Barnes & Noble sent me an email after 8 p.m. on Friday, 3-13-20, and I read it on my iPhone while I just happened to be in its store in Gulfport, Miss., only a few miles north from my home.
I thought maybe I was getting an unprecedented deal to remain loyal to B&N during the coronavirus crisis. You know, because I have frequented B&N stores since 1994, perhaps 80% percent off a purchase to distract me from all the overwhelming news about the disease.
The email, which I hope you can see at the top of this post, was related to the pandemic, but in an oddball sort of way, it didn’t mention the coronavirus and the message ended before it ever got started.
It’s like a B&N employee in public relations or marketing hit send before the writer was finished with the email.
I kept tapping my iPhone screen to see if there was more, but nothing else was there.
On Saturday, 3-14-20-, I went to the help section of the B&N website and it has a message that delivers what customers want to know.
I took a screenshot of it to share with you.
Unlike the email, the website message is a noble corporate effort.
OK, now I’m feeling a lot better, though I wonder if the email sender is OK.
I enjoyed leafing through the new James McBride novel “Deacon King Kong,” the 2016 Rachel Cusk novel “Transit” and the latest issue of the Paris Review while I was at the bookstore in Gulfport on Saturday night, 3-7-20, but what really caught my attention was the recorded music the store was playing on its overhead sound system.
I had to resort to the Shazam app on my iPhone to ID the artists when I was in the store and then at home on Sunday afternoon I went to YouTube to come up with a playlist of the songs I heard.
I’ve listed the songs in the order I heard and identified them.
“To Go Home,” M. Ward
“Amie,” Counting Crows
“Two of Us,” Aimee Mann and Michael Penn
“T-Bone Shuffle,” T-Bone Walker
“Every Night,” Jason Collett
“Sunday Morning,” Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs
“See See Baby,” Freddy King
“Rhiannon,” Best Coast
“Touch of Grey,” The War On Drugs
“Moon River,” The Innocence Mission
Most of the songs have something in common and all soothe the soul.
Can you guess what most of the songs have in common? I welcome your answers.
I sat in a chair in one of my favorite spots in the middle of Barnes & Noble in Gulfport on Friday, 1-31-20.
It was 5:15 p.m. and I was in the area of the bookstore that has two brown hardwood chairs and a small black table between them. The seating arrangement is in front of the Personal Growth section and just steps away from the cafe.
I had a copy of “Agency,” William Gibson’s new novel, and was intending to read the first five pages until I sensed a person walking toward me.
I looked up and saw a 40ish blonde woman in casual attire carrying a basket that had eight books and I assumed she was going to sit in the other chair, place the basket on the table and browse through the books.
Instead, she stood in front of me and tried to panhandle me.
She asked if I would give her $12 to help her pay for the books in the basket. She said she works at the Applebee’s down the road and if I gave her the money, she would reimburse me if I saw her at her place of work.
I told her I had no money and that if you have the time, you can read for free in the store. I do that all the time, though I’ve never read an entire book in Barnes & Noble. I believe a seller would have me arrested for a breach of etiquette.
After I declined to give the woman $12, I never saw her again, although 15 minutes later, I noticed she had left her basket on a display table across from where I was sitting. I took a picture of the basket, which had about half the books I saw earlier, and I have the photo as the featured image for this post.
I was unable to get past the first two pages of Gibson’s novel because the woman had distracted me.
I considered telling a seller about my experience, but I left the store without saying anything to anyone, though I texted my wife and daughter about what happened.
Maybe the next time I’m in the store, I will tell a seller about the panhandler.
Now, I would like to hear from you. How would you have dealt with the incident? Would you have reported it and how would you have done that?
OK. This is my first 2020 post about books, but I’m going back to the 2019 holiday shopping season to show you six of the best signatures in the Barnes & Noble signed editions launched before Black Friday.
One week before Christmas, I was in Barnes & Noble in Gulfport browsing through signed editions and judging the quality of the penmanship. Bad signatures were easy to find and I documented six of the worst in my Dec. 13, 2019 post. Please read it after this article.
In my in-depth study, which I completed because of my ample retirement downtime, I came up with a ratio of bad to good signatures and my unproven calculation was 6 to 1.
You know, when it’s that one-sided, it’s unfair to expect book lovers to purchase a memoir or a novel in which the author scribble-scrabbled their name. If the signature is illegible, give me at least a 60% discount and then I might think about buying the signed edition.
