Archive for the ‘Commenter Dialogue’ Category


Monday, October 13th, 2008

We were all of an age, though I more so, talking about how we remembered book lore. I argued for webs of proper nouns, especially names because they are more easily checked for misspellings, and connected by moving information. Reader Steve mentioned Jonathan Spence’s book, Matteo Ricci’s Memory Palace, in which each of many rooms in the palace houses a subject. I haven’t read the book, but this seemed a useful device for assigning meaning to my connected facts.


Fig. #40+. How about granite bricks/blocks to house the subjects of one’s mind, especially as the b/b’s are varied in size, placement, and color but each necessary to the wall’s standing. I love this rock wall in Tenants Harbor.

Then, Eureka! (That is a little librarian joke.) I remembered the Dewey Decimal System. As a long ago library cataloger of books, I knew well Melville Dewey’s classification system for all of 1876’s knowledge which he divided up into 100 subject/parts. Could Dewey parts be like subject rooms? An aside: Dewey was a strange, if clever, man. For instance, he placed the subject women in the high 300’s between folklore and holidays, instead of with men in the low 300‘s. This particular ninniness was changed in later editions, but psychology is still a subset of philosophy.

I’m ordering Jonathan Spence’s Matteo Ricci’s Memory Palace. I love Jonathan Spence.  I don’t know of an introduction to the peculiarities of the Dewey Decimal System or any other classification scheme, but each has them. Any suggestions?

Why read? Reason #4: Readers make good conversation last longer and continue later.


Thursday, August 28th, 2008

The first fresh breeze of Fall is here today. The oak trees rustle heavily, the water ripples offshore (toward Harts Neck across the harbor), and the Queen Anne’s lace, past its prime but still willing, waves with the goldenrod. I haven’t seen a stand of blue asters or red sumac yet, but I haven’t driven 131 lately to check the ditches. All of this affirms that change can be beautiful.

Great conversation with bookstore visitors about medical diagnoses and misdiagnoses, how one becomes the other, especially over time, and what to do about it. Arrogance, denial, preconceptions, conclusions vs. hypotheses, no or too few consultations, too little continuing attention to other options were all in the air.  With different backgrounds, we had read Jerome Groopman’s How Doctors Think and were browsing Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough: Learning to Live In a Post Fact Society. I would not sell my copy of Manjoo because it was in hardcover (uninsulated Roseledge Books sells only paperback*) and because I was still reading it. “Is a bookseller a bookseller if she doesn’t sell the books sitting on the table?” It’s a question for the ages, surely.

Fig. #35. I love this reuse of granite bricks. Like a good book well read, the worthy applications are many.

Why read? Well, readers know more than people who don’t read. This means that readers have more options, that they have more interesting and more useful conversations, and that, with multiple perspectives at hand, they are more likely to have a sense of humor — all of which lead to a better life, says this bookseller, too smugly.

Now that I finally realized it was stalled for twelve days, the webcam is back on and aimed away from the window for an even better view of heaven.

*I do have Goodnight Bush (by Erich Origen and Gan Golan) in hardcover on my desk (Who can resist this “unauthorized parody?”); but it is not for sale either.


Sunday, August 24th, 2008

This is the 5th batch of treasures added this summer! Some of these are reorders due to popular demand. (My only other copy sold.) Julia Spencer-Fleming’s series with the Vicar and the Police Chief is the best example. Some are great new titles that add arguments, if not always luster, to local lore, e.g. Founding Mothers, Dinosaurs in the Attic, and how about Bernd Heinrich’s The Snoring Bird as an unexpected biographical joy? See you soon, but hurry. Season ends too soon.


Fig #5a. Summer at Roseledge Books is not done yet. More good reads just arrived.

Ehrlich, Gretel. This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland
Barley, Nigel. The Innocent Anthropologist : Notes from a Mud Hut
Dolan, Eric, Jay. Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America
Heinrich, Bernd. The Snoring Bird: My Family’s Journey Through a Century of Biology (P.S.)

Kurlansky, Mark. Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
Norman, Howard. The Bird Artist: A Novel

Preston, Douglas. Dinosaurs in the Attic: An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History
Roberts, Cokie. Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation
Ross, Dennis. Statecraft: And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World
Shreve, Anita. The Weight of Water
Spencer-Fleming, Julia. A Fountain Filled With Blood (A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery)

Spencer-Fleming, Julia. Out of the Deep I Cry (A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery)
Spencer-Fleming, Julia. To Darkness and to Death (A Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery)
Tey, Josephine. The Daughter of Time

Webb, James. Fields of Fire

The webcam still sits atop the same pile of four books, but the poplar branch is drooping lower and the high-bush blueberry bush branch is growing higher and, of course, bluer, so the view becomes more dappled and murky as summer winds down and daylight gives in.


