Why do we carry the books we do? What are the biggest sellers? The answers may surprise you. Or not!

One of the most frequently-asked questions we get at the Library is, “How do you choose your books?” It’s a great question!!!

The answer is both simple and complicated. To the simple part: aside from Henry’s books, of course, we tend to order books that we personally like. We then take the logical leap to assume that you, dear customers, will enjoy the books too.  More often than not, that logic works.
As to the complicated part, it isn’t a conscious thing, but we’d like to think that most of the books here in the Library can be traced back to Henry’s tastes and aesthetics. For example, Henry liked French surrealism and viola! We have a French surrealist section. Henry influenced the Beats and Kerouac, and so we have a section on the Beats and Kerouac.

Henry despited politics and so we don’t have a section on political science, Camelot, and Watergate. (That said, we have some newer nonfiction that deals with political issues, but more often than not, these do so through the lens of, say, modern philosophy “Plato at the Gogolplex” or cool history (“Rad American Women.“)

Now, let’s get back to our first point, the idea that we carry certain books because we like them or think customers will like them. We’ve taken this post as an occasion to anecdotally consider the best-selling at the Library. Here they are!

Best-selling books at the Henry Miller Library

1. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

2. Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, by Henry MillerBigSur_04

3. Big Sur, by Jack Kerouac

4. Moon Divas Guide Book: Spirited Self-Care for Women in Transition, written and illustrated by Lara Vesta and co-created by Deva Munay,

5. Fire Monks, by Colleen Morton Busch

6 Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck

7. The Book, by Alan Watts

8. Catching the Reel Big Fish, by David Lynch

9. Just Kids, by Patti Smith

10. The Air Conditioned Nightmare, by Henry Miller

Runners-up (that is, seemingly “random” books that sell well): Innocent When You Dream, A Tom Waits Reader; Book of Imaginary Things, Jorge Luis Borges; Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong; Big Sur Coloring Book.

Then there are the books we order cuz we like’em, regardless of Henry Miller’s tastes. We go rogue.  Magnus like stuff like Two Years Before the Mast and Barbarian Days and Unlearning Liberty. Mike’s hip to Sometimes a Great Notion and Tree of Smoke (which no one seems to want to buy) and Emily Dickinson.

Actually, if there are any titles you think we should get, let us know!

What’s it all mean? Discuss!  Any titles you think we should carry, let us know!

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The Henry Miller Memorial Library is pleased to announce the 2015 publication of PING PONG, a journal of the arts!

The Henry Miller Memorial Library is pleased to announce the 2015 publication of Ping Pong, a journal of the arts.


pingpong2015cover501For more information visit Ping Pong’s home page here.

Here’s this issue’s introduction from from Ping Pong’s editor, Maria Garcia Teutsch:

Greetings wonderful reader,

First of all I would like to say that after 10 years of presiding over this wondrous journal of art and letters I am resigning. It’s not that I don’t love the editing process, I actually do. For reals: I edited my undergrad lit journal, The Atlantis, and my grad school journal, The Cold Mountain Review. Then when I moved out to California in 2000, I began editing the Homestead Review out of Hartnell College in Salinas, where I accepted a position on their faculty.

Then Magnus Torén asked me if I’d like to take on Ping-Pong, a small scholarly publication that had been dormant for 10 years. I said no for at least a year or two, then I finally said I’d do it, but would change the format to be an international journal of art, poetry, fiction and lots of translations–if some like minded folks would sign up with me, and they did.

The original crew consisted of Dan Linehan as managing editor; Jerrold Simon, as creative director; James Maughn as poetry editor; and Jessica Breheny as fiction editor. I would be jack-of-all-trades and oversee everything as the EIC.

It’s a lot of work. Everyone from the original crew retired early on to work on their own writing and have since published incredible books. What all writers know and what almost no one else does is just how much time it takes to produce a work worth publishing. It’s not the writing, we all write, it’s the time it takes to edit something you’d be proud enough to share in a cohesive collection, at least for me. I am now carving out a bit of that time for myself.

I am quite proud of the work I have done in support of other artists. My heroes have always been those artists who have supported other artists: Anaïs Nin, Jean Genet, Allen Ginsberg,Anne Waldman, even that crazy fuck Ezra Pound: we are not as large a community as one might think.