So now it’s time to move on to what I liked. I found good places to hide from the sellers at Barnes & Noble to take pictures of six of the best 2019 B & N signed editions and at home, I went to the B & N website for snips of the book covers. I’m hoping I broke no laws during the entire process.
In the poetry section at the store, I noticed the name Atticus and figured he must be a Greek scholar or a Roman scholar before I looked at his latest book, “The Truth About Magic,” and saw it was a signed copy.
I realized Atticus is a 21st-century man and it’s impossible that he is a contemporary of Sophocles, who died in 406/5 BC without leaving us any inscribed manuscripts for our perusal and pleasure.
Attticus is a Canadian Instagrammer who has written three books of poems and the Globe and Mail published an interesting profile about him in 2017, saying he “has kept his identity under wraps, even as his poet persona has exploded.”
Atticus merch may never be under wraps. At his website, you can shop for Atticus clothing, Atticus prints, Atticus accessories and Atticus wine. His books are also available, and while you’re visiting the site, you can check out his podcast.
I’m getting off the track. I’m supposed to write words about his signature, so here I go: Sure, it’s abstract, but abstract art is beautiful and his autograph is exceptional signature art. Holly Black, a gallerist who consults Christie’s, might say the signature has the spirit of the early Renaissance, when “a signature was the perfect way to differentiate your talent from that of lesser peers.”
That’s not Flea as in Fleabag.
That’s Flea as in the bassist the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the signature appears in his atypical rock memoir, “Acid for the Children.”
Can he not write cursive? I don’t know, but I like the doo-hickey under his name. It’s artful, original and relatable. You know, if he can do that and get money for it, I can do that, too, but my scratchy symbol will be free, just like this blog.
Gaffigan is a comedy writer and producer and the wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan and they are the parents of five children.
Her signature appears in her memoir, “When Life Gives You Pears,” which Publishers Weekly describes as “a surprisingly hilarious story about surviving a brain tumor.”
I admire her for writing her story and I also admire her handwriting. Her signature will help sell copies, not that I need a signed one for me to read “When Life Gives You Pears.”
I’m sorry the letters above the signature impeded this fine example of photojournalism. The angular nature of the autograph made it a daunting challenge for me.
Koehler is a children’s author and librarian who lives in Salt Lake City, and her signature is in “The Little Snowplow Wishes for Snow,” which she created with illustrator Jake Parker. The book is a sequel to their 2015 best-seller, “The Little Snowplow.”
In South Mississippi, many people wish for snow this time of year, though I’m not one of them, and we have no snowplows of any size. We have air conditioners and ours is running at 72 degrees as I write this.
Pat and Jen
Pat and Jen are best known as YouTube sensations because of PopularMMOs, their Minecraft-inspired channel.
They also have two graphic novels and their latest is “PopularMMOs Presents Enter the Mine,” for ages 8 to 12.
My 8-year-old grandson might understand this stuff. I don’t.
I appreciate the signatures, their Christmas colors and Jen’s J flair.
Barber is an actress and 1980s and ’90s children remember her from the sitcom “Full House.” Her most recent TV show is the “Full House spinoff, “Fuller House” on Netflix.
I love that Barber wrote her signature in blue because that is my favorite color and I’ll give her a pass for the way she wrote her last name. I like the way she wrote her first and the little symbol she put above it, though I can’t tell if the mark is a butterfly, a flower or a butterfly flower.
You can get the book now at the B & N site for 50% off, which is $13.50. Heck, the autograph alone would be worth more than $13.50 to me.
In my Dec. 13 post about the six of the worst signed editions, I gave clues but I didn’t reveal the identity of the writers and their books. Now it’s time to do that. You’ll see the clues and the terrible signatures if you missed them the first time and the book covers will be the reveal.
Get back, JoJo
Sprinting for the scissors
10,000 hours ofpractice andthis is the result
Name sounds like album
What do you think about the 2019 Barnes & Noble signed editions? You’re welcome to comment on any of them, not just the 12 that I wrote about.
A couple of years before I retired from the newspaper, I wrote a blog called Desk Life and it was published on the paper’s website.
The Barnes & Noble signed editions on tables and shelves in the stores and on the B & N site at Christmas time were among my favorite subjects to write about.
I would go to my Barnes & Noble in Gulfport starting on Black Friday, the first day the editions were available, and take pictures of the signatures of famous authors, determine which were the best and the worst and then write a post.
A signature can be a deal maker or a deal breaker if I’m interested in buying one of the signed editions. In 2015, I looked forward to getting “Dear Mr. You” by the actress Mary-Louise Parker until I saw the utterly lazy way she signed her unique memoir. It was a deal breaker, though getting the Audible edition was worthwhile because Parker is the narrator of her stories.
