A Day In The Life Of A Book Person

To become a Book Person, you need to like being around books.

It helps if you have read a book or two, so you know how they work (front to back, one page at a time).

A love for oriental carpets, a partiality for rainy days, and a high regard for a good cup of tea doesn’t hurt.

You have to know that there is no such thing as a non-fiction novel, no matter how many people come into the used book store and ask for such a thing.

Finally, a strong back is a must.

It seems as if there are a lot of people on the north shore of Long Island who made the same New Year’s Resolution to de-clutter their lives:

Last week, in one swell foop, I  got ten boxes of books dropped off at the used books store that I co-manage, to add to the overflow of donations that I already had. Worse than that, there was hardly anything worth keeping in the ten boxes, the donor being a person who bought a lot of paperback books in the 1960s and ’70s on the role of Islamic art and religion on the culture of medieval Europe. Who knew that there could be so many books on the the role of Islamic art and religion on the culture of medieval Europe??

There were also some very dated, but interesting (to me and, thus, to the store’s inventory) books about European travel — but I love reading guide books from the Olden Days. I love reading that a blow-out meal at the Ritz in  London in 1965 cost $9.00.

And then there’s this, my favorite book from the whole shebang:

Published in 1980, this book is dedicated:

To the many correspondents near and far — the ardently devoted squirrel people and the equally ardent anti-squirrel people — whose numerous and sometimes multiple communications, written and oral, made this volume possible.

One.  Who knew that there was such a thing as squirrel people?

Two.  Whose teeth marks are those on the corners?

Three. A book this quaint makes me feel that 1980 was a very, very, very long time ago. But wait. Wasn’t I 24 years old  just a minute or two ago?

Being a Book Person means that you never run out of things to think about.

And then, just this morning (Thursday, Jan. 17), I was back at the used book store and found this on the front porch of the historic Valentine House where you can find my used book store in the front parlor:

I had to lug it all indoors myself:

But I can’t really complain, since this is how we get inventory for the used book store, and these tomato boxes are fabulous!

I’m pretty sure these tomato boxes are vintage. So Cool.

After a couple of hours of sorting, I had this:

All the books that are in piles on the floor are keepers.

Now all I have to do is price them and shelve them in the bookcases that are already full.

So, in the next few days of this Book Person’s life, I will have to cull the bookshelves and discard the ones that have been there as long as I have been co-managing the store. That is, since last February. A Book Person must not be afraid of Letting Books Go.

In addition to doing the filthy work of hauling and sorting and stacking, I also went through all our hardback and paperback novels and sorted them into five categories:

Mysteries (Who Dunnits, Page Turners)

Historical Fiction


Guilty Pleasures (Daniel Steele, Nora Roberts, The Notebook)

Fiction (best sellers from the past 10 years)

Breaking up our fiction section, from being one big slew of 1,000 books, into more beguiling sections will make our inventory easier  and more fun to browse. I’m also raising our price from 50 cents to $1.00 per book. Because, you know, the collection is now curated.

So today, after three hours of carting all these books to and fro, I was very tired.

The store is closed this whole month so I can re-stock the inventory and make these changes but just as I was about to close up and go home, a couple of nice ladies from a neighboring town stopped by. They were at our library to hear a lecture about UFOs and wanted to check out the book store, which they had never seen before. So we chatted and I let them look through the children’ books and I made $2.00 for the Friends of Bryant Library.

Not that anybody’s going to give me a $100 gift certificate to Amazon, or anything, for all my troubles.

Thank you, all you Dear Readers, and especially all you Fabulous Commenters, for weighing-in on last week’s controversy. This little blog has the best comments I’ve ever read anywhere on the internets, and I am mightily thought-provoked by each of your messages.

And yes, it was my birthday this past Wednesday, January 16. and my own Top Cat knows exactly what to get me to make my B-day purrfect:
I would never buy a gallon of Elmer’s glue, but Top Cat was raised by rich parents and he knows how to splurge. He also knows that making Book Art (which is something that us Book People do) takes a lot of Elmer’s glue. I used almost an entire third of my small bottle of Elmer’s just making this last week:

The top photo is at eye level.

