Tag: bookstores

Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head

Today was supposed to be my last Orioles game of the season.  But weather and other tasks kept me away.  And while I was fairly certain this game would be postponed–or at least delayed–it turns out it wasn’t.  The Orioles lost 10-1.  They lost every game I attended this season, some 10 out of 13.  At least there was some good news in baseball yesterday.  Mike Mussina got his 20th win.  It was the first time for him.

I cajoled Kelly into taking a drive up to Frederick, Maryland late yesterday morning.  I wanted to go up to Wonder Books and browse around the used books in the science fiction section.  Kelly was remarkably patient with me.  It was an hour drive to the bookstore, and I probably spent close to an hour wandering around the stacks.  I ended up getting 5 things:  the December 1945 issue of ASTOUNDING, which has Part III of Isaac Asimov’s "The Mule"; The Mound Builders and The Stochiastic Man by Robert Silveberg; Stanley G. Weinbaum’s A Martian Odyssey; and collection of Poul Anderson stories, containing his story "The Light", which I’ve been searching for for years.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to go for a bike ride.  We took the 4 Mile Run trail to the Mt. Vernon trail and then started heading south toward Mt. Vernon.  The weather was gorgeous and it was so nice to be out riding bikes on an actual bike trail.  We took the river route and at one point, I found a spot where we pulled off to the edge of the water, just off the southern end of one of Reagan National Airport’s runways–and watched planes come in for landings.  We continued south until we got to Old Town Alexandria, where the Chart House is located.  From there, we turned around and headed back.  None five minutes into our ride home the skies opened up.  It poured and we were drenched.  It was fun until Kelly’s left pedal broke off.  I gave her my bike and had her ride home on that.  Meanwhile, I struggled riding and walking her bike through the rain with a single pedal.  Not as much fun, but we both made it home safely, took hot showers and relaxed.  We will definitely do it again.  Next time we’ll just keep a better eye on the weather.

We lazed around for much of the evening.  We did practice our wedding dance, and we stayed up to watch the season premier of Dexter.  Spoke with he11o_sunshine yesterday, and had a voicemail message from Dad.

I woke Kelly up in the middle of the night more or less wailing from a dream I was having.  It was not a particularly scary dream, just a little creepy.

Less than two weeks to the wedding!


On my way back from the British Museum earlier today (about which I shall have more to say later), I passed by a massive Waterstone Books in London, in front of which a hundred or more kids and teens had lined up for the last Harry Potter book, which goes on sale at midnight tonight. There were news crews there filming the line, and the kids were all singing songs.

Oh, did I mention is was raining buckets at the time!

I went into the bookstore to buy Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I have read only oone Harry Potter book, the first one. But I have seen, and enjoyed all of the movies, and between the latest movie, which I saw here in London a few days ago, and the fanfare behind the final book, I simply couldn’t resist. It will give me something fun to read on the long plane ride home on Monday.

Anyway, people were crowding under the awning of the bookstore to get out of the torrential downpour, and then amusing themselves watching these kids in line. They were getting soaked, but they seemed happy as clams. And then, in front of the news cameras, Waterstone’s pulled what I believed was a major marketing coup. One of the store managers came out with a bullhorn and standing there in the rain, announced that everyone in line who had been given a number (I presume they all had), was going to be allowed into the store to get out of the rain. A massive cheer went up and the kids in line began singing a song about how great Waterstone’s was. And all of it was caught on camera, of course.

For the next two days, I have all-day tours of England planned, but I’m curious enough to consider heading over to Waterstone’s tonight at midnight just to say that I was part of all of the hubbub. Oh, and if they haven’t sold out of all of their copied in the first 30 seconds, maybe I’ll even pick one up.

Bookstore serendipity

I love it when I go into a book store looking for one thing and come out with someone else, even better than what I was looking for. That happened today. I ran over to Borders to pick up a copy of Unknown Quantity: A Real and Imaginary History of Algebra, about which strausmouse made fun of me earlier in the week. After grabbing the book, I skimmed the science section and saw a book by Alan M. Binder called Lunar Prospector: Against All Odds. It is a book on the history of the development of the Lunar Prospector satellite, but it is written in such a way that it gives you a really intimate look into management and execution of a large scale project, including office politics and annoyances. For someone (like me) fascinated by large scale projects, it seems perfect. Add to that the fact that it is 745,000 words long, and I’ll be in hog heaven for the next month or so.

