Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Season's Greetings, Happy Solstice, Merry Winter, and December Celebration to All:

We have had a busy season so far. Many thanks to loyal Lucy's Books customers!
We could not survive without you.

The weather has been mild here in Astoria. We have had many sunny days that is not typical during this time of year, so I'm told by the NBA's (native born Astorians).
I on the other hand am a ABC, Astorian by Choice. Just a little bit of local jargon and trivia that always seems intriguing with small communities.

The Christmas Season, Hanukkah, and other Celebrations are fast upon us- I had planned to get something out before now. It is a season for giving and forgiving. Of buying gifts, those special ones, that makes the receiver tickled down to their toes. Of giving good cheer, and continuing it in the New Year. Giving is the easy part- forgiving might be a little harder for me. I have been pondering over this for a few weeks, not to mention worrying too.

What's on my mind is the greed of a large online company that, paired with the ever smarter smart phone, is now offering a discount when a person goes to a store, scans the ISBN number or code off an item, then buys it through that large online company which the customer will receive five dollars off the already discounted price. This is, to me, not just (as in fair) business encourages and propagates greed. It is unethical and underhanded. How will the small business owner survive this onslaught- he can't compete on their level. Is it the end of the small businesses in this country? We've heard about the middle class this yet another step involved in that? How did the Grinch get selfish, fat, destructive, and gluttonous? It is unforgiving if small businesses go under because of the big cyberspace company's need to eek out every last dime.

On a happier note...I still have to be grateful to this community here in Astoria who still believes in having a small bookstore in town and supporting it when they can. That's love and devotion. And a great Christmas gift for Lucy's. We'll keep on plugging through despite the obstacles.

Wow, these books have been popular here and flying off the shelf...if you have any holiday cash to spend between now and after the season, check these titles out (if you haven't already):

Faithful Place by Tana French
Swell by Corwin Ericson
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

Non Fiction:
The Dirty Life:A Memoir on Farming, Food,and Love by Kristen Kimball
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg
Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky
Matter Horn and What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes
Working in the Shadows by Gabriel Thompson

Young Readers:
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
The Graveyard Book by Niel Gaiman

I Want My Hat Back by John Klassen which won the Best Illustrated Children's Book Award from The New York Times.
The Frog Wore Red Suspenders by Jack Prelutsky, and this book is a New York Best Seller plus it's a selection of the Junior Library Guild.
Ugly As A Toad by Jullie Fox. This simple book shows how things can ALWAYS be worse. Tommy is a toad who thinks he's ugly. However, what would be worse than that? Well, you could be an ugly toad WITH ants in your pants and butterflies in your stomach! Being a toad isn't so bad,eh?

Have a Happy Season and a healthy New Year!

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Already!

Can you believe it? November. How time does fly when you're selling books.
November brings to mind fall leaves, cold crisp days, blue blue skies (not always available in Astoria), cocoa, and (gulp, do I really say this?)Football. Charlie Brown football, I mean. AND November means curling up with a good book.

Some of the books that are piquing my interest (and if I get the time I'd like to read all of these) are: Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr, fiction, which tells of a young American Japanese girl growing up in a small town. Of course more happens to thicken the plot but this is always a subject that is tender, hurtful, and ever present in our society STILL.

The next read, Christmas Exposed, by the outspoken newspaper- The Onion- which provides a tongue in cheek satire about mall shopping, dysfunctional family events, and more. Now, remember here, these are books I haven't read yet so I have to go on what I sneak peek through the pages and from reading the back of the books.

There are two children’s series that are calling my name:
The Secret Series written by Pseudonymous Bosch (the author’s name alone makes me want to read the book); with the first book titled The Name of this Book is Secret . This is a mystery around finding a dead magician's diary and trying to find immortality.

The second series The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is about an ad in the newspaper asking children to take a series of mysterious tests. Only four of the most intelligent and resourceful are chosen to go on a secret mission.

I’d love to hear what you have read and recommend.

As far as the store goes...I'm still climbing that learning curve, and I certainly have made my mistakes and foibles. A very humbling lesson. I will learn from this and grow.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What a Whirlwind!

Having been in beautiful Astoria for almost two months, I have to say that I love it here. I do miss my family back in Idaho, and confess to a boo-hoo breakdown in Fred Meyers (no less) but after an hour and a half conversation with my best friend and daughter, I cheered up. She will be here for a visit in a week. My husband? Who's he? Naw, I guess I miss him too. What a great guy, eh? He's doing all the packing back in Idaho while I mind the store.

