October Book(s) of the Month: All About Barns

An Age of Barns, by Eric Sloane
The Barn: A Vanishing Landmark in North America,
by Eric Arthur and Dudley Witney

books on barns

One of the things I love about the Book of the Month posts is the opportunity to highlight some of our more interesting, yet unassuming books that might get lost in the sheer number of titles we have to offer.

This month, I was thinking of all the things I love about fall, but wanted to choose a subject that might not often get a lot of attention. Certainly we haven’t had many recent features from the Art & Architecture genre, and as I scanned through the section, the two featured titles struck my interest. For what is more humble than a barn? And yet, at different times and places it can possess artistic, functional, historical, and even nostalgic, value. And what is one likely to see many of whilst meandering around the countryside, leaf-peeping and buying cider? The barn, whether working or caving in, still makes a regular appearance here in the rural areas of New England.

Eric Sloane’s An Age of Barns features numerous sketches and paintings of Early American sloane an age of barnsbarns, and details not only their architectural features, but also their significance in early Americana. From New England to Pennsylvania, on to Appalachia and out to the West, he educates us on the vast styles and functions of a humble, yet surprisingly diverse, structure.
“We have finally come to realize the beauty and excellence of homes built by the early Americans , but too often their barns are regarded as mere curiosities. They are, rather, the shrines of a good life that ought to be remembered.”

barn2Arthur and Witney also recognize the barn’s importance and rapidly disappearing presence. The Barn: A Vanishing Landmark in North America is more photo-journalistic in its approach, comprised of 134 color and 278 black and white photographs (plus notes) that record examples of this historically significant structure for future generations.
“North American barns of the last two hundred years are landmarks of beauty and culture- the simple and practical expression of a people, a way of life, and the land from which they sprang.”

With help from this month’s feature, as we are out enjoying the crisp autumn air and colorful landscapes, perhaps we can better appreciate these rustic structures that dot the landscape for more than their bucolic value. Indeed, it is eye opening to understand the barn as an “expression” rather than just a functional structure. Simple in form, but multifaceted in value, they reflect the qualities of those who built them and unconsciously left behind a story for future generations.

Many of us know someone who professes not to like reading, when they are in fact, limiting the concept to interpreting written text. Perhaps those people would prefer the type of story-telling offered in this month’s selections, where words take second stage to the explorations offered in rich imagery.


PS- If you do happen to be wandering in the Pioneer Valley, I hear there are some pretty good bookstores ’round these parts 😉 Indeed, Southampton boasts a few barns, and a particular working one down the road from us offers pumpkins and hayrides, so stop by and visit!

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Special Feature: “I Never Had it Made”: an autobiography by Jackie Robinson, as told to Alfred Duckett

Few pastimes reflect Americana like baseball. Referred to as The National Pastime since 1856, it is highly representative of our nation in more ways than recreation- its business and politics too are influenced by fan demographics and demands. It is a cultural aspect of us that reflects how we think, work, and play, and its history runs parallel to ours as we’ve made progress, gone to war, and made do. Each moment in baseball’s history provides a unique portrait of America that is filled with both glory and dirt, and in some ways, never more so than during times of emerging diversity.

jackie robinsonWhen speaking of Jackie Robinson’s story, many might first think of the glory: the distinction of being the first black man invited to play in the major leagues under the Noble Experiment. But for Robinson, it was the dirt of the experience that left a mark. The man who played a key role in Civil Rights and helped to revolutionize baseball would never feel true success as he believed he would always be a “black man in a white world.”

With a new movie about Robinson hitting theaters, we thought it would be a great opportunity to feature his stirring autobiography, “I Never Had it Made”. The following excerpt well summarizes the overall tone of the book, which highlights both his success and personal trials as a superlative athlete who, despite his performance, was constantly pelted with racist abuse and degradation from fans and players alike.

“But on that historic day in 1947*, the air was sparkling and the sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words poured from the stands. However, as I wrote these words twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the national anthem. I have learned that I remain a black man in a white world. I never had it made.”

While young folks today might find that to be an unpatriotic, or at least ungrateful statement, it was a different time and place for Afrcan-Americans in the United States. Robinbiography displayson’s choice to participate in the Noble Experiment was a bold civil rights move that pre-dated Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech by some 16 years. In his autobiography, Robinson’s true heroism is reflected not by his batting average, but in his willingness to put his reputation and pride aside for the greater outcome.

The film “42” has been touted as another “history lesson” movie. With some high-profile cast-members, it has so far received positive reviews, and places some of the spotlight on Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), then president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who was praised for his forward-thinking ability and the conceptualization of The Noble Experiment. Of course, a film is always the interpretation of screen-writers, directors, editors, and producers. Like any work of art, it provides plenty of fodder for critics, who jump to scrutinize the accuracy of its portrayals.

So which is better, the book or the film? While we are partial to our books here at the Old Library, we recognize that a film is a resource of value to the literary community, serving a beneficial role in creating or refreshing public interest on any given topic. The release of “42” is well-timed for a resurgence of focus on Jackie Robinson in particular. Beyond simply being a tax deadline, this past April 15th marked the 66th anniversary of the first time a black man set foot on an MLB field, Opening Day, 1947. It was officially dubbed “Jackie Robinson Day” in 2004.

We are curious, dear readers, which would you prefer to explore first? The artistically interpreted period film? Or the autobiography and first-hand, personal account? We invite you to come and check out our featured copy of the latter, whichever order suits you 🙂

Wishing sunny days ahead, with plenty of time for pursuit of your favorite pastimes- reading, baseball, or otherwise!