And I have not given up the desire to publish those whose voices need to be heard. With the launch of Ping-Pong Free Press in 2016, the Henry Miller Memorial Library will begin to publish full-length manuscripts, and I will serve as Editor-in-Chief of this enterprise. I think it will afford me a bit more time to work on my own writing. I am not in a hurry. It’s only that I have so many of my own pretties that need my attention.

I would like to thank all of the writers we’ve published over the years, and also the editors who have made this publication one of the best ever produced: Christine Hamm, River Atwood Tabor, Jennifer Lagier-Fellguth, Joanna Fuhrman, Shelley Marlow, Buffy Hastings, J. Hope Stein, Jenny Donegan, Katherine Hargreaves and Brooke Hankins. You are all super talented and generous to everyone you meet. It’s been a rare privilege to work with you.

I have included their work in an Editor’s Folio here. Enjoy!

Maria Garcia Teutsch, Editor in Chief

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Omar and Odessa Velasco perform live at the Library, Wed. Oct 13th!

We heard two hurricanes are brewing in the Pacific, lending credence to the notion that El Nino will soon arrive as advertised.

So before highways wash away and revert to a primordial candlelight existence, why not come to the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, tomorrow, Wed. Oct 13, for a night of gorgeous, intimate live music from Omar and Odessa Velasco?

Here’s Omar:

This event is free, although donations, as always, are lovingly accepted. RSVP here. Doors at 7:30.

See you there! Questions? Call us! 831-667-2574

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The second Big Sur Redwood Auction is coming up – Sunday, October 4th. But what about the tree?

The second Big Sur Redwood Auction is coming up – Sunday, October 4th at 4 pm at the Henry Miller Library. RSVP HERE.

But what about the tree that fell? How old was it? How tall?

Years before Europeans first stepped foot in California….

Decades before Martin Luther challenged the foundation of the Western religious tradition…

A century before Galileo claimed that the earth revolved around the sun….

…a 200 foot old-growth coast redwood tree stood in what is now Big Sur, California, approximately 36.2703° N, 121.8064° W.


The Tree, circa 2010, directly behind the bride.

And there it stood for close to 500 years.  From 1983 onwards it hovered mere feet from the non-profit art space, Henry Miller Memorial Library, and in the subsequent 30 years it bore witness to countless weddings, outdoor performances, movie screenings, and so much more.

Until December 2, 2012.

At 9 am, staff member Mike Scutari was eating breakfast in the back office when he heard that terrifying, unmistakable sound.  He ran out and instantly saw an explosion of what looked like sawdust near the base of the tree, as if a stick of dynamite was detonated in its trunk. See him tell his tale HERE!

And then it fell.  (Listen to an approximate event sound HERE)

Slowly, glacially, but not without a fight, defiantly taking down a power pole, telephone lines and other trees with it.

The tree was no more.

The Tree, December 2, 2012, about four hours after the fall.

Upon examining the wood, local lumberjacks and millers were amazed at what they found: pure, pristine, unadulterated redwood, ideal for artistic or household uses like tables, benches, counters, doors, and paneling.

According to the National Park Service, “96 percent of the original old-growth coast redwoods have been logged.”  So when a tree of this stature falls, and when it’s discovered to be comprised of pure, beautiful redwood, it is nothing short of a miracle.

Working with local lumberjacks and millers, the Henry Miller Memorial Library is now selling 10 completely seasoned slabs. See under ‘buy’ above.

You will be unable to find old-growth redwood of such quality and consistency, nor from such a hallowed and historic location.

On October 4 we are putting ten of the finest pieces up for auction.

Link to individual pieces on auction on October 4, 2015:
#9  |  #15  |  #22  |  #23  |  #25  |  #26  |  #33 |  #35

Click HERE to bid on a slab in advance.

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“Henry Miller: Excerpts on a Traumatized Existence,” courtesy of Solidarity Hall!

“Henry Miller was the prophet of the modern man—particularly, the modern American man. He was the prophet of a traumatized existence—not traumatized physically, but in every other way: psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

henrymiller1-620x265“Like most prophets and poets (for he was a poet also), he did not say anything unusual, but only said what a million others would have said if they could have found the words.