This one below is taken from 5 feet, six inches up:

I used three children’ books and one YA fantasy novel. Can you guess which ones?

I am wrist-deep in glue for my new Book art thing, which is a 3D Book Art re-interpretation of this scene:

I am using a crazy amount of glue and I hope it will be finished soon so I can show it to you all next Friday.

In the meantime, I must explain last week’s Taffy citing, where I showed you all this photo and called Taffy “kind of a jerk”:

That’s Taffy, on top, and that’s Dennis, on the bottom. See Taffy’s tail? He’s doing that thing that your little brother used to do, when you had to sit with him in the back seat of your parent’s car, and he’d sit too close to the diving line between your part of the back seat and his part of the back seat, plus he’d breathe on you, and repeat everything you said, and act all innocent when you lean over and threaten to punch his teeth out and shove them one by one up his nose if he didn’t cut it out right now.

This week, we noticed that Taffy has been limping. I’m sure it’s his front right paw that hurts, the one he holds up to take the weight of it when he sits in front of the refrigerator reminding you that this is where you keep the cream cheese and he’s a guy who loves cream cheese and now would be a good time to give cream cheese to a Taffy who loves cream cheese.

I’m publishing this on Thursday afternoon (4:30-ish) so I hope that the time lag isn’t too bad between now and when this post finally turns up in your browser (or whatever) so you’ll know that Taffy is going to see the vet on Friday at 2:00.

If all his paw needs is a little bit of Elmer’s glue, he’ll be fine.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.



11 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan

    Oh my, poor Taffy! I hope he is okay… do make a post to let us know before next Friday, please! I think he should have some cream cheese, what about a bit of smoked salmon to go with it? Our Clive is a pain in the neck super fussy eater, my partner got him onto scraps of smoked salmon… not a good idea, however for someone suffering from a sore paw it seems only fair. I love the castle it is the best one so far, love the dragon. I do recognise some of the characters you’ve used but their names eludes me. Have a wonderful weekend and very best wishes for a speedy recovery to dear Taffy.

  2. When people ask for non-fiction novels, I point them to True Crime, and they seem happy.

    When our library bookstore manager comes in to sort donations, she tends to box up 90% of them to save for our twice-yearly big sales. This means, as a lowly volunteer, I don’t get FIRST DIBS, and it drives me nuts. I would LOVE to be the first person to go through everything so I can snag stuff like that wonderful squirrel book, even if it meant a permanent sore back.

    As it is, I’m still spending $5-10 every shift I work on books that come in when the manager isn’t around — we get to go through those and put them out ourselves. Unfortunately, the place I live has a HUGE population of scientists and engineers, and we often get ten boxes at a time filled with 40-year-old math, physics, and engineering tomes. Which, oddly enough, sell fairly well. Though not to *me*.

    What a perfect birthday gift! Your new castle is fantabulous. All of your book art is inspiring — I wonder if there’s something I could make out of 40-year-old physics texts? Hm….

  3. Casey

    Your cats are very elegant nappers. Is that Candy in the sunbeam? And Taffy looks like he doesn’t have a spine, like he’s a liquid cat. I hope he’s just had a little too much fun and hurt his paw leaping after Dennis, and that his paw mends quickly, with or without some help from elmer’s.

    You know that I have to ask for a close up of that castle.

    Huge fire-breathing lizards love tacos, and they live where the sidewalk ends, and I think the mouse is called Arthur. But WHERE did you get that awesome dragon??

  4. I wish I was there to comb through those boxes with you! That looks like FUN! I love the squirrel book, too, at least the look of it. I’m not sure I’d want to actually READ it.

    I love your newest art project. I’m pretty sure the big dragon comes from the cover of the Eragon series, and I see Arthur, and I’m not sure who those kids are. They look like Kay Thompson’s Eloise or some of her friends.

    I have a terrible time “letting books go” if it means actually throwing them away. (Unless they’re damaged.) Here at the library we move them along to a charity, which allows me to fool myself into thinking that they all find new homes on a farm in upstate New York.)

  5. I loved reading every bit of Your Book Person Day, and I ardently agree, “Being a Book Person means that you never run out of things to think about.”

    I also love Steve’s comment about charity shops making sure donated books “all find new homes on a farm in upstate New York.”

