Kudos to the CPH Bookstores

In college I hated dealing with the bookstore at Seward (not owned by the university, but by our foodservice company). The only thing decently priced their was CUNE gear (T-Shirts, gifts, etc). Their prices on textbooks were outrageous. They also regularly put out flyers that claimed that it was cheapper to buy and sell books in the bookstore.

That of course, was an outright lie. If you’ve ever priced textbooks, the bookstore is normally the last place you want to go. For my last two years at Seward I bought a total of three books from the bookstore. Everything else was purchased from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Half.com. I even sold books online. In some cases, due to the market, I was actually able to make money on textbook sales. I made detailed spreadsheets and showed them to the bookstore manager but she continued in her lies. Oh well… I didn’t have to shop there.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to the seminary with the bookstore being run by CPH. I’d always had positive experiences in dealing with bookstore personel (at the Seward CPH warehouse sale). In fact, I really enjoyed getting to know the manager who came up from St. Louis. We still greet each other on a first name basis to this day. But what about the prices? I started pricing books and realized that whether I was buying a CPH book or a book from another publisher I was going to get a good price from the Sem bookstore. In most cases book prices were right at the online price or maybe a buck or two more. In that case the higher cost was worth it for convienence sake.

Another plus of working with the sem bookstore was their helpfulness. They always were willing to order books for me and were always friendly. In fact, I had a great conversation yesterday with one of the bookstore employees I’ve known for a while when I called to order something.

Overall… great job CPH. You have fine bookstores and fine employees.

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Book Confessions Meme

Book Confessions

1. To mark your page you: use a bookmark, bend the page corner, leave the book open face down?
It depends on the situation. I leave lots open face down, but I have developed quite the stash of bookmarks that I have begun to use.
2. Do you lend your books?
Sometimes.

3. You find an interesting passage: you write in your book or NO WRITING IN BOOKS!
What??? You write in books? Sinner!

4. Dust jackets – leave it on or take it off.
I take them off most of the time.

5. Hard cover, paperback, skip it and get the audio book?
I prefer hard cover because they are more durable.

6. Do you shelve your books by subject, author, or size and color of the book spines?
Subject, then size, then color. I am currently working on getting all of my books entered in a program to enter in the Library of Congress call number. I will then proceed with printing spine labels and really getting into organizing my books.

7. Buy it or borrow it from the library later?
I prefer to buy, but see my previous post.

8. Do you put your name on your books – scribble your name in the cover, fancy bookplate, or stamp?
I used to use a stamp but I’ve actually begun using LSB Book Plates on some of my books.

9. Most of the books you own are rare and out of print books or recent publications?
I have lots of different kinds of books in my collect. I do have some rare books on my wishlist right now.

10. Page edges – deckled or straight?
Eh… doesn’t matter.

11. How many books do you read at one time?
Maybe three at most.

12. Be honest, ever tear a page from a book?
Yes.

Library Philistine

I’ve been a library philistine most of my life. While I would check out books from our school library in elementary and middle school, in high school I barely checked out any books. Why? Because my family generally has the attitude, “If it is good enough to read it is good enough to buy.” We didn’t have many luxury items in our family (including Grandma and Grandpa). We never had cable or satalite TV, never had a big TV, and I only had a game boy with a few games. But what we did have was books. They were the most common gift in our family. I am so thankful that all my family instilled in me a love of reading and of books in general.

In college my library usage wasn’t the best either, although in a more academic setting it did become necessary. Pleasure reading took a big hit during my college years so I didn’t accumulate many more books to read in that area.

When I hit the seminary I started working in the library. One advantage of working in the back of the library was that I was exposed to nearly all of the new books that were added to our library’s collection. I have a list of well over 50 books that I would like to read just from our CSL Library. One downside to working in an academic library is that you turn into a bit of a library snob. I would go with my wife to the local public library branch and would practically have a fit trying to find stuff. Haven’t these people heard of shelf reading?? And don’t even get me started on the dewey decimal system.

Now on vicarage things have taken a turn. I have plenty of theology books to read. My pile is ever growing. At the same time, the number of “Pleasure Reading” books that I have to read has dwindled. What to do? Buy more? Soon after we arrived we ventured out to the Mead Public Library in Sheboygan to check things out. What a great library! This library has a very large collection and is well organized. We’ve started checking out movies from there and Lisa and I have both started checking out books. I’ve found some great history books to read. I’ve actually got another list started of books from the Mead library to read.

In short, I’m trying to amend my philistine ways. I’m checking out more books and only buying books that I’d like to add to our permanent collection in the Powell household. Hopefully my progress will continue.

Book Review: American Band

American Band: Music, Dreams, and Coming of Age in the Heartland by Kristen Lane

Heels Together!
Toes Apart!
Stomach in!
Chest Out!
Shoulders Back!
Chin! Pride!

That was the chant that I learned in high school marching band. We would chant it with our director after every competition and every halftime show. Marching band is truly a way of life, both for the students and their families. Students march in unbearably hot weather in the summer to prepare and finish the season in terribly cold weather. Their families put in time serving as “band moms and dads” preparing sets, uniforms, drinks, and helping with first aid. Students who never thought they could lead step up and take over. I loved every minute of marching band. It was something I inherited from my mom (we are both clarinet players). While my high school band was quite small and never excelled in competition, my mom’s high school marching band in Alexandria, Virginia was of championship quality.

This heritage in my family (my mom and I were both in band and my grandma served both as a band mom and even as a band grandma) spiked my interest in American Band: Music, Dreams, and Coming of Age in the Heartland by Kristen Laine. This book, published in 2007, deals with a championship caliber marching band in Concord, Indiana. The town is a small one and is perhaps best known as being the former home of the Conn instrument builders. While small, it boasts a school that is entirely devoted to its instrumental music programs (marching, concert, jazz, and pep). This is fascinating to me because in many small towns life revolves around sports (think Varsity Blues) including my hometown.

The book examines all aspects of the marching band including its “feeder system” of elementary and junior high bands. It also examines the directing staff including the head director, a legend in Indiana music circles. The marching band cuts no one (except in cases of misconduct or just plain poor performance) and marches approximately 250. The book begins with “freshman camp” in the summer and then covers the main full band camp and examines their move from competition to competition, where they win every virtually every single tournament leading up to the state championship. American Band also focuses on individual members of the band which gives a glimpse into the life of small town students.

Perhaps the most fascinating and most relevant to a seminarian reader is the examination and commentary on religion in a small town. Concord is near Goshen, Indiana, and is thus home to a heavy Mennonite population, of various levels of observance, including some quite large mega-churches. The community also includes Catholics and Lutherans (although I’m unsure of what specific denomination). The dominant church in the book is the local megachurch with strong baptist leanings. The theology seems quite typical… “pray-harder,” “find God’s will for your life,” etc etc. The sad and frightening truth of this is the damage that this theology does to students. There was no Gospel, only Jesus being used as an example. You see how students are left to their own “fear and wrestlings” and not pointed to Jesus. We even see a girl who wears a star-of-David, not because she is a Jew, but because she is convinced that she wants to work to bring about the kingdom of God on Earth and convert all the Jews (noble goal, but consider this in the light of Left Behind theology where you must work to bring about the return of Christ).

If you are interested in any or all of the following: small town life, American evangelicalism, music, marching bands, or leadership this book is for you.