“He said the same thing other writers have said, only he said it better. He was able to testify in crystal clear language to those subtle pains and pleasures which to most of us stay buried beneath layers of confusion, ignorance, and inner noise….His intuition was unobscured, and he wields it masterfully…..”

“Truth be told, part of the purpose of the article is to vindicate Miller not only from his enemies, but also from “friends” like these reviewers, who in their praises only proved that they entertained a notion of the book which was just as superficial as those who dubbed it pornography and rejected it as such….”

A provocative read from Solidarity Hall Click to read the whole thing!

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An update from Magnus on the Henry Miller Memorial Library’s ongoing renovation efforts…

Though ground has yet to be broken — but when it is, we’ll probably have a party around it — the Library’s renovations are moving forward as swiftly as the machinations of country government, legal consultations, and other practical and necessary matters allow.

But before we take a closer look at the three main components of our renovation work — building a new water system, creating ADA-compliant bathrooms, and developing a new parking plan — we wanted to first update you on our capacity challenges.

As you may have heard, Monterey County mandated that we can only have 120 people for normal Library gathers, be it movie night, concerts, etc. This is because we lack the parking capacity—which we’ll get to in a second—to accommodate 300 people. (If you noticed that all the movie nights were capped at 120 capacity and sold out rather quickly, this will not come as a surprise.)

We’re happy to report that our efforts to hold events within the capacity limitations this summer went smoothly. That said, these limitations did have an adverse effect on our bottom line.


Impact of new capacity restrictions

It’s simple math. Previously, we’d host approximately 180 guest per movie night. If each guest donated $10, we’d take in $1,800. This summer, however, with 120 guests, our take dropped to $1,200. Spread across the summer — 12 movies nights plus two finales — we ended up approximately $8,500 in the hole over last year. And that’s just for movie nights.

(Side note: if you find numbers riveting, you’ll be intrigued to know that we did the math, and it takes 1,100 volunteer hours — that’s 29 weeks, or 7 months — to make the Big Sur International Short Film Series happen!)

Fortunately, we — along with every other business in Big Sur — have seen a continual uptick in walk-in visitors over last year, which certainly helps to lessen the impact. Ironically enough, however, it’s precisely because more and more visitors keep pouring into Big Sur that we need to modernize our operations. (How’s that for a great segue?)

So let’s start with installing a proper public water system.


Saying goodbye to our 1965-vintage water system

As we all know, the Henry Miller Memorial Library once was the home of his friend Emil White. The building was built in the mid 60s, and it opened to the general public in 1981. Needless to say, Big Sur of 1981 is a far cry from the Big Sur of 2015. As the Library has grown, it has come to be rightfully viewed less as a private residential dwelling and more as a “public” place. And, under law, any public place should have an authorized “public” water system.

But don’t we have water at the Library now? Yup, we do. It comes from a local well and we’ve been drinking it since 1965. However, the current system doesn’t meet the requirements of an authorized “public” water system, and so we have to build one from scratch.

With permits, engineering, construction and, in our case, easements and plot line adjustments with a neighbor, we estimate construction will cost at least $60,000.

So where does the process currently stand? Our architects and the engineers have designed a proposed system that will reside on the hillside facing south of the Library property. Meanwhile, lawyers are looking into the agreements and easements, all in tandem with the planning department and the health department. We are very close to having the agreements between us and the neighbor signed, and within 30 days after the agreement is reach, we should be able to give the plans to the contractor who will be starting the actual work of installing the system.


Bathroom renovation: Demolition and construction

Now let’s look at renovating our bathrooms to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This legislation, which was enacted in 1990, sets out design and engineering standards to make public restrooms and other facilities accessible to disabled people. These standards apply to things like wheelchair access; proper heights and locations for sinks, counters, stalls, and urinals; acceptable floor space area size, and more.

This element of the renovation will require the demolition of existing library structures like our storage shed on the northeast side of the property and the construction of a new bathroom from scratch. Construction will encroach on our neighbor’s property and so we require a lot line adjustment to change our property lines. Once the adjustment is made, officials at the county Planning and Building and Health departments will sign off on the plan. In addition, our lawyers will finalize the lot line adjustment with our neighbor. The cost of this part of the plan is already up to over 35K and will surely be over 120K by the time we’re done!

