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, So we will allow you to post a blog entry on your website, 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, 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.


Frustrated Otter :(

shakespeareI’ve been having internet issues which is why I didn’t post last Thursday. I thought my draft was saved. It wasn’t. I knew I should have saved my writing to a word document but I didn’t. That’s okay because it was a touch of negative.

This week I’m having issues getting my new laptop to find my blog. Well, it found it but WordPress won’t let me find the Admin to edit. I can find the site but the techs have told me the site has been lost. Lost? I can find it on this laptop. The one that is slowly dying. Hope it doesn’t take down the blog with it…

Anyways, I’m doing well, The store is doing well. All is well. Just experiencing technical frustration.

A number of boxes have made their way into the store via some great book scouts I have. A lot of non-fiction and then some obscure fiction. What’s come in? Ah, get your shoes on and come in and find out. That’s right. I’m all about getting you to come into the store. How else do you expect to find out what OCUB is all about?

Back to the new laptop and see if the techies have found out how I can access the site. Wish me luck!

(Plus I needed to find out if my site was really available. It is! Phew!)

Otter Musings on This Fine Thursday

IMG_2460Thursday! I know, don’t get ahead of myself. But it’s two weeks in a row.

I thought today I would clear-up confusion I’ve found some customers have and that is, who owns OCUB? That would be me. Some believe that the store is owned by another used bookstore in the area. I’m not sure why people think that but they do. Well, actually a customer recently mentioned that he felt no way could there be enough business to support more than one used bookshop in the area. Interesting thought but yes, it can. I’m of the mind, as I know many other used bookstore owners would agree with me, the more the better because then the area becomes a destination to seek out hidden gems.

Each shop has its own personality. Or rather the personality of the shop is reflective of the owner.  Sometimes I get frustrated with that thought because I’m actually a neat – everything has its place – person. I like neatness and thrive on it. So here I sit among piles of books in every direction. Boxes of books stacked somewhat neatly. Piles of books in aisles. Stacks in another. Books tucked into shelves where there is clearly no more room for them. Is this all a reflection of who I really am? I don’t think so but yet every time I make changes, rearrange shelves, etc. the next thing I know it is all right back to how it was. Ugh! Maybe it is a side of me that I have to contend with. But then I do have to remember it is just me in the store or it’s just my daughter, Hannah. We are hardly ever in the store together unless a little boy or two is with us. And believe it or not, there is a lot to do on a daily basis. I’ve tried to take days to read but I’ve got such a work ethic I can’t. Boxes come in and they must be dealt with – clean, sort, price and shelf. Books with torn jackets need to be covered in mylar. Change around shelf displays. Rearrange the window displays. There is always something.

I have to remind myself that reading is also work. After ten years you’d think I’d take time to read while I’m in the store. I have been giving myself permission because it is as important as cleaning off books, pricing them fairly and shelving. Don’t get me wrong. I do read. I keep a book in my bag, a couple downstairs in my house and another couple upstairs. And one for the store. I’ll write more on my reading obsession in another post. Now I must tackle the piles that are around my feet.