July 30
I'm a lawyer in my past life, who got the kids through college and decided to try something different and a little more fun. A used book store sounded like a good idea, so that's where I am for now. I just hadn't counted on a recession or E-readers and am a little afraid there's going to be a third act. In the meantime, I have plenty to read and a little time to write. Not a bad way to spend a day.


Jlsathre's Links

JULY 26, 2012 10:01AM

Hot Books In a Bookstore

Rate: 18 Flag


Fifty Shades of Grey is currently hot. The newest James Patterson book is always hot. For reasons I don't fully understand, Amish romances continue to be hot. And for six long weeks this summer, every book in my store was hot. Not because of a sudden rush of customers, but because the air conditioner spewed its last breath of cool air in early June and it took six weeks for my landlord to get a new one installed and working.

As someone who grew up without air conditioning, I thought I'd be fine. I'd been through something like this before.

Years ago, when my daughters and I moved into a house with central air, we basked in the controlled comfort of cool air for several summers before the whole system quit working. 

It turned out to be a major breakdown of something called the compressor, which was going to cost about the same as buying a whole new system. Because that seemed like a foolish purchase to make in late August, I decided to finish off the summer with open windows and fans. 

Four years later, our windows were still open, the fans were still going, and the compressor was still not fixed.

My daughters watched me leave for an air conditioned office every morning and argued that my own daily comfort was letting me sacrifice theirs. They might have been right. But I didn't think so at the time. I thought that living without air conditioning was a way of capturing some of the unknown promise that the endless days of summer used to hold.

I thought I was bringing back simpler days where the haves were defined by air conditioning and color TV's, where restaurants were chosen for how cool they were kept rather than the quality of their food, where public pools were crowded, where nothing tasted better than a glass of ice water, where the heat of summer was a reminder of endless days filled with unknown possibilities.

At the time, I  had just read the novel All Summer Long, by Bob Greene, where three middle aged friends from high school take the summer off and travel aimlessly around the states in an attempt to recreate the open-eneded promise that defined their youthful summers.

It's a book that I often put out on my "Favorites" shelf at the store even though no one ever seems to choose it. It made me hungry for my own youthful summers and wanting to share their promise with my daughters. Without the steady hum of fans, and the cool breezes and night sounds from open windows, I was afraid that the promise of summer could slip by them unnoticed.  

Only when we were getting ready to sell the house did I finally and relucantly fix the air conditioning. My daughters were quick to close the windows, put away the fans, and bask in the controlled comfort for our few remaining days. 

I'm realistic enough to know that they don't look back on those days of no air conditioning with fondness. And now, looking back myself, I'd be willing to bet that those three men in Bob Greene's book were riding in a car with air conditioning.

This summer in the bookstore convinced me. It was endless. But without promise. Indeed, the six weeks of no air conditioning just about did me in.

The first sign that I might not be revisiting my idyllic vision of open windows and screen doors was when I realized that none of my windows opened and my door didn't have a screen. When I propped it open with a heavy book, the only thing that came in was a bird looking for refuge from the heat. He was happy to leave. As were most customers. 

The second sign was when an elderly customer passed out when paying for his books and I found the store crowded for the first time in weeks. Unfortunately, not with customers, but with a fire engine and ambulance out front and ten firefighters and EMT's crowded inside with a stretcher that couldn't get past the piles of books. Luckily, the customer had already paid for his books and I made a sale, and the problem turned out to be heart related rather than heat related. When his medicine was adjusted, he was fine, thankful, and back for more books.  

There weren't a lot of people lingering in the stacks this summer and the dedicated readers that did come in picked out books so fast that they didn't even notice that I was shedding more and more clothes as the days went by.  

It's all been more than enough to convince me to put to rest my longing for the simpler days of open doors and wafting breezes. 

For reasons I'll probably never fully understand, Amish romances are still hot. 

But I no longer am. It feels a little idyllic.


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Fun read! I grew up in upstate New York, where you really only need AC a couple weeks a year, so most people did without. But now that I am in Texas (and very heat-susceptible) I think I would pass out with AC.

Still haven't read 50 Shades of Grey - I just can't bring myself to inflict that upon myself!
Just think of an Amish romance conducted in an air conditioned hotel room.

Thanks for this lovely piece. Always like your stories of the bookshop.
Great Post. For some reason, until we got air conditioning, I don't remember it being a big problem. But, once we had it, there was no going back, Think about the kids today. Most have never had to sleep in hot room under a fan.
You've captured wistfulless so expertly. I hate heat but understand what you mean about how summers past seem more romantic.
Amish romances are hot??? Chasidic romances next? I don't understand yet there must be a good reason.
Glad the elderly fellow is back and not in an airconditioned court with you.
Terrific and tight piece.

We just spend 320 bucks( that we do not have) to fix the car A/C. The stress of that kind of heat was too much. And, it rarely gets that hot here.
postmormon--I haven't read "Shades of Grey" either--or any Amish romances. We may be missing out.

Mary--Oh, you've created a visual and I'm not sure I want to go there.

scanner--Me too. I remember being hot, but it didn't seem to be a bad thing. Maybe we just didn't know any better.

fernsey--I was more than a little relieved that his problems weren't heat related and that he ended up okay. Thanks for your nice words.
I would love to grow up and understand how James Patternson markets stuff. Wow.. As for Amish romances that is all I read on this extended cooking and cleaning vacation.
CU in the fall..
I would love to grow up and understand how James Patternson markets stuff. Wow.. As for Amish romances that is all I read on this extended cooking and cleaning vacation.
CU in the fall..
Dedicated book lover that i am, i am sure i would have noticed
you shedding more & more clothes...

I grew up in airconditioned splendor....summer was
a dichotomous experience of going out and doing boyish things
and coming home to glorious cool. So..my memories are of both
heat and cold...

