Tag Archives: Bookstores

The Evolution of a Room

5 May

The building in which I work was built in 2004. Actually, it was a gymnasium built during the New Deal and was remodeled into an academic building in 2004. Therefore, it has some old, and it has some new. It also has a room that has constantly evolved over time. As it happens, that room is directly across from my office door.image-13

In the early days, it was a classroom. In fact, I taught in that room a couple of times. As a classroom, it was a disaster. There were no windows, and it was like going to school in a cave. I do not suffer from claustrophobia, but this room gave me the feeling I was trapped. I cannot imagine how trapped students felt when they had to sit there and learn how properly cite a source. It must have resembled something in the mind of Dante.

We stopped scheduling classes in the room, and someone must have noticed. It was not long before it became a storage room for the bookstore. A massive lock was placed on the door because, as all students know, books are worth their weight in gold. People came in and out with boxes of books, stacks of books and dollies of books. There were times when I could hear people working hard. The sounds of those books being moved around could not be mistaken.

However, there were also times when I could hear people watching television. When the classroom was abandoned, no one thought about taking out the television. We may have been the only campus in the country that had a television in the book storage room.

At some point, someone decided to change how our bookstore operates. Instead of selling books in the same place where we sell t-shirts, caps, hoodies, license plates and other things that have our school’s name and logo, we split that up. Now, we have a spirit shop for that stuff and a bookstore for books. Yep, the room across from my office door became the bookstore.

It is like working in the El Paso train station.

In the first weeks of each semester, people are lined up out the door to buy books. This means they are lined up outside my office door. Of course, bored people standing in a line are going to talk. This means they are talking outside my office door. When there is a long wait, the talking turns into complaining. This means they are complaining outside my office door.

However, that does not compare to when the bookstore is closed. Like all good stores, the hours of operation are posted, but that does not stop people from trying.

Do you realize how many people will stare at a locked door?

Do you realize how many people will pull on a locked door a couple of times just to make sure?

Do you realize how many people think the teacher in the office next to the bookstore is also the receptionist for the bookstore?

I cannot count the number of people who have pulled on the locked door and asked me if the bookstore is closed. Of course, some people ask me if it is open.

I have been thinking about this because the bookstore is now open for book returns. It is the end of the semester, and students want to get some of their money back. As a side note, I have never sold back a book. You never know when you might need it.

The end of the semester does not have the long lines. However, it has people pulling on a locked door and sighing with disgust because the bookstore may not be open at the exact time they decided to show up. What do they expect? Bookstore workers are like book storage room workers. They need time to shut the door and watch television, too.

Book Readers of the World

2 Jun

I was driving down the interstate with my nephew when the conversation turned to books. We had been to the movies and saw preview for a book adaptation. He was telling me that I need to read the book before the movie came out. The conversation continued with books that we are currently reading. He has started the Game of Thrones series, and I am reading one about a secret government agency looking into the destruction of the United States by a Mormon senator who knows about a secret message to Abraham Lincoln. It is better than it sounds.Lincoln Myth

At some point, he asked, “What percentage of people have read a book in the past year?”

We began to answer by establishing our parameters. Does this include students who are assigned to read? Are we talking about people in the United States or throughout the world? Does this include people who read religious texts?

After all of that was settled, we unscientifically decided that few people have read one book in the past year.

In the blogging world, there are a lot of people who read. I think that reading is what leads us to write these posts. There are also a lot of blogs focused on books and the people who read them. Being someone who likes to read and is in contact with others who do the same, it is hard to imagine that we are the minority. However, I believe that is true.

Reading is good on many levels, but the most important is that it keeps the brain active. It does not matter is someone is reading about the great philosophers or a drugstore romance novel. The brain is working.Romance

People who do not read books are missing out on a lot of fun. Books can take people on great adventures in far off lands. They can scare people or lead them into a world of fantasy. They can educate people and introduce them to ideas they never before considered.

