Tag Archives: books

Summer Reading


Wine Country Books in the House! We have been back East.

Much like the cobbler’s children have no shoes, the Wine Country Books family rarely gets to read for pleasure much less purchase an actual book new in the shop.  However, in the airport on our way to catch our flight, these tireless advocates for public libraries and reduced clutter were suckered into two delicious looking paperbacks to read on the plane. Sigh.

I made it about 100 pages into Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and then moved on to Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern.

I loved Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day. Then there’s that Pulitzer seal on the front. This one has to be good, right? But anyone who has read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, watched The Expanse on Amazon / SYFY, or knows about Soylent Green (thinks they) can see where this is going. I am just not up for another round. I know I will have to skim or skip to the end, or read some reviews, to try and figure out whether to finish it up or just pass it on.

So I moved on to Summer Hours at the Robbers Library. This book requires slight suspension of disbelief- what are the chances this configuration of this type of outsider and loser will not just share space but actually get to know and come to care about each other? The first few pages were a slight slog, but keep going til you get to the library. The book is so far very satisfying in its plot and characters, with perfect levels of emotion and rate of reveal about each character’s past and problems.

Just my two cents. Either way, $30+ this reader will never get back. At least I have paperbacks to share with any reading friend who would like a copy.

Email me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail and I will send you the Ishiguro free.

Click Below to get your copy of Summer Hours at the Robbers Library on Amazon.

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Filed under American, books and movies, British, contemporary fiction, England, free, reviews, Summer Reading, the public library, travel, United Kingdom, what I'm reading, Women writers

Firsts the Book Collector’s Magazine Back Issues February 1998 The Book Business is Changing

If you are a collector or book lover, you may find our vintage copies of Firsts the Book Collector’s Magazine interesting or helpful.

All are priced $7 with free shipping in the US. All are in very good or better condition.

For shipping outside the US please contact us at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail.

February 1998 contains articles including

Women of the New West – Kingsolver, Hogan, Erlich

The Firsts Guide to Grading Books Part 1 “Firsts begins its series on grading books with the best condition, very fine…”

Collecting Howard Norman – Northern Lights, The Bird Artist, fascinating stories, children’s books and translations of Eskimo and Northern Native American folk tales…

Book Hunting in Cyberspace


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Filed under American, book collecting, contemporary fiction, firsts the book collector's magazine

Firsts Magazine Back Issues February 1999 or When Everything Changed

fk96jmfFebruary 1999 is a fun issue – the risks, beauties and tomfoolery of purchasing collectible books on eBay is a good read nearly 20 years later. $7 includes shipping within the US and great articles including

Collecting William F. Nolan

The Many Lives of Norman Mailer “Charming, pugnacious, arrogant, brilliant, fearless, Mailer has always been controversial…”

The Power of Access “Booksellers who have access to the Internet have speedy, easy access to information about books and a place to interact…”

The Internet Follies, or Dancing on eBay


If you are a collector or simply love a particular author, I have a select few back issues of Firsts the Book Collector’s Magazine in very good condition.

Firsts sells these on their website; as mine are used, I will of course drop the price.

All prices include shipping and handling within the US. Outside the US, contact winecountrybooksnapa at gmail to inquire about international shipping rates.



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Filed under Antiquarian, book collecting, firsts the book collector's magazine, the book business

Military History January; Headcount February?

Happy New Year!

In January, 89% of Wine Country Books sales were military history books. H’m, wonder what social currents are at play at this time? Train! Prepare! Be ready!

Our first sale of February is a book of essays analyzing the way African Americans have historically been portrayed in photography.

‘Tis the season when we remember that the history and current reality of our nation, our communities, our personal lives, rests on rather poor representation for Americans who did not win the demographic lottery.

One of the low risk – high yield things we can do to ease the divisions and harm done in American society is actively seek out narratives from people we don’t hear from or see much in mainstream media.

It goes hand in hand with doing the headcount, another easy step those of us distressed about injustice can take to start getting acquainted with the who what why.

Caveat! Diversity does NOT mean equality. I am just talking about gathering information over time.

I know the in-person headcount is kind of tough when many of us live in bubbles of people pretty much exclusively just like us.  That is our bellwether that something is wrong.

Perhaps we have “that one friend” or coworker who is in a wheelchair, or aged, or of African or other nonwhite descent, or dealing with loss, chronic illness, mental health issues, gay, name it. Here’s why this is not as helpful as we might think. That one unique person cannot, does not, and probably is sick to death of people asking / expecting them to, embody or speak for the experience of the larger group.

Perhaps we were raised to see people as people. Perhaps we ourselves have struggled with poverty, with abuse by institutions or persons of power in our lives, or even attack or abuse by people from one of those groups. But humanity is humanity, and we have forgotten that, somehow, and regressed into biologically programmed behaviors without examining those behaviors’ impact on ourselves and those in other walks of life.

So you can do the headcount in a low risk, high yield way, too.

Begin to notice – how much of the news and entertainment we consume features authors, characters, or narratives about and created by people who are different from us?

If a particular group- people over 50. Women (in leadership roles or college or pro athletics, this is big). People of native, indigenous, African or Latin descent. People with chronic illness, a difference in processing or physical difference, differently oriented people- is x% of the population of a city or state or nation,  shouldn’t they be getting, at minimum, x% of representation, jobs, publication, money in the media we consume, the people we hire, the people we elect to represent us, the businesses we buy from?

It takes time to absorb. And it is easy to misstep. This is because cognitive dissonance  – constantly moving goalposts regarding okay / not okay, constant difference between the dominant narrative and what individuals experience – is the rule, the very foundation of American society for so long. Divided, a few of us stand and thrive, and the rest of us fall. And some of us have been falling generation after generation after generation.

