Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Capital

Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.

–Thomas Jefferson

Viveka of My Guilty Pleasures is acting as this week’s challenge host. She is an avid traveler, and has posted some lovely and varied shots of world capitals she has visited. She invites us to interpret this challenge however we choose, though, and since I haven’t got any digital photos of the world capitals I have visited (Washington, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Rome, Mexico City, Nassau, Budapest, Vienna), I am going in a totally different direction, following Mr. Thomas Jefferson’s lead in the quote above.

Nine years ago, I moved into a bookstore. I have been sharing a roof with Scholar & Poet books ever since.

In economics, capital consists of assets that can enhance one’s power to perform economically useful work. For example, in a fundamental sense a stone or an arrow is capital for a hunter-gatherer who can use it as a hunting instrument, while roads are capital for inhabitants of a city. — Wikipedia

Books are assets that have enhanced my entire life. They have definitely enhanced my power to perform economically useful work, like cooking. How many cookbooks do you have? When did you first make a meal using a recipe in a book? Did you learn anything about parenting from a book? Or about the skills that you are paid to perform?

I sometimes wonder whether books will become obsolete as technology advances. Perhaps in my country, that is a possibility. But globally, I think books will endure as long as human civilization does. 

I look forward to the day that I can read a book to my grandchild and pass on the pleasure, the investment, and the treasure of reading a book.

Yes, indeed. That would be capital! 😉 


Books That Change Lives

I have 4 broad cubbyholes for experience titled “Distraction”, “Entertainment”, “Useful” and “Inspirational”. This is not a system of judgment, simply an organizational game that my homo sapiens brain finds oddly relaxing. I can truly laud events in any of those categories, but sorting them is something that satisfies in a strange way, like the way I play Solitaire on the computer before bed. When I thought of all of the books in my life (and since our home is an online book-selling business, I literally have tens of thousands of books in my daily life!), I wondered how to pick which to write about. These categories are going to help me navigate this topic. Books that change lives can fall under any of these headings.


I have to start with Children’s Books because I was a child when books began to influence me. Certain Children’s Books can fit under each of those labels. Did you ever try to distract a child in tears by offering to read a story? Sure. Did you ever pick up your jacketless copy of Ferdinand and flip to the illustration of the contented bull under the tree smelling flowers because you were seeking escape? Yes! So maybe “Distraction” is a place where some of my favorites can be filed.

“Entertainment” is a fine role for a Children’s Book. Pure imagination (Roald Dahl), puzzle-solving (Graeme Base, I Spy…), and song and dance (Priscilla Superstar, Eloise) come to mind. Rhyming books by Dr. Seuss and Bill Peet were always fun to read aloud to my kids. Of course, I do voices. (After all, I was a Voice Performance major in college and a theater teacher!) Books can serve up silliness in all shapes and sizes.


A child’s book becomes “Useful” when it has a gentle way of teaching a very important lesson. I loved Babar immediately, and slept with a plush version each night, thumbing the yellow felt of his crown until its softness lulled me to sleep. I learned to respect animals and humans, that responsibility can bring anxiety, and that belonging to a community helps you to feel secure and peaceful.

When I think of books that are “Inspirational”, I think of them as initiating changes that transcend mood and feeling and circumstance. Perhaps you can call them “paradigm-shifters”. Every so often, a Children’s Book has that kind of impact, too. They defy the age-ism of the Children’s or Young Adult section. The Lorax, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Little Prince, A Wrinkle In Time. These books introduced me to the realms of mysticism and philosophy that I began to explore in greater depth as an adult. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Poems by Hafiz.

There are iconic books that have shaped my life that I think I would put in a separate cubbyhole, perhaps shaped and decorated more like a shrine. These are sacred texts: The Bible. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hahn. They became almost monolithic in my life journey at certain points.

