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As cool fall weather descends, remember that it is Book Month, and a good time for some comfortable reading by the fireplace again. One suggestion is to read a book of “fascinating” essays, as one review headline proclaimed about “Apple Pressings,” a newly published collection of essays that I’ve presented before the Chicago Literary Club over recent years.

In one essay titled: “Red, White, Blue and You; or, The Color of Politics,” I write: “The accepted contemporary terms red and blue state, as a sort of shorthand for an entire sociopolitical worldview, were finalized in the 2000 elections, not by some cosmic decorator, but by the long-term host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the late Tim Russert. ”

“Apple Pressings” is available at Amazon in soft and hardback and Kindle editions, and also on other popular book websites such as Barnes and Noble.

My new book  — Apple Pressings — of essays presented before the Chicago Literary Club is now available for ordering, in a paperbound edition. Hardcover coming soon. To order, go to Amazon and then Books; the title is Apple Pressings.  For an even better buy, go the Barnes and Noble’s website, http://www.bn.com and search for Apple Pressings.

If you are a curious person like me, you may enjoy what Samuel Johnson called these “loose sallies of the mind.” Come with me to find out about the “Masai Mara Hood Ornament” we met in deepest Kenya, or the two billion candlepower beacon that once guided aircraft to Chicago, or what is going on with the Electoral College that really elects our Presidents, or how Toyota beat out VW and Detroit in the small car competition, or how Abraham Lincoln’s son became the top corporate magnate of his era, or what really went on in Vietnam in 1968, or the ins and outs of spokesmanship in “Smoke Smoke,” or how we went off the deep end with open offices, or an insider’s relationship with Dick McDonald who designed the Golden Arches, or how the ubiquitous french fry became a global cultural symbol, or what it was like to do public relations during the growth explosion of one of the greatest brands of all time.

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This afternoon, Vicki and I stumbled upon the 1998 film, “You’ve Got Mail,” which I’d remembered capturing the discovery of email as an intimate yet secretive new form of communication. But what the film really brought back is how much I miss the big box bookstores, which were then ascendant, as well as the more personal small stores they were replacing.

I recalled growing up with the likes of Kroch and Brentanos in Chicago, a high-quality small store where the best in books and bookish advice could be had, then the advent of Rizzoli’s in Water Tower Place, where they carried beautiful collectible photo and art books, and where I would spend hours soaking them up. When they closed, I recall stopping by Rizzoli’s original store whenever I got to NYC, to again wade among the wonderful books there.

And then there is Barnes and Noble, where I’ve enjoyed the coffee and croissants and magazines and book browsing ever since. When we run off to Naples in Florida in the winter, once we run out of beach and shops to visit, which is pretty fast, we always wind up at Barnes and Noble, wandering among the comfortable rows of books and magazines, and sipping coffee and rolls in the cafe.

Now, in 2016, it seems all the bookstores are increasingly disappearing — both the wonderful big stores and the charming small ones they replaced. I hear that millennials don’t care much for books — one has to find a place to keep them and everything is available online. I guess we are of another time. I have two small libraries of books, one at our Chicago apartment and another at our Wisconsin lodge, and another four rooms between the two places with bookshelves aplenty. As I wrote in a recent essay for the Chicago Literary Club, my books are like walls of old friends. Like old friends, they offer familiar retreats into good times and wisdom, plus new revelations, given a closer look.

Books I’ve read many times, and those as yet unread, all get my respect. Occasionally we sort out the wheat from the chaff among our collections, but, just like the now familiar internet and the ever-present Google-gate to knowledge, books continue to offer insight and intelligence unmatched except by the best of friends. And I miss those increasingly scarce bookstores, like those operated by Meg Ryan and Tom hanks in the movie, like so many homes away from home.

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