I’ve tried to find my Desk Life posts in the archives of the newspaper in the hopes of sharing them, but the dreaded 404 has apparently vaporized all the posts, making me wonder why I put in all the time and effort to write them.
I have no plans to 404 myself and the You Can Learn From Books blog, especially the post you might be reading now.
This post is about the 2019 B & N signed editions, on sale before Black Friday, and I recently used my modus operandi: Going to the store in Gulfport, browsing through six of the books and judging the quality of the penmanship.
All six are deal breakers that may have the worst signatures in the entire catalog of the 2019 B & N signed editions. I submit the evidence with these pictures and jokey clues for the readers. Can you ID the writers?
Get back, JoJo
Sprinting for the scissors
10,000 hours ofpractice andthis is the result
Name sounds like album
I welcome your guesses and will reveal the identity of the writers and the book titles in a followup post, which will feature six of the best signatures in 2019 B&N signed editions.
I have a new library card, my first in about 25 years.
Three weeks ago, I went to the library on 25th Avenue in downtown Gulfport to get the card because I plan to read library books for at least a year.
This might help me save money and stop my 50-year addiction to buying books, which began in the summer of ’69 with Kroch’s & Brentano’s Bookstore on Wabash Avenue in Chicago.
I was 17 years old, a month or two from my senior year at Notre Dame High School in Biloxi, and I’ve been on a print-spending spree ever since then.
At our home in Gulfport, my books are everywhere. The bookcase just inside the front door. The bookcase in the back of the house. Books in crates in the bedroom. Books in crates in the attic. Books in cabinets in the laundry room. Books in crates in the shed. Books on my Kindle app. Books on my Audible app.
Perhaps a year from now, I’ll get a library receipt similar to the one in the picture below.
When it comes to stopping my book-buying addiction, I’ve allowed for some exceptions.
If I receive an Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card, I will use it on books because, otherwise, the card might be wasted on other things I don’t really want.
I’m keeping my Audible account and staying with the Book of the Month Club. That’s it. If I see a book for 25 cents in a thrift store, I might get it.
I hope and pray I can resist the urge to use my own cash or credit card to buy a book the next time I go to my B&N in Gulfport or browse for good deals at Amazon, eBay or Dollar Tree.
I borrowed “Every Frenchman Has One” by Olivia de Havilland to kick off my year in reading library books and it was an entertaining choice.
I finished it in 10 days and returned it to the book drop behind the library on Sunday night, 12-1-19.
“Every Frenchman Has One” is a collection of essays and it’s brisk, quirky, witty and classy.
De Havilland, the two-time Oscar-winning actress who played Melanie Hamilton in the 1939 film classic “Gone with the Wind,” moved from California to France after she met French magazine editor Pierre Galante in 1953 and they married in 1955.
The book, originally published in 1961 and reissued in 2016, is de Havilland’s spirited takes on adjusting to the French way of life and I believe she has adjusted quite well.
De Havilland is 103 years old and has lived in Paris for nearly 65 years.
The book is a short hardbound copy, a little more than 140 pages, and it closes with a 2016 interview with de Havilland. The longest essay is about 11 pages and when you’ve finished one of her vignettes, you can’t wait for the next.
She uses French phrases, though I didn’t borrow the book for an education in a new language. I’ll never understand it, just like the wealthy and retired New Orleans Garden District woman who invited friends to her house to learn the language from a teacher.
Five minutes into the first lesson, the rich woman, who is in her early 70s and has a fine Scarlett O’Hara-like accent, told the teacher, “We have no idea what you’re saying, darling.”
Class was dismissed, never to meet again.
One more “Gone with the Wind” reference before I go. Wade, my 8-year-old New Orleans Northshore grandson, got his first library card last month in Madisonville and that spurred me to get a new one.
“Gone with the Wind” is based on the Margaret Mitchell novel, and one of the characters in the book not in the film is Wade Hampton Hamilton, Scarlett’s first child and Melanie’s nephew.
I wonder if my Wade knows about this. I also wonder if my Wade will ever borrow the Olivia de Havilland book from his library. He will probably wait 60 years to borrow it. Right now, he’s a “Wings of Fire” and “Harry Potter” reader.
Maybe next week I’ll go back to the Gulfport library to look at more books worth checking out unless a title in my library at home catches my attention.
Do you buy books? Do you go to the library? Do you do both?
I welcome your answers and would like to publish them later this month or in January.