Love Letters to Jersey 1932

I enjoy finding interesting things tucked into books that come into Classics.  I’ve found money, four-leaf clovers and personal checks written by witches.

My favorite, though, was found in a book of poetry in written by Richard Nixon (not THAT Richard Nixon, the other one).  There was a bunch of ephemera in it and as I went through it a story of lost love emerged.

First, I find, tucked between pages 22 and 23, a postcard that had written on it

“My Christmas thought/ Could not be bought.  /I searched the city through.  A sorry guest, / For the very best / Were none to good for you.  Richard.  Paris 1932.”

Second, later in the book, I find a typewritten letter, written from Paris on New Year’s Day addressed

Dearest Clarice.

You complain that I never open my heart.  Let us take the fanciful case of a man who after many years finds his soul face to face with a woman he once loved,–a woman presumably in love with a perfectly good husband to whom she reads her letters.  Such a man might well hesitate to unlock his heart, tho he might paraphrased Browning a little and say, Open my heart and you will see /  Graven upon it only Thee.  So it ever was, so shall it ever be.

“No, I didn’t stay on in Jersey beyond the merrie month of May, having finally been driven out of that terrestrial paradise by the Demon of Loneliness.

I was cheered by your news that this has been a successful year for Melvin and I hope that good humor in which you are ending it will extend far enough into the new one to stimulate you to write me again and soon.  Stella Farwell write me from New Orleans that you had been there twice since last spring, looking younger and handsomer than ever.  No wonder you are in such good humor, with a good husband who has had a successful year and with Time treating you like a spoiled child.

Later in the book, there is a Christmas card from Richard “with much love.”

Finally, there is a wedding invitation

“Mr. Richard Nixon has the honor to announce his marriage to Madame A Lelu in Paris on September Twenty-sixth, 1940.”

Photographing Caroline Gibson, by Ricardo Barros

Caroline Gibson with Rawhide Mask

I believe that, if you make room for them, good things will happen in your life.

Caroline Gibson and I had never met before I photographed her. I had no expectations of the imagery we produced at our first meeting. In fact, I thought it was me who was doing her a favor. My wife, Heather, had seen Linny’s artwork and wanted to help her by arranging for its exhibition at a nearby art center. Heather ‘volunteered’ my services to produce newspaper publicity prints for that show.

Linny knocked on our door after dinner one evening and proceeded to unpack her artwork in our living room. She was employed by a local hardware store. The pieces she laid on our rug blended off-the-shelf, hardware inventory with organic materials such as leather, wax, and sticks. They suggested rituals, perhaps those of a priestess, even though some of it was discomforting for me.

I sensed Linny’s integrity and responded to the intensity of her passion. I found myself unpacking more and more equipment. Soon our living room was cluttered with my photo gear and her artwork. My pictures, which were supposed to depict her artwork, evolved into images of Linny interacting with her sculpture. Ultimately one of these photographs became her portrait, although I didn’t recognize it as such at the time. The next day I simply made Linny’s publicity prints, archived the negatives, and moved on to address other concerns.

Years later, when searching for photographs to include in an exhibit of my own, I rediscovered this image. This time I was able to see this portrait in a different context. It helped me realize that those who follow their passion are on the road to self-discovery. I learned that when people fuse Inspiration with Integrity, they produce an expression of Identity.

Linny had left me a gift. She helped me learn that this is exactly what portraiture is all about. And, quite unexpectedly, my inadvertent, first, sculptor portrait eventually became the cover of my book, FACING SCULPTURE: A Portfolio of Portraits, Sculpture and Related Ideas.

Ricardo Barros

Ricardo’s book, FACING SCULPTURE: A Portfolio of Portraits, Sculpture and Related Ideas is on sale at Classics Books.  Learn more about Ricardo’s photography at http://www.ricardobarros.com/

 

Things You Should Do in a Bookstore

My friend sent me a list of things a bookseller posted of things NOT to do in a bookstore—don’t bring active kids, don’t bring in food, if you’re in a hurry don’t be mean to us, don’t talk on  cell phone.  What a whiner.

