Pipe Smoking Book Recommendation.

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sothron

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Sep 20, 2011
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Several months back, a forum member posted a link to a number of old, out of print books that were available on-line as Kindle downloads. Sadly, I'm on the road, typing this on a phone, and unable to provide a link. One of those books was J.M. Barrie's "My Lady Nicotine / A Study in Smoke".
This book is hilarious. You guys will love it. Highly recommended. And it's free...

 

ssjones

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Staff member
May 11, 2011
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Maryland
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/recommended-reading-for-novice-pipe-smokers#post-585868
The Guttenberg Project link is in that thread.

 

rmbittner

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Dec 12, 2012
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"My Lady Nicotine" is THE book for pipe smokers! I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a hardcover edition at O'Gara's used-book store in Chicago back in the mid-1980s. I make it a point to reread it every year. (Just be aware that it's fiction.)
Each chapter is a standalone "scene" from the narrator's smoking life. It can be a bit uneven from chapter to chapter, with a few saying very little about smoking at all. But the other chapters more than make up for such lapses. It can go from laugh-out-loud humor to touching scenes of melancholy (especially for pipe lovers). And, of course, it's the book that introduced the name "Arcadia" for the most-beloved tobacco blend in the world. (The kind of blend you only shared with friends who were "worthy" of it.)
Barrie was a well-known pipe smoker in his day. I thought it was interesting that in the movie Neverland, which tells the story of Barrie's creation of Peter Pan, his character is never shown with a pipe. Turns out the answer is in the DVD supplemental material: They shot one scene with Johnny Depp (who played Barrie) smoking a pipe. He was so uncomfortable doing it -- and looked so awkward on camera -- they decided to ditch the pipe smoking altogether.
Bob

 

escioe

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Oct 31, 2013
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I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a hardcover edition at O'Gara's used-book store in Chicago back in the mid-1980s.
One of about three things I miss about being in Chicago is the bookstores. O'Gara's is cool, but it's the third coolest store within a few blocks of there, after the Seminary and Powell's. But man do I miss those places.
I read In Search of Pipe Dreams a few years ago and that put me off pipe lit for a while. A couple hundred pages of being told I'm doing it wrong and name dropping is plenty. Shame, too, because Newcombe is a cool guy and I enjoyed smoking a pipe with him once, but the bloviating in the book was hard for me to stomach.
Now I just read good books while I'm smoking, and I'm happy as a clam.

 

mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
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I think a book about pipe smoking is an extremely difficult assignment. I'm not sure why. A reference book, done by

a sort of curator archivist, might be of interest, though it might also be quickly outdated. A book of poetry about pipes

might work, if the poet could expand the subject, through imagery, so it would also speak to non-pipe-smokers. But

the advice and information about pipes seems to favor short entries, which is why Forums works better than most pipe

books. The craft is passed along best in the midst of chatter, rather than through expository essays, which get snoozy

fast. Someone can do it, but it requires art (in the writing, maybe actual art too, I don't know).

 

settersbrace

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Mar 20, 2014
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I found Barrie's book in our library. It was a great read during a couple cold winter evenings. I'll have to sign it out again.

 

rmbittner

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Dec 12, 2012
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escioe:
Man! You're describing some of the most idyllic times of my life in the mid-1980s! I loved going into the city and stopping at 57th Street Books, then walking east to O'Gara's and then a couple of blocks farther to Powell's. I know 57th Street Books isn't there any more; don't know about the other two.
The owner of O'Gara's at the time was a pipe smoker himself. That's probably why he had My Lady Nicotine standing by the cash register when I discovered it. But to stand in his very well-stocked store, hearing the wooden floorboards creak, puffing on my pipe. . . I took so much for granted back then.
Bob

 

rmbittner

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Dec 12, 2012
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mso489:
I think you've nailed the reason that virtually every book on pipes and pipe smoking written since 1980 has either been self-published or published by tiny, tiny specialized publishers that may or may not pay their authors anything.
That said, I think there have been some wonderfully enjoyable books on pipes and pipe tobacco published in the last 50 or so years. I enjoy Carl Weber's books immensely. Carl Ehwa's is a classic. And I think Rick Hacker has also done much to make pipe smoking interesting and appealing to new generations. But, frankly, unless you're going to get into some specific areas of the hobby, there's not much more to say at this point that hasn't already been said -- and many times. I think that helps to explain the popularity of Rick Newcombe's books, which I found really unappealing to read. They're the books Hacker would now be writing if he were still interested in pipes: Pipe smoking as status symbol. (Hacker didn't start out with that tone; it developed as he became the "expert" spokesperson about pipes and, then, cigars in the late-1980s and 1990s. Then it became more about the Cigar Aficionado "lifestyle" than pipe smoking.)
I have read that prior to 1800, English-language publications about tobacco and smoking were second in number only to English-language publications about religion and the Bible. Pamphlets, broadsheets, flyers, books, etc. were being produced -- and consumed -- at a furious rate. Things slowed down as smoking went from being a new and wonderful/horrendous thing (depending on your point of view) to becoming a commonplace of daily life. And the late 1700s also saw the creation of the novel, which led to an enormous surge of fiction in the 1800s. It's interesting that, out of all that writing, the pipe smoking writing that survives today -- or at least the writing that continues to be read -- is poetry (Pipe and Pouch) and fiction (My Lady Nicotine).
Bob