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books

Alumni Posts

The Book House, R.I.P.

by Alumni Posts on September 24, 2013

in In Saint Louis

Front of The Book House

Imagine a 150+ year old house stacked from ceiling to floor with almost every book you can fathom. Now, imagine this plethora of books coming in varieties from mainstream, to used, to quite rare. Finally, imagine this house being haunted by ghosts (or spirits, call it as you may), one of a many being a young girl.

My family visited The Book House this past August, and boy, let me tell you, I was overwhelmed with the funkiness of the place (I mean this in the best possible way). From the old book smell, to the overwhelming amount of books piled in one room, it was nerd heaven!

While we were browsing, picking out some books to buy, we ran into the owner of the bookstore. My mom knew of the haunting of the little girl, and inquired as to whether she has experienced any “activity” since she’s been there. She answered by saying that just a couple days previously, they hired a paranormal investigation crew (who was also accompanied by a handful of people who were willing to pay $50 to be scared out of their wits) to scope out the house and verify if it was truly haunted. Her answer surprised all of us. She stated ‘oh, their handheld/investigation gear was going crazy. They were here till 4 in the morning!’ (The paranormal experience began at 11pm.)

Now, I’m not one for being afraid of these kinds of things, but I must say, after hearing that, I felt a bit uneasy. Nonetheless, we hunted through the rest of the house, with the main-floor bookshelves swaying as you walked by, and the second story’s floor sagging in the middle from so much weight. I also took a peek into the quaint room that faced the front of the house where the young ghost of a girl is known to be seen. It was a tiny room with slanted ceilings and a rocking chair with a black cat sitting underneath it. Talk about creepy! (Fortunately for me, I didn’t catch any glimpse of the ghost/spirit, otherwise, I would’ve booked my behind out of that place!!). But the coolest part of the old house was the basement. Walking down the small staircase, we reached what seemed to be more of a 5-foot tall-unfinished room. As with the rest of the house, this basement, too, was piled high with books.

My mom caught a glimpse of an ancient boiler that was in another room in the basement, which was not filled with books. She thought it looked really neat, and whipped out her phone to capture of photo of it. As she was holding the phone to take the picture, there was this white/filmy “blurb” floating in mid air. Now, we only saw this on the phone, not with our naked eyes. This same thing happened again.

Okay, at this point, none of us wanted to leave. If we weren’t being bothered by the ghosts/spirits, we were cool. Unfortunately, this episode was merely a passing moment in our lives, and will never be experienced again. Here’s why:

On September 29, 2013, The Book House will face it’s demise. A man bought out the old bookstore and plans on tearing it down, replacing it with a storage unit business. Many locals are very upset about this situation, but after many city meetings, a decision has been made. Thus, the death of the unique Book House becomes a reality.

However, The Book House is moving to Maplewood (their previous location being Rock Hill), to 7352 Manchester Road. It will be a large warehouse facility of 5,550 sq. feet, and will feature more than 300,000 new, used and rare books. I know, it isn’t in an awesome haunted house that shed its coolness to the truly brave (or lover of books), but even so, I advise to pay them a visit at some point. I promise, you will not be disappointed…

…that is, unless you’ve always wanted to capture a ghost on camera…

One of the rooms on the main floor of The Book House

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The first time I read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” I hated it. Now you should know that I rarely use the word “hate” because it’s such a strong word. However, I really, really disliked the book. I guess I wasn’t prepared for a book exposing all of the 1920s immorality. However, as this book was on my required summer reading list, and since I’d have to take a test on it for my high school college credit English course in the coming fall semester, I read it for a second time. And the second time I read it was the time I fell in love with “Gatsby.” Everything just came alive to me. The lavishness of Gatsby’s parties, the Jazz Age music and dance, the heat of the air conditioning-less summer in New York, the intensity among Nick, Jordan, Gatsby, and Tom as they sat in a parlor in the city, the ever-omniscient eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg – I immediately understood why this book is considered an American classic. Now, my copy of “Gatsby” sits in a prominent place on my bookshelf among my other favorite books such as “Jane Eyre” and “Como Agua Para Chocolate,” aka “Like Water for Chocolate.” (But, in case you’re wondering, I have the Spanish version of that book because it’s a Mexican folklore/romantic tale and because I was super into learning Spanish when I first read it.)

About a year ago, I heard that this book was going to be made into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. I impatiently waited to see it. And last night, I saw the movie for the second time. I went with my friend, and we had an absolute blast. Everyone in the theater with us was very into the movie, and, at various points throughout the movie, you could hear the entire audience gasp, sniffle, cry, and laugh.

