Les Miserables: Even After all These Years

My sister-in-law gave me Les Miserables (by Victor Hugo) for Christmas one year. It was a big book, a tome. But, I was curious. I hadn’t read the book, seen the movies or performances. Also, the story is over 100 years old (closing in on 200 years even) and I really like history. What better way to see history than from the words written by someone who was there.
Reading the book took awhile. I was glad my version of the book was translated by someone who took out some of the less relevant parts. Victor Hugo did go on about a lot of things, like the war which happened before the story in the book, the slang used in France 200 years ago and other things. The editor (Norman Denny) did not remove these sections from the book, but left it up to the reader to decide to read them or not. Which was good because Les Miserables is a very long book with a story which pauses frequently to discuss life and philosophy in what seems a roundabout way by current/ modern standards of book writing.

Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables almost 200 years ago.

Yet the story isn’t so outside of our own experience with broken families and trying to manage on a tight budget. I had expected the story to be more about poverty and drudgery. It wasn’t. It also was not just about a police chase. I had seen some of the Les Miserables movie made in the 1970s. The part I watched (before turning the channel) was all about Jean Valjean being tracked down by Javert. If this is your impression of the story you should read the book. There is more to it.

Which movie version of Les Miserables have you seen and which was your favourite?

I Want a Vintage/ Antique Library Cart

First, you should know, they are far more expensive than you would expect. (I was surprised). A new cart is also very expensive, plus there will be some assembly required with almost all of them. I can do the assembly, but… I’d still rather have an old cart assembled by someone else long ago. I don’t mind some wear, authentic wear, not contrived to look worn and aged. Fake aging is too artificial. Besides, wouldn’t an old cart be much happier cleaned up and given a fresh coat of paint? I don’t want a sad cart.

This one was on a site from the UK. Even pricier but I really like the look of it.

This one was found by someone else and done over. I would rather have it painted a nice showy red – make it look glamorous.

I found a few vintage/ antique carts online. Most are too expensive once you consider the shipping and the dollar difference from anything in the US. Paying double the asking price just doesn’t seem fair. Even when they say free shipping, that doesn’t mean they will stick to it when it comes to me.

So, I will continue to poke around on the Internet from time to time and see what I find.

The best bargain I could find online for a new book cart was from Wayfair. The company is new to Canada (or at least new to me in Canada). They offer free shipping and likely it is free shipping when it originates here. But, why is the price so much different just over the colour? I like the plain silver better than the white or black. I just think it’s odd. It’s not an old cart though, so no history to it. Likely I’d have to put the wheels on, if not more assembly. So… it is tempting. I’ve begun trying to let go some of my books and the cart would help in sorting them. Plus, I could keep it for the books I use most often and whatever I have on hand in fiction to be read.

A Happy Ending Isn’t Necessarily the Best Ending

I’ve always thought that for a book to be a word-of-mouth success, the reader has to turn the last page and be motivated in that moment to tell someone, “You have to read this!” But to me, that could be just as much because it inspired cathartic, body-shaking sobs as if it left me with a feeling of joyful elation. No matter what, it has to move me in some big, exciting, unusual way—and that, in itself, makes me happy.
A happy ending can also be very moving, making you cry at the end of a book. I especially like endings which leave me feeling stunned, in a good way. Endings which make me think on about the story, where it might go from there. Or, what alternative endings it could have had if this or that little thing had just gone differently.
Overall, I like an ending that haunts me. There are very few. I can’t even put it into words, though I’ve tried to do so just for myself even. A haunting ending is sort of a hopelessness, things which can’t be changed. Tragic and yet not an entirely bad ending, or sad. An ending where something is lost. That seems the best way I can describe it.

Have you ever written the ending to a story, before even planning the beginning? How would that work? Try it.

A Happy Ending Isn’t Necessarily the Best Ending

I’ve always thought that for a book to be a word-of-mouth success, the reader has to turn the last page and be motivated in that moment to tell someone, “You have to read this!” But to me, that could be just as much because it inspired cathartic, body-shaking sobs as if it left me with a feeling of joyful elation. No matter what, it has to move me in some big, exciting, unusual way—and that, in itself, makes me happy.

Source: A Happy Ending Isn’t Necessarily the Best Ending

A happy ending can also be very moving, making you cry at the end of a book. I especially like endings which leave me feeling stunned, in a good way. Endings which make me think on about the story, where it might go from there. Or, what alternative endings it could have had if this or that little thing had just gone differently.

Overall, I like an ending that haunts me. There are very few. I can’t even put it into words, though I’ve tried to do so just for myself even. A haunting ending is sort of a hopelessness, things which can’t be changed. Tragic and yet not an entirely bad ending, or sad. An ending where something is lost. That seems the best way I can describe it.

Have you ever written the ending to a story, before even planning the beginning? How would that work? Try it.

Book Clubs in Coffee Shops

I found a site asking Starbucks to add reading clubs/ books to their coffee shops. I think this is backwards. The book sellers need to bring in coffee, not the other way around. Coffee shops don’t have enough seating to really want a group of people hanging around and taking up space.

Smarter for a retail book seller to provide the coffee, books and space. Why don’t they evolve a room for public events? Make it cosy and enclose it (with glass doors to keep out sound but leave everyone a view). The store could promote the local book clubs. Offer members a discount on whatever the upcoming book is (and make sure they have it in stock ahead of time too).

The big chain book stores here (in Ontario) do have a coffee shop attached to them, a Starbucks. But, they don’t go the extra step of giving it a local group appeal. There isn’t enough seating and people are discouraged about shopping between the stores, due to theft, vandalism and accidents.

What do you think?

