle, but not Barry. A Puggle is the cross of a Pug and a Beagle.

There were two chihuahuas up for adoption at the shelter, but I don’t think I’m a chihuahua person. In theory I’m fine with pit bulls, but a lot of the pits on hand need to be the only animal in the house.

And yeah, sure, der Drumpf signed the executive order, but that makes our country only slightly less shit hole-isa, so I still need a DoG. This weekend I am visiting another animal shelter.

Yes, I know that getting a DoG is setting myself up for heartache. I remember very clearly how I went a little crazy when my sweet cocker spaniel, Boogie Girl, died, which was the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life. But what is it about DoGs that even this born-and-bred Cat Lady can’t resist?




Have another great weekend, everyone. We’ll get through this. We will.


17 Comments, RSS

  1. Casey June 22, 2018 @ 7:56 am

    Ha ha ha, third-tier glamour jobs. Here’s my nominee:

    Luxury hotel concierge.

    • Vivian June 24, 2018 @ 12:29 pm

      That’s a good one. How about airline attendant? (In 1970, that is; these days, it’s probably one of the worst jobs in the world.)

  2. Margot June 22, 2018 @ 12:00 pm

    Taking your recommendation & have The Elegance of the Hedgehog on reserve from the library. Consider a pit-lab combo dog for intelligence, mildness of humor, getting along well with cats as well as humans and other dogs. There are a zillion of ’em out there. Ours is Koko, once a street dog, now the Best Boy in the World. As for those vile rodents in public office, we’ll beat the pants off them come November!

    • Vivian June 24, 2018 @ 12:28 pm

      What? No pictures of Koko on the MeadowCreature website?! I will indeed remember to ask about pit-lab mixes. I like the pit smile, and I love the lab’s general goofiness.

  3. Carol June 22, 2018 @ 12:32 pm

    I loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog!

    • Vivian June 24, 2018 @ 12:26 pm

      Me too! And now I can’t remember anything about it, except the girl who visits the concierge was funny, in a very Wednesday Addams way.

  4. Steve June 22, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

    I’ve never read “The Elegance of the Hedgehog.” (My fingers just accidentally typed “hedgewhore,” which I think is something else entirely.) I did read “The Da Vinci Code,” and let me just say, it’s shallow and doesn’t entirely make sense but it IS a page-turner. I actually liked it. Oh, and it came out way before 2009. In 2003 or so, I think?

    I’ve never even heard of that Wes Moore book. And I never gave such close thought to the “Freakanomics” cover, though I did read it. I loved the authors’ conjecture that Roe vs. Wade contributed to the later drop in urban crime levels. Controversy! The Hindu cover is…mystifying.

    • Vivian June 24, 2018 @ 12:24 pm

      That loud panting noise coming from your hedge at night? Yup. It’s hedgehogs. True fact.

      You’re right about the DaVinci Code: March 8, 2003 was its pub date. I’ll change that. But yee gods, 18 million copies?? Maybe I should read the first chapter just to see what all the fuss is about.

  5. Susan June 22, 2018 @ 2:34 pm

    Interesting book reviews. I’ve read all of them, like many books, I got a few morsels from each. Okay, not great. You certainly manage to fit lots of books in your smallish space. I agree, November will be do or die. Let’s go to the poles! Regarding dogs, they bring so much to daily life. I will never be without a dog. Love the quote: “If heaven exists, there will be a dog at the gate.” For sure, no doubt about it!!! Can’t wait to meet your new dog… P.S.: My neighbor has 8 cats and two black labs and it all works.

    • Vivian June 24, 2018 @ 12:14 pm

      that is a relief, to know that there is a DoG out there who will tolerate 8 cats. Maybe I should be looking for a lab, too.

  6. Kirra June 23, 2018 @ 12:50 am

    Thanks for the book reviews from your one room bookstore on Long Island, I don’t think it’s too small for a local second hand bookstore. I will look up The Elegance of the Hedgehog to read, not sure about any of the others, though I do like the apple/orange mix up cover.

    You also need to remember that the Australian government has been horrible the refugee children and families for at least a decade, your horrible president is being bad but I think we may have been badder and things don’t look like changing. It makes me pretty sad and disgusted wiht my own country.

    A dog would be fabulous but is definitely a commitment! I hope you find one you like and share photos with us so I can see your lovely pets each week, as I have none myself.

    • Vivian June 24, 2018 @ 12:13 pm

      The cat herd here in VivianWorld was being particularly cute this morning so I’ll have several photos for you next Friday.

      I will have to look into Australian immigration policy. If it’s half as bad as ours, it’s very bad.

  7. Becky June 23, 2018 @ 7:48 am

    This week made me cry for our country.
    On instagram there are so many sweet pictures and videos of dogs…..will make you smile. Thanks for including the dog photos and captions. Good luck with your dog search……as a friend once said, you will get the dog you need not the dog you want.
    Not familiar with the book The Elegance of the Hedgehog….will check it out.

    • Vivian June 24, 2018 @ 12:11 pm

      A friend emailed me about my DoG search and said that while I am looking for”my” DoG, “my” DoG is looking for me. That is very powerful. I visited with Moose on Friday and I asked him, Are you looking for me? I don’t think he was.

  8. Mae June 24, 2018 @ 8:52 am

    Well, in French it seems possible to say “Il ne faut pas comparer des pommes et des oranges” — I found a whole list of quotes using that expression. Also, German, Dutch, Czech, and Swedish all seem to use the metaphor. Probably other languages too, but my patience has run out.

    However, while the German edition does use the image, the French cover of Freakonomics doesn’t use it — you can the French cover here:

    best… mae at

    • Vivian June 24, 2018 @ 12:10 pm

      Thank you for checking into this idiom, Mae — it’s interesting that the cover for the French version sticks with the bright lime green color scheme. I wonder if lime green is the Freakonomic “brand”? If I ever talk with either Stephen or Steven I will ask them.

  9. Marilyn June 26, 2018 @ 11:36 pm

    Good luck with the dog search. I can’t imagine taking a dog on with cats in the house. Good luck!
    Wishing I was close to this book store. I would be there often.

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