Sunday, May 24, 2020

Bookstores, libraries, and All This

Before All This, my dear Horn Book colleague Cindy and I went on a field trip to a number of bookstores and libraries and took pictures for a planned article about, in short, creative shelving; we also put out a call to booksellers and librarians for their own photos. The exact purpose of the article morphed, because All This came and everything morphed. But we're proud of what it morphed into: Books beyond buildings, about the why and how of supporting bookstores and libraries these days, with resources gathered by intern Mikayla.

The photos we took show how, within their buildings, booksellers and librarians help readers find their way to information, education, entertainment, and comfort. Over the past few months, as pretty much everyone needs at least some of those things, they've found ways to do that beyond their buildings.

A lot of what I know about books, the book industry, and readers comes from my years at Brookline Booksmith. When it became clear this year that I wasn't going home for Passover, my Haggadah came from there, too.

Support bookstores and libraries, booksellers and librarians. See here for some ideas.






Sunday, April 12, 2020

Things I've learned lately


  • Focusing on reading (or on anything) is hard when a situation like this is new, but it gets easier.
  • A little extra writing time is a good thing.
  • Restricting yourself can teach you a lot about physical description via what you want to do and can't. For instance, my instincts have taught me that "she pressed her hand to her mouth" is a realistic way to convey that a character is stressed out.
  • The world of e-books and digital galleys is a useful one and a complicated one. (I will have learned more things about it soon.)
  • It is possible to be busy, to feel busy, or both in any situation. It's also possible to create a highly structured routine.
  • Meeting, reading, and talking is great over Zoom and the like. Singing in unison is less great, but sometimes still worth it.
  • Holidays that aren't perfect are extra-memorable.
  • Creating something silly really is good for mental health, as others have realized. (On a related note, Parodies for Charities proceeds are currently going to Americares.)
  • Breathing with a bandana over your nose will fog up your glasses.
  • I own more comfy t-shirts than I realized.
  • There are a lot of side streets I hadn't explored within walking distance of my home.
  • I'm hugely lucky in a huge number of ways.
  • There are amazing people in hospitals, nursing homes, grocery stores, pharmacies. Driving garbage trucks and delivery vehicles. Teaching classes online, livestreaming art, clapping or singing out windows. Doing essential or enriching things I hadn't thought of, and probably things I still haven't thought of.
I suspect there's more learning ahead, both while this is going on and when we try to get back to normal. Wishing you good health, good books, and good people to connect with.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Jo Didn't Start the Fire

When one is lucky enough to see song parodist Randy Rainbow and an excellent adaptation of Little Women in the same weekend, one writes a song parody. 

Little Women
Sisters four
Concord, Mass
Civil War
Beth’s bit—
I’ll admit
I about sobbed
Scorched dress
Sold hair
Who asked you, Professor Bhaer?
Pickled limes
Trying times
Greta was robbed.

Jo didn’t start the fire.
It was Amy’s rages
that destroyed the pages.
Jo didn’t start the fire.
No, she didn’t light it.
She just tried to write it.

*with apologies to Billy Joel