Mall Crawl!: A Mall-Wide Used Book Sale

Yesterday, my husband and I went to Bookstock, which bills itself as the largest used book sale in Detroit. Fortunately, I was able to pick up half of Asimov’s Foundation series for three bucks. Unfortunately, I had to go to the mall to do it. I’m not crazy about the mall. Something about the lighting makes me feel like a confused bird that flew into somebody’s house and is desperate to get out. And I can only fling myself against the windows so many times before mall security escorts me off the premises.

Anyway, aside from Asimov, I bought one of the looniest dating advice books I’ve ever seen–coming soon to a blog post near you! I also took a lot of pictures. Here are some of the more interesting volumes I encountered, divided by subject matter just as they were at the book sale.

Health & Fitness
I don’t really care about health. I work in an upper-middle-class suburb where everyone does yoga and makes the sign of the cross at the first whiff of gluten, so my natural contrariness makes me hostile to any and all attempts at physical self-care. Plus, I’m already a lactose-intolerant semi-vegan with a soy allergy. I deny myself enough without adding GMO’s and candy to the list.

Get Healthy Now

I don’t care about any of this.

I was amused, however, to discover the following book among the diet-and-exercise Bibles. I guess if the whole “healthy living” thing doesn’t work out for you, the best you can hope for is…

A Very Easy Death
Childrens’ Books
Some classics here. The Phantom Tollbooth–hell yes. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark–nice. Captain Underpants–I can dig it, man. And then there was this specter of my past, which I hoped and prayed I’d left behind in sixth grade.

Matt ChristopherMatt friggin’ Christopher, author of approximately twelve-thousand middle-grade chapter books about kids who suck at sports learning how to suck less at sports. Back in middle school, this was all my male classmates read. Because reading for pleasure was gay, but reading about anything other than sports was even gayer.

By the way, check out this kids face.

Grunty face boy

He just tore every muscle in his groin.

Speaking of faces, I really like the moon’s face on the cover of this children’s encyclopedia.

The Big Book for Our PlanetI don’t know what that expression is supposed to be telling us. Is the moon amazed? Horrified? Did she just watch a frat bro butt-chug a fifth of jaeger? Perhaps this is the moon’s O-face. Now there’s a terrifying thought.

Moon's O Face

“Oh, Phobos! You make me feel like a new moon~!”

I never realized there were so many boring hobbies in the world. I know that’s kind of judgey, and that plenty of people would find my hobbies similarly stultifying. But look: how many people worldwide, do you think, could read a book like “ISRAEL PHILATELIST 1952-1953” without going comatose with boredom? Three people? Maybe four? It’s got to be in the single digits, anyway.

And then there’s the doucher who wrote this book.

Yacht Care

“Yacht Care: The Book for People Who Wore Boat Shoes Prior to 2011”

I’m angry that this exists. I’m angry at its intended audience: blindingly white, relentlessly Anglo, and ferociously status-conscious. Where do they get off, huh? Who do they think they are, with their pastel shorts and their sweaters tied around their shoulders? Do they ever take a time-out from amateur viticulture and whispering the phrase “black people” to consider how annoying they are?

I have been fascinated with yacht maintenance.Oh, God. The first two sentences of the introduction alone make me want to start a class war. Who’s up for firebombing a country club?

Now that I’ve worked myself into a Marxist lather, let’s shift gears and check out this magazine about Hummel figurines.

Hummel Figurines.If you think you haven’t seen Hummels–I promise you, you’re wrong. Old ladies love these things. Everyone’s great-aunt collects them. Even South Park’s Satan had a stash.

Hummel figurines.

My Google Image Search for “hummel figurines satan” yielded unexpected results, so have these two kids who look like they’re doing the Hitler salute instead.

Despite their popularity, it’s a bit of a stretch to call a Hummel expert “renowned.” Sammy Sosa is renowned. David Bowie is renowned. Robert L. Miller is just a dude with a fetish for faux-Bavarian charm.

Renowned Hummel expert.

Sure, buddy. You ride that distinction as far as it’ll take you.

There are few things more useless than a used technology book. Technology advances so exponentially that a new book on data systems will be obsolete the very next year. And when you look at a book from the hoary old year of nineteen-hundred-ninety-four…

Virtual Reality

“No way will this look embarrassing in retrospect!” -the publishers

…the obsolescence reaches comical levels.

