On Huffington Post today, Gina Barreca writes a love letter to independent bookstores.
For those who don’t know, Gina blogs for the Chronicle for Higher Education, Huff Post and Psychology Today. She is also a professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut. Her books, which have been translated into seven languages, include They Used to Call Me Snow White But I Drifted, Babes in Boyland, and It’s Not That I’m Bitter. Her latest book, Make Mine a Double, was published in September 2011 and includes an essay of mine in there called the Park Slope Stroller Wars.
Here’s an excerpt from a piece called Why Independent Bookstores Matter, which will resonate with Park Slopers, great supporters of indie bookstores like the Community Bookstore. Read the rest on Huff Post.
“Independent bookstores do everything big corporate bookstores do, with only one significant difference: Independents do it better.
“Without independent bookstores — meaning those places not owned by huge corporate chains or multinational conglomerates –there would be three, maybe four, books published a year.
“There would be a blockbuster thriller, a densely detailed romance, a pseudo-science exploration of a catchy phenomena, and a celebrity bio.
“And a diet book — there would be a diet book.
“So eventually, there would be one book issued per year: a densely detailed autobiographical and pseudo-scientific celebrity thriller containing recipes. Denzel Washington meets Stephen J. Gould meets Don Delillo meets The Naked Chef. Yum.”
Park Slope’s Michele Madigan Somerville is the author of Black Irish and other volumes of poetry. She also writes essays about theology and education, which appear frequently on the Huffington Post and on her blogs, Indie Theology and Bored-O-Ed. Here’s an excerpt from a recent esssay on school reform, politics, and a teachers at a local school.
I wrote a “thank you” note to an eighth grade teacher on the morning of the last day of school this week. The teacher is a bit of a wise-ass; he cracks a lot of jokes, most of them, I gather, funny. Is he everyone’s idea of an excellent teacher? It’s hard to say. But he’s smart, funny, actually teaches students to write five-paragraph essays on Humanities topics, and when my own child was finding herself lost (in a large “gifted and talented” school which overall disappointed, in ways that could have been avoided) this highly intelligent teacher noticed and cared.
High intelligence and caring may sound like minimum basic requirements for teachers, but in even the best New York City schools, these qualities are all too scarce.
My children recoil in horror when I tell them I used to assign the occasional D+ or B++ to students on essays. Why not give the C- or the A-, they asked? More than not I rounded up.
But when my daughter presented me with her final middle school report card, she found the grade the aforementioned teacher (whom I thanked) assigned a bit low. I thought it was a perfect grade. The teacher knew my girl was uncommonly able — and I know she’d been dining out on aptitude for way too long. I was glad to see the teacher assign a grade designed to send a message — a grade which is code for “We both know you could have gotten an A+ if you had tried even just a little.” He cared.