What wonderful customers I have. Thanks to all of you! This is all due to the previous owner, Laura. If I forget to mention her name in thanks, the sentiment is still there. Anyhoo, I have learned so much from our customers about this book or that author. I so wish I could read everything that folks buy here. However, I am still reading my pile of books at home, then maybe I can get to that big list in the sky.

I can't thank Brie enough- she is invaluable has taught me so much. She has a terrific sense of what the customers want to read. As a matter of fact, she and I want to start a Book Club soon. If you are from the area and might be interested, give us a call at the store. We have room for eight more readers.

There will be some events happening- at least I'm trying to get things rolling.
On October 26th, at 6:00 p.m., Dina James will do a signing and answer/question session. I'm very excited. And for Dina, this is her first novel about a character her fans have pleaded with her to develop. Thus came All Wounds which will be released October 11. A list of her other works can be found on her website Being a local gal, I hope to see a great group of fans out to meet and greet her.

The next event, happening Saturday December 10, time T.B.A., is a reading for moms, dads, and kids. Local area illustrator Adam Taylor's first children's book
George In The U.K. is a beautiful example of his talent as a story teller and illustrator. The illustrations are so fabulously tactile, who needs words? And the quality of color print and paper- this book is a visual delight as well. The age range is newborn to nine. As December gets closer, there will be more on this event.

So, as I step into the whirlwind (no ruby slippers, darn it!) I can say "There's no place like Astoria," and honestly mean it. "There's no place like Astoria, there's no place like Astoria, there's no place like HOME."


Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Post, Finally!

Hello All,
As I fire up this dagged nab machine again to write a second “Hello All” to you, the first one is floating in cyber space. For some odd reason, when I closed my document it CLOSED for good. And I’d spent a good hour agonizing over what to say, trying to carefully choose my words so as not to affront anyone, because as we all know, the tongue-in-cheek intent doesn’t always translate in the written form. Totally at a loss for the lost document, my husband tried to retrieve it from the cyber gods. Unsuccessfully, I might add, although kudos for trying. We decided that it was time for bed. As I tried to sleep, my mind kept coming back to the lost doc., stewing that the computer had won this round. Not to be defeated, no not me, I decided at 12:35 a.m. that enough was enough. So…
Mark and I were so lucky to have bought Lucy’s. For some fortuitous cosmic reason, Laura was ready to sell and we were ready to buy. Let me clarify that. I was ready to buy. My stable accountant husband wasn’t as sure as I, but being the kind man he is, he couldn’t say no. I’m as persistent as a dachshund with a t-bone. Chew, chew, chew.
Laura had been in the book business for thirteen years. I had been a high school art teacher for thirteen years. Coincidence? I think not. Actually, I’m not sure, but I’ve always wanted to say that. Like when I was a kid and asked “Are we there yet?” Mom and Dad would say in that humming tone “Almost.” And then when we had children I got to give the exact same humming response to them! Back to the not coincidence. It all worked out, for both Laura and us, and here we are, living in my dream town, beautiful Astoria, with my other dream. Owing a book store.
I have been greeted by some wonderful members of the community so far. They’ve been so welcoming. And I have been asked why I wanted to DO this, or have I had ANY experience in owning a book store before. Mark would answer the first question: to make money. And he’d love to answer the second question: yes, and we made money. I, on the other hand, haven’t had any experience in owing a book store other than I love to read. I love books, love the relationship created with each new book I read, love physically turning the pages, and I love the feel of paper. More than a few customers have asked me if I’ve read this book or that. Imagine my chagrin when I have to say no. But there are so many books out there and many genres to choose from that most of the time we may not have read the same thing. I take the challenge that keeping up with the needs of the readers will be enough for now. They are the important ones.
Having the magnificent Brie Mathews, a long time friend and employee of Laura’s, is such a boon. She has an eye for what our readers love. With her help, I hope to stock the titles loved by the community. I will add my quirkiness to the mixture, no doubt about that.
Do forgive me if I don’t recognize a local artist’s name or a local author. I have only been local for a week and a half. I will get on it, at it, with it and any other its I need to get with to familiarize myself with the who’s who-er and outwards.
With Laura leaving, I have some pretty big boots to fill. If there was a way to fill them and keep everyone happy, I’d certainly do it. But I know that Laura’s take on things are hers and you wouldn’t want a faitour. Plus, in everything evolving and changing like the world commands, we know that nothing stays the same. Oh, I forgot, death and taxes do. Being neither, I’ll wear my colorful boots around the store. We’ll see what happens, eh?
I look forward to hearing from you,
Here are a few books that got my attention this summer:
Anything Terry Prachett. An amazing writer whose dry sense of humor tickles my funny bone.
For the more serious reader:The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson: A heavy read but poignant.
Non- fiction
For fun: Amy Stewart’s Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs. These light reads kept me engaged and itching. For the light organic gardener,
From the Ground Up and Flowers Confidential .
The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley is an interesting look at Teddy Roosevelt’s quest for Americanization. For me, the take on our own history and how it has been spooned to us as children is a reminder that we really need to write more truth in such histories, raw and hurtful as it might be.

