February! It’s Here Again…

“Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”
-William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

“February is pitiless, and it is boring. That parade of red numerals on its page adds up to zero: birthdays of politicians, a holiday reserved for rodents, what kind of celebrations are those? The only bubble in the flat champagne of February is Valentine’s Day. It was no accident that our ancestors pinned Valentine’s Day on February’s shirt: he or she lucky enough to have a lover in frigid, antsy February has cause for celebration, indeed.” -Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

One more….

“February – the month of love..?!!
No wonder the shortest one in the calendar.” -Dinesh Kumar Biran

See, I’m not the only one who hates February. Ok, maybe they don’t actually hate it but frankly, February stinks. Except for chocolate on Valentine’s Day, even if I have to buy it myself. For being a short month it still is a crappy one. I know, I write about my strong feelings for the Feb every year. This isn’t a new thing. It goes back many years to when I was a little girl. What is the purpose of February? Just a thorn in my side. One month before my birthday month so it was in my way.

The recent snow we’ve had is beautiful. Today’s temperature is hovering around 40. Good signs but not good enough for me. So, you know what that means? Yep!

I Hate February Sale! 

Monday, February 12 all books – ALL BOOKS – will be 50% off. Yes, all books. Every one. Every stinking book. 50% off. Yes, the one in your hand. Yes, your pile of books. Yes, even that one. And yes, that one. And that one. Every book. Every book in the store.

I take my cue from Ben from The Country Bookshop in Plainfield, VT. He’s one of my go-to guys when I have questions about book buying, book selling and everything bookstorish. When he has a sale it’s always 50%. His philosophy is that when you have a sale make it fun! Fun for your customers which will translate into fun for you the bookseller.  It’s fun to tell customers a sale is on and to see their reaction. And to bag their books and present it to them full of great savings. The purpose of a used bookstore is to sell used books, right? We want books out and read. It helps us turn the inventory around. It’s all good. You know, it has turned into so much fun because many regular customers know and expect it. A number of them have stopped in over the past number of weeks asking if I still hate February. Why wouldn’t I? Why would I like it? Yea….

So…all books. Yes, all books are on sale. February 12-February 28. Stop in and save me.

“In February, the overcast sky isn’t gloomy so much as neutral and vague. It’s a significant factor in the common experience of depression among the locals. The snow crunches under your boots and clings to your trousers, to the cuffs, and once you’re inside, the snow clings to you psyche, and eventually you have to go to the doctor. The past soaks into you in this weather because the present is missing almost entirely.”

– Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love

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Otterly Thoughts to Wrap up 2017

This is the magical view I had of the Middlebury Falls this morning  when I walked to the MW postal building to check my mail. My phone literally shut d2017_Middown when I tried to take the photo but happily a person walking by also saw the beauty and took a shot and forwarded it to me which is what you see. The light was perfect. The landscape would appear lonely yet it is beautiful. The falls sound so differently when the temperature is hovering around zero. Very musical. I hope you are able to stop and enjoy it.

Yesterday a published poet from Virginia stopped by. She was very excited to see a good friend of hers who is also published on the shelf. She sarah_winn_poetryassured me her friend would be excited her book was discovered in a used bookstore. I’m never sure how authors feel to see their books in a used bookstore. I know a local author was dismayed when he saw one of his books in my shop. He couldn’t imagine how anyone could let his book leave their possession. Hence, my apprehension. But this poet, Sarah Ann Winn, was confident  her friend would see it as her work being spread around.  Ms. Winn honored me with a copy of her collected works. Frankly, I was having hard time  cracking it open because the cover just blows me away. The artwork is by Gregory Euclide and part of a larger piece, I Imagined Soft Decay Hiding in the Scenic Turning (2011). Of course I’m looking forward reading each poem.

Hannah and I decided on another reading challenge for the upcoming year. We both accomplished last year’s reading list and decided to up it with more books and more of a challenge. After searching on Pinterest, Hannah, found the following which we’ll be tackling. It was created and pinned by Karla and Quinessa. My first book of the year will be the recently published Ron Chernow’s book on Grant. I’m a huge Ulysses Grant fan and I’ve been saving it for the start of the new year. I’m looking forward to planning on working on my Bucket List for 2018 and in a few months cross off items based on Grant but more on that later. Let us know if you’ll be part of a reading challenge and what list you’ll be using. Here’s to a year of reading!



