May 23, 2007

When I travel, I shop. Instead of food, I buy books, CDs and DVDs. Things bought from used bookstores and record stores in other cities are somehow better than the things I could buy at home. As it stands, I now know more used book stores in Philadelphia than I do in Atlanta. I was there for two days, I’ve been here for two years. This is because I was visiting Philly but I’ve never visited Atlanta. I moved here. Hence, I buy new books here and more interesting, used books there (wherever “there” is).

This is not a philosophical thing or a statement of intent. It’s just a thing I do.

The last week or so I’ve been in Chicago and Philadelphia. Here’s what I got (most of it used):

Yesterday, a Korean sci-fi action thriller starring Kim Yun-Jin, who plays Sun on Lost.

Night Stalker, the complete series on DVD, not because it was good but because I liked it.

Memento, soundtrack by David Julyan and various artists. I thought this was a little more exotic than it turned out to be, but it’s proven to be fine sounds for working.

28 Days Later, soundtrack by John Murphy and various artists. I’m still hoping there’ll be some kind of soundtrack release for the sequel, also scored by John Murphy.

Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut. One of those Vonnegut books I’ve never read. From the look of the nation’s book stores, the time to stock up on an author’s ouevre seems to be when he dies.

Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, by Franz Wright. “The world is filled with people who have never died.”

Travel in the Ancient World, by Lionel Casson, expands on the revision of the historical notion that ancient people seldom got around. It’s got chapters on ancient inns and restaurants, Roman roads, and forgotten museums — purchased not just for gaming purposes, but yes, for gaming purposes.

The Golden Section: Nature’s Greatest Secret, by Scott Olsen. This is a silly pop-mysticism bon-bon I picked up at the magnificent Prairie Avenue Bookstore down by Printer’s Row, in Chicago’s Loop. I’d never been in there before, and it’s excellent; the kind of place filled with 200-page, $50 paperback theses like Urban Memory: History and Amnesia in the Modern City, which I’ll be saving my pennies for.

Layout Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Building Pages in Graphic Design, by Kristen Cullen. This is the other book I bought at Prairie Avenue, the one of substance. I bought this one because I should be better informed than I am.

The Packaging and Design Templates Sourcebook, compiled by Luke Herriott, published by RotoVision. This is actually Sara’s book, purchased from Prairie Avenue, which she’ll be using as a guide for future handmade books, boxes and other craft projects that fall under her “hackbooking” hobby.

Parapsychology: Frontier Science of the Mind, by JB Rhine and JG Pratt. The title page describes this as “A survey of the field, the methods, and the facts of ESP and PK research.” It was published in 1957, and I seem to have a first edition.

Conversing by Signs: Poetics of Implication in Colonial New England Culture by Robert Blair St. George. I could not quite figure this dense thing out in the store, and I was desperate for some kind of early American occultism, so I took it home. From the back cover: “By exploring the linkages between such cultural expressions as seventeenth-century farmsteads, witchcraft narratives, eighteenth-century crowd violence, and popular portraits of New England Federalists, St. George demonstrates that in early New England, things mattered as much as words in the shaping of metaphor.”

Life on the English Manor, by HS Bennett, is a rundown on peasant living conditions between 1150 and 1400, as it looked from the modern day of 1937. (My copy was printed in 1962.) Why I am fascinated by outdated history books, I can’t tell you. But I’m sure it’s meta.

Duruy’s Middle Ages, by Victor Duruy, is a condensed history of the Middle Ages with a copyright date of “1898 and 1900.” I can’t tell when my copy was printed, but it’s not a young book. Still, it looks like all of its little folded maps are still here, tucked between pages. The first chapter of this book is, “The Barbarian World in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries.”



  1. 28 Days Later, soundtrack by John Murphy and various artists.

    One of those various artists is Godspeed You Black Emperor, and though their songs regularly clock in at around 15-20 minutes each, they are all somehow awesome and excellent work noise.

  2. Godspeed You Black Emperor is terrific work noise, you’re right. Unfortunately, “East Hastings” (the track heard in 28 Days Later) isn’t on the soundtrack. Probably because, as you say, it’s something like 12 minutes long.

  3. Man, next time you’re in Philly, give a Wendig a call.

  4. I’ve got books from a class on witchcraft in Bemidji, that I can send you if you’re desperate for witchcraft/occult in early America. Or, I can send you a list of titles/authors/pub dates, when I get home.

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