Events – Current and Past
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Thanks to all of you, we’re celebrating our First Anniversary!
It’s been one year since Swan’s Fine Books opened its doors.
Our first year has been exciting, exhilarating – at times exhausting but more often energizing. Every day has been both an adventure and a joy, and most of the joy comes from interacting with you, our customers and friends. You are the reason we opened the shop and we want to thank you for having visited us and made our shop a unique fixture in Walnut Creek and the surrounding communities.
Therefore, we are throwing a party and would love to have you attend! Please stop into our shop on Saturday, May 3rd. Beginning at 7:00 pm we will be popping open the champagne and serving light refreshments, all to the lovely violin music of Alex Rackages.
In addition, every book purchased in our shop on Saturday, May 3rd will be 20% off. As you know, we price our books competitively and therefore do not run sales. However, this is a tangible way for us to thank you on this special day.
Lastly – we’ve added shelf space to the shop and expanded our offerings. Come check out the new configuration!
Do plan to join us to raise a toast in honor of year one, and in expectation of many good things to come in year two.
“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
– Mark Twain
Across Time and Space…
“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine: if a
Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse,
as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor
of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans
death diminishes me, because I am in-
volved in Mankinde; And therefore
never send to know for
whom the bell tolls; It
tolls for thee”.
- John Donne
You may recognize these words, either from the phrase “for whom the bell tolls” being a part of popular vernacular or because you’ve read Ernest Hemingway’s novel of that name. Until I picked up that book to read recently, I’d forgotten that the phrase had originated with John Donne (my favorite author – after Alexander Pope, of course).
We could easily and happily spend some time together discussing Donne and his meditations on the interconnectedness of humanity, laid out in Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII. However, this humble newsletter is not the place in which to embark upon such a journey; rather, I wanted to share some thoughts with you which have been swimming around in my head lately.
I’m sure many of you have experienced the sense of delight when, in reading through a book or passage, you have a moment of “ah-ha! I’ve encountered this idea before.” As readers, we sometimes make the fatal error of assuming that every book is an island – when in fact, the opposite is true.
The great authors have all joined together, hand in hand, down through the ages, to share ideas and build upon each other’s foundations in order to share their collective experiences – and the wisdom gained thereby – with us.
Hemingway inspired by John Donne. Sylvia Plath inspired by Hemingway. Countless others in between. While reading up on Washington Irving last week I discovered that not only was he one of the first American writer to earn acclaim in Europe (along with James Fenimore Cooper), he also was an inspiration and source of encouragement to Herman Melville, Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Walter Scott, Lord Byron, and Charles Dickens. Who was a source of inspiration to Leo Tolstoy and George Orwell, who inspired…we could go on and on.
Not only are we connected in time but also in space. Ideas, ever since man travelled, have crossed political boundaries. Today, we can share thoughts and ideas without leaving our chairs via the internet, but we have always shared with our fellow men the world over.
Japan. Thailand. Edinburgh. London. China. Over the past two weeks, these are place to which I’ve posted books which have been purchased on-line from Swan’s Fine Books, from people around the world. Books such as the poetry of T.S. Eliot and Seamus Heaney; books containing old steel engravings highlighting Shakespeare’s works; even a first edition Huckleberry Finn. Ideas cross cultural and linguistic boundaries, they leap from one man to another and then shimmer within that man’s mind and then shoot off in another direction. And are handed down to others….living and growing and impacting future generations.
The books we carry here at our shop are embodiments of those ideas handed to us in time and space, born out of the sweat of the author wrestling with his or her creative genius, bound by the exacting printer and delivered to us by the great publishing houses. And we all are the fortunate, the oh-so-lucky ones who can walk into the shop and pluck this treasure from the shelf, bring it home, peruse it at our leisure, and absorb into ourselves those ideas.
So – my thanks to those who have gone before. And my thanks to all of you, for visiting the store either online or in person, to partake with us of this great feast of literature, this great adventure of ideas.
Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar – WOW
Proprietor attends week-long seminar
Some of you who visited the shop during the first week of August may have noticed something missing – your proprietor, Laurelle Swan. She was attending “CABS” – the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar.
The Seminar was taught by a faculty consisting of professors from the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, the Curator of the Rosenwald Collection at the Library of Congress, and many of the top booksellers in the country. The week was packed with topics such as how books are made, how to collate an antiquarian book, book refurbishing and repair, how to catalogue a book, appraisals, working with libraries, developing user-friendly websites, choosing a database, and even book photography (really).
About 35 students from all stages of bookselling and from around the globe attended, some from as far away as Toronto, London, Budapest , and New Zealand.
Because the more we know about books here at Swan’s Fine Books, the better we can serve you. We’re better equipped to answer your questions and discuss the finer points of books with you. As one of the faculty put it, “being a bookseller isn’t a job, it’s a way of life”. It’s a privilege to work around such books every day and the more we know, the better able we are to choose, care for, and display fine books to you.
Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair – Saturday, September 14th
If you enjoy browsing through our shelves here at Swan’s Fine Books, we guarantee that you will have a blast at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. Held twice a year, about 65 booksellers gather together under one roof to make their books available to the general public. The booksellers range from those with stores, such as Swan’s Fine Books, to those who generally only sell online – so this is an opportunity to browse collections that are not often displayed to the public.
Every type of book will be represented: modern first editions, Californiana, cookbooks, old travel books, antiquarian books and much more. Since this is a smaller venue than the San Francisco fair, you are easily able to engage the booksellers in conversation, get their advice and opinions on individual books, discuss the ins and outs of collecting books, and ask about their personal favorites.
So if your schedule allows on September 14th, come to Sacramento! The Book Fair is held at the Scottish Rite Temple, 6151 H Street in Sacramento. Admission is $5.00 – but come into Swan’s Fine Books before you leave, we have passes so you can enter the Fair free of charge.
We look forward to seeing you there!