Friday, August 19, 2011


It’s with many mixed feelings that I tell you that I’m selling Lucy’s Books. It’s taken me a couple of years of waffling to come to the conclusion, finally, that I need change in my life (I guess rearranging the furniture won’t satisfy the urge for change this time around!), something new to do after 13 years at Lucy’s, however wonderful those years have been. The serendipitous timing of this choice, combined with an ad placed in the paper, and an enthusiastic answer to that ad, tells me it’s time to go. I started Lucy’s with a passion for reading, a big dose of ignorance, some luck, and nothing in the way of experience running a business. The passion part helped me to realize 13 years of one of the best livelihoods a person could ever hope to have. The ignorance and general haplessness taught me patience, and to appreciate all of the locals and tourists alike who were patient with me, kind and good humored, while I learned to become a bookseller.
I’m so pleased I’m able to pass the business, in healthy condition, to Patti Breidenbach. Please welcome her and her husband Mark to our lovely community. We will try to make the September 1st change as seamless as possible for our customers and community. Thank you for your years of patronage and support. I will miss you all, and my life as a bookseller, as I take a deep breath and plunge into my next adventure (whatever that may turn out to be). With any luck, it will turn out as well as the last.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Friend Tony - The Literati

My friend and longtime customer Tony died unexpectedly over the weekend. It is fairly unfathomable that he will no longer walk in the door on his way to tend bar across the street, sit down and chat for a while, gather up the Times Book Reviews and New Yorkers I save for him, and ask me, “Whaddaya got for me today?”

A dozen years ago at the beginning of the Lucy’s experiment, Tony Sales walked in. He brought with him the trace of tobacco smell that unavoidably came second hand (back then anyway) when you were Tony of Tony’s Tavern, and spent most of every day and night in a bar. Tony was one of the many, many people that have taught me to leave my assumptions at the door. He was one of the most literate, well-read people I have ever known.

The minute he spoke, I knew he was from some northeastern city or another, and clearly one rife with Italians. Sure enough, and oddly, it turned out he was from my own hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts. Here in Astoria, 3000 miles from there, I had a friend who remembered Snyder’s Market, my grandfather’s grocery on Sumner Avenue. How weird is that? I felt a connection to Tony because though he didn’t personally know my parents and grandparents (I don’t think the Jews and the Italians ran around together much in Springfield), he knew where I came from. He knew who I am, and who my people are, in a way difficult to quantify, but which felt familiar in a faraway place.

Of course, I also felt connected to Tony through books. Simply put, he was a true Reader. Now, with his unexpected passing, I feel pretty sad that I have yet to read “Zorba the Greek.” I figured I’d get around to it eventually, and would talk with him about it later. The mere thought of “Zorba” brought a quick smile to his face. He loved “The Brothers Karamazov,” “Don Quixote,” Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.” If you were game for arguing, you could try telling Tony that a novel that is not “Blood Meridian” is the greatest 20th century American novel. Recently I felt triumphant, having convinced Tony to read David James Duncan’s “The Brothers K,” (my Great American Novel) and getting grudging approval of its worth. The last book he read may have been Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken,” which he loved. It’s a story of triumphantly overcoming the absolute worst adversity, dealt out by the worst humanity had to offer. We really had to finish our conversation about it.

Tony sort of disappeared for a few years along the way. When he walked in the door after that long hiatus, I found out he’d gone back home to care for his mom, up until she died. All became right in bookstore-land with Tony back around, bantering and arguing with me about the usual stuff: writing, writers, novels. He convinced a lot of people that reading a certain book was a great idea, and if he told you to read something, generally you listened. I know – many locals showed up here for one book or another that Tony had decreed that they needed to come here, acquire, read, and (of course, the fun part), report back.

Rest in peace, Tony. You will be missed.