*Robinson is referring to Opening Day of the world series, 1947, his first major league appearance. Of interesting note, Robinson was honored as recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year award the same year.

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Happy 197th, Charlotte Bronte!

Today marks what would have been the 197th birthday of Charlotte Bronte, best known for the novel Jane Eyre, which she initially published under the pseudonym, “Currer Bell”. To date, fifteen copies of this popular title have graced our shelves over time, eleven of which have been purchased. We at Heritage Books still offer copies in a span of formats, from a gilt and leatherette hardcover version, to trade and vintage paperbacks.

The daughter of a clergyman, Charlotte was the third of six Bronte children and elder sister to novelists Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights), and Anne Bronte (Agnes Grey). Born in 1816 and laid to rest in 1855, Charlotte managed to pen several novels and a considerable list of children’s works before her early death at the age of 38. She also managed to outlive both her sisters, who passed within months of one another in 1848 and 1849.

With themes centered heavily around the societal roles and social repression of women, Bronte’s novels spoke for her as she struck out against such constraints. In person however, she was reported to have been shy, and often disappointed fellow dinner-party guests when her personality showed itself to be less-than-effervescent.

Indeed, Charlotte Bronte did not sound like one of those people who grins over their fettuccine alfredo while friends and waiters stomp out a rollicking, albeit off-key version of Happy Birthday. But she left behind a powerful legacy of forward-thinking influence, and we celebrate the contribution quietly on our blog. I smile and wonder what she would have thought of that!


Would you like to shop our current copies of Bronte works? Browse our selection online at http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchEntry?vci=14479

Here is a sample look at Bronte books that we have on our shelves:

A very pretty, nearly pristine edition of Jane Eyre for $10

A two-volume set of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights with numerous engraved illustrations by Fritz Eichenberg, $25

The cover of Jane Eyre from the two-volume set shows one of the many fantastic engravings, inside includes the second edition preface by Charlotte.

A collection of books by four Bronte sisters, $12

A collection of books by four Bronte sisters, $12

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*Spring Updates*


birds and flowers and picnics, oh my!

Hope all our readers out there are enjoying an increase in daylight hours and getting more time in for recreation. Just wanted to let you know that in honor of the awakenings, new beginnings, and blossoming things that Spring embodies, we’ve decided to extend our Romance bag sale. That’s the one where you fill a brown grocery bag with as many Romance paperbacks (located downstairs) for just 5 dollars. (And believe me, you can fit a LOT in there!)

Even if Romance isn’t your thing, we still have plenty of other books on sale. We also have some new items in Fiction (with their own little display!) as well as all other genres, and we’re adding more all the time. So that about sums it up…moving out the old(er) inventory to make room for new in the spirit of Spring. Hope some of you can take advantage of the warmer weather to venture out and shop some great deals!


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Forward, March!

Just a March update for all of our fans out there. With daylight savings almost upon us, we here at the bookstore are sloshing and slogging our way toward Spring! Indeed, I keep peeking out the window to look for signs of wildlife- most hopefully, a robin or two!

Spring has forever symbolized new life, rebirth, and change in the literary world, and we at the Old Library are following suit with a few changes in the sale department. February’s poetry and Romance sales alas, have come to an end, but since we just got our SALE sign all spiffed up, we decided to add a ton more inventory to our 50% off selection. As long as it isn’t one of our $1 mass-market paperbacks, any title numbered 27,000 or less can be discounted 50%. This includes our Rare and Scare titles too!

Hope you’ll take advantage of the improving weather to come out and pay us a visit! (But if you can’t, our new sale will be reflected in our online prices as well. )

Happy almost-Spring!


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February Sale!

Hi all!

paperbacksIn the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’ve decided to run a big February sale around Romance!

paperback romance  section

paperback romance section

More specifically, we need to make some room in our collection of Romance mass markets, which runneth over. (Seriously, it won’t be pretty soon, and we want to keep Romance pretty.)

romantics1We’ve also decided to discount some Romantic poetry from our Poetry section upstairs- these selected items will be 50% off until the end of the month. As for the mass markets, Romance paperback prices (and bodices) go bust when you fill an entire brown grocery bag for only $5. Mix and match, as long as you find it in our Romance section downstairs. Fun, right? Whether you’re feeling starry-eyed and devoted, or fickle and footloose, chances are we can set you up better than some of those dating sites out there. (And you don’t even have to make excuses. If you want to stop in the middle of one and pick up another, nobody gets hurt- especially not at these prices!)

Alas, the whole paper bag thing makes it a little hard to do over the web, so these prices are in-store only. Besides, we’d like to get to know you a little…and if you come in sooner than later we might have some chocolates left to share with you 😉

Wishing a romantic February to all of our readers- we love you!


more love and romance on display




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Happy Belated Birthday-

to Scotsman, farmer, lyricist, and Romantic poet Robert Burns, who would have been 254 years old on January 25th. Despite his age, his observations are still quite relevant to the modern world. Cheers to The Bard of Ayrshire!

A Bottle And Friend

There’s nane that’s blest of human kind,
But the cheerful and the gay, man,
Fal, la, la, &c.

Here’s a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o’ care, man?

Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man.

-Robert Burns

I do think the word “book” could easily be substituted for “bottle” here, but who am I to question greatness? At any rate, whatever it is you’re grateful for, I hope it brings you warmth during this chill weather!


Note: Due to popularity, it is difficult to keep much of Burns’ work in stock, but we do boast one rare 1905 copy of The Cotter’s Saturday Night, which can be viewed here: http://www.heritagebks.com/poetry/rare/f1325.htm

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