The Blue Collar Bookseller Review: Last of the Breed | Comments

I’m back in the blue, that is to say the blue jeans. I love the bookstore, but my family needs more cash, so I go to work. Working with my hands is in my blood. I come from a long line of manual workers, from farm to factory to trucking. We all love to read.

My grandmother had worked in the glass factory for so many years that the new management thought she had come with the place. Once upon a time, my grandmother, my mother, my uncle and I all worked in the factory at the same time. We worked different shifts, different departments, but all were part of the process.

I had read about my breaks, or “benny” as they were often called in factory slang. I also read before my shift. If you had to relieve someone, it was rude to be late, that person wants to go home. So, I would be early so as not to be late, and I would read a little before the shift. Often I joke that I’ve done more reading at the factory than I ever had as a bookseller.

When I returned to work in September 2021, more than fifteen years after my last position at the factory, I also started bringing a book to work. The question was, “what do I bring?”

People judge you on the books you read. I didn’t want anything too intellectual, too weird, too controversial or too mean. Something I might enjoy, but almost anyone else might as well.

It’s not difficult with all my years of experience in the bookstore. This column is going to give you some solid suggestions that you can use for yourself or for the casual reader in your life.

The first book I chose was, “Last of the Breed” written by American West storyteller, Louis L’Amour. Love was a favorite of my father. I’ve never been a big western reader, but I remember buying it for Christmas in the late 80s for my dad. It was by one of his favorite authors, and something I might want to read too.

I’m glad I picked up this reissue of that L’Amour classic that you may have missed. It starts with US Air Force Major Joe Mack. His experimental plane is forced to land in Soviet Russia. He escapes from prison, but he is in the vastness of Siberia.

Joe Mack must find his way out of the wilderness and survive without revealing his presence to those who pursue him, including a legendary native tracker. Joe will have to use all his training as well as the woodworking that his grandfather taught him.

I loved this book. Written while the Cold War with the Soviets was still hot. It was a simpler time and it’s a simple plot. Joe is in and he has to get out. Is he? Read this fucking book and find out. If you like action, you won’t be disappointed.

Back-to-work tip: If you don’t have a locker, try packing your book in a plastic bag to put in your lunch bucket.

Kevin Coolidge is currently a full-time factory worker and part-time bookseller at From My Shelf Books & Gifts in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. When he is not working, he writes. He is also a children’s author and creator of The Totally Ninja Raccoons, a children’s series aimed at reluctant readers. Visit his author site at

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