Tag: books

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Tattered Tome

March 7, 2022, along Howard Avenue, down the block from the University Heights library, I came across discarded, open book Basta!: Land And The Zapatista Rebellion In Chiapas by George A. Collier and Elizabeth Lowery Quaratiello. Copyright 1994 and 2005.

Say what? Published by Food First Books? Self-described, the organization “has been working to end the injustices that cause hunger since 1975…Food First has published over 60 books and hundreds of articles and research reports”. Ah, okay. Mottos like “where food justice grows” illuminate the group’s progressive politics and policies. 

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Better Bee Reading

Outside the “1917 House“, where also is the little homes collection, my wife and I came upon something new: cute book-sharing repository. Unlike others around our neighborhood of University Heights, this one doesn’t bear a LittleFreeLibrary label. I’m good what that distinction. This thing is fresh and oh-so Spring. Correction: Early Summer, in San Diego. (The other two seasons are Mid Summer and Late Summer. I know, I know, you don’t have to say it.)

During post-production, I recomposed the Featured Image to give more space to the honeysuckle, which sweet succumbing scent is such a relief from toxic construction dust and stink weed smoke (the latter disgusts my nostrils). Aroma and ambience make Birds, Bees, and Books an appealing pitstop. But do watch out for the stinging insects buzzing by searching for nectar.

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How Did Guns Come Into This?

Today, while making a purchase at a used bookstore, I spotted a booklet containing the United States Constitution on the counter. I asked the price. “Free”, the owner answered, “from ACLU”. He emphasized the acronym for the American Civil Liberties Union like either I didn’t know what the organization was or that there was special significance by the group producing the handout—perhaps both. Whichever, or neither, he wanted to impart something.

Was either my surprise or interest at all the reason? His next statement, unprompted, perhaps explains: “It says nothing about assault rifles…[but] well-regulated militia. Most militias are illegal”. That was so left-field—politically, not just figuratively—I couldn’t rightly respond. He referred to the Second Amendment: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.

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The Big ‘Little Library’

I cannot rightly express my surprise while walking along Campus Avenue close to cross-street Monroe on Oct. 5, 2021. In the distance, a decorated utility box beckoned attention. The things are all about University Heights, but all others are plain grey. Shape and overall size were right for what I expected to find, but something else waited: A “LittleFreeLibrary”.

The Featured Image gives some perspective of dimensions set against the Ford Super Duty truck for comparison. Vitals, aperture manually set for all: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, 28mm; 12:59 p.m. PDT.

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A Bible Story Revisited

On this Good Friday eve, when according to the Biblical account Jesus shared with his disciples the Last Supper, I follow up the personal story from Jan. 21, 2021—buying with, and for, my wife the Thomas Nelson-published, Leathersoft “classic verse-by-verse, center-column, reference Bible” (New King James Version). Five days later, when an online video referred to Matthew 18:1, Anne asked about the narrative text being in red and Christ’s words in black. I looked. That’s not right.

So I perused and found that on some pages Jesus’ quotes were the expected “red letter”, while on others text was swapped black with the rest. Mmmm, what to do? I considered calling the Christian bookstore from where we purchased the Bible. But given how negatively SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns have affected small businesses and being a printing error, I contacted the publisher.

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Regarding ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Before my wife started watching the new series streaming from Hulu, I warned her: “I can’t imagine how I would feel if a woman”. I had already finished first hour “Offred” from the production based on 1985 tome The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Three episodes are online now—and their tone and timeliness are visceral and all too familiar, like was the Battlestar Galactica miniseries that followed the 9-11 terrorist attacks by two years. There is something that is too real, too possible—and, unlike the so-called Trump “Resistance”, I don’t refer to the current government in Washington, D.C. No imminent right-wing coup is on the horizon, as so many Liberals want to believe. That’s as fictional as The Handmaid’s Tale.

What’s disturbing is another kind of currency, which is largely lost in the torrent of “it could happen here” commentary: The plight of women portrayed in the series isn’t far removed from what many of them experience elsewhere in 2017. Not in some alternate-reality United States, but across swaths of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—if not both American continents and Europe. Severity may vary by degrees, but where on this planet isn’t there, at the least, some vestige of the subservient, objectified woman? Liberals, who as a class supposedly champion for the human rights of all people, shouldn’t ignore what is while obsessing about what might be for fear it could happen to them. 

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Sign of the Times

Two weeks ago, while walking around Hillcrest, my wife and I briefly stopped by the local, massive, used bookstore. To my surprise, the place was three-quarters emptied and going out of business. Yikes! I hadn’t shopped there for nearly a year, when purchasing a paperback for myself later given to my father-in-law. While 5th Avenue Books is gone, online counterpart Schrader’s Books will continue selling used titles through Amazon. As someone who almost exclusively reads ebooks, I occasionally—but, honestly, rarely—shopped out-of-prints not available in digital format, almost always finding the sought-after read.

That last purchase: The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert A. Heinlein, an old-time favorite selling for three bucks. When I first bought the anthology in high school, it came as a set with two other titles: Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love. During the last year of my father-in-law’s life, reading became his main recreation. I donated the Heinlein title to that cause. Following the 95 year-old’s death nine weeks ago, I reclaimed the book to read and as remembrance. 

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From Amazon’s Bookstore Risk Can Come Great Rewards

There is collective head-scratching across the InterWebs about a Wall Street Journal report that Amazon will open as many as 300, or even 400, stores selling books. The company’s massive success selling ebooks and the cost and selection advantages of warehousing their physical counterparts make the concept seem nonsensical. I contend that it’s brilliant.

Amazon is in process of expanding online services into the purview of local retail, which biggest competitive advantage is immediacy. In conjunction with the $99-per-year Prime program, the online retailer offers faster shipping; same day, and within hours, in some locales. The company increasingly contracts its own carriers, as well. Immediacy requires presence. What better location than a bookstore that also warehouses other goods and provides customer service operations? That’s all without considering the branding opportunities, which, as Apple Store demonstrates, can be huge. 

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Comic-Con Heroes: The Volunteer

Three more profiles, and the conclusion, remain before I release my ebook Comic-Con Heroes: The Fans Who Make The Greatest Show On Earth into the public domain, on July 8, 2015, after my current commitment with Amazon KDP Select ends. To recap: The tome features 12 attendees from the 2013 San Diego convention. This year marks my seventh, but I am a paying participant; for reasons I don’t understand, my press credentials weren’t recertified.

So far we have met, in order of appearance: The Dark Knight, The Fighter, The Collectors, The AcademicThe Nerd Culturist, The Writer,The Bicyclists, The Heroine, and The Time Lord. They represent a surprising cross-section of Comic-Con attendees, ranging from a toy anthropologist to a hopeful future storyteller. They’re all worth your attention. Place look back.