CHAPTERS: You’re Cheating on Me! (But I still love you)

Several years ago, a new Chapters store opened up in my neighbourhood. It was wonderful to have a huge bookstore so close to home. I would walk there frequently and it quickly became my go-to store for buying books and magazines. Since it is a Canada-wide chain, my grandchildren often received Chapters gift cards as Christmas and birthday presents.

Do you see the big BOOK on the sign? Does this tell you something? Do you get the idea that they sell BOOKS?

However, something has gone wrong. Over the last few years, it seems as if books and magazines are becoming a less important part of Chapters’ inventory.

A few days ago, I went to my local Chapters store with three of my daughters. Here are just a few of the items that occupied probably  more than half of the store’s space.

  • Office furniture and supplies
  • Blankets and throws
  • Dishes
  • Jewellery
  • Baby and children’s toys
  • Christmas trees and decorations
  • Chocolates and candy
  • Scarves and wraps
  • Candles
  • Lego sets
  • Gift wrap and bags
  • Games
  • Home décor
  • Nail polish
  • Baby clothes
  • Stuffed animals
  • Handbags

When I go to Chapters, I want to buy books and magazines. I don’t mind them selling Kobo  e-readers and accessories, because at least it has something to do with reading. But those other items – not so much.

The shelves holding books on Art , Computers, Science, and many other genres have been greatly reduced. It’s getting more and more difficult to find what I am looking for in-store. I can order books on-line from Chapters, but there is just something so cosy about browsing through a bookstore to see what’s new and interesting.

Chapters, you’ve done me wrong. And it’s really disappointing. But I still love you … for now.

Thanks for reading. – Maureen


Only Money

When people have decided to purchase something, you often hear them say, “Hey, it’s only money.”  Sometimes I wonder where all my money goes.

Housing and food are givens and so are utilities and taxes.

But where else does my money go?

  • Books, Magazines, and Ebooks.  I probably spend a few hundred dollars a year on these items, despite the fact that we have a fabulous library here in Ottawa.  I am really trying to cut back but sometimes I feel like I just have to have the latest Jeffery Archer right away, for example.  In that case I buy the eBook which is cheaper than the hardcover.
  • Hair, Nails, Make-up.  Okay, I really save here.  I buy shampoo, conditioner, and hair dye, only when they are on sale.  I usually buy a bottle of nail polish a year, to paint  my toes for the summer season.  For make-up, I buy lipstick and eye-shadow once every two or three years.  I rarely wear make-up so it isn’t difficult.
  • Transportation.  This one is a good one for me.  Hubby and I take the bus only on “free” days, and buy our groceries, etc. to carry home.  Very rarely, I have to take the bus on a non-free day, and then I use tickets.  We bought a book of tickets ($15) four months ago and I still have most of them.  However, the city is getting rid of the “free” bus on Monday and Friday afternoons, so we will have to do some creative thinking to come up with some alternative plans.
  • Home Beautification. We moved to Ottawa a few months ago and decided to buy some new furniture and a new bed, as ours hadn’t been replaced for decades.  We spent about $2,000 but it is all paid off and NOT on a credit card.  That feels good!  I put in a very small garden in front of my house.  Plants and soil were a gift from my cousin, chairs from my daughter Monica, and some flowers from my daughter Michelle.  Cost to us $0.00!!!
  • Movies and Entertainment.  Absolutely nothing, although there are one or two movies I’d like to see sometime.  Most of our entertainment doesn’t cost anything – bike rides, walks, visits to parks, free concerts, even free cooking classes at the local community centre.
  • Restaurants. We probably spend a few hundred dollars a year eating out, but if you know me at all, you know we usually dine on the basis of two-for-one deals.
  • Electronic devices.  This could be embarrassing!  I am an electronic gadget lover!  I have two eReaders, a Netbook, a Laptop, and a regular computer.  I have an iPhone, and an iPod Touch, and several Memory Sticks (including a few free ones).  When I go anywhere to visit, I have a separate bag with cables for all my “toys”.  Hubby has multiple computers, monitors, memory sticks, hard-drives, and an Android phone.  I would say this probably runs into $1000.oo per year, as many of the items are now older, but still…

We really are blessed here in North America, but I feel that we should be aware of what we spend and how.  I have obviously cut back in some areas but I still have work to do!

Oh wait, I think there’s an app to help me calculate all that!

What about you?  What are your spending “pits”? – Maureen

Best and Worst

I thought I’d write about what I consider the best and worst in several areas.  I’m not going to think about this a great deal.  So I may later think of something better or worse, but it should be interesting.