Barring rumors of a fierce El Nino winter, we hope to begin demolition and construction towards the end of the year.

Which, at long last, brings us to our parking plan. Visitors to the Library know that that sharp curve on the south end of the property can be a little tricky, and so we’re working to maximize visitor safety and to facilitate for handicap access. This requires resurfacing part of the  parking lot with asphalt, erecting signage that specifically shows reserved handicap parking, and using the spaces that we have inside the gate along the southern border.


The Archive Room at long last!

Plans have  been submitted to the County Planning Dept. for a secure and strong archive room designed by Studio Carver. It will provide  us with a safe space for all our archives including the two main collections: The Schnellock Collection and the William Ashley Collection. This is a dream come true but construction may be on the back burner for a while and will require at least one more round of fundraising. Hopefully the goal of being able to both care for and show our collections should be make a strong argument to lose up the purse strings for those who can!


So in closing we still have a bit to do and we’ll keep you posted. The Very Best Way to stay in touch and to help is to consider joining us on the Digest. Click here!

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1,110 hours is the number of the day. (It’s also why the Big Sur Int’l Short Film Screening Series appreciates your support!)

We all know that putting on the Big Sur International Short Film Festival — which just concluded its landmark 10th season — is a lot of work.

But how much work?
We crunched the numbers.
We received 1,400 submissions for the 2015 series. They’re viewed and vetted by our screening committee. Films are selected, directors are contacted, web sites are updated, programs are designed, and viola, the series runs from June to August.  Hundreds of hours of work.
The 12 screenings and the two finales require 4-5 volunteers to help out. That’s 350 volunteer hours for those keeping track.
Add it all up and we’re realistically looking at approximately 1,100 volunteer hours spread across the year.
That’s close to 29 weeks — over 7 months!! — of voluntary help.
Can you put a dollar amount on this effort? You bet you can. At $15 an hour, we’re looking at $16,500-worth of volunteer work!
Of course, we do it all out of sheer love and commitment for the program. It’s rewarding, fulfilling, and intoxicating work! But…we think it can be instructive to step back and see the scope and breadth of this undertaking, right?
We think so.digest
If any of this resonates with you…if you think the film series — and everything else we do here at the Library — should continue and is worthy of your support, we’d humbly ask you to consider a supplement to any previous donations made (for which, of course, we’re eternally grateful!)
In fact, you can donate as little as $2 a month here. Trust us — any little bit helps. We can’t do it without you!
And with that, our business presentation comes to an end.
So from all of us at the Library, thanks again for another incredible summer, and we’ll see you on June 9, 2016 — opening night of the 11th annual Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series!


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Sunday Oct 4 at the Henry Miller Library: Big Sur Redwood Auction!

One year after auctioning off the first set of 10 slabs from a fallen 500-year old old-growth coast redwood tree, the Henry Miller Memorial Library is
set to auction off ten more!

But first, the epic backstory…

Years before Europeans stepped foot in California…decades before Martin Luther challenged the foundation of the Western religious tradition…A century before Galileo claimed that the earth revolved around the sun….

…a 200 foot old-growth coast redwood tree stood approximately 10 feet to the southeast from where you are currently standing.

There it stood for close to 500 years. Until December 2, 2012.

At 9 am, a staff member was eating breakfast in the back office when he heard that terrifying, unmistakable sound. He ran out and instantly saw an explosion of what looked like sawdust near the base of the tree, as if a stick of dynamite was detonated in its trunk.

And then it fell.

Upon examining the wood, local lumberjacks were amazed at what they found: pure, pristine, unadulterated redwood, ideal for artistic or household uses like tables, benches, counters, doors, and paneling.

In 2014, the Library auctioned off ten slabs.

And now, our Sunday Oct. 4, 2015, we’ll be auctioning off ten more.

You will be unable to find old-growth redwood of such quality and consistency, nor from such a hallowed and historic location.

Proceeds will beneft the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a 501 (c) 3 nonproft arts organization.