If you haven’t yet seen the movie, I definitely recommend it. And if you’ve never read the book, I recommend that you read it at least twice. It’s totally worth it.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into
the past.”

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Hello Everyone,

I hope spring is integrating nicely into your lives. I know that during my break, I was mostly working, but I did get to see the MIDNIGHT showing of the HUNGER GAMES!! So, today will be a kind of movie review. For those of you who do not know of the Hunger Games, SHAME!! Really, though, the Hunger Games is one of three books about a post-apocalyptic society completely controlled by the government system known as the Capitol. Twelve districts reside in this society, there were 13, but 13 revolted and then the Capitol just blew them up as an example. The main story line is that every year, one male and one female from every district between the ages of 12-18 MUST participate in what is known as the Hunger Games. Each year from 12 on, your name is added to the drawing for your district. Most of the districts are in extreme poverty so to compensate, people can put their names in more than once to receive food for their families. Now what is the Hunger Games you ask?! Well, it is a fight to the death. 24 kids are thrown into an arena and only ONE can win. In Hunger Games, Katniss, the main character from district 12, sparks a reaction when she volunteers to compete in order to save her younger sister. Her actions start the motion for an underlying revolt that takes place over the span of the three novels. Also, within, is a triangle romance between Katniss, Peeta (the male chosen for district 12), and Katniss’ male companion Gale. Now that was just a book summary… the movie… was surprisingly GOOD! I do have some qualms about parts of the book not being represented well, but that was bound to happen, and you can’t make everyone happy.

The acting was really good and the different effects in the movie, while skimpy at some points, did a good job to show a futuristic nation. The only thing that really bugged me was the constant shaking of the camera. If you get motion sickness extremely easily, then beware. You kind of forget about it because it is such a fast-paced movie, but the jumping around and continuous moving around the particular scenes does not give me enough time to appreciate what I am looking at. I would HIGHLY recommend reading the books beforehand because some scenes would make much more sense, but also because they are fantastic books. READING is GOOD for YOU!!! That is all for the moment.

Jeanne!

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Elizabeth

Cryptonomicon

by Elizabeth on March 5, 2012

in Extracurricular

That’s the name of this book I’m reading, and it’s by this guy named Neal Stephenson. I’m kind of obsessed with it at this point: it’s 1400 pages, and I’ve been reading it for a month, so I’m getting to know these characters pretty well, and I’ll miss them when the book’s over. The reason I’m blogging about it this week is that I’ve been reading it in between (and in place of ) bouts of homework in the evenings, and it’s kind of become my sole focus besides school. It’s just an overall cool book.

It’s a science fiction book, but my (arguably-existent) remaining shred of street-cred is saved by the fact that there are NO ALIENS involved.  The book earns its sci-fi classification because it’s all about cryptology and government intrigue. The story skips back and forth between World War II, where a brilliant mathematician cracks and writes codes for the Allies’ war effort and just chills out with Turing at Bletchley Park, and the mathematician’s  grandson, who, fifty years later, is engaging in some cryptology of his own on a risky business venture, is contacted – well, spied upon – by some of his grandfather’s very old yet dangerous pals and some government officials. Then, Nazi gold is discovered in a sunken submarine by a contractor that’s part of the grandson’s business,  and this blows everything out of proportion as lawsuits start flying. (This is a poor summary.  Read it yourself if you’re interested.)

Why the book’s cool: it explains ideas involved in cryptology and abstract math with narrated proofs that use a lot of symbols and concepts that I’m learning in Algebraic Structures right now, like isomorphism! (Isomorphism, for the ignorant, basically means two sets with similar properties and the same number of elements.) There are also funny proofs, like when one character uses a coordinate plane to split up his grandma’s furniture fairly among his extended family when she moves into an assisted living place, with “emotional value” as the x-axis and “monetary value” as the y-axis.

Right now, the grandson’s in a Filipino jail because someone was “sending him a message” when they planted heroin in his luggage so he’d get caught by customs at the airport. Guess who’s his cellmate? His grandpa’s old pal, the guy who’s been following the grandson. Who knows how it’ll all end???

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The E-Book Experiment

by Elizabeth November 28, 2011

Over the summer, I got it into my head that an e-reader would be an awesome thing to have for school because it would save me from having to carry around a bunch of paperbacks for class.  (You know, because I take so many incredibly reading-intensive classes as a computer science major…) Before school started, I purchased […]

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