Bookstores, Bookshelves, Books & the Backbeat

Anyone that knows me knows I’m a bookaholic/book addict/book obsessed nerd. In fact, that’s what my grown children call me affectionally, but nonetheless “Nerd” more often than “Mom.” I started writing about books over ten years ago, have been to multiple book conventions and have purged my collection more times than I can count. Let’s not get into how many boxes of books I’ve packed and moved from house to house or state to state.

Two years or so ago, I found this fantastic (except for the neighbors) old converted barn that was built in 1903. I have the whole top floor and it’s huge for a single person. Still, I snapped it up because the first thing I saw when I came in was this huge hallway I envisioned with floor to ceiling shelves for…what else, my books.

First things came first. I hadn’t worked in three years except for occasional freelance gigs and I was now working full-time along with my freelancing. I had bills to pay, more important (really) things to buy. Occasionally, a small shelf would work its way into my apartment, but mostly, the books were lined up on the window seat, tucked into baskets, cupboards, file cabinets or on the floor discreetly stacked in a corner.

My Grandma Lupe used to say that when God closes a door, he opens a window and while I’m not religious, I’ve often found that to be true. When something bad happens, often some good comes out of it. At least that’s been my experience. My something bad was Brand Bookshop closing after more than thirty years in business. It was my favorite bookshop of all that is left of my old friends. Acres of Books is gone, so is Dangerous Visions, etc. It broke my heart to hear they were closing. Feeling a bit like a vulture, I ventured into the store several times, each time leaving with a ton of books. The last time I was there, Gianfranco, who was with me hoping against hope I’d not spend a packet on more books, said, “Why don’t you ask them if the shelves are for sale too.” At first I thought he was making fun of me, but then he said he was serious and since it was a great idea, I asked. “Why yes, we are at ten bucks a pop” the person at the counter said. I almost fainted.  “GIMME THEM ALL!” I shouted while Gianfranco shook his head. “Well we can’t because a lot are already spoken for, but go find ones that aren’t and tag ‘em” said the helpful counterperson.

So I did. I charged through the store armed with  post-its with my name and phone number on them. We found six viable shelves that didn’t have names on them and then left, sacks of books in hand to wait impatiently for the call to come get the shelves. That call came Friday and we made an appointment for Monday to grab them.

I had to work, but Gianfranco was off and so he handled the collecting and moving of the shelves while I chewed down my nails at the office anxiously waiting. Around 1:00 p.m. I got a text with a photo of shelves in a rental truck and then…nothing. Awhile later I got another text, “they’re in your house.” 4:30 couldn’t come quick enough for me and I raced home, arriving here at the same time as Gianfranco who told me the shelves were too tall by a half-inch to fit my hallway turned library. He’d brought his trusty butchering saw and made them fit.

I barely slept all night for thinking of how I’d categorize the books. I woke up early, chugged down coffee, tied up my hair and grabbed the Plantronics Backbeat Fit wireless headset and my literary playlist on my phone. I strapped the phone into the armband, made sure I was connected to my home wireless and I was off. I spent about six hours cleaning shelves, listening to music, collecting, categorizing, and alphabetizing books. It was the best day I’ve spent in a long while. Towards the fourth hour, I began to tire (hey shelving is hard work!) but the incredible sound of my headphones playing my music kept me going. I’m sure the designers of this headset weren’t thinking of a literary work-out when they built them for fitness, but they worked perfectly. At the end of the day, I have full, clean and organized shelves, the library I’ve dreamt about for over two years and a headset that still has juice and is pumping out a different playlist now, one meant for relaxation.

Oh and just in case you’re wondering what’s on my literary playlist…

Gina’s Literary Playlist

Positively Fourth Street – Bob Dylan from Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland


From Marukami’s Kafka on the Shore:

Schubert Piano Sonata in D Major

Crossroads – Cream

Heigh – Ho – Andre Rieu

Mi Chiamano Mimi – Puccini (Maria Callas)

As Time Goes By – Billie Holiday

4th Time Around – Bob Dylan

(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding

Corcovado – Getz/Gilberto

Sexy MF – Prince

Archduke Trio – Beethoven

My Favorite Things – John Coltrane


From Anne Patchett’s Bel Canto:

Münchner Rundfunkorchester – Rusalka: Song to the Moon (Act I)

Ian Bostridge – Die Forelle D550 (Schubart)

Choeurs Rene Duclos – Les Contes d’Hoffmann (2003 Digital Remaster), Act III: Entr’acte (Orchestra)…Belle nuite, ô nuit d’amour : Barcarolle (Une voix/Giulietta/Chorus)

Maria Callas – O Mio Babbino Caro

Maria Callas – The Barber of Seville : Una Voce Poco Fa

Luciano Pavarotti – Verdi: Rigoletto / Act 3 – “La donna è mobile”

Luciano Pavarotti – Verdi: Rigoletto / Act 3 – “Bella figlia dell’amore”

Luciano Pavarotti – Verdi: Rigoletto / Act 1 – “Questa o quella…Partite? Crudele!”