“I think the act of reading imbues the reader with a sensitivity toward the outside world that people who don’t read can sometimes lack. I know it seems like a contradiction in terms; after all reading is such a solitary, internalizing act that it appears to represent a disengagement from day-to-day life. But reading, and particularly the reading of fiction, encourages us to view the world in new and challenging ways…It allows us to inhabit the consciousness of another which is a precursor to empathy, and empathy is, for me, one of the marks of a decent human being.”  – John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things



Merry Christmas!


I love the Christmas-tide, and yet, 
I notice this, each year I live;
I always like the gifts I get,
But how I love the gifts I give!
-Carolyn Wells

Merry Christmas from Barbara, Hannah and Danya! See you Tuesday, December 26!

Jolabokaflod! Christmas Book Love! OCUB Style – 50% off Fiction!

fictionMy family has always followed the Icelandic custom of exchanging books on Christmas. We didn’t know it was such a tradition nor that it had a name. We just thought it was our thing to do. You know, sitting by the wood stove, sipping hot chocolate or coffee while reading a good novel. That was pretty much all we did that day.

In light of Iceland’s tradition and how more and more people are catching onto this awesome thing to do, OCUB will be having a surprise sale of 1/2 off fiction! Books in the Fiction aisle as well as in Paperback Alley are all 50% off their marked price! Let’s join in with Iceland and celebrate reading.

“Blíndur er bóklaus ma∂ur. Blind is a man without a book.” -Hannah Kent, Burial Rites. And, by the way, that was a good read!

Eleven Years! 11! Eleven Years….


People open shops in order to sell things, they hope to become busy so that they will have to enlarge the shop, then to sell more things, and grow rich, and eventually not have to come into the shop at all. Isn’t that true? But are there other people who open a shop with the hope of being sheltered there, among such things as they most value – the yarn or the teacups or the books – and with the idea only of making a comfortable assertion? They will become a part of the block, a part of the street, part of everybody’s map of the town, and eventually of everybody’s memories. They will sit and drink coffee in the middle of the morning, they will get out the familiar bits of tinsel at Christmas, they will wash the windows in spring before spreading out the new stock. Shops, to these people, are what a cabin in the woods might be to somebody else – a refuge and a justification.” -Alice Munro, Carried Away: A Personal Selection of Stories

Alice Munro, you get me. I consider myself one of the ‘other people’. I value the books I’m surrounded by. Immensely. I hope people think of me as ‘part of the block’, a part of the MarbleWorks community. A part of the Middlebury business community. You see, OCUB is my refuge and my justification. Justification of who I am. I can’t help but have this store be a part of me. Admittedly, it is only a part of who I am but it is a reflection. I allow bits of it to define me.

OCUB has been with me for many years it seems. A hidden dream that came true? I’m not sure. But I know when I was a factory worker many moons ago, in what seems like a different lifetime but my younger days, sitting at the machine my mind would wander to the outdoors and nature, of dreams to fulfill, inner expressions needing to bubble out, looking to unlock the untapped passion. Whatever it was, it was bigger than me.

When I unlock the store’s door in the morning I feel at home. Those that follow me in I hope they feel the same. Customers are a part of the driving force for keeping the business going. The connections we have. Friendships. Not only based on books but on stories, life situations, discussions, bantering, sharing of photos. All in good humor. I write frequently that I have the best customers and frankly, I believe I do. Walking in with a cup of tea, bouquet of flowers, chocolate bars, or sharing a meal to a bag of quality, donated books. Just popping in to say “hi!”. The connection and respect begins over a book.

#2 and #3 in '63 with our favorite book - at that time.

#2 (me) & #3 (Timothy) in ’63 with our current reads.                   (# refers to our birth order)

“Books are an essential part of my life, the place where I have spent many unforgettable moments.” – Terry W. Glaspey, Book Lover’s Guide to Great Reading: A Guided Tour of Classic & Contemporary Literature.  22613-3

Change of Plans – Week 11/6-11/10

Good news for OCUB in-store shoppers. Instead of closing the store for the week it will be open part of the time. Here’s the new schedule for the week: img_2622.jpg

Thanks to Hannah and Danya for holding down the store!

As for me, I’m going to do a lot of reading while I’m gone. I have the second in the series of the Elana Ferrante series to finish, The Story of a New Name, and Natasha Solomons’, The Song of Hartgrove Hall. To begin reading, and to continue on the 2017 Reading Challenge Hannah and a couple of customers have been working on,  Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (A book with a one-word title. An amazing old book. A feels-good-in-my-hands book),  and, Three Junes, by Julia Glass (A book with a number in the title). Plus, who knows what books I’ll pick up along the way.