Most of the goods manufactured by human beings are problematic to me. Luxury items strike me as senseless and leave me completely cold. Clothing is necessary but has a seamy underbelly in Fashion. You don’t even want to get me started on Plastic! But Books – well, they could be the veritable justification of civilization itself, as far as I’m concerned. I cannot imagine my life without them.

This essay is featured in this month’s issue of  The Be Zine. To see the entire blogazine, click HERE.

Wonderful Team Member Readership Award


I received a gift from one of my readers this Christmas: the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award.  The kid in me who loved earning ‘A’s and other awards is absolutely beaming.  A gold star to show my Mom and Dad!  Pat myself on the head, spin around and pose with a smile!  Okay, now that I’ve gotten that ego bit out of the way…

I owe this honor to lisalday111711 who writes not one, not two, but THREE blogs featuring her photography, her stalwart Weimaraner, and her spiritual journey.  The award encourages recipients to do the following: 

  • Display the logo on his/her post/page and/or sidebar

  • The Nominee must finish this sentence and post: ”A Great reader is…”

  • Nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days (1 week) – this can be done at any rate during the week. It can be ALL on one day or a few on one day and a few on another day, etc., naming his or her nominees on a post or on posts during the 1 week period.

  • The Nominee shall make these rules, or amended rules, keeping to the spirit of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, known to each reader s/he nominates.

So here I go with item #2…

 A great reader is not a stereotype.  A great reader is anyone who begins a relationship with a writer.   To be honest, when I first learned that I had been nominated for this award, I thought “I am so NOT a great blog reader, and I haven’t even read this person’s blog!  Why on earth did she nominate me?!”  A while ago, I decided to purge my “follows” because I found myself getting way too many e-mails in my inbox.  I didn’t want to spend so many minutes every day feeling obligated to open and like and respond to every one of those posts.   I am one of those introverts who have traded a massive list of acquaintances for a few close, deep relationships.  I do not have a Facebook account, and I do not receive phone calls on a daily basis.  I am not a great reader of blogs for quantity, but I may be a great blog reader for quality.  I am looking for a relationship, for kindred spirits and non-kindred spirits who are honest, vulnerable, interesting, interested and willing to engage.  The fact that they post anything at all shows some inclination to self-revelation in all bloggers, so I don’t have to look very far.  And like picking out a Christmas tree, I don’t keep on looking after I’ve found a suitable match; after all, it’s cold out here and I’d rather settle down with some hot chocolate under the twinkly lights!  So, I don’t claim to have sorted through a million blogs to follow the very best of anything.  Maybe I simply develop loyalty quickly.  But that’s just me.  I like to discover a blog,  follow, go deeper and learn more about the person over time.  I am not the standard of The Great Reader; I am perhaps just A Great Reader to one person.  And that’s fine, I think. 

My Great Readers are very personal.  Some of them may not even be known to me, as the one who nominated me wasn’t.  How do I nominate 14?  I suppose I can only mention the known ones, the ones who identify themselves with ‘likes’ or comments or direct e-mails.  I am absolutely thrilled when my family members and friends far away read my blog.   My mother reads my blog faithfully.  It is how we keep in touch week by week, and she sends me her periodic responses by e-mail.  My late husband’s cousin in France is one of my readers.  My 2 sisters, my brother, my four children.  I have developed a daily comment exchange with a blogger who lives in the U.K.  We have grown quite close over the space of a little over a year.  She doesn’t accept blog awards, but I have her link in my sidebar.  I am hoping to meet her in person one day.  That’s 10 great readers right there.  Here are 4 more whom I follow, who also follow me, with links to their blogs:

R. from Wood Rabbit Journey

Doree from conquistadoree

Stephen G. Hipperson

Naomi Baltuck

These readers will visit eventually and can do as they please with this information as they accept my sincere gratitude and recognition for their readership!  I thank ALL of my readers for beginning some kind of relationship with me.  I am honored by your visits and hope that we can edify one another, be open to one another and “inter-be” (as Thich Nhat Hahn would say) with joy. Huzzah!