Contrast Assignment: A Writer Submission

by Kitty Ferguson


I am sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of the Paradise Hotel, taking in the night sights and sounds of Myrtle Beach. Radios are blaring. Car and trucks motors are revving up as they cruise up and down the boulevard. Young children are screaming and squealing with delight as they run around a busy parking garage. Cars have to honk their horns to get the children to move out of the way.

Young girls stand on the sidewalks. Boys in the “toys” cruise by, yelling, “Hey baby!!” and other delightful comments. The girls are smart enough to turn their backs on these boys.

A pizza delivery guy is sighing and making sounds under his breath, as he is top heavy with too many pizza boxes piled in his arms. He has to keep shifting his weight under the heavy load.

There is a middle-aged woman who is wasted and keeps repeating, “Can I get a free sample?” to the man behind the ice cream counter. A saleswoman is yelling out from behind a podium, “Free trips on the casino boat!”, trying to entice people to look at timeshares. Too much noise and confusion for now, but tomorrow is another day.

Today, I exit the back door of the Paradise Hotel. I walk past an empty lazy river. I hear the gurgle of the hot tub. There is a beautiful blue pool with not a soul in it. I take a path down through the dunes. I hear the rustle of sea grass as I make my way. I can see my umbrella and beach chairs not too far away. The waves crash in and out. The sound is soothing to my ears. The sky is so blue and I hear the distant whir of a plane flying across the ocean. There are a few couples and a few men with their gold finders walking up and down the beach. There is quiet beauty all around. My Ocean, My Peace. It is true what they say. Heaven seems just a little closer at the beach.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?


The New Year is still new, and resolutions are still being resolved! One thing that frequently makes an appearance on a resolution list? Learning a new language.

Studying a foreign language can be daunting! Even if you have some fuzzy memories of that Spanish 101 class back in high school, you might feel intimidated at the thought of tackling it all again.

One of the wonderful things about having both new and used books in the store is finding books for all sorts of interests. Our foreign language section certainly reflects that, from books that cover basics in French and Spanish to ones that delve into Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Turkish, and Dutch. If you move beyond the basics, we even have a selection of foreign language fiction and other works, including a selection of children’s books.

There are plenty of benefits to learning a second language. In addition to having better concentration, those who speak more than one language also have more acute memories and tend to be better listeners and multitaskers. Bilingual children generally have quick mental development, while adults who study foreign languages may delay Alzheimer’s and other memory problems by 4.5 years.

People often have an attraction to a certain “type” of language. For some, it’s the suaveness and drama of the romance language. Some are fascinated by the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome. Some students even dive into a new writing system and tackle Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

Others find themselves attracted to foreign language study for other reasons. One of the best things, for example, are those untranslatable words, bringing new meaning to concepts we haven’t always been able to express in our mother tongue.

If you think of a snappy retort just after leaving a heated argument, you’re experiencing l’esprit des escaliers, or the spirit of the stairs. Feeling a niggling happiness at someone else’s unhappiness? That’s a classic case of Schadenfreude, or damage-joy. And everyone has gotten their fair share of dapjeongneo: rhetorical questions with expected answers, a la: “What do you think of my new haircut?”

Whether you have a fascination for linguistics, a longing for other cultures, or just want to start a new hobby, stop by BookMarx to browse our foreign language section. Give Raven a scratch between the ears as you go – she’s sure to be nearby.





Belated Birthday Wishes for the Late, Great J.R.R. Tolkien


There are few authors as beloved as J.R.R. Tolkien, the author who brought readers the furry-footed fantasy creatures known as hobbits. Nearly forty years after his death, Forbes ranked him as one of the most successful “dead celebrities”.

Some of his continued success may be due to his son Christopher, who continued to publish his late father’s material in collections such as The Children of Húrin and The Tale of Sigurd and Gudrún as recently as 2015.

Perhaps it is due to the popularity of the Lord of the Rings films, which reimagined the great author’s works (with plenty of hobbit mischief and gorgeous New Zealand backgrounds) in stunning cinematography.

Or perhaps it was simply that Tolkien’s work is imbued with his own, fascinating, personality.

