Friday, January 7, 2022

The Secret Lives of Books: Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

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Jane Austen has a quote, "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." While I do love a good adventure abroad, I often apply this mentality loosely and seek adventure where it may be found right where I'm at. For me, one of the best adventures is what I've just begun calling, "Booklarking". I love finding interesting and uncommon books---all the more better when I find interesting and uncommon things hiding inside them! In fact, I've recently made a commitment to try to leave something behind in every book I finish---a bookmark, receipt, candy wrapper, dollar bill---anything that will delight the imagination of the next reader as so many "forgotten bookmarks" have delighted mine.

I recently found this first edition copy of Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone --- a book about the couple's own booklarking adventures of the 1990s. I didn't happen to look inside the day I bought it but when I went to read it last month, I found it contained a couple of splendid treasures!


I really enjoyed this fun, if a little dated, look into the life of these amateur book collectors. What started out as a hunt for a meaningful birthday present ended up taking the couple on an adventure to learn the ins and outs of book buying and collecting---the thrill of the chase and the self control it takes to walk away from what seems like the perfect book. 

The book was written during the time when computers were just starting to be introduced to the general public for business and recreational use. There were several fun instances where I said to myself, "Oh yes, I remember that." One in particular was their thrill in finding that the library could print their cards right there in front of them (amazing technology, they said!) 

 Usually when I read something biographical/memoir-ish I stop about 10-15 pages in to look up what the author is doing now---especially with a book as "old" as this one. (I graduated high school in 1997.) However, this couple had been having such a great time in this story that I was wary to look up anything on them for fear that perhaps their marriage didn't work out. I would be sad to think of them not continuing on these kinds of fun adventures together. About half way in, I finally couldn't stand it any longer and had to see what they were up to. Sure enough, their author pages seem to indicate they are happy and thriving---I'm so glad. In fact, I was so glad that I actually wrote the wife an email to tell her so. I'm sure I'm on somebody's weirdo list now but rarely do I engage so well with a memoir. ha! 

 Another interesting part of reading this book came with the forgotten bookmarks I found inside. In the front cover was a Barnes & Noble receipt from July 3, 1997. Someone in the Boston, Massachusetts store purchased this as a new release. Later in the book was a very early advertising bookmark for Amazon.com---back in the days when it was just an online bookstore. Some quotes from the back of the bookmark include: 

"Amazon.com: Earth's biggest bookstore." 

"Offering 2.5 million titles (more than 14 times the number of books you'll find in the largest chain superstore), we're sure to have the book you want." 

"Amazon.com has a wealth of information about the books and authors that interest you" (including) ... "Personalized E-mail notification about your favorite subjects and authors." 

 I don't remember the last time I actually bought a book on Amazon but I thought it was sadly ironic that this new and novel internet business was being advertised in this book about all the unique and often family owned book shops of the 90s---the same ones that Amazon long ago put out of business. 

 A second delightful irony is that my copy of this book is listed on several websites as being worth $50-$60. Ha!! I wonder if the receipt and Amazon bookmark add to that value at all? No matter---my book sharing ethics compel me to freely pass this book on to another reader and let them discover all the same wondrous things that I did!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

2022 Reading Challenges


Another new year is coming in and I've cleared the entire 2022 calendar for reading...

Yeah, I know, I said that last year. This blog saw, what, two posts? Three? And one of them was done hastily last night. I got the reading in---kind of---it's the blogging about reading for which I crashed and burned. Maybe my opening line should read, "Another new year is coming in and I've committed to keeping my reading blog updated..." That's not as catchy, is it?

I've looked over several awesome reading challenges out there and have settled on those below. Mt. TBR was greatly reduced in 2021 when I went on a purging frenzy and got rid of well over 100 books. We'll see what kind of a dent 2022 can make.


This challenge takes place right here at Belle's Library. You may read any book published during or about the Victorian era (1837-1901). 


I'm hosting this challenge for a second year. Read all the things you missed out on as a kid---or revisit some old favorites! 

This challenge encourages us to read a minimum of four books and offers monthly themed challenges.


This one is new to me this year, though I do think I participated once upon a time. The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge at The Intrepid Reader. Choose your era and go to town! I think I'll attempt the Medieval Level at 15 historical fiction books. Use hashtag: #histficreadingchallenge on social media.

I actually have quite a bit of Georgian/Regency books on my TBR. I love this era!


This is a set-it-yourself challenge that runs for 5 years. Commit to reading at least 50 classics in 5 years.  You can see my list here: The Classics Club.

Daughters of Promise runs the Brighter Winter Reading Program during the months of January and February. They offer a challenge sheet and prizes!


What great reading challenges have you discovered for 2022?

The 2022 Children's Books Reading Challenge -- for Adults! #2022ChildrensBooksChallenge



Last year while browsing my TBR shelves to prepare for my 2021 reading challenges, I found something unexpected: I had a lot of children's books there. I began this challenge to motivate myself to read some of them and I actually did finish a few. I've still got some leftover and have added a few throughout the year, so I think it's a good idea to give this one a second run!

I know a lot of adults really enjoy reading youth or young adult fiction but, other than the occasional classic, I've never really been into it in my adulthood. Still, I must be somewhat interested or I wouldn't have 10-15 or so children's books hanging out on my TBR!

So, I've created the Children's Books Reading Challenge...for Adults! Sure, I read with my kids all the time---but this year I'm challenging myself to read more children's books by myself.

Want to join? It's easy! Just let me know in the comments below. If you have a blog or a Goodreads account you'd like to link up, even better! Then, every time you read a book for the challenge, just come back here and let us know about it with your thoughts or link in the comments. That way we can all be inspired! Let's use this hashtag: #2022ChildrensBooksChallenge on social media so we can find one another easier.

What books qualify? That one's simple: it's up to you! Anything you think could be found in the children's section of a library or bookstore is applicable, as well as timeless classics that the whole family would enjoy. Here is a list I made from Wikipedia that I'll be working from.
I can't wait to see what everyone is reading!