That’s not to say Classics Bookstore encourages food fights or rudeness, but please.  If you have to take a call, take a call.  If you are in a hurry, we will try and help.  If you are hungry, I have menus for the Hummingbird Jamaican restaurant, Big Easy restaurant and we convinced Settimo Cielo to deliver to the mystery aisle.  Just clean up after yourself and we’re good.

So rather than list all the things you SHOULDN’T do in a used bookstore, here’s a list of what you SHOULD do.

Ask us if you can’t find something.  Don’t be shy.  Looking for your favorite genre, your favorite author, a recommendation for something to read ?  We can help.

Read books to your kids while you are here.  We love to hear parents reading to kids in the back.  This is not a library where you are going to be hushed.

It’s okay to talk about your Kindle.  The books at Classics have a good self esteem!  They aren’t threatened by eBooks any more than stairs are threatened by escalators.

Tell us about the books that you love.  People who shop in bookstores (especially used bookstores) are the best people in the world.  They are smart, they are good people, and passionate about what they love.  Of course we want to hear about the book you are reading–why do you think we work in a bookstore?

Have Fun.  Because, really, if you aren’t having fun at least once in a while, you are not doing something right.

Want a place be surrounded by books?  To talk to the best people in New Jersey?  To catch a game of Scrabble or Uno?  To hang out with old friends?  To meet new ones?  To help build a downtown?  To help get free books into the hands of local kids?  To join a community of excellent people?  Come to Classics Books in downtown Trenton.

There are lots of things you SHOULD be encouraged to do.

 

Uno

 

 

Neighborhood News October 2013

Classics Books Hidden Trenton page is updated. Check out all the nice things people said about us! (some was deserved!)  http://hiddentrenton.com/?p=14

Downtown Trenton has beautiful architecture.  The picture below is the Masonic Temple right around the corner on Barracks.  If you are visiting Classics o a Saturday afternoon, circle the block and take a look!

The Big Easy (around the corner on Warren Street) now delivers!

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Become a Bookseller-for-a-Day

Letter from author Sherman Alexie, from the ABA website:  http://www.bookweb.org/indies-first

September 1, 2013

Hello, hello, you gorgeous book nerds,

Now is the time to be a superhero for independent bookstores. I want all of us (you and you and especially you) to spend an amazing day hand-selling books at your local independent bookstore on Small Business Saturday (that’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 30 this year, so you know it’s a huge weekend for everyone who, you know, wants to make a living).

Here’s the plan: We book nerds will become booksellers. We will make recommendations. We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends’ books. Maybe you’ll sign and sell books of your own in the process. I think the collective results could be mind-boggling (maybe even world-changing).

I was a bookseller-for-a-day at Seattle’s Queen Anne Book Company when it reopened this past April. Janis Segress, one of the new co-owners, came up with this brilliant idea. What could be better than spending a day hanging out in your favorite hometown indie, hand- selling books you love to people who will love them too and signing a stack of your own? Why not give it a try? Let’s call it Indies First.

Grassroots is my favorite kind of movement, and anyway there’s not a lot of work involved in this one. Just pick a bookstore, talk to the owner (or answer the phone when they call you) and reach an agreement about how to spend your time that day. You’d also need to agree to place that store’s buy button in a prominent place on your website, above the Amazon button if you have one. After all, this is Indies First, not Indies Only, and it’s designed to include Indies in our world but not to exclude anyone else.

This is a great way to fight for independents—one that will actually help them. It’ll help you as well; the Indies I’ve talked to have told me that last year Small Business Saturday was one of their biggest days of the year, in some cases the biggest after the Saturday before Christmas—and that means your books will get a huge boost, wherever you choose to be.

The most important thing is that we’ll all be helping Independent bookstores, and God knows they’ve helped us over the years. So join the Indie First Movement and help your favorite independent bookstore. Help all indie bookstores. Reach out to them and join the movement. Indies First!

Yours in Independence,

Sherman Alexie, An Absolutely True Part-Time Indie

 

Bookstore People: Radio Hosts and Rockers

Yolanda “Landy” Robinson

The spirit behind Living a Powerful Life, Landy is a Life Coach who seeks to empowers her clients to release that which no longer serves them. She is a force in Trenton: Host of On the Reel Radio (which you can listen at Listen in @ www.wifiam1460.com), the muscle behind In Her Shoes, emcee of the African American Day Festival, creator of the Adult Prom and supporter of all things Trenton.