“…my mom felt that a vacation was only a vacation if it involved reading at least two books on the beach.” – Lisa Greenwald, Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes.

“Who says books aren’t ‘real’ friends? We hug them, treasure them, relate to them, spend weekends with them, and bring them along on vacation!  – A.J. Sky

Shhh….an Otter Secret Event ;)

IMG_2576Excited to share! OCUB will have a half-off sale next week. Monday Oct 30 through Saturday Nov 4. And yes, all books are half-off our penciled prices. Yes, all. So stop in and  check out a fun-filled used bookstore. Guess it’s really not a secret…

After the sale OCUB will close Mon Nov 6 through Fri Nov 10 for some down time. I’ll be walking the chilly beaches of Maine, enjoying some buttery seafood, and poking my head into a number of used bookstores.  Reading in a favorite coffeehouse. Relaxing and enjoying simplicity.

“O grant me a house by the beach of a bay,
Where the waves can be surly in winter, and play
With the sea-weed in summer, ye bountiful powers!
And I’d leave all the hurry, the noise, and the fray,
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers.”
-Andrew Lang



Books, Books and More Books

IMG_2552Just a quick post. And to test to see if this post will be seen on Facebook.

OCUB is at its max of receiving used books for this week. Seriously! I’m working really hard to stay grounded with the amount of work, the amount of books in. My claustrophobia is under control. Even today.  And determining where to put the boxes so customers won’t be tripping over them. And, me as well.

So what has come in? Theater, philosophy, genealogy, books on food, eating and wine, playing bridge, quilting, stamp collecting including a collection of The Penny Post. Genealogy. I’ll write more about that collection another time. All-in-all, a sampling. In terms of number of boxes, more than twenty have made it into the store. Going through them is oh, so much fun. Fairly modern books. Stop in.


Test – Otter Style

IMG_2530Ok…this is a test. Supposedly the Happiness Engineers at WordPress have found that, well, yes, indeed you, Barbara Harding, own the website, ottercreekusedbooks.com. So we will allow you to post a blog entry on your website, ottercreekusedbooks.com written on your new laptop. Sorry for the crappy time you had with us (of course, they haven’t written that. It’s just in my imagination). And thank you for all the effort you put into researching, coming up with creative ways to get us to see that you, in fact, do own the website, ottercreekusedbooks.com. Well, you see, with all the Russian interference we didn’t want Otter Creek Used Books to get hit with some devious act that only the Russians can do to a simple, little used bookstores located in a little town like Middlebury, Vermont.

I know! UGH! This situation was the most craziest situations I have ever been in. I am so ready to put it behind me. I hope they keep my emails for fun reading…. Crazy. Crazy. Crazy. With this post it will be a happy ending. I look forward to hitting the “Publish…” button and see for myself that it is online. Here goes…….

“Never give up… No one knows what’s going to happen next.” – L. Frank Baum (Seriously, L. Frank. Maybe this blog will be posted. Maybe. Ok, really. Now here goes!)


Used Books = Love

IMG_2525Well, I think I’ve exhausted all possible ways to get WordPress to recognize that I am the owner of this blog. I have no idea what email I used to register the site…my home email (which I no longer have access to)…my previous work email (which I no longer have access to) or whatever. I know I tried several different email accounts (yahoo or hotmail) until I settled on gmail. So there’s that. I also have switched banks from when I purchased the store so there’s no way I can verify any purchases from that time. I’m screwed. That’s one way to look at it, right?

When I bought the store I felt like I was starting out again in my life. A new beginning. I loved my previous job and all that came with it. Well, most of it. Anything I didn’t like wasn’t going to work its way into the store. It’s a used bookstore so really it should be positive. Right!

So I’m going to now look for other locations to set down my blog. Especially before this old laptop I’m using decides to hit the dust. It’s turning out to be not as dependable as I’d like. Sometimes programs appear and sometimes not. I want to get ahead of it. So I’m going to look at it as an adventure. And see what is offered out there in the internet world. Especially those that are database driven. Then I will upload books to my website as well.  So that’s pretty exciting. And daunting for the increase work I’ll be faced with but heck, it’s a used bookstore, right? Which means it isn’t work. It’s love.