Sunday, February 20, 2011

Genealogy check-in — Dinah English

I've been so busy with the book store (opening in a few weeks!) that I haven't spent much time with genealogy or writing. A few weeks ago I wrote two good pages of Joshua's story. (If you're new to this blog, I'm writing a historical novel about my Quaker ancestors in Ireland, to be as factual as possible, like Roots. Joshua is the final generation, the one who emigrates to America, and I've had a hard time imagining his story, which has a lot of genealogical holes in it.)

I tried two other mornings to write, and didn't get down a word. Maybe I need to get back in the habit of writing more often, but that's hard to do when juggling several part-time jobs, physical therapy and church events.

I did have one break-through, not through my own efforts, but from a fellow genealogist. He got my e-mail from a bulletin board (yes, genealogists still use online bulletin boards to find each other) and asked for some information about the English family. He gave me Dinah English's birth year, another piece of the English family puzzle.

Dinah's birth date was strangely missing from all of the Quaker records of Moate, County Westmeath, Ireland. For fictional purposes I had made her the oldest child of Thomas English. I use a lot of educated guesses in my novel; I figured, why would a younger child hide her age? My new informant confirms that she was indeed the oldest child.

I also had a theory in my head that she wouldn't admit to her age not because she was vain, but because she was born "too early"; her parents were only 18 when they got married in England (young by later Quaker standards), and I think it was common among 17th century people to have to get married, if you know what I mean. I didn't include that in the book (yet) because it might not be the case, and I'm not out to dishonor my ancestors, just tell their story. But the theory is possible. Thomas and Ann were married in 1630, and now I know that Dinah was born in 1630.

As a first-generation Quaker and the wife of the village landlord, I think Dinah was embarrassed and hid her birth date to protect her parents' reputation.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Bookish Weekend

I've really been blessed with friends offering to give me books for my bookshop, especially a few who decided it was time to clean out.

I drove out into the countryside Friday to one friend's house and she gave me stacks of books, old and new. When I saw this one, I told her it wasn't going to be for sale:

Back to Basics has instructions for everything from building an adobe house to tanning hides.

Of course, I like the section on spinning. I don't know if I'll ever have time to learn to spin, but I like the idea of it and I have to stop and watch every spinner I see.

We had a nice visit and she also showed me some of her books that she's keeping — some with family signatures in them, genealogy books and an old family Bible.

Saturday, I went to the High Point Library book sale. Actually, I went twice — in the morning to buy old books and anything that looked special, and again in the afternoon for the bag sale. I was the first in line for the bag sale and I got to chat with an acquaintance as we waited for the happy chaos. The two trips sent me home to the bookshop with nearly a hundred books, total.

I know, collectors would turn up their noses at these ex-library editions, but I'm building a bookstore from scratch and trying to get a good variety. And the prices were good, with large art books priced the same as any other hardback. I recently bought Joyce Godsey's Book Repair for Booksellers. Before the shop opens, I'm going to have to study it and learn how to take off all the extra library stickers to make the books look a little nicer.

I chose mostly nonfiction, because I knew another friend was planning to bring me a lot of fiction Saturday afternoon. But as I was about to check out at the library sale, I quickly scanned the fiction shelves and saw The Peaceable Kingdom by Jan de Hartog. I never expected to see that on the discount shelves! While I'm working on the variety books first, I eventually want to specialize in Quaker books, genealogy and local history. I already have a fine copy of The Peaceable Kingdom in my personal collection, and now I have one to offer at the bookstore, too.

My friend BookishMiss and her mom brought boxes and boxes of books and got a peek at the shop's progress, including the new floor.

Through a weekend of generosity and good deals, I probably added about 300 books to my inventory. Now I just need shelves to put them on...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Building a Bookshop — From the floor up

I spent every week night this past week painting the bookstore. I tried to pick out colors and painted sample splotches on the walls, but I didn't like any of them. I found more paint in the closet and decided to go with the original colors. I had liked the paint scheme that was already there, but there were so many holes in the wall and some bare spots of wallboard that I had to paint the whole thing. I had enough of every color except the brown. I went to Lowe's and had them match the paint — well, it didn't match, exactly, but that'll be my storage area in the back of the building.  ;-)

Friday, the carpet went in. I was glad I didn't have to wait 'til next week (and that's why I worked so hard to get the painting done), because nothing else can go in until there's a floor to put it on. Check it out!

The carpet's not as gray as this picture makes it look. It's actually a Berber with brown and a lot of other colors in it.

Earlier in the week I got phone and internet hooked up. As soon as I take my laptop over and set things up, we'll have wi-fi.

I stand in the store and look around and think, this is getting real. I'm actually going to have a book store!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Annual Beth-David Book Sale

I've been so busy getting my bookshop ready, plus family and church events, that I haven't written yet about the Beth-David Annual Book Sale. This was the second year I went to the Saturday night event, which includes wine and cheese, as well as a gym full of books! But this year didn't include a snowstorm, so the gym was packed with a lot of other people besides us.

The Beth-David sale has a great variety, but there were only a few items on the "old and rare" table. I came home with just one box and put several things back, thinking I might come back Monday (discount day), but that didn't work out.

I was still excited to be there surrounded by so many books, but I felt different this year, looking at everything through the eyes of a real bookseller. I have to think about resale value, now. But I still have so much to learn.

I don't know if they're worth much, but I picked up these old paperbacks, several with original prices in "cents."

My box included some first editions of popular 1980s fiction and this Book of Trades (I wrote a previous post about another book of trades). I'm not familiar with reprints; this brand new, unread book with bright white pages is a reprint of an old book with lots of illustrations and historical information. 

The book on the right, Liberty and the News, is admittedly not in great condition, but as a sometime journalist, I couldn't resist. And the way a quote is pasted onto the cover is intriguing.

I also couldn't resist a couple of books about books, including this one on Yiddish literature...

... and one about a famous library cat.

I've been wanting to read Dewey — this book is for me!