  • Art.  BEST:  The Group of Seven artists and I don’t think there is one of their paintings I don’t love.  Tom Thompson is an honourary Group of Seven member and I love his paintings as well.  WORST:  Modern or contemporary art.  I just don’t understand it!
  • Music.  BEST:  Classical, especially Debussy, Chopin, Mozart.  It lifts me up.  WORST:  Rap and Heavy Metal. I just don’t understand it!
  • Movie (Musical).  BEST:  Sound of Music.  Never get tired of watching it.  It was the first movie I went to with my now Hubby.  WORST:  The Fantastics.  I didn’t get past about 15 minutes but it has one thing going for it – Try to Remember, a lovely song, sung by Ed Ames and others.
  • Movie (Drama).  BEST:  The King’s Speech.  A great movie.  I could watch it again.  WORST:  I’ve obviously blanked out the bad movies because I can remember some of them but not their names.
  • Movie (Romantic).  BEST:  Pride and Prejudice.  My all-time favourite.  WORST:  Nights in Rodanthe.  A total waste of time, and not even romantic.
  • Book (Mystery).  BEST:  Agatha Christie is still the Queen of mystery writers.  My favourite is The Man in the Brown Suit.  WORST:  Miss Seeton Solves the Case.  Terrible writing and the story wasn’t great.
  • Book (Fiction).  BEST:  Pride and Prejudice again.  The characters, the story, the setting.  All perfect.  WORST:  I don’t think I can pick one.  There are a lot of good books and a lot of bad books out there.
  • Book (Non-fiction).  BEST:  Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.  I was captivated from the first page to the last.  WORST:  Some of the “diet” books I’ve read or tried to read.  Many are filled with questionable “facts”.  I remember one that said you had to eat a ton of sugar to lose weight.

I may think of a few more categories for a further post.  Best and worst sport, job, etc. 

Do you have any “bests” or “worsts” to share?

My Reads

I recently lost all of the information on my iPod, including everything on the “My Reads” app.  With this app, I entered all of the books I had read over the past year, and had reached “100 Books Read”, just before Hubby decided I needed to update the iPod and lost Everything.

All my Contacts?  Gone.  Email addresses of everyone I knew?  Gone.  The Notes app containing all my passwords?  Gone.  Calendar with birthdays and anniversaries?  Gone.  My Photos (all 700 of them)?  Gone.  Itunes?  All gone.

I’d like to give you a little sample of the books I’ve read over the past year.

  • Favourite Author – M.C. Beaton.  She writes mysteries, quite lighthearted, and always entertaining.  Two of her series are the Hamish McBeth Mysteries and the Agatha Raisin Mysteries.  Both very funny and I’d definitely recommend any of her books.
  • Most read Author – Deborah Crombie.  She is a mystery writer, a little more serious.  She writes the Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid Series.  I’ve read all of her books in the past year (13 of them) and am looking to buy her new book, No Mark Upon Her.
  • Favourite New Book – Extensions, by Myrna Dey.  This book follows a woman who is an RCMP Officer, as she tracks down a mystery spanning 100 years.
  • Notable Book (and Movie) – The Help. – This book was recommended by my niece and by her mother and it did not disappoint.  I loved the movie as well.
  • Book based on a TV Series – The Richard Castle books, Heat Wave, Naked Heat, and Heat Rises.  The first one was not the greatest but the second two were much better.  I think they got a new author.
  • Fun Romance Author – Kristan Higgans.  Cute, funny, modern romances.  Fun to read, with the exception of Just One of the Guys, which was too unbelievable.
  • Author rediscovered – Mary Jane Maffini.  Based in Canada, especially Ottawa, where I live now.  I read Little Boy Blues and enjoyed it.
  • Old favourite, reread – Pride and Prejudice.  I never get tired of it.
  • Just discovered – Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum books.  Read #1 and enjoyed it.  I’m starting #2.
  • Non-fiction favourite – Malcolm Gladwell’s books.  I love them and recommend them.
  • Thought-provoking book – The 100 Thing Challenge.  This book inspired me to get started on downsizing and because of that, I was able to make the move to Ottawa painlessly.
  • Favourite math book – The Golden Ratio, the Story of Phi.  I loved this one about the number 1.61803399…
  • An old favourite author – Romance’s Betty Neels.  I can’t figure out what I love about these books but when I want to relax and not think, I turn to one of hers.
  • Humor – Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.  Funny and gentle.  The author, Stephen Leacock died in the 1950s.
  • Another favourite – Cassandra Chan.  She writes mysteries and I am eagerly awaiting the next book in her series.
  • Others worth mentioning – Debbie Macomber, Jo A. Hiestand, P. G. Wodehouse (Jeeves and Wooster), Bill Bryson, Graham Thomas, Mary Jane Forbes.
  • My all-time favourite which I read in total this year for the second time??? – The Bible.

Hope you discover or rediscover a book or author of your own.

What are you reading, and what would you recommend to me?