Bruce Bentzmann is a man of letters, in several sense of the word. His dream is to own a used bookstore where he doesn’t have to worry about the rent. He writes poetry, short stories and hand written letters to a number of friends. He writes essays for SnakeSkin Poetry which he has collected into a book called Selected Suburban Soliloquies (available at Classics).
Contrary to Classics orthodoxy, and the hard-charging bingoing of his wife Barbara Keogh, Bruce cannot stand playing Scrabble. His argument is that Scrabble is a game that disrespects words. He is bothered that a real working vocabulary isn’t as important as memorizing the list of words that are so esoteric that they are almost only used in on the Scrabble board—“qat,” “za,” “ourie.”
When you visit Classics you will find Bruce behind the counter, talking about anything that crosses his mind–from the latest book he is reading to fountain pens to fortune cookies.
Leah Alabrè found a $20 bill inside a $6 Charles Dickens book at Classics Books last Saturday, making it undoubtedly the best value for your money. My theory? Some book-loving Willie Wonka is planting $20 golden tickets in various books at Classics for you to find.
Poet and activist Caitlin Fair is spearheading Books and Breakfast at Classics once a month, where free food and books are provided for all community members who would like to feed their mind and their stomach!
Barbara Keogh won the shortest game of Scrabble ever played at Classics. She played one word, for 100 points, and everybody else quit the game. The word? “quitted”
The hotel across the street from the bookstore has its grand opening this week as a Wyndham! If you haven’t been inside the lobby it is very nice. Come down on a Friday night and take a look when you swing by the store.
Classics has begun to sell classic used games (Scrabble, Pictionary, Cranium, Mastermind, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Outburst, Jenga). Come spice up family game night without spending $60 a game.
A guy comes into the bookstore and asks, “Do you have a paperback copy of Fast Times at Ridgemont High?” I can’t remember ever having seen it, but we root around for a bit but can’t find it.
I thought that was weird since that movie came out 30 years ago, but whatever.
Two hours later, another guy comes in and asks for a Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And then another guy. And the next day a woman. I thought, “This is what going crazy feels like.”
The mystery was solved when we found turns out some Antiques Roadshow program mentioned that the paperback Fast Times at Ridgemont High was worth maybe $200 and bookstores often price is at $1 because it’s only a movie-tie in paperback.
You never know which book in the stacks has the golden ticket. Bookstores can’t be experts in every genre, so there’s always something that they missed.
I had a customer who grabbed a hardback Elizabeth Bowen off my shelves for $6 that turned out to be a first edition worth hundreds. After she bought the book, she gloated a bit—she knew what she had and that I had missed it.
The Bowen collector became a regular customer and a good friend. I like to think it was just the bookstore’s great selection of books and community involvement. But, at least part of it was the chance that she would find another overlooked first edition.
Whisper is the author of the book of poetry “I Have Arrived.” When you see her at Classics, it will be the first Saturday of the month and she will be reading her poetry in the back of the store at the Capital City Open Mic.
Whisper once said, “Poetry saved my life!! It rescued me from off of that ledge! One more ounce of negative energy and I would have jumped.”
Barbara is a Scrabble players’ Scrabble player. She plays on Friday nights and some Saturdays in Trenton at Classics Books, Tuesdays in Princeton and through FaceBook. A two-time Classics Tournament champion, Barbara is tough to play—but fun. She never gloats (well, almost never) and is pleasant to play if you are good or a beginner.
She is also an accomplished artist, turning parts of the bookstore into a gallery of her photos and paintings.
When you see her at Classics, she could be anywhere–at a Scrabble board, hanging her artwork or ringing up customers during the week.
Barbara’s most common quote? “Bingo!”
Photo by Bruce Bentzman
It was announced at Classics open mic that one of the singers that sang in January was called back for The Voice. You heard him at Classics first!
The Classics Scrabble club (notably Tim Walker) has mounted bookcases in wheels so we can easily move it for Scrabble and for the Open Mic. Come down and check this out!
FaceBook did a video of Classics activity. Check this out! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1466588953562237.1073741852.1424087047812428&type=3&uploaded=1#!/photo.php?v=10151816520737434&set=vb.660327433&type=2&theater
Friends of Classics Bruce Bentzman and Roger Long have distributed their children’s book. Read it for free here! http://www.simmers1.webspace.virginmedia.com/204nf.html
In case you haven’t been able to make it in the Classics lately, here’s what you may have missed.
16 of the best Scrabble players in the area met at the 14th Annual Classics Scrabble Invitational. Megan Iurilli reclaimed her crown as Grand Champion, Sarah Ohls came inches of winning her third Championship and Arthur Iurilli went from being a seat filler to coming in third.
Classics Open Mic comedian McKelle Kellz Barksdale went to Florida and won the 2014 Winter Shine Overall Standup Comedian. Says Kellz “I started in a bookstore with 13 people. If that isn’t a Testament to following what God puts on your heart I don’t know what is!!!” Guess what bookstore he was talking about?
Classics Open Mic musician Quincy Stallworth video performing one Saturday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNqbtWkjzaw&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Shoppers at Target had hackers steal data from up to 40 million credit and debit cards during the first three weeks of the holiday season. Shoppers at Classics Books & Gifts had no data stolen. Shop local!
For all the folks who have supported Classics in the past and will in the future, we wanted to find a way to say “thank you.”
For $100, friends of Classics can get the following
- $100 gift certificate for used and rare books
- 30% discount on any cash purchase of used or rare books in 2014
- $100 in credit will be donated to the Trenton Books at Home Program, which provides FREE books for Trenton kids
- An invitation to the annual Big Shots Thank You Party which features food, drink, books, games and the best people in New Jersey