The “father of modern fantasy literature” would be proud of that title. Tolkien saw it as his mission to reintroduce fantasy and mythology into the literature of his lifetime. It was this mission that forged his friendship with Narnia author C.S. Lewis. The two authors belonged to the literary group the Inklings, and spent years speaking of storytelling and religious faith; Tolkien was instrumental in Lewis’ conversion from atheism to Anglicanism.  Tolkien himself was a devout Roman Catholic whose faith remained deeply important to him throughout his life and was a pivotal theme in his work.

In addition to being an author, Tolkien was a poet, a skilled linguist, and a professor of English and English literature. Born in South Africa in 1892, he shortly moved to England with his mother and brother, where he would spend the remainder of his life.

In 1913, he married Edith Mary Bratt, but separation soon became inevitable when Tolkien entered the army during the First World War. His time there left him bored, suffering from a host of health problems, and mourning the many friends killed in France. He returned to England in 1916.

During his time as a professor (first at the University of Leeds, then at Pembroke College) Tolkien wrote the books that would become The Hobbit and the first two installments of The Lord of the Rings.

He was an avid linguist, studying Latin, English, and Nordic languages, from which he drew inspiration for his own invented languages and writing systems, some of which made their way into his most popular works.

Tolkien died in 1973.


Sources: Wikipedia and CT

Happy New Year

What a year 2016 was! There’s nothing like being the queen of a bookstore.

I’m ringing in the New Year with good news: after months of dieting, I finally dropped a couple of pounds. It’s been tough work. I developed my own unique exercise regimen that involves some running, a bit of climbing, and good long nap on the table to top it off. They did, unfortunately, stop me from stashing chocolate behind the front desk.

In the meantime, my owners are planning great things for the bookstore in 2017: author signings, holiday events, and club meetings. And of course, I can always be found at BookMarx, ready for everything 2017 will bring.

Happy New Year, everyone!



Raven (slightly slimmer and ready for the new year!)

“Bah! Humbug!”, Advent Markets, and Extreme Weight Loss: Raven Edition

The countdown to Christmas is in the single digits! Raven’s numbers on her weight loss journey, meanwhile, haven’t budged: after more than a month of a special diet, she’s still standing at -.5 pounds from her starting point. She’s now experimenting with exercise in the form of extreme shelf-jumping and laps around the bookstore.

In the meantime, we have a special shipment of “Fat Cat”-themed books to motivate her:


It’s the last weekend of the year to find the BookMarx booth down at the Steubenville Advent Market! Patricia is braving the chilly weather to bring you special Christmas items and treats in downtown Steubenville. Bundle up and come join her!


Source: WikipediaWikipedia

Training with Raven



As an update to my weight loss journey: I lost half a pound! I know a lot of you out there may be struggling to lose weight too, so I thought I would tell you about my secret weight loss weapon. Ready?

I discovered something I call napercize. Basically, you take as many naps as you can. Forget everything you’ve heard about exercise helping you to lose weight. Baloney! If anything, you need to scale back. Since I’ve been on my diet, not only do I not exercise, but I cut down on all my activities and increased the number of daily naps.

However – and this is key – I vary my napping location. Sometimes I crash on the couch, others I stretch out on the computer keyboard or in front of the space heater. I suppose you burn some calories just sleeping in one spot. But it’s much more effective to do my Nap Circuit Training.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not shirking my other bookstore responsibilities! I just find ways to multitask. For instance, one of the ladies in my knitting group brought in a wreath she had made to show the rest of us. I checked it for her to make sure it was cat proof (I bet she didn’t even think to do that! What if she wants to have her cat friends over for the holidays?) just like I’ve done with all the decorations in the store. When I was satisfied that it met my standards and sure that the instructor didn’t need my help, I napercized. But I was careful to position myself in the center of the activity so they could find me if they needed me. Cats are, after all, known for their creative problem-solving!

That is just one of the best parts of having a cat for a coworker. The other awesome part about cats in the workplace is that there is always someone who will give you a hug when you need it. You can’t even put a price on that…though I think I will ask for a raise.

Countdown to Christmas: Join us at the Steubenville Advent Market!


If you’ve stopped by the store recently, you know that everyone here is ready for Christmas! The decorations are up, Christmas music is playing, presents are under the book tree, and BookMarx is preparing for the annual Steubenville Christmas Parade and Advent Market.

The BookMarx booth can be found at the Advent Market for the next two weekends! Swing by to talk to us, find some goodies, and meet our featured local author, Mitzi Probert, who will be signing copies of her book Esther’s Miracle at the Manger. 

Happy Advent to all!