Remember when Virtual Reality was the next big thing? Every arcade had a plastic helmet you could shove your head inside to make the gaming experience more immersive. Suddenly, the robots were all around you! You weren’t just playing the game–you were in the game! You were John Connor!

John Connor

Except without the motorcycle and the muscle mom and the cool robot and the super important destiny. Otherwise you were JUST LIKE HIM.

That was the theory, anyway. In reality, it was like putting your head in a bucket to watch a low-res movie on the world’s smallest, crappiest IMAX screen. Meanwhile, little kids would dance around you and poke you in the butt and you couldn’t do anything about it because you were locked inside the orthodontic headgear from hell.

First Kid

The kid from First Kid did a lot of VR. The actor who played him later became a pedophile. I’m not kidding.

Let’s take a look at some reports from what were then the VR frontlines.

The world is changing.

“All will be made clear…!” *mystical hand wave*

So I read on, but nothing really jumped out at me. There’s some explanation of what a cyberpunk is, a few references to William Gibson, and a wide-eyed treatise on cyber sex.

Virtual sex.

Pretty heady stuff!

After yammering on for twenty pages or so, the author decides to show off some of the latest and greatest in Virtual Reality hardware.

VR glasses


VR helmet


Glasses and Power Glove

Pew pew!

Cyber? Sort of. Punk? Not so much…unless the Nintendo Power Glove was the opening salvo in a war against the establishment or something.

A lot of the Sociology table was sex stuff.

Report on Male Sexuality

Yes, please uncover the mysteries of male sexuality. It’s not like we hear about it every second of every day or anything…

I don’t know who Hite is, but he (she? they?) analyzed some fairly depressing issues.

Men's perception of women as weakNot only do guys think women are weak and inferior, they’re really pissed at them for being weak and inferior, guilty for thinking of women as weak and inferior, and eager to blame women for both the anger and the guilt. Gosh. They sure are heaps of fun! It’s almost enough to make you ask…

Are Men Necessary?

I don’t know what the hell happened to the Inspiration table, but things there were a little surreal. For example, in this section…

Chicken Soup Series

…I found this book.

Plague, Pox & Pestilence

“Chicken Soup for the Bubonic Soul”

And in this book…

hugs for grads…I found this passage.

Urine on Sheila.

I don’t know about you, fellow grads, but I feel like I’ve been hugged!

There was really only one biography worth mentioning, and it’s notable primarily because of the disconnect between the subject matter and the title.

"What Will My Children Say?"“What Will My Children Say?” it reads, and you think you’re in for a sordid tale of murder, adultery, or secret cross-dressing. Confessions, Celebrations, and Choices of a Pioneer Supermarket Consultant, it continues, and you think: “Wait…what?”

What crazy, dark-sided shenanigans could a supermarket consultant have gotten up to? Did he move the pickles to a secluded end cap after the president of Vlasic insulted his wife? Switch all the self-scans to Spanish and cackle as he surveyed the mayhem? Take more than 10 items through the express lane? Honestly, I can’t think of anything he could do in his capacity as a supermarket consultant that would make his kids say anything other than: “Wow, Dad. Your job’s boring.”

Science Fiction and Fantasy
Good news! I encountered some old friends at this table!
DEATHKILLERYou may remember Spider Robinson as the awesomely-named mastermind behind Lifehouse, i.e. Weird-Deformed-Man-Screaming-in-Front-of-Garage book.

Spider Robinson Book Cover

Spider actually won a Canadian Hugo award, it turns out. The award was not for cover design.

I also saw this rascal.

MORE THAN HONORWhich surely must be part of the same series as World of Honor, aka Six-Armed-Cat-Holding-Young-Hypothermic-Spock book.

Worlds of Honor, featuring a six-legged sentient cat thingSo, you know. Good to see these guys around. I still haven’t bought any of their books, but they’re starting to wear me down.

I also encountered the prophet himself, Mr. L Ron Hubbard, who manages to be one of the best-selling science fiction authors of all time while still only being known to me through that movie where John Travolta has a snake tongue and says “leverage” a lot.


Is this the one with the thetans?

Of course, all the leverage in the world couldn’t make me read L. Ron Hubbard. The guy’s treacherous. One minute, you’re enjoying John Travolta making out with a similarly snake-tongued female, the next you’re joining signing a billion-year SeaOrg contract. No thanks! I think I’ll keep my anguished alien souls right where they are.


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