This is my first bookends blog. Why bookends? Originally, I intended to name it “bookie.” There are millions of foodies and thousands of foodie newsletters so why can’t someone who loves books, bookstores, libraries, really everything about books, celebrate by writing about all things – bookie. But too many friends thought it smacked of gambling and might draw the wrong crowd! And so, it became bookends (and yes, that’s with a lowercase ‘b’!).
Once a month, I will write a bookends newsletter and send it out to all those with an interest in all things book-related. Please pass along to anyone with an interest.
It’s my intention in each newsletter to include a story about an author I admire. In many cases, I have heard them speak, read, or be interviewed. I’ll also include a bookstore or festival that I attended and would recommend. And finally, I will keep you updated on the progress my first novel Shadow Life which is being published this August by Cormorant Books.
My Early Love of Books
I have been a book lover and avid reader since childhood. I grew up in Winnipeg and had the benefit of the glorious and mildly intimidating Cornish Library, within walking distance of my home. The head librarian helped me find books so often that she would offer another book she knew I would love. She also established early on that I could take out as many books as I liked. The constraint became how many books I could manage to carry while on a walk of a little over a mile to my home.
My parents were both avid readers. My father, Percy, would boast that in his life he read one book a day. He was a very fast reader. Percy also possessed a near-photographic memory which served him well both as an orthopaedic surgeon and as a reader.
My Irish mother, Una, read with the same intensity she brought to all aspects of her life. Although with six children to care for, her reading took on greater energy during the long days of summer. At our family cottage on West Hawk Lake in the Whiteshell Provincial Park on the Manitoba-Ontario border, Una would read late into the long evening.
Shadow Life will be my first novel. I’ve written and published previously several books on the two main activities of my working life, healthcare policy and investing. I have also written a memoir of my father, Percy, and Tales from the Backroom, a book of humorous political stories from my twenty years in government.
The writing, editing, and the finding a sympathetic publisher for Shadow Life are all steps on a journey that will hit a milestone with publication in August of this year. I’ll share stories of that journey in bookends. Along the way you will meet my clever and determined agent Beverly Slopen, as well as my editor and publisher Marc Côté of Cormorant Books.
I will also let you know where Shadow Life is available for pre-order at the bottom of this bookends.
Collecting First Editions
I became a collector of books during my Harvard student days. I specialize in books by women authors of the 20th Century, but one of the great joys of being a book collector is the ability to find that rare and valuable first edition that may be overlooked. More on that in future bookends, and more on how first editions come to be valuable.
During my days for Stanton & McDougall, I represented the University of Chicago Press. In 1976, they published a memorable book by Norman Maclean entitled A River Runs Through It.
This name may be familiar to you because it was made into a movie in 1992 with Robert Redford. The movie was set on the choicest fly fishing in the Territory of Montana. The story was a novella in length rather than a full novel, but it still became an overnight classic. It is beautifully written; there are phrases in the book that stay with you long after the book has been finished and put on a shelf.
Also, as a collector, I began to realize that some of my first editions obtained from my work as a publishers’ representative were adding real value to my collection.
Thank you for joining me for this inaugural bookend‘s blog. Please share it with book-loving friends. (It’s free and will remain that way)
And please, consider pre-ordering your copy of Shadow Life below!
~ Michael B. Decter