Wine served by True Myth Winery

You will be allowed to bid remotely – click for details.

Visit bigsurredwood.wordpress.com for updates and information regarding specific slabs.

Questions? Call us at 831-667-2574.

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The Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series announces the winners of its 2015 summer series, as selected by its 8-person jury!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Press contact: Magnus Toren – magnus@henrymiller.org

The Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series Announces the Winners of its 2015 Summer Series In its 10th annual series, Jury selects AYA by Mihal Brezis & Oded Binnum, as First Place Winner; 2015 Audience Award goes to The Phone Call by Mat Kirkby.

AUGUST 31, 2015 (BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA) – The Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series announces the winners of its 2015 summer series, as selected by its 8-person jury. Aya, by Mihal Brezis & Oded Binnum, Israel, came in first place, followed by The Phone Call by Mat Kirkby, U.K, in second place. Third place went to Plein Soleil (Blazing Sun) by Fred Castadot, Belgium.

The 2015 Audience Award went to The Phone Call. Recognized as one of the most exciting and innovative short film series in the world, the Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series celebrated its 10th year in 2015. 2015 was the series’ most successful to date, having receiving over 1,400 submissions from over 35 countries.

The Screening Series has no submission fees or restrictions on content or genre.

The Big Sur International Short Film Screen Series Jury consists of composer Philip Glass, experimental performance artist Laurie Anderson, actress Kirsten Dunst, Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, film director Michael Polish, film editor Susan Littenberg, and film producer Lawrence Inglee.

The Series’ screening committee whittled down the 1,400-plus submissions to 53 films which were screened across the summer.

7210_10151693244458234_822359979_nEvery Thursday night in June, July, and August, hundreds of visitors came to the Henry Miller Memorial Library — a 501 (c) non profit art center and the Series’ “parent” organization — to watch four of five of these films. A selection of 11 of these 53 films were subsequently sent to the Series Jury who then selected the “best of the best.”

“It’s been an incredible journey across the past 10 years, and I can without a doubt say that this year’s crop of films was the most impressive yet; not just in quantity, but in the scope of content; quality of writing, cinematography, acting…and in terms of dealing with some pressing social issues in a thoughtful and provocative way,” said Series Director Magnus Toren.

“And the breadth of diversity was as strong as ever as well. Selections ran the gamut — comedies, dramas, documentaries, animation, you name it. The series has become known for an element of unpredictability and I think our audience members appreciate that.” The Series is now accepting submissions for its 2016 installment. To submit and for more information regarding the series, as well as previous selections and winners, visit bigsurfilm.org.

The 2015 finalists:
  • Grey Bull by Eddy Bell, Australia
  • Lost in Stångby by Marie Thérèse Ahlbeck, Sweden
  • Garbo by Venetia Taylor, Australia
  • A Doll’s House by Tobias Gundorff Boesen, Denmark
  • Keys to Heaven by Hamy Ramezan, Finland
  • God of Love by Luke Matheny, USA
  • Syndromeda by Patrik Eklund, Sweden
  • Plein Soleil (Blazing Sun) by Fred Castadot, Belgium
  • Chronicles of Courage by Ernest Mills, U.K.
  • Aya by Mihal Brezis & Oded Binnum, Israel
  • The Phone Call by Mat Kirkby, U.K
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Sign up for the Henry Miller Library Digest and get lots of cool stuff! (And support your favorite nonprofit arts center!)

Sure, you love getting your occasional email from the HML, but you crave EVEN MORE?
Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 10.16.05 AM
More content, more special deals on books and merchandise, more rare videos, essays on Miller, pictures of Theo, and more, well, everything?

Then sign up for the HML Digest!  For as little as $2 a month, you’ll get “the best of the best” delivered to your inbox every month — all while supporting your friendly nonprofit book store here in the woods!

Don’t believe us? Click here for last month’s Digest. You’ll a rare video of Henry, Theo and Ryan Adams, “The Greatest Day of Joanna Newsom’s Mom’s Life,” Philip Glass, and more…..

All of this could be yours — indefinitely!! — and for less than it costs for a mocha grande soy latte (extra hot).

Sign up HERE for the Digest and thanks, as always, for your support!

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