Books can also lead people to one of my favorite places – the bookstore. Due to technology, these places are fading fast, but I hope they never go away completely. I can spend a long time in bookstores looking through the shelves. Many times, I have sat in a chair a scanned several books before deciding which one to buy. Bookstores are places where people can mingle or find a quiet corner to relax. They are places that offer us countless adventures for our imaginations.

When I go to a bookstore, I always try to make a purchase. Even if it is just a magazine, I will buy something. It is my small way to helping these places stay viable.

People need books, and we need places to purchase them. It is hard for me to imagine that people make the choice not to read. However, I know that there are more of them than there are of us.

A Friday in Nashville

1 May

On Friday morning, I headed to the large city to the west for some appointments. It was “reading day” at school – which meant no classes and students, ahem, studying for this weeks exams. The plan was to sleep late, but the appointments started coming at me on Thursday afternoon. So, there I was all dressed up with a bunch of places to go.

My first stop was at a lawyer’s office on Deaderick Street. Driving this street has always made me a little uncomfortable because it includes the word “dead” and my name, “Rick”. Bad omens everywhere. Despite my concerns, I made it to the parking garage safely and wound up the ramp until I finally found a spot. Upon hitting the sidewalk, the realization hit that I was in Nashville. A man walked briskly past me while muttering to himself. I picked up the words “God” and “Hooters” but couldn’t make out anything else. I am sure it was an interesting conversation, however.

After carefully crossing the dreaded street, I entered the building of destination and took the elevator to the 17th floor to sign some legal documents. There is one thing that you should all remember. If an attorney rents an entire floor of a skyscraper, then you are paying some big bucks. (Try googling “big bucks” and see what you get.)

After the meeting, I had some time to kill before meeting my friend for lunch. I drove around downtown and realized that it is a very different place during work hours. People were scurrying everywhere like worker ants carrying leaves. Except, the leaves were brief cases and boxes and all sorts of items. I like when women wear high heels, but, damn, it looks uncomfortable walking on a city sidewalk.

The hustle and bustle of downtown was getting to me, so I went to the Midtown area and the brand new Barnes and Noble at Vanderbilt University – otherwise known as my crack house. However, I passed a sad sight along the way. An entire block was being demolished. Happens all the time, right? Except, this isn’t just any block. It used to be home to Tower Records, a place that I have spent countless hours searching for music, both popular and rare. It is indeed sad to see the record store go away. It reminded me that bookstores are not far behind.

At the bookstore, I bought something. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t go into one and not come out with a book. Anyway, I bought Where the Tall Grass Grows: Becoming Indigenous and the Mythological Legacy of the American West by Bobby Bridger. I know – it sounds fascinating, but I haven’t started yet. I first had to finish riding out a starkblast with Roland Deschain and his ka-tet.

Ok, I killed enough time before meeting my friend at his office. He invited me to a meet and greet lunch at the swank Nashville City Club. Well, it’s swank if you consider early 70s decor to be swank. It is a private dinner club in a Nashville penthouse and has been the location of a lot of moving and shaking for decades. However, I get the feeling that it is struggling to maintain its grandeur.

We made our way back to the downtown area and found it more crowded than it was earlier. It turns out that they were preparing for the next day’s marathon. After struggling to find a parking place and ending up in the same garage where I had been earlier, we made our way to the swank. Surprisingly, my meal was good with fried chicken and waffles covered in raspberry syrup and a side of fried jalapenos.

More surprisingly, the meet and greet was good, and it included some interesting folks.

The Dean of the Business School from my university.

My friend who sells pencils and balloons.

There was a mason who works with historic preservationists.

Beside him was an owner of billboards.

Across the way were two guys who work for a linen company.

Next to them was a lady who works at the City Club and who was wearing some impossibly high heels.

Then, there was me. I didn’t talk about teaching. Instead, I talked about Hamilton Springs, a residential/commercial development based around a commuter train station that my brother and I are working on.

I don’t make it to the weekday, daytime version of Nashville very often. But, this day turned out decently.