Saturday, July 17, 2010


Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Except for
your favorite book series, which as we all know must go on forever.

I was thinking about this the other day when I finished "The Silver
Mage"  the fifteenth and last book in Katharine Kerr's Deverry
series. On the one hand, I'll miss visiting her wonderfully detailed
world and it's characters. On the other end, it should be the
author's choice as to how and when they stop writing about their
creations. And I'd rather have all the threads of a series brought         
to a satisfying conclusion by its creator than to have them keep on 
writing it because it's profitable. That's when writing becomes an
industry, not a craft, and I think it's pretty easy to spot when a
writer reaches that point, because there's a certain spark missing
from their writing.

Of course there's the other sort of ending for a series, the one
where its creator suddenly dies without having brought things
to that satisfying conclusion I mentioned in the last paragraph.
An example that comes to mind is Robert Jordan and his
"Wheel of Time" series which just seemed to roll on and on
right up to his passing. His fans worried that it would never be
completed. Luckily, Jordan's widow and estate had his notes
and outlines for the last three books and selected another
fantasy writer, Brandon Sanderson, to write them and bring
the series to a close.

There's some discussion if there is anyone who could continue
Robert Parker's Spenser or Jesse Stone series. I have to
confess I'm of two minds again about this. I am a big Spenser
fan and the thought of no more new novels with Spenser and
Hawk and Susan saddens me. But could anyone else write 
dialogue like Parker with the same wit and flair? I don't know.
Ironically, Parker himself completed "Poodle Springs", an
unfinished novel of the late Raymond Chandler.

And then there's the series that have become family traditions.
Anne McCaffrey's son Todd now writes novels set in his mother's
Pern universe, and Clive Cussler's son has begun co-authoring the
Dirk Pitt series.

So, what series are you a fan of that you will miss when they come to
their end, untimely or not?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


One of the things I've just started to work on with my book collection
is cataloging them using the Goodreads application on Facebook.
Back when my sister gave me her old AppleII GS, the first thing I
did with it was to do a book catalog and print it out on the dot-
matrix computer. I just liked the idea of having that list of books
I owned down on paper. Yeah, geeky, I know.

Goodreads works well. Besides putting together my list with it I
can display my library on my blogs which might generate comments
from people who've read the same books that I have.But rating my
books sometimes gives me pause. It's like trying to decide which
child is your favorite. I realize that those just keeping track of books
they've read can give a book they don't like 1 or even no stars, but
these are books I own, and why would anyone keep a book they
hate? So I end up rating my books with mostly 4 or 5 stars.

Another task I need to get around to is the actual organizing of the
books. While I may not put them in perfect alphabetical order (but
I really should, considering I work in a bookstore), I should at least

group all the books by an author together. Over the years I've gotten
in the habit of shelving the hardcovers and paperbacks separately.
So there's that to do as well. And it will make the cataloging easier.

I don't know how long this will take but it'll keep me out of trouble!

Friday, July 2, 2010


That would be whether I should give in and buy an ebook reader.

As my geneablog readers and Facebook friends might recall, I've
been very skeptical of ebooks. I love printed books, the feel of the
page, the art on the cover, the slow deliberate act of turning a page
to read.I've spent many hours in my life reading sitting inside or out.
I can't imagine a world where there are no printed books available
in libraries or bookstores, although there are those who assure us
that day is not far in the future.

But lately, I've been tempted.

One factor is my new apartment. I had to downsize my library
when I moved here, and I don't have the room to buy all the books
that have come out since the move that I'd like to buy. I eliminated
most of my history books, and as much as I love the sf, fantasy, and
mystery genres, I miss having books at hand about ancient history or
the middle ages. I could use the ebook reader to purchase those books
and books by new writers. However I'd still buy printed books by my
favorite authors.

Another factor is affordability. The prices have become to drop, and
there's an ereader out there on the horizon for $119.95. Some of them
come preloaded with one hundred classics.

A third factor is that some of them can have documents loaded onto
them. I could bore my co-workers with my family tree, blogposts,
poetry, and stories. "Here, see? That's the post I wrote about my
ancestors who....".

Of course there would be a limit. No Kindles or Nooks. They are,
after all, the competition.

So there's the question, and there's the arguments for making the
plunge into being an ebook reader owner.

I'm still deciding.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


A little earlier today I posted an entry over in "West in New England"
about my visit this afternoon to the Abington Public Library. That post
was mostly about the layout of the building, getting my library card,and
exploring the history section there with an eye towards my genealogy

Now I want to talk about something else.

In my younger days I'd visit the three nearby Boston branch libraries
near me with my newspaper delivery bag because there were so many
books I wanted to take out I needed something to carry them home in
(and the bag made it easier to start reading a book as I walked home).

As I got older, there was that high I'd get out of haunting the college
library racks and the bookstores in Harvard Square and finding a book
that made me go "wow!" before I borrowed or bought it. I got the same
rush out of finding a book as the kids after me did out of discovering a
hot video game. I was the proverbial "kid in the candy shop". And of
course, I've been working in a bookstore for most of the last twenty
one years.

You know what they say about working in a candy shop?

Don't get me wrong, I love being a bookseller, and I am dang good
at it, but the "wow" moments are lessened when you see the same
titles on a daily basis. And needless to say, I don't have the time to
browse the shelves when I'm working, which is why I used to like
sorting the incoming stock. I had the chance to get a quick look at
everything that came into the store. 

But today, wandering the stacks of Abington Town Library, I had
several "wow" moments:
Will Durant's eleven volume "The Story of Civilization" .
Winston Churchill's six volume "History of the Second World War"
Francis Parkman's books on the French and  English in North America
William Prescott's "Conquest of Peru"
Samuel Eliot Morison's books on Plymouth and the Bay Colony
Best of all, a whole slew of the Edward Rowe Snow books I read as
a kid fifty years ago!

I think I need a newspaper delivery bag again.