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Photo: The Book Catapult
When a co-owner of the Book Catapult fell ill at the same time as the only full-time employee, rival bookstores in San Diego kept the shop open. (Pictured: The Book Catapult co-owners Seth Marko and Jennifer Powell, Marko’s wife.)

Never give up on humanity. In a February story at Publisher’s Weekly [PW], Claire Kirch reported on the selflessness of some booksellers in San Diego. Of course, we know that book people are remarkable folks, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that most people show kindness at some point in their lives.

Here’s what happened when a bookshop owner had emergency heart surgery while his only full-time employee was suffering from bird flu.

“The bad news coming out of the Book Catapult in San Diego’s South Park neighborhood,” wrote Kirch, “is that co-owner Seth Marko underwent emergency surgery immediately following his return home from Winter Institute 14 in Albuquerque, after suffering chest pains while there. Plus, the two-year-old store’s only full-time employee, Vanessa Diaz, came home from WI14 with a case of bird flu, or as she called it, ‘the Albuquerque swine flu.’

“The good news is that six booksellers from four other San Diego-area bookstores — The Library Shop, Warwick’s Bookshop, the University of California-San Diego’s bookstore, and Adventures by the Book — have volunteered their time for more than a week to keep the Book Catapult open during its regular hours, while Marko’s spouse, store co-owner Jennifer Powell, tends to him. (Marko left the hospital Wednesday). Another pair of booksellers, John Evans and Alison Reid, the two co-owners of Diesel: A Bookstore in Los Angeles, have committed to volunteering at the Book Catapult this weekend. [Ingram Publisher Services personnel pitched in later.]

 ‘It’s a story of redemption and hope,’ joked Library Shop manager Scott Ehrig-Burgess, who coordinated the volunteers and, he says, trained them on the store’s [Point of Sale] system. …

“ ‘I’ve had to turn away volunteers, from former booksellers to people who know nothing about books but want to help out,’ Ehrig-Burgess said. ‘We’re a close-knit community.’

“As for Evans, he says that he and Reid are driving down from L.A. to help out because Marko and Powell ‘are great people, fellow booksellers, [who] created a wonderful bookstore in their neighborhood and this health crisis just came out of nowhere. They are much-loved in the book community in Southern California, with Seth having various roles over the years in keeping the book culture vital, fun, and interesting.’

“Andrea Vuleta, the head of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, told PW, ‘I am so pleased to see such warmth, community, and fellowship among our bookseller membership. I think it is one of best things about indies, the mutual support. Definitely something to be thankful for these days.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Katie Leigh

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Today is July 11th. A week ago, my sister was feeling fine. Today she is having brain surgery. I arrived in New York yesterday to be with her and her husband.

It may be that I don’t post for a while. I’m feeling a little discombobulated. But I do like posting, so you could at least get pictures of New York City over the next couple days.

My sister is a lot younger than me. This feels all wrong. But life is strange that way.

If you are into sending people healing thoughts, please think of us at 2 p.m.

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Mice find Verdi and Mozart more healing than Enya. Tom Jacobs at Miller-McCune (now called Pacific Standard) explains.

“Writing in the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery,” he says, “a team of Japanese researchers led by Dr. Masanori Nimi describe an experiment in which a group of 8- to 12-week-old mice underwent heart transplants. The rodents were randomly assigned to one of five groups: those exposed to opera (a recording of Verdi’s La Traviata, conducted by Sir Georg Solti); instrumental music by Mozart; New Age music (The Best of Enya); no music; or ‘one of six different sound frequencies.’

“After one week, the mice whose personal soundtrack featured Enya, one of the sound frequencies, or no music at all ‘rejected their grafts acutely,’ the researchers report. …

“In contrast, those exposed to Verdi or Mozart ‘had significantly prolonged survival.’ …

“In explaining the results, the researchers point to the immune system. They report exposure to classical music generated regulatory cells, which suppress immune responses and are thus vital to preventing rejection of a transplanted organ. …

“In any event, this provides more evidence that classical music has a health-inducing impact on the body.” Read more.

Hmmm. You want to suppress your immune system when you have a transplant because you don’t want your body to reject an organ from a donor. But suppose you want a strong immune system for some other reason? Would classical music be bad for you (or a mouse) in that case? Hard to get my head around that one.

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