Watch. Read. Notice. Question- do your research. You’d be surprised how much you can learn just by typing your question into Google. I got the best stuff, for example, when I typed in “Why aren’t these jokes funny?”

Synthesize or assimilate information for yourself. Take your time. Best wishes and happy reading.



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Filed under 1940s, African, American, Antiquarian, military, social currents

What’s it worth?


Part deux of the amazing journey that has been the last two months was going to my parents’ house to pack up twenty years’ worth of inventory. They had been waiting a year for me to come and get them so they could reclaim their basement and garage, both wall to wall books, with my Dad’s desk squeezed into a little tiny corner. I mean… so. many. books.

My mother and I sat for days checking the prices of the books, donating those that might not fetch enough to justify the expense of shipping them across the country. It was an endless process. I might be blissed out and zen one moment, and so anxious I was sick at my stomach the next. I flipped out on a daily basis, afraid I might not have time to get them shipped before the day I hoped to go see my best friend in NC or even before I had to be back in Wine Country a few days later so that I could be with the kids when my husband left for work travel. In a way it was traumatic. But then, even in the throes of it all, I would step back and look at it and think, Heck. Sitting in the comfy chair, surrounded by my parents’ books, plus their quirky book-related souvenirs and artwork?  Pleeeease don’t throw me into that briar patch!

We went through SO MANY BOOKS.  So many lovely, lovely books, from esoteric subjects to popular fiction, from beautiful valuable old ones, to an eclectic assortment of more recent ones.  What a delight it is to just sit surrounded by books. If it weren’t for the rush to get done I would have been in heaven. (Now that I have the books home, i pretty much AM in heaven when I am working with them. I hate leaving them to eat, even. The online bookselling weightloss solution?)

It was quite a journey emotionally, historically and culturally as well. Many of the books had touched my family in some way. These books represented estates sold by heirs after their loved ones died. They represented my childhood. My grandfather’s career in the early days of computers and digital communication.  My father’s career in conservation of natural resources. My mother’s aesthetic and good taste, and the books my parents shared with me when I was a kid,  Zane Grey westerns or the Kristin Lavransdatter series, my grandmother’s love of cats, angels, Sweden and all things British. They represented the history of and impact upon two generations who served in two very different wars.  The cultural shifts of the glamorous fifties, the erudite and earnest sixties, the droll and disillusioned seventies. They represented the wax and wane of the art of design and production of books and dust jackets.

So, so many good books, from the esoteric to the popular, from lushly decorated turn of the century books, to sophisticated block print effect of thirties dust jackets to fifties pulp fiction-esque covers to the photographic dust jackets of today. I got to know some of those dear departed whose estates wound up in my parents’ inventory pretty well too, like the old minister from Denbigh or the woman who had kept a few treasured childhood titles with her all her life, as evidenced by her name in the front growing from careful childish block letters to graceful to shaky yet still genteel cursive.

And here is what I learned.

The worth of a book is absolutely, stunningly, situational and arbitrary. The most authoritative book in some field of knowledge might not be worth a thing in the marketplace. A book someone in my family or one of those dear departed had treasured for its beauty, age or content, might be worth nothing- suffering the ignominous fate of the one cent or one dollar book..And here is the corollary: Even if your signed Stephen King is worth thousands of dollars, if nobody is willing to pay what it’s worth, its worth is greatest as a paperweight, or firewood as one of the authors in ‘the biz’ likes to say..

As a public librarian in a small southern town I found that people will donate their most tattered paperbacks, their moldiest hardbacks, their children’s battered and sticky picture books, their 30 years’ worth metric ton of National Geographics. We couldn’t use them in the library and sometimes people didn’t understand. It’s a BOOK! How could it not be worth putting in your collection? Someone could still read that! (That is a conversation for another day.) The pokiest, boringest, embarrassingly 70’s/early 80’s cover illustration-est book- It was like it was made of gold. it is touching the way people hold their books in such awe and feel they are ‘still good’, a real gift, when they give them away. It is also a storage nightmare.

In the selection process at my parents’, so many times I looked at a book and said Well that one’s a classic of Southern Literature or children’s literature or biography or what have you. Then we would look it up and it wouldn’t be worth the cost to ship it back to Wine Country, and we would send it back where it came from- the thrift store, the friends of the library book sale, and so on. And then I would skeptically look up a book in cheap brown or manila paperback- some ridiculous subject like the proceedings of a symposium on some little known woodpecker- and it would be going for a hundred dollars.

Go figure.

Donating so many  (SO MANY)  because they did not make the cut was incredibly humbling. People pass on, and their books survive them. Each book represents someone’s life, their education, their profession, their aspirations, their relationships with others, what they enjoyed, what they believed in.  Throwing away a book feels like disregarding a life.

As a friend pointed out, what a perfect new direction for me! Here is the irony. For many years I devoted my career, and then my household organizational efforts, to making sure we had just enough of just the right books, and ruthlessly discarding those that would no longer serve..Then, when I have finally been able to adjust to life outside, that is outside the library/information profession, I am covered in a veritable Alpine avalanche of BOOKS! It must be a circle of hell, having to choose between this book that made the cut and this book that didn’t. The IRONY!

But what a joy it is, too, to have my own collection that I can truly manage. As a library director I didn’t have time to manage like i would have liked (and had a good bit to learn about public library collections to boot). As a branch manager I was under the supervision of the collection developer up at Main Branch. Now- it’s mine, all mine!

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Filed under wine country books