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.
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…
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 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.
Speaking of faces, I really like the moon’s face on the cover of this children’s encyclopedia.
I 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.
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.
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?
Now that I’ve worked myself into a Marxist lather, let’s shift gears and check out this magazine about Hummel figurines.
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.
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…
…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!
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.
Let’s take a look at some reports from what were then the VR frontlines.
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.
After yammering on for twenty pages or so, the author decides to show off some of the latest and greatest in Virtual Reality hardware.
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.
I don’t know who Hite is, but he (she? they?) analyzed some fairly depressing issues.
Not 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…
I don’t know what the hell happened to the Inspiration table, but things there were a little surreal. For example, in this section…
…I found this book.
And in this book…
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?” 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!
You may remember Spider Robinson as the awesomely-named mastermind behind Lifehouse, i.e. Weird-Deformed-Man-Screaming-in-Front-of-Garage book.
I also saw this rascal.
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.
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.