Monday, August 18th, 2008

It’s been a great week of old (well, long-time) and new (two visits or second visit this summer) regulars refinding Roseledge Books. As always, we talked about important matters in and out of books.


Fig. #35. Lurking behind the unruly bush to lure walkers-by into Roseledge Books. You are never safe on Sea Street.

Of note:
**We discussed Roxana Robinson’s novel set in Maine, Cost: A Novel, and created a new genre: dysfunctional family chick lit.
**We agreed Lee Child’s The Enemy (Jack Reacher Novels) is our favorite Jack Reacher novel.
**The differing merits of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch (e.g. The Last Coyote (Harry Bosch)) and Reacher make comparisons difficult. Thinking fast of other edgy detectives who chafe at working “inside the box,” I was shouting “How about Ian Rankin’s Rebus (e.g. Resurrection Men: An Inspector Rebus Novel (Inspector Rebus Novels)), or C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett (e.g. Open Season (A Joe Pickett Novel))” as the boaters were escaping down the walk. They shouted, “Next summer,” and waved.
**Reader comment: Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is better than The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex because First-mate Chase’s report was self-serving.
**I learned about Tom Bissell and have ordered his Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia.

I was on the porch reading and trying, unobtrusively, to lure walkers-by who read into Roseledge Books. But the walkers-by were few. Last week may have been the peak week. The breeze is strong enough to make reading Ryszard Kapuscinski’s Travels with Herodotus (Vintage International), a trade paperback, a one-handed fight with flopping pages. And Daniel Silva’s The Secret Servant (Gabriel Allon) is a page-turner which makes looking up to watch the tide and the incoming sailboats a problem. So now I’m inside.

The high-bush blueberries may be the downfall of the cheeky chipmunk. He was ignoring available blue blueberries and sitting on the big rock he uses to crack the rose hips which apparently aren’t quite to his taste yet. A breakthrough, for sure. If it stays dry and rain-free for 24 more hours, my screen doors may close again.


Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

It’s a wonderful day in Tenants Harbor: soft sun, quiet breeze, cooing mourning dove (I think) and a harbor full of dinghies to welcome back lobstermen later in the day.

Fig. #33. (Picture from Fig. #26 repeated by accident, but I love it.) Nothing equals being here, but a picture is better than no picture, even if the lobster boats are back by the time of the picture.

The exciting news is that the first people to know about Roseledge Books through the blog came to the bookstore to look at books, sure, but really, I suspect, to find out if the webcam could be moved to the left so the dad could see his boat when he wasn’t here. The answer is “no, it can’t” because a dense curtain of trees is lovely to the left. We discussed David McCullough’s 1776 because, through main character Henry Knox, the book has big ties to Thomaston which is practically next door– or next town — to Tenants Harbor. He liked it better than others who have commented, but maybe that’s because he and his family summer here. Good grief! At this very minute, David McCullough is on public radio talking about 1776! I’ll listen for talk of Henry Knox, a Boston bookseller who married Lucy Flucker (pronounced Flooker, insists Scott, but I‘m not so sure), only child of Mr. and Mrs. Flucker, granddaughter (I think) of Mr. Waldo who, through the Waldo Patent, was granted, from the King of England, most of the land on the St. George River side of the peninsula, including Thomaston and beyond. But I digress.

Fig. #34. Old Tenants Harbor, but only to 1861, on Sea Street.

This week’s early strawberries may be the best they’re going to be and the tasty little carrots are the perfect hors d’oeuvres (sp?) size for the company coming or dropping by this holiday weekend. Must be a coming yacht club gathering or the annual hoo-ha of a local party-giver because the big tent is going up on the East Wind Inn lawn. Not many yachts have moored in the harbor yet; but then we’ve had nearly two weeks of fog. Finally, yesterday I could hang out my wash. There is nothing better than to lay one’s head on Maine-air-dried pillow cases.

