Books 2

Bookstores–Part 1: I Love Books!

Published On January 28, 2016 | By Mike Carroll | 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!)

Just a few of my books on my current two narrow Ikea book cases. I have boxes of more books in storage. These are books that I am close to and need to have near me, within and arm's reach, to open and sometimes just read a few pages, to get the rhythm of the words.

Just a few of my books on my current two narrow Ikea book cases. I have boxes of more books in storage. These are books that I am close to and need to have near me, within and arm’s reach, to open and sometimes just read a few pages, to get the rhythm of the words.

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.

When I get hooked on a book I find myself picking up additional copies -- either both the hard cover and paperback versions, or because I want to share it with friends and will pick up extra copies to give away. Elia Kazan's The Arrangement is one of these. I've always had a fascination with it. I shall write a blog about it to go more in depth on it soon.

When I get hooked on a book I find myself picking up additional copies — either both the hard cover and paperback versions, or because I want to share it with friends and will pick up extra copies to give away. Elia Kazan’s The Arrangement is one of these. I’ve always had a fascination with it. I shall write a blog about it to go more in depth on it soon.

“You can’t go home again”
—Thomas Wolfe

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.

Behold Zion has been with me since high school. The novelization of A Man And A Woman is by the same author, Burt Hershfeld. I thought it would be a quickie book, and it probably was written in just a few weeks, but I am also surprised and how well it is done. Much better than a lot of writing I come across.

Behold Zion has been with me since high school. The novelization of A Man And A Woman is by the same author, Burt Hershfeld. I thought it would be a quickie book, and it probably was written in just a few weeks, but I am also surprised and how well it is done. Much better than a lot of writing I come across.

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.

My old paperbacks. When I find them in old, cluttered book stores, I feel like I have found an old friend who I had lost touch with and had finally reconnected. It's like getting back in touch with my youth.

My old paperbacks. When I find them in old, cluttered book stores, I feel like I have found an old friend who I had lost touch with and had finally reconnected. It’s like getting back in touch with my youth.

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.

MovieWorld book shop

Book Castle’s Movie World

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.

"The Score" I made at Book Castle's Movie World. I've been looking for a movie tie-in edition of Valley of the Dolls for years. I should have always known I would find it here!

“The Score” I made at Book Castle’s Movie World. I’ve been looking for a movie tie-in edition of Valley of the Dolls for years. I should have always known I would find it here!

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.

 

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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

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