30 December 2004

Major Book Score(s)

This past week or two has been really good for book acquisition. First, Sue and I dropped in at the local Salvation Army to look for cheap stuffies for the dogs, and I picked up three books (actually, I got more, but only three were for me):
  • Wolf's Brother, a novel by Megan Lindholm. It's the sequel to The Reindeer People which I think I read ages ago.
  • Dinosaur Lives, non-fiction by John R. Horner and Edwin Hobb. I'm on a bit of a dinosaur thing lately. This one had a green price tag, which turned out to mean it was 50% off. Woo hoo!
  • Into Print: Guides to the Writing Life. Something to review for work.

Then came Christmas. This year was big on dvds, and not so good for books, but I did get some tasty ones:
  • The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket. Selena gave me this one, which was the one book of the series I was missing. Yay!
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events blank book. This one was also from Selena. Since I don't have a daily-calendar-type journal this year, I think I'll use this to record what I read each day and make notes on things to read in the future.
  • Dragonology, Dugald A. Steer (ed). This is a really cool "if dragons were real" type book, with things in envelopes, skin "samples" and other neat stuff. It was from Sue.
  • Gypsies and Fairies: Evidence for a Theory by Robert Dawson. Also from Sue, this is a slight monograph hypothesizing that many fairy sightings were really Gypsies. It looks like the fellow has tried to use statistics in some way, which is a little dubious, given the type of data, but I'll wait till I've read it to say anything else. There should be some interesting information in it, though.

I also got some Bolen Books gift certificates, which I shall come to in a moment.

Then, Mum and Gramma and Sue and I ventured up to Nanaimo, to hit Value Village. It's been a while since the four of us made the trek. There is a dollar store in the same mall, so we went there first, and--lo and behold--there were books. Dollar store books are usually not worth even looking at, but this store appeared to have acquired some remainders from somewhere. There were many tempting ones, but I settled on four:
  • Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori, a YA novel billed as "Harry Potter meets Lemony Snicket in a high-tech setting." I'm a little dubious about that, but it sounds like fun, anyway.
  • The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman by Angela Carter. Carter's The Bloody Chamber is one of my desert island books, so I had to have this one.
  • The Double Helix by James D. Watson. "A personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA." How cool. I am such a geek.
  • Dragon Hunter by Charles Gallenkamp. This one's an account of Roy Chapman Andrews' fossil-hunting expeditions in the Gobi Desert. Dinosaurs are cool. Have I mentioned that?

Then it was on to Value Village. It was Tuesday, so it was seniors' discount day. Mum's over 60 now, so we get her to buy our stuff so we can have 30% off. I found quite a few things (all books, though):
  • The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I've read the Sherlock Holmes canon; time for Proffesor Challenger.
  • Masterpieces of Horror, edited by Rosamund Morris. This is an anthology of short fiction by the likes of the aforementioned Doyle, Ambrose Bierce, Poe, Dunsany, and various others. Should be good, spooky reading.
  • The Eerie Book. Another anthology of short fiction and excerpts from similar authors as the above.
  • Chocolat by Joanne Harris. I saw the movie and quite liked it, so I figure the book is probably worth a read. Since books are usually better than their movies, I expect I'll like this, too.
  • The Land of the Rising Yen by George Mikes. This one is about the less written-of aspects of Japanese culture (or at least it sounds like it from the back cover blurb). If nothing else, it should help me get more of the background stuff in manga and anime.
  • The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim. This is a classic on the functions of folklore, both lauded and criticized. It's probably about time I read it.
  • Evolution: The History of an Idea (revised edition) by Peter J. Bowler. Evolution is one of those things we should probably all understand a little better than we do. This was published in 1989, so it won't have any recent stuff, but it should still be good.
  • Dinosaur Safari Guide: Tracking North America's Prehistoric Past by Vincenzo Costa. More dinosaurs! This one's a guide to sites and exhibits on this continent.
  • Jacques Cousteau by Lesley A. DuTemple. This one has the logos of both A&E and Biography on the cover. Jacques Cousteau was my hero for a long time when I was a kid. I was going to be a marine biologist, and I used to watch Cousteau's tv specials all the time. I still have the few volumes of his book series that I collected back then.

Phew! And I'm not done yet. After Value Village, we decided to have lunch and then make a quick trip to the nearby Salvation Army. They used to have really cheap books--like "fill a grocery bag for two bucks" cheap. They're not so cheap now--$1 for paperbacks and $2 for hardcovers--but still reasonable. And "paperback" means anything in soft covers, so even huge paperbacks are only $1. There wasn't a big selection, but I scored some writing books:
  • Three Genres: The Writing of Poetry, Fiction, and Drama by Stephen Minot. I used to have a copy of this, but gave it to an ex-boyfriend (and almost immediately regretted doing so). I'm pleased to have a copy again.
  • Eudora Welty: One Writer's Beginnings
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I keep hearing good things about this one.
  • The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach. I noticed this one because the title is the same as Robin Skelton's excellent out-of-print how-to-write-poetry book. Not the same book, but it looks like it should be good.
  • Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Not a writing book, obviously, but a good thing to have a copy of.

Now back to those Bolen Books gift certificates. I got one from Dad and one from Jay and the kids, which added to up to a nice fat amount. Alas that books are so expensive new. Anyway, we drove down to Victoria today and wandered around Bolen Books, trying to decide what to buy. It was really, really hard. As usual, I had to put several things back, and still went over my gift certificate total. Here's what I finally settled on:
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley. She's one of my all-time favourite writers, and has been for a very long time. The only book of hers I'm missing now is Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits, which she wrote with Peter Dickinson.
  • Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black. I was actually looking for the last two Spiderwick Chronicles books, but decided to get this one instead, to leave more money for other books. It looks tasty, though. Very.
  • Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle volume 1, by CLAMP. Bolens has a small manga section now. Not really much in it that I needed, but they did have the first three volumes of this series. Selena got it, too. (My world-domination-by-manga-and-anime plan proceeds . . .)
  • The Pirate Queen: In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea by Barbara Sjoholm. I've said it before: pirates are cool. Especially women pirates.
  • The Best American Science and Nature Writing: 2004 edited by Steven Pinker. There were sooo many interesting science books, this seemed like a good way to get a taste of many writers. Plus, I read a good review of it in Skeptical Inquirer.

There were many good books I had to leave behind, including those two Spiderwick books I mentioned (and I didn't even look that closely at the YA section, because I knew I'd find too many). I almost got a book on James Watt and the invention of the steam engine. There were a couple of books on the prehistory of Britain that I almost got, plus a whole lot of fiction (and all those great science books). I didn't even look in most of the sections. It's always so hard to choose just a few books, but I'm happy with what I did choose. And added to my thrift shop bonanza, I'm very book happy this holiday.


Rowena said...

Regarding the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, you should read up on Rosalind Franklin. The discovery was only possible because her work - although neither Watson or Crick like to admit it. Check out DNA's Dark Lady and other articles.

Niko said...

Hmmm. I'll do that. I vaguely remember seeing something about that lately . . .