My latest favorite mystery writer is Julia Spencer-Fleming who, through her characters Russ Van Alstyne, the police chief, and Clare Fergusson, the Episcoplian priest of Millers Kill, NY, solve murders within the larger investigations of human nature, small town life, and love. (See, for example, Julia Spencer-Fleming’s In the Bleak Midwinter; and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Out of the Deep I Cry)

I read Dana Vachon’s Mergers & Acquisitions to continue learning about finance through fiction, but the author wrote more about the greed and egos of the investment bankers involved. This I can get from the NYTimes business section, but I’ll bet anyone who works on Wall Street or in the investment banking industry can put a name to every character in the book. I continue to miss Paul Erdman. Time to return to the Middle East with David Ignatius’ Body of Lies.

The webcam is erratic, but it’s on now. Don’t forget to “refresh.”

CATCHING UP #2, cont’d.

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Two days ago, on her way to the post office, a Barter’s Point Road neighbor, stopped to say hello. (Barter’s Point Road is what Sea Street becomes after it meets Spruce Lane, three houses up the hill from Roseledge Books.) We discussed Edith Wharton and Louis Auchincloss, mostly Louis Auchincloss. “I’m quite sure he’s related to Jacqueline Kennedy,” she said. I was pretty sure, too.

“That means,” Scott pointed out, “Louis Auchincloss’ books, e.g. Skinny Island, are tied to Tenants Harbor because Caroline Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedey’s daughter who would, therefore, also be somehow related to Louis Auchincloss, spoke at St. George School in 1980 in support of her uncle, Ted Kennedy, who was running for President. So author-to-relative-to-daughter-to-local site and event would be four degrees of separation.” Maine friend Scott is the best player of “how many degrees of separation are there between any book you mention and Tenants Harbor.” If I sell all three of my twenty-year-old paperback copies of Skinny Island, I’d have a Tenants Harbor bestseller, too.


Fig. #28. Already familiar-looking, new rock wall on Sea Street for walkers to enjoy on way to Post Office.

Speaking of which (TH bestsellers), I, in TH, talked to Wayne (in Hawaii but who has been to TH at least twice), who was reading and liking a lot Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map. Well, I’m reading it, too, and like it so much, I sent it to Charlie (in Seattle, but he started reading it in TH) which is the magic number 3 for a TH bestseller, too. Our reasons for liking the book may differ, but I like that a smart educated-generalist is attacking a riddle — the London cholera epidemic of 1854 — and writing well of his multidisciplinary efforts to solve it, and the long term implications of what he found out about “disease, cities, and scientific inquiry. Every problem needs able generalists attacking its problems, if only to keep the academics awake.

Thirty-seven years ago, my uncle John, when asked if he wanted to read a dissertation, said, “No; researchers too often put the obvious under the microscope and come up with common sense, and I have plenty of that.” I agreed with him then, and, if my reaction to Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map is any indication, I agree with him still. And at 94, my uncle John still has plenty of common sense.

The webcam is on, but a bit blurry with rain.


Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Most important: ROSELEDGE BOOKS IS OPEN, 2-6pm daily.
The “open” signs are hanging from the porch, (but not in the picture), the flowers are growing, some brand-new and lots of other years’ new books are on the shelves, two book orders (bestsellers and selected titles) are on their way to TH, and the lawn chairs are ready for those with you who mind the dog as you browse.


Fig. #26. Reading, watching the harbor, and waiting for you to come by on a two-shirt, short skirt, sockless day in early June.

Reply to Commenter (and sis), Charyl: Okay, I get the message (see post “Catching Up #1) and I agree. The Icelandic detective is wanting. He is too much enveloped by dreary: his daughter, apartment, childhood, reading tastes, and prospects — all dreary. But the killer point for me is that in these Icelandic novels, there is no mention of the sea or seafaring, so there is no reason to think my sailor customers will want to read them. If I were in my native North Dakota with its Icelandic community, I might decide differently.

Thanks to Commenter Sis, I have read in a row and liked two more Harry Bosch mysteries (Michael Connelly’s City of Bones and Michael Connelly’s The Closers). But picky, picky me, I should have read only one at a time. In the second book, which fits with the three-year retirement to return times, there is, all of a sudden, a 6-year-old daughter and her mother. Imagined conception, maybe? And the turmoil, both bureaucratic and inner, seems repetitious. I like Harry enough to wait a while before reading Michael Connelly’s The Overlook, in paperback for the first time.

