Bookstores–Part 1: I Love Books!
I love bookstores!
In my career I’ve had to pack up and move across country a couple of times, tossing a million things into boxes, and my most beloved possessions in those boxes are a couple of hundred books that have been a part of my life since—well, forever. My books are like the molecules of my body, and my vital organs, most especially my heart pumping my blood and giving me life.
A couple of times over the years I’ve posted about books I was reading and that made an impression on me. I plan on doing more of this in the coming year.
As much as my life has been about cameras and pictures—still photos and moving images, of news stories and the independent films I’ve made—I consider myself, first and foremost, a writer.
I was tempted to say, “A man of words,” but that would be too self-aggrandizing. (The greatest saving grace is having spellcheck to correct me—constantly!)
My passion is older books
Hardcovers and paperbacks from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s—a time when people across the country were clacking away at typewriters, trying to write the next great American novel, or pulp fiction gumshoe mystery.
All this would be replaced in the 1980s when movies became the public fascination and people turned from pounding out what they hoped would be 500- and 600-page bestsellers to the simpler 120-page screenplay in search of multimillion-dollar deals. The Great Get-Rich-Quick-Gold-Rush-Miasma of the 1980s and ‘90s, when people thought they could write a screenplay by virtue of their script being in courier font and proper screenplay format.
“You can’t go home again”
Every time I find an old book that I either used to have or remember seeing on an old drug store wire paperback rack and always wanted to read, pick it up and add to my bookshelf . . . I feel like I am getting home again.
Back then every drugstore had paperback racks with thin detective novels and bestsellers by the celebrity authors of that time: James Jones’ From Here to Eternity; Leon Uris’ Exodus, Mila 18, Topaz; Irving Stone, Agony and the Ecstasy, Lust for Life; Irving Wallace, The Prize, The Chapman Report, The Seven Minutes (which my old friend Russ Meyer made into a movie); Irwin Shaw, The Young Lions, Two Weeks in Another Town and Rich Man, Poor Man; Joseph Heller, Catch 22; Jacqueline Susanne, The Valley of the Dolls, The Love Machine. Back when bestsellers in fiction were searing, soul-searching dramas about people and human dilemmas, rather than the mystery action thrillers that dominate today’s bestseller lists.
I particularly love finding the old original additions of these books that I first saw when I was young and becoming aware.
Sadly, used bookstores are fading from the landscape as, increasingly, people are turning to digital downloads of e-books onto their iPhones, iPads and kindles. And I do this myself. I love having a couple of books on my iPhone for times when I am stuck on a story and there are long periods of waiting. I hate just standing around jabbering with other photographers about “the business.” I’d rather be reading.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, is a book I always have with me on my iPhone as a free download from Amazon.
It is my favorite book, changed my life, showed me insight into the human condition at an age where I was still naïve, and made me re-think everything, and is with me always.
So when I find a bookstore filled with old books, I feel like I am in heaven. And the older, the more cluttered, more disorganized, more over stuffed and piled with old books—the better.
Just this past week I was down in Los Angeles for a few days, and before heading back, to head up I-5 for the long drive north back home to Sacramento, I pulled out my laptop and did a Google search of used bookstores in LA. It was sad to see that so many places that I used to haunt when I lived there briefly in the mid-1980s no longer existed. But there was one that was still open and was right off the highway.
on San Fernando Blvd. in downtown Burbank, which was just a couple of blocks from where I used to live, still has the doors open.
It used to be strictly a movie memorabilia and collectible store. I spent many, many hours exploring the shelves, going through stacks of studio-discarded production screenplays—not Xerox copies—and boxes and boxes of old movie posters for films that had been long forgotten, even from the late-night TV. With stars who have relocated from Beverly Hills to Forest Lawn.
Now it has become a bookstore. Stacks and stacks of old books. Vintage hardbacks and paperbacks. So many that they’re double- and even triple-deep on the shelves, one row in front of the other. You have to pull them out to see what treasures lie behind. And more books piling up on the floor in front of the bookcases, making passage down the aisles a challenge.
It looks like a store run by a book hoarder. A place I call: Book Heaven.
I went in planning on a quick 20 minutes to peruse, and left over an hour later with a small bag of treasures. Several books that I had been looking for years.
Driving away, getting back onto I-5 to head back home, all I could think about were all of the treasures I left behind and should have grabbed.
Ah well, next time…
Note to Naked Filmmaking fans and readers: The banner of the website says: Mike Carroll Films and Mike Carroll Books.
I am assuming that most visitors to this site have found it as a result of my books, Naked Filmmaking: How To Make A Feature-Length Film—Without A Crew—For $10,000-$6,000 Or Less—Revised & Expanded For DSLR Filmmakers and Breaking Into TV News: How To Get A Job & Excel As A TV Reporter. I am now planning to be writing a bit more about books and about writing—how I write, now how you should write—which come as no surprise.
Over the coming weeks and months you will notice this site diversifying. I shall continue post about my news stories and how they are done. In addition, I am going to be posting about writing and the books that inspire me. So if this site is one where you come to for inspiration, then I hope these new posts will deepen that inspiration, and make you want to look more deeply at the books and authors who inspire you.