Donate Your Books to Prisons (in Canada)

Canadian resources/ organizations which send books (fiction and non-fiction in good condition, no hardcovers) to prisons/ inmates in Canada.

You can find out more from the post on PEN Canada – Prisoners’ Right to Read. There is also a mailing label you can print out to go along with any  books you send. Note – books can not be sent directly to an inmate, but publishers, libraries and organizations (see above) can do so.

Of course you can’t send any book, on any topic or anything which describes criminal activity. However, you can send books which will help inmates learn (or improve) their reading skills. You can also send non-fiction. Think about all those gardening, cooking, history and science books which you haven’t looked at in years.

Catalogue Your Books

This doesn’t really help me because I know I am not going to spend all that time digitally scanning my books or listing them on a web site (especially a secondary site which could disappear without notice).

I do agree with most of the reasons for cataloguing your books. I get annoyed with myself each time I realize I have two (three even in a couple of cases) copies of the same book.

Also, I did have a water tank burst and ruin a lot of books I had kept in the basement. Luckily the water left enough behind for me to estimate a value for the insurance. (But it doesn’t really replace the books and I spent the money on something else rather than looking to replace the damaged/ ruined books I had to throw out).

For me the smartest thing  would really be eliminating a lot of the books I am keeping (hoarding) on my shelves.

I don’t keep non-fiction books once I have read them. That small decision, several years ago, helped me lose a lot of clutter.

Having your library accessible in an app or doc means never forgetting what you already own and never purchasing unwanted duplicates.

If you ever lose the library due to fire, flood, or other disaster you can use the list to rebuild your collection and (depending on your insurance) possibly recuperate some of the money lost.

Share the list with your family/friends and they’ll never buy you a book you already own.

Track where/when you bought the book, and help preserve memories associated with the purchase.

STATS. Do you own more books by men or women; more sci-fi or historical; short story collections or novels; Americans or Brits? Inventory your entire library and find out.

Source: 8 Reasons to Catalog Your Books (and How to Do It)

Taking Ebooks Back to Books?

Is bookbinding a dead profession?

I hope not. At the very least I’d like to know there are still people who can repair and restore old books.

But, I’d really like to see bookbinding become popular – taking ebooks to a new level.

I almost never read any ebook I have downloaded. Maybe younger people will change their habits enough to include ebook computer time. I find I want a real book, paperback or hardcover, to take me away from the computer. I love reading in bed. I’ve always got a book in my purse to bring out while I have coffee somewhere, wait for a bus, or just find a time and place to read.

If the ebooks were on paper I might read them. But, I don’t really want more computer time when I am not working on computer/ Internet things. I’d read all those ebooks if they were converted into books. I wonder if something like that will come along some day?

bookbinders

Since 1983 the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild has worked to support the development of the book arts in Canada. This web site is dedicated to that effort. The book arts include bookbinding, artists’ books, papermaking, calligraphy, letterpress printing and typography, wood engraving, paper decorating, restoration, and conservation.

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild

Start a Personal Book Buying Ban

I have more books than I can read. I may have more books than I can read in my lifetime. I’ve done the math: amount of pages I can read in a day divided by the approximate amount of pages I have on my bookshelves. At the time I assumed 100 pages a day. I was 20-something and my life was different then. Now, depending on the book I’m reading and how obligated I feel to finish it or how much I actually like reading it… I may read 20 pages a day.

I’ve been better at limiting the fiction books. I finish them and take them to the secondhand bookstore. There, I can trade several books for one new (unread by me) book. This works well as long as I keep taking books in and don’t buy too many new fiction books at the big, shiny bookstores. Of course, the fresh, unread by anyone, books from the bookstores are tempting. Not only are they newly published but I can give myself the excuse of reading with a latte at the bookstore.

Non-fiction books are another story. I buy more than I need. Always thinking I will read and study them and use what I have learned. Good intentions. But, I end up with a lot of books I’d like to read sitting on my bookshelves. I have to work at not buying more non-fiction.

One thing I have learned is to know what I already have. Including which edition. I really get annoyed with myself when I find I have bought the same book twice.

4. The TBR is your friend. Treat your TBR like a pop up bookstore. Don’t agonize, just pick one. But here’s the trick: if you don’t like it, move on quickly to the next book until you find one that scratches your new book itch. The problem with the TBR is that it can feel like a chore, whereas a new book is thrilling. So don’t force yourself to stick with something if it isn’t working. Keep plowing through until you hit on one that you can’t put down.

3. Review your shelves and donate books you no longer need. This sounds counterintuitive, but it reduces the TBR and provides a visceral reminder of how much privilege is implied by the idea of having to work hard not to buy something that many people consider a luxury, in comparison to medicine, food, or rent.

2. Reorganize your book shelves. Maybe according to date, or color, or some other funky scheme. Or at least dust them. I guarantee you’ll have a new appreciation for what you already own. And it might pique your interest in a forgotten, unread purchase, or send you down several miles of memory lanes with old favorites.

Source: 10 Painless Ways to Stick to Your Book Buying Ban

Time to End Picture Book Blogging?

I think its time to stop posting images with every post for the sake of having an image with every post. Unless your site is showcasing your art, illustrations and photography, most of the images posted are just decoration. How many stock images do you really need to see in a day?

We are adults, we read books without pictures on every page. Usually the only pictures are on the book cover. Magazines and newspapers run images with articles but not random, meaningless images. Isn’t it time to put away the pretty pictures in our sites too?

Unless an image is required to illustrate a point or give directions, why are they needed? I know people think the images help with SEO, but do they really?

Want your site to load faster, dump the picture book images.

Often the image is something barely relevant to the topic. It does nothing but add colour. We are not children. We don’t need colourful picture books.

Treat your readers like the adults they are and put away your picture book blogs.