Now i live w/o air conditioning, and it's ok, for i am finally
"getting in touch with my body'' as they advise us
cerebral types to do...due to having to strip
way down in my room that gets direct sunlight
up on the second floor
each day...i have two fans....

currently at sister's house, with central air, which i only need
at night...that is a best memory of summers long gone: sleeping
in the hum and chill ....

glad to hear the old boy had heart, not heat, distress..
and that he is still a paying customer.
" Luckily, the customer had already paid for his books and I made a sale," -- that made me laugh. Besides the romances, do you get much call for Amish thrillers or murder mysteries?
You don't think they were noticing. Did you notice some of the men "browsing" books upside down? Nice marketing gimmick. Hey, save that Bob Greene novel for me!
We don't have central air. It's a stone house, it stays cool unless we get a long hot spell,then it stays hot. We have an ac in the kitchen/family room, but a fan works fine in the bedroom at night. I like the heat and enjoy working up a good sweat outside and then chasing my wife around the house trying to give her a hug. Heh,heh. R
well, you got the Active old Gentleman
club out, i see! chicken & gerald..
they flirt pretty well, but not like an educated man of the Manor

Let us say: the rustle of her clothing
leaving her humid skin
sent a scent and i
lost concentration in
my book for a bit.


then got it back
it was hegel's 'phenomenology of spirit'
marked up maybe 40 yrs ago..1970!.....by an eager student.
A girl..

it said.

"The force of mind is only as great as its expression; its depth only as deep as its power to expand and lose itself."
I remember my father putting a fan in the upstairs window of my bedroom, facing OUT! Why, Dad, why? "It draws cool air up from downstairs." Baloney, I thought - and still do. And then my NY apt. with wiring that could not handle an AC unit. God, I spent some hot nights there. Here in VA we have whole-house air and it's a blessing. Still, we turn it off at night and open windows and sounds come in and...I love it. Great post.
Your stories about your bookstore should be an HBO series. I'm serious! They are so funny and delightful. (That whole image of Amish romance is funny!) I was there when that customer collapsed and your store was crowded with first responders. ... I agree with Mormon Girl about "Fifty Shades." Those books sound like "Twilight" for 20-somethings. R.
Linda--I agree with you on James Patterson. I think your next book should be titled "With James Patterson"-- guaranteed to be a best seller.

James--Your memories of air conditioning just show what a young lad you are.

Stim--It's pretty much just the romances that fly off the shelves.

Matt--So that's what the men were doing.... The Bob Greene book is yours if you want it. It comes highly recommended.

Gerald--I lived in big old brick houses in St. Louis, and you're right, they stay remarkably cool...until they don't. And on behalf of your wife--enough with the sweaty hugs already! She is not amused.

James--Yeah, you're a breath of fresh air after those old farts.

Rob--My dad did that exact same thing with the fans. We couldn't feel it either.

Deborah--You write the script. I'll play the old woman running the store.
some old beard
as i call thes e old fart intellectuals,said

the 20th century was MADE
by the airconditioner.as well as
the heat available when it was cold.
so we all learned never to bear
hot or cold
and go lukewarm..
A/C is the best!! :D

I refuse to read the 50 Shades of Anything! I REFUSE to be trapped in Group Trampling. PFFFT!! :D
oh what an innocent ancle, uh, no
unchill unghe,

a say is a say in something, so you say. yikes

'Ume:ay gaddannut Ukow I just came hore"

ah? when how when and where?
JL, I so love bookstores and libraries, as well. I think books are such a beautiful world. Each book, a whole world. I like it that you have a bookstore, you are the first I have met, and I like it that I have the inner sight of one of my beloved places. Liked reading this story, here in Greece, heat is also very hot....and I am living with no air condition, just a wind machine..and still summer!
James--So has air conditioning made us boring?

Tink--I'm with you. There are certain books I won't read on principle. "Fifty Shades.." is one of them, "Twilight" another, although I feel a slight obligation to read at least one vampire book.

James--? You lost me with this one.

Stathi--I'm honored to be the only bookstore owner you've met. I may start advertising that the store is renowned in far away places.
I am so glad you got your air conditioning fixed!!! As I sit here with an overhead fan and a small electric one trained on me, your descriptions of that rush of cool air made me feel almost vicariously soothed. Thank you for writing a post that doesn't glorify "the simpler things". Air conditioning was invented for a reason. Now if only the Parisians would realize that...sigh..... Enjoy the cool air - and thanks for letting me experience it just for a little...and also for that interesting tidbit about Amish romance books. Who'd've thunk?
Your posts always make me smile. Well, your posts and Amish romances, of course. I'm all for air conditioning but I couldn't manage without being able to throw the windows open every now and again. Are you sure you can't get them fixed?
Icyhigh and I 'bumped' on the active Open's Feed.

I always am tempted to tease ` IcyThighs. Mercy.
Amish don't use air conditioners` Nor Do Farmers.

Neither the Mountain Blueberries ` Nor the Farm.
Maybe some day I'll get a air conditioner in ` Hades.
Gaud/Nature sure turned the Oven Up To ` Broils.
Amish NO Reveal Torrid Sex Dreams on a ` Gizmo.
Ya Gave me an Idea? I may Begin a Farm Sax Book.
I began to speak tongues last nite, sorry, JL.
“oh what an innocent ancle, uh, no/unchill unghe,
a say is a say in something, so you say. Yikes/
'Ume:ay gaddannut Ukow I just came hore"/
ah? when how when and where?”

It makes no sense, but..one good quote…”a say is say in something.”

As for the essential message of this post, I get it
you aint hot, you idyllic.
I agree with Deborah. Although it's the first I'm hearing about Amish romances. What a delightful read!