    As a Custodian of Books at a thrift store, I can reply,
    Yes, yes they do, Steve.
    That’s my answer, and I’m sticking to it.

    James Patterson books, in fact, *buy* the farm.

    (but really, I DO make big efforts to find homes for interesting books that the former Book Lady put in recycling–such as the squirrel book you got. I’d find some squirrel-related geegaws and set up a display.)

    The only characters in your WONDERFUL castle that I recognize for sure are Arthur the Aardvark and the kids from “Where the Sidewalk Ends”. (Where? Where the wild things start.)

    Also I spotted [click to embiggen] a bit of Socratic dialogue—did you choose it for a reason?
    Would that reason be the question, “How can I get the girl?” which is a dragony/princess–in-a-tower sort of question.

    I googled & found the other characters, because I am a Book Person, and Book People WANT TO KNOW THINGS (don’t they? I do!)–
    but I won’t take away the fun of someone who genuinely knows the answer providing it.

    You do have fabulous commenters!

    Thanks for explaining Taffy’s body language. I did wonder if that tail drop was a cat’s way of being just a bit passive-aggressive.

    Glue! Your love must be a true love.

  6. Promise us you’ll update us on “our Taffy” as soon as you get a doc report. And a little cream cheese for him, too.

    OK, now I get the jerk thing. Still… And wild about the newest castle with its characters. I spy Arthur there, but the others elude me.

    I can’t throw books away — they usually end up at the library or in a pinch, Goodwill/Salv. Army or whatever. That squirrel book looks like quite the find though! Just visited a used store today and they are pricing half cover price (depending on condition). I didn’t leave without buying at least one…

  7. Theodora Gurns

    Happy birthday, dear Vivian Swift. Top Cat possesses an elegant and generous way with gifts, a standard to which I wish my own dear husband would rise.

    Is Taffy acquainted with Brie?

    I read your previous post belatedly, so I enter the controversy late. BUT I have knowledge to contribute. As board member and past president of two 501 (c) (3) societies, I hereby proclaim your president did wrong legally and morally. General members do not give money for anything other than the work of the organization they contribute to; i.e., Mission Statement.. If your president does not understand this, ask a lawyer to explain the concept to her/him. Bound to be a lawyer of some kind casually kicking about who can look said president in the eyes and acquaint them with the niceties of the 501 (c) (3) rule. I feel sure the board did not authorize the gift-giving. Moral All The Bad should not require a lawyer’s explanation. Amazon? Really? A goodish amount? If the administrators do not sufficiently value the volunteers’ work that they cavil at a bit of copying and signing, dissolve the volunteer organization and let the admins go it alone. (I do hope the volunteers get a nice Recognition Lunch, preferably with Brie and a good white.)

  8. Becky

    I hope Taffy gets well soon. It hurts your heart when they aren’t feeling well. I will be anxious to read the results.
    I can’t wait until you tackle Where the Wild Things Are. It is one of my favorite childrens book.

  9. Kirra

    Happy Birthday Vivian! I hope you’ve enjoyed your present of a massive bottle of glue. Top Cat is a thoughtful present giver.

    I think your library bookshop must be SUPER glad they’ve got you co-managing the shop. Sorting through all those donated books and reorganizing the fiction section is a lot of volunteer work. I am still laughing about the non-fiction novel.

    I think one reason there may be good comments on this blog is because it’s so well written and designed (with the photos) by you. Always such a good read before or on the weekend.

    I think your castle book is amazing but the characters are a bit more mysterious. I am full of anticipation for next week with ‘Where the Wild Things Are’!

    I’m not sure if I want to be a squirrel person or an anti-squirrel person but definitely one of them!

    Even though Taffy was being an annoying younger brother last week, I hope his paw gets fixed this week.

  10. Now I never thought of giving my cat cream cheese, but I am sure he would love it.
    Oh I hope Taffy is just fine now and it was a simple fix.
    Love, love, love your book art. It always inspires me to thinking of playing with old books, but then I just enjoy yours. The Wild Thing is I am sure going to be amazing.
    Then laying on a nice rug in the sunlight, how I wish I had sun to do that.

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