From Patti Smith’s Biography – Just the Kids:

Bewildered – James Brown & The Famous Flames

Let’s Go, Let’s Go – Hank Ballard

Paint it, Black – The Rolling Stones

Nowhere Man – The Revolver Road Band

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 – Bob Dylan

Light My Fire – The Doors

Strawberry Fields Forever – Abbey Road All-Stars

I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl – Nina Simone

Do I Move You – Nina Simone

Lady Sings the Blues – Billie Holiday

Born Under a Bad Sign – The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine – Country Joe & The Fish

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

Ode to Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry

If I Were a Carpenter – Tom Hardin

Le chant d’amour – Edit Piaf

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – The Beatles

Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones

Farewell Angelina – Bob Dylan

Stagger Lee – Tom Hardin

Lover Man – Billie Holiday

Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane

Are You Experienced – Jimi Hendrix

Jambalaya – Hank Williams

Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

Me & Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin

Heroin – The Velvet Underground

Other Literary Songs in my Playlist

Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush (Bronte)

Testify – Rage Against the Machine (George Orwell references)

Ramble On – Led Zepplin (Tolkein references)

Thieves in the Night – Black Star (homage to Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye)

Brave New World  – Iron Maiden (Aldous Huxley)

Pigs – Pink Floyd (Animal Farm – George Orwell)

Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones (The Master and Margarita)

For Whom The Bell Tolls – Metallica

Richard Cory by Simon and Garfunkel  (poem “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson).

“The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen (The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

“Tales of Brave Ulysses” by Cream – The Odyssey by Homer.

“Whip It” by Devo – Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.

“Tom Sawyer” by Rush – Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

Paperback Writer – The Beatles

Rush, “2112” – Anthem by Ayn Rand,

Rush ,“Rivendell” – The Lord of the Rings – Tolkein

“Xanadu” based on Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan.”

“The Bard’s Song (The Hobbit)” by Blind Guardian –  The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien.

“Home At Last” by Steely Dan – The Odyssey by Homer.

“The Catcher in the Rye” by Guns N’ Roses – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

“Blood and Thunder” by Mastodon – Moby Dick by Herman Melville

“Me Gustas Cuando Callas” by the Brazilian Girls – Poem “Me Gustas Cuando Callas” by Pablo Neruda

“Frankenstein” by Iced Earth – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

“2+2=5” by Radiohead – 1984 by George Orwell

“Las Batallas” by Cafe Tacuba — Las batallas en el desiertobu Jose Emilio Pacheco

“Black Blade” by Blue Oyster Cult – Elric of Melnibone stories by Michael Moorcook

“La cruz de Santiago” by Mago de Oz – Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte

“La leyenda de la Mancha by Mago de Oz – Don Quixote by Cervantes

“Moon Over Bourbon Street” by Sting – Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

“Ahab” by MC Lars – Moby Dick by Herman Melville

“Annabel Lee” by Stevie Nicks – Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Sufjian Stevens – A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery Conner

“Misery Loves Company” by Anthrax – Misery by Stephen King

“Billy Liar” by The Decemberists – Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse

“Storm bringer” by Deep Purple – Elric of Melnibone stories by Michael Moorcock

“Steppenwolf” by Hawkweed – Steppenwulf by Herman Hesse

“Tea in the Sahara” by The Police – The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

“Patrick Bateman” by Manic Street Preachers – American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis”

“Traveler in Time” by Blind Gaurdian – Dune by Frank Herbert

“Quelque Chose de Tennessee” by Johnny Hallyday – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams

“William, It Was Really Nothing” by The Smiths – Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse

“Sirens of Titan” by Al Stewart – Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

“The Trooper” by Iron Maiden – The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Scentless Apprentice” by Nirvana – Perfume by Patrick Suskind

“I Am The Walrus” by The Beatles – King Lear by William Shakespeare

“Into The West” by Annie Lennox – The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkein

“Saint Veronika” by Billy Talent – Veronika Decides to Die by Paul Coehlo

“The Salesman, Denver Max” by The Blood Brothers – Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates

“The Sign of the Cross” by Iron Maiden – The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

“If I Die Young” by The Band Perry – The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Lord Tennyson

“I Cheat The Hangman” by The Doobie Brothers – An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

“Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

“Skeletons In The Closet” by Anthrax – Apt Pupil by Stephen King

“A Trick Of The Tail” by Genesis – The Inheritors by William Golding

“Pattern Recognition” by Sonic Youth – Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

“Damnation Alley” by Hawkweed – Damnation Alley by Roger Zalazny

“My Antonia” by Emmylou Harris with Dave Matthews – My Antonia by Willa Cather

“Charlotte Sometimes” by The Cure – Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer

“Goodbye Sky Harbor” by Jimmy Eat World – A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving”

“Catch-22” by Pink – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“The Highwayman” by Loreen McKennit – The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

“Cassandra” by ABBA – The Iliad by Homer

“Calypso” by Suzanne Vega – The Odyssey by Homer

“Altair-4” by Blind Guardian – The Tommknockers by Stephen King

“1984” by David Bowie – 1984 by George Orwell

“Abigail” by Motionless in White – The Crucible by Arthur Miller

“Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts” from the Manowar  – The  Iliad.

“And Then There Was Silence” by Blind Guardian – The Iliad by Homer.

“Afternoons and Coffeespoons” by Crash Test Dummies -“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Elliot

“Adam’s Apple” by Aerosmith – The Bible

“Ahab” by MC Lars  – Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

“Alone” by Green Carnation is based on the Edgar Allan Poe poem of the same title.

“Elvenpath” by Nightwish –  J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

“The Cask Of Amontillado” by  The Alan Parsons Project –  The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe.

“How Beautiful You Are” by The Cure – “Les Yeux du Pauvre” by Charles Baudelaire

“Doublespeak” by Thrice – 1984 by  George Orwell

“I, Robot”  by The Alan Parsons Project – Isaac Asimov

“I Have Seen The Future” by The Bravery – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

“I Robot” by the UK Subs – I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.

“Indiana” by Meg & Dia – Indiana by George Sands

“In Like a Lion (Always Winter)” by Relient K – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by  C. S. Lewis

“The Insect God” by Monks of Doom  – The Insect God by Edward Gorey

“Insener Garini Hüperboloid” by Vennaskond – The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy

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