This blog, published free of charge since September 2007, is a way for me to stay in touch with seasonal bookstore visitors from afar and with all customers and friends when I am closed during the winter. My annual seasonal retirement will begin this year on November 1, and I expect to be back and open again by June 2021. Meanwhile, thank you so much for following Books in Northport and for supporting Dog Ears Books.
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Monday, November 9, 2015
Different Pace and Content: Work at Home
the weekend I read through the latest Bookforum (disorientingly
labeled the “December/January 2016” issue), reading that began between
customers at my bookshop on Saturday and continued early Sunday morning,
stopped for Sunday breakfast, and ended finally mid-morning on a sunny November
day at home. I read parts of a couple pieces aloud to David after breakfast as we
enjoyed a leisurely start to a day that would be largely consumed by home
improvement work, but mostly I read quietly to myself, pen in hand.
of the things I enjoy about reading Bookforum and the New York
Review of Books
is that they are not books, and therefore (this is the payoff) I can let myself
underline with impunity, guiltlessly, compulsively, even with a sense of
performing a serious readerly duty, in much the way I once marked up and made
my own xeroxed copies of scholarly philosophy papers handed out by professors
in graduate school. In those days, when the books were my own and not borrowed
library copies, I even underlined and made marginal notes in bound
because those texts, in those days, were my work. Casual reading was
not an option: sharp focus was essential. Reading and forgetting would be time
lost: I wanted to be able to relocate main lines of argument quickly, along
with the writer’s points of support.
graduate school habits return when I read literary reviews in magazine form.
What praise is the reviewer bestowing, and why? What is criticized, and how?
What criticisms leveled by others does this reviewer mention and then either
confirm or reject? Finally, in the end, has the reviewer convinced me to read
the book – and with what particular words? Reviewer Leslie Jamison on Sunday
gave me an eagerness to read Mary Gaitskill’s The Mare, an eagerness I had
not felt when reading a couple other reviews elsewhere of the same book.
Bookforum and NYRB also contain whole
pages of new release ads from various publishers. Pen in hand, I circle
promising titles. That is part of my work these days, in the bookseller stage
of my life.
year’s October excitement for us at home was the long-awaited installation of
seven new windows in our old farmhouse, along with removal and replacement of
one wall’s old insulation and exterior siding. Now begins the do-it-ourselves
phase: getting bedroom walls prepped and freshly painted. And so my Sunday –
reading and underlining, big breakfast, then up and down ladders with rags and
tools. Later, time outdoors with Sarah and a run to Northport to retrieve
Chaucer and nip into the grocery store for more eggs so I could make stuffing
for Sunday roast chicken. Tonight will be chicken pie.
quickly November days reach an end! And long before they end, how sharply the
temperature drops as the sun begins its afternoon drop in the west! First,
“Already cold!” followed by “Already dark!”
good to have plenty of books (and the promise of more), and it’s good to have
stout, tight new windows, too, as days grow shorter and winter comes near. When
the painting project is finished and the room put back together, walls a clean, calm, restful cocoa color, it will be
good to have quiet mornings again, as I had last winter, with the fictional
characters of my own creation. We were not together much over the summer, but
perhaps I begin to see them more clearly for our time apart. Anyway, I’ve
missed being with them. I will, of course, be back at the bookstore tomorrow, Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sarah will be there, too.