Dear Schenectady Gazette – Ignoring Books is Worse than Burning Them

Dear Editor:

1031180903a_HDR-1I was excited today (October 27, 2018) to receive my copy of the Official 2018 Peoples Choice Awards Best of the Best insert in my Schenectady Gazette. Thumbing through it, I found the Best Gun Shop and the Best Vape Shop. But conspicuous by its absence was THE BEST BOOKSTORE category. Continue reading “Dear Schenectady Gazette – Ignoring Books is Worse than Burning Them”

When bloody wankers ask for discounts

(This is an excerpt from Nothing Much Happens, Diary of an Upstate Bookseller, a work in progress.)

New customer from the UK in today, a verbal salad shooter, manure spreader. “Bloody” this and “bloody” that and George W. Bush is a wanker. Obama is a wanker too, and John Wayne was a bloody wanker. Most of the the time I could understand him, but sometimes I needed subtitles.

He comes to the States once a year, entering from Canada with a suitcase full of hundred dollar bills to buy vintage cars and parts to ship back to the Island to sell at a profit. His name is Ford*, but he buys and repatriates Triumphs, Austin Healys and MGs not Mustangs.

No Discount Sign

Then the dreaded question, which I’m never prepared for, “Do you give discounts?” Continue reading “When bloody wankers ask for discounts”

Caroline Fraser’s bio of Laura Ingalls Wilder is good but not great

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books, 2017) by Caroline Fraser is a good book but not a great book. There is information in the book that you either won’t find elsewhere or won’t find without having to locate numerous sources. The book is important because it is the first comprehensive biography of Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane.

Prairie FiresIn spite of the title, the book is as much about Rose as it is Laura. The title is also misleading in that much of the book has nothing to do with the prairie, prairie fires or Laura’s American dreams. And the title suggests that whatever Laura’s American dreams are, they are prairie fires, consuming whatever is in their way, but the book doesn’t show that at all. Fraser attempts to tie the book and title together in her Epilogue, but it doesn’t quite work. Continue reading “Caroline Fraser’s bio of Laura Ingalls Wilder is good but not great”

September Hours and September Sale

book sale logo (1)

THE BOOK HOUND WILL ONLY BE OPEN ON THURSDAYS, FRIDAYS AND SATURDAYS DURING SEPTEMBER. OTHER DAYS BY APPOINTMENT OR CHANCE. HOWEVER, ALL USED BOOKS AND OTHER USED ITEMS WILL BE DISCOUNTED BY 20% DURING SEPTEMBER.*

*Consignment, items on reserve and layaway items not included in sale. A few other items are also excluded. Discount cannot be combined with any coupon or other discount. Continue reading “September Hours and September Sale”

Antisocial Media – How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. A Review.

Without denying the social media site Facebook has some value, Siva Vaidhyanathan makes a strong case for Facebook’s overall destructive nature in his latest book, Antisocial Media How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. (Oxford University Press, 2018.) Influenced by Neil Postman, the educator and critic whose best known book, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), made a similar case against television, Vaidhyanathan’s book describes and decries the addictive quality of Facebook as well as its shallowness. Continue reading “Antisocial Media – How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. A Review.”

When Saying “They All Look Alike” is not Racism. The Five Chinese Brothers & the Dionne Quintuplets.

There are few children’s books more charming and fun to read than Claire Huchet Bishop’s The Five Chinese Brothers, illustrated by Kurt Wiese and published in 1938. Like so many ethnic stories, critics have accused the book of ethnic and racial stereotyping. While most critics of the book have focused on Kurt Wiese’s illustrations, a few have criticized the text itself.

5 Chinese BrothersAmy Bronwen Zemser, who describes herself as “writer, squirrel hunter, breastfeeder, homosexual,” and has had some children’s books published, says of The Five Chinese Brothers which was the subject of her September 13, 2013 blog post, “The first sentence alone is problematic.” The first sentence of the book reads, “Once upon a time there were Five Chinese Brothers and they all looked exactly alike.” Zemser’s implication is that the book implies that all Chinese look alike. Continue reading “When Saying “They All Look Alike” is not Racism. The Five Chinese Brothers & the Dionne Quintuplets.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award name change should put the ALA on Robert Doyle’s Banned & Challenged Book List

Laura_Ingalls_Wilder_cropped_sepia2Having read the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder three times and having read the decision and accompanying documents by the American Library Association’s division, Association for Library Services to Children, to rename the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, I have come to several preliminary conclusions. Continue reading “Laura Ingalls Wilder Award name change should put the ALA on Robert Doyle’s Banned & Challenged Book List”