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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • July 12, 2006

     

    A Finale For Cody's Books

    Like a comment that was made by a blogger in the previous post, the closing of the famed bookstore on Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue is the end of an era. The original Cody's Books opened at 11 a.m. and closed for the very last time at 8 p.m. on Monday night. I headed out there just to pay final tribute to the amazing bookstore that has spurred my reading interest and nourished my mind since my undergraduate days at Berkeley. Upon walking in the store, business was as usual--savvy staff was solicitously assisting customers, regular customers were browsing through the classic wooden shelves. On Sunday hundreds of writers and longtime customers crowded the store for its 50th anniversary celebration. But the festive decorations, balloons, confetti and champagne could not mask that the event was not only a celebration but also a grand finale for the store.

    When I arrived in Berkeley as a freshman, I immediately discovered the intellectual haven in Cody's. The store used to stay open late, until 11 p.m., packed with bookworms and students in the aisles of shelves that were infused with variety. My friends and I always made a quick stop at Cody's whether we were on the way to grab a bite on Telegraph or walking back to the apartment from campus. Cody's was part of the equation of campus life--how poignant and shocking that it will become history. Sometimes I wonder why Cody's should never set up an online store to boost sales since big-chain like Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com have seen business boom over the past decade. But even as online sales of books became a major revenue source for bookstores, Cody's, which holds obdurately to the philosophy that books are meant to be browsed in person, relinquished the idea.

    I'm sad to say the society doesn't read as much as it used to--the world, bombarded with new technology, the internet, fast media--does not embrace the same values and reading culture that the wide-ranging intellect in the 70s and 80s sustained. I look at my students--they are reading Penguin Classics only because the books were required of them for the course. They use internet (I use internet, everyone uses internet), they rivet at their gigantic organic chemistry textbook and art history pictorial. But I still believe that reading nourishes the mind, expands our horizon, and exposes us to culture, ideas, and chronological distances that are so remote to us and our experience.

    My bow to Cody's.

    3 Comments:

    Blogger Greg said...

    I do shop on-line at Amazon, but prefer holding a book in my hands, reading the jacket and perhaps a page or two. That's why I love the small Mom-and-Pop booksellers. More community-oriented with less sense of shoving a book down your throat when you walk through the door. Losing such a place as Cody's makes the small sellers even more dear.

    7/12/2006 9:21 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    I prefer the neighborhood, independent bookshops over the chains--they've got a personal touch about them and are usually staffed with people who *do* read and are savvy of books. It's sort of like going home to people who know what I've been readind and sharing the same reading taste.

    Cody's closure in Berkeley is a huge, poignant loss. I've always thught it the literary landmark--affording meaning to a university town. The new suave Cody's at Stockton/Market (next to Virgin Megastore) is deprived of the bookish air that to me is quintessential to a bookstore. I miss the creaky floor, the wooden selves, the handwritten staff-recommended note cards.

    7/12/2006 11:44 AM  
    Blogger Jef said...

    Since my partner opened his own bookstore less than a year ago, I do look at things differently now. A Barnes and Noble opened up the street shortly after we opened, and I'm amazed at the number of people in the Village who make it a point to buy their books from us instead going up the street or ordering online.

    Everything has been affected by the Internet. Theatrical movies, TV and books have all seen their audiences drop, but nothing can take the place of wandering into a bookstore and searching the shelves for a book that intrigues you enough to take it from the shelf for further investigation. If it speaks to you, you may sit down in a comfortable chair and get to know one another. If all goes well, then you take the reltionship to the next level and buy it and take it home.

    I tried reading "Dracula" on my laptop a few years ago, and I just couldn't do it. Nothing takes the place of a book you can hold in your hands. However, I do keep books on my mobile phone/PDA for when I'm waiting in line at the post office, etc.

    We're staring a book club, a salon, and open mic night next month. I like to think we're a community place.

    7/13/2006 9:02 AM  

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