When you catch her at Classics, you will find her talking to everybody who walks in—an instinctual host even when she isn’t on the radio!

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Ian Gentles

Lead singer of the rock group the Working Class Hussies, Ian is the only man I know who can rock out to the lyrics of School House Rock.  A songwriter, musician, and singer, Ian he has over three hundred completed original songs, recorded at his recording studio, known as the ‘Tree House.’

When you catch Ian at Classics, you will either find him playing Axis and Allies in the back, with guitar and drum kit in the mystery aisle or reading books about World War 2.

Watch his Classics video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Kj1CtvibWM

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Why Used Books Are The Best

Classics customers know why used books are the best.  They are half price and cheaper (no $34 hard-backed mystery novels), they are good for the environment (how many stores sell almost all recycled goods?) and they are good for the community (coming, as used books are, wrapped in used bookstores–which are more likely to encourage local authors, literacy programs, poetry jams, games nights, book clubs, knitting groups and hanging out with your neighbors).

In addtion, used bookstores are that sexy, dishevelled neighbor who actually wants to talk to you over a cup of coffee, rather than that uptight car salesman who wants your $30 and get out of his face.

Huffington Post has a list of 13 reasons you should always buy used books.  You can read it here.

 

 

How to Describe Your Book in 25 Words or Less, by Jessica Eppley

As an author, one of the most common things people ask me is “What is your book about?” It is a pretty legitimate question, yet almost every time I stumble through a response that does not really answer the person’s question. I’ll state that it is a young adult fantasy, the protagonist is female, and it is part of a series, but I’ve never been able to belt out a homemade synopsis on the spot.

As strange as this may sound, I don’t think it is all too uncommon for a writer or an artist or anyone else who creates for a living to have a hard time talking about their work. The reason for this? To us, this creative work is an incredibly intimate and personal aspect of ourselves. It is like a diary we are literally allowing the world to open it up and read. We are permitting you to see us naked, to take in every detail, and to judge us for both our strengths and weaknesses.

I write in the privacy of my own mind and I keep my creations close to me. I invest emotionally in my characters and the world they live in. I cry with them, I laugh with them. When one of them dies, I feel loss. They are very real to me and I am protective of them. It is a feeling akin to that I can imagine a mother feels. The first time one of my books becomes available to the public, I feel like I am watching my child board the school bus for the first time. I am full of pride, apprehension, dread, and joy all at once. I am terrified that it will fail, that people will laugh at it, yet I am beyond proud of my work and astonished that I was able to come this far with it.

I hope to overcome this hiccup in my publicity skills someday, but I pray that I will never lose that humility when it comes to my work. I pray that I will never fall to commercialism no matter how well my book does, and that my heart and soul will remain within my work. I hope I will always write for myself first and my audience second. Even though ultimately I want my audience to accept my work, I do not want to lose touch with what makes me a unique writer. So yes, I am shy when it comes to talking about my work, but that is because my work is so dear to me. Believe me, I will do my best to answer your questions! In the meantime, if you want to know more what my books are about than what I can tell you, I suggest you read them and find out for yourself!

Jessica’s book, The Book of Saivon, is young adult fantasy with a female protagonist, and is on sale at Classics!  Follow Jessica on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Book_of_Siavon.

Eppley

Staff Picks: Bruce Bentzman

Bruce Bentzman, blogger at the British poetry webzine Snakeskin and author of Selected Suburban Solliquies (available at Classics), mans Classics every Tuesday and Wednesday from 12 noon to 2 pm.

Recently, he went on a mission to find 20 books currently on the shelves at Classics he would recommend.  He would love it if you dropped by and talked to him about his list.

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

2. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

3. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

4. Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

5. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

6. Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse

7. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

9. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

10. The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

11. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

12. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

13. Black Spring by Henry Miller

14. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

15. Nightwings by Robert Silverberg

16. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

17. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

18. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

19. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

20. Pudd’nhead Wilson  by Mark Twain

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