Is Julia Spencer-Fleming, who lives and studied in Maine, a Maine author? Friend Kathy asked and after reading her All Mortal Flesh, set in upstate New York, I like her a lot, whether she is or not. Police Chief and Episcopalian Priest solve crimes in small town. Think of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers updated.


Fig. #27. The tide moves out(here) and in as the mudflats grow and shrink, the returning lobster boats off-load their catches into lobster cars, and the water changes color with the sky. The harbor dance will be the same when you come by, probably with more boats.

Now I’m reading Michael Gruber’s The Book of Air and Shadows, a hefty NYTimes bestseller. To page 150, I like the learning in it, e.g. intellectual property, cyphers, Shakespeare’s time and life, threads of film and family, but I love most the “research librarian mafia” that undergirds Al’s repertoire of information sources, as he puzzles through the manuscripts. Clearly the author has led an interesting library life. The 435 pages of this trade paperback book are hard to handle with one good hand, which is what I have, so I looked briefly at the Kindle (Amazon’s ebook device, mentioned favorably by Paul Krugman in his column last week in the NYTimes) which appeared to require two hands as well. Is Charlie going to have to do another of his ever-ready miracle modifications?

A final note to one “exposed” to Edith Wharton — which I trust is different from “immersed:” Roseledge Books has — and has had since 1987 — 3 copies of Louis Auchincloss’s Skinny Island: More Tales of Manhatten. The pages might be a tad yellow, but they aren’t yet brittle and it only costs $3.95. Louis Auchincloss introduced me to New York City as I was growing up in Wahpeton, ND and allowed to check out from the Leach Public Library anything I wanted. A biography of Hetty Green, my first miser, helped, too.

The webcam was off, but now it is on.

SUMMER HAS COME IN (and so has a webcam)

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Roseledge Books is open. Summer has started, fleece hoodies and blankies over the knees on the porch during inaugural wine not withstanding.

Fig. #21. The only Roseledge Books sign “before” Charlie fixed the winter stressed message on his way to Boston’s Logan Airport. The “after” sign is in place, but you’ll have to visit to see it because Charlie didn’t have time to take a picture.

And Roseledge Books, always in the forefront, now has a webcam. The webcam picture of the harbor from atop Paul Wellstone (a biography by Bill Lofy)* on my desk at Roseledge Books is quite exciting.

Already a comment (okay, a complaint) from friend, Jerry:
“The picture on the webcam doesn’t move,” she noted.
No, it doesn’t. You have to refresh it every five seconds to get the next picture, a little like slow animation. Think of it as “relaxed animation” which is, to me, a particular joy of Maine. (But then I am so slow, I give new meaning to the verb “to turtle.”
“I see.”

*Bill Lohy’s Paul Wellstone
is one of several books specially selected, requested, reserved, and now stacked for the webcam and for Roseledge Books customers (in this case for Bob with whom I miss Paul Wellstone) who may or may not be back this year. It is atop Ronald Blythe’s Akenfield for Mary with whom I earlier loved Lillian Beckwith’s books about her years with the crofters on the Hebrides (e.g. The Sea for Breakfast). Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point is next, a book for Elizabeth’s second-year-in-college gift after James Watson’s The Double Helix last year, and finally Suzanne Stremper Shea’s Shelf Life, a book about bookstores for the group that comes each summer and asks for a Roseledge Books withdrawal read. (By Chapter 9, Sheridan Hay’s The Secret of Lost Things became more an English major’s novel than a bookstore read.) I love thinking about the readers that special request shelves suggest are near.


Friday, May 30th, 2008

“What’s up with Figure #20?” a friend asked.

(Figure #20 is repeated below.)
Fig. #20. This is not Maine, but Charlie lives within a camera’s eye of Mt. Rainier (Seattle), he takes a great picture, and he includes a little big water.

Well I cleverly linked the “not” buying of books to the “knot” tying of sailors everywhere, including Tenants Harbor. Then I used the picture of Mt. Rainier, the only picture I had from Charlie that was “not” Maine.





Third party intervener, “It’s a stretch.”


“Then how about “little big water” in the caption? Is that somehow linked to Little Big Horn?”

That’s a thought, but no.The “big water” refers to the ocean (I’m sure I’ve heard or read “big water” so used) and the “little” refers both to Puget Sound — a little part of the Pacific Ocean next to which lies Seattle — and to the part of Charlie’s picture that Is ocean compared to the part that Is Mt. Rainier.


Being clever is tricky business.