I also finally got around to picking up American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer which I’ve been wanting to read for some time (even before it won the Pulitzer Prize).

Maybe these three books will help to shake off the reading funk that I’ve been in for the last month or so.

A kid in a candy store

24 books
Originally uploaded by jamietr.

I am back from Wonder Books and I did good! I ended up spending about 2 hours there and I found 24 books that fill various miscellaneous holes in my collection. The photo to the right is the results of my lastest trip. I spent almost the entire time I was there in the one long science fiction aisle. I would have stayed even longer but I was starving and needed to get something to eat. I ended up going to Ruby Tuesdays and having some of their Sliders.

So how did my $100 challenge go? Well the 24 books in that stack cost me $89 and change. I could have gone back and bought another 2 or 3 books, but I decided instead to feed my stomach.

I was more crowded in the store today than it was last week, and perhaps that’s because of the weather. It drizzled much of the day and I imagine that made people look for indoor activites.

Those interested can see the list of books

The hundred dollar challenge

September is here, and so is the rain. It’s been raining and windy all day today, remnants of the tropical storm passing through. BUt I’m not going to allow this rain to interfere with the plans that I have tomorrow–something I have been looking forward to all week: the hundred dollar challenge..

Tomorrow, I am heading back up to Wonder Books and Video in Frederick, MD. Instead of an hour or so, I plan on spending a few hours there. And as a kind of end-of-summer present, I am giving myself $100 in cash to see how many books I can take home with that money. I’m looking mostly for science fiction paperbacks to fill in gaps in my collection, but I may end up with a hardcover book or two. A rough estimate on my part says I can take home between 25 and 30 books. We’ll see tomorrow.

Squirrels spent the end of their summers and falls collecting nuts to store for the long winter. I look at this challenge as an analogous process: I am collecting my acorns to last me for the long winter.

I invited AJ and Denisse (now Mrs. A.J. Kitchen) to go with me tomorrow, but I haven’t heard back from them. I’ll give them another call in the morning.

Wonder Book and Video

If a used book store could have met or exceeded my expectations, Wonder Book and Video did just that. It’s about an hour from the house in Frederick, MD and there was some traffic getting there, but it was worth it. It easily rivals The Iliad Bookshop as one of the best used bookstores I’ve ever been to. And it far exceeds places like Strand in New York City in terms of the sheer volume of science fiction it contains (in fact, I think it out does Iliad as well–only Dangerous Visions had more back when it was a physical bookstore.)

I was a little nervous when I saw the place from the outside because it looked like a chain bookstore and not what I was used to seeing for used bookstores.

But once inside, I couldn’t have been happier. Here is a picture of a typical aisle of books in the store–just the way I like it, tall narrow and long with lots and lots of books.

Here is a picture of the science fiction hardcover and paperback aisle. The paperbacks are on the right, the hardcovers are on the left. In fact, the paperbacks go into another aisle back behind this one.

I have been trying to catch up on all of the Hugo Award and Nebula Award winning books that I don’t already have in my collection.

For those who don’t know, the Hugo Award is given for the “best of” in science fiction as voted by the fans who attend the annual World Science Fiction convention. It is essentially equivalent to the People’s Choice Awards for television and movies. The Nebula Award is given for the “best of” in science fiction as voted by the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America. It is essentially equivalent to the Oscars.

I keep a list of the books that I don’t have on a little notepad that I carry around with me. There are about 30 that I am missing. Well, was missing. After spending about 2 hours in the science fiction shelves along, I picked up 14 books.

View the titles if you are interested

A “used” discovery?

I was browsing for bookstores in Maryland, specifically used bookstores, and perhaps one to rival the Iliad Bookshop in L.A. and I came across a place in Frederick that looks like it’s just what I am after. It’s called Wonder Book and Video and I’m on my way there right now with a list of about 35 books that I am looking for. It’s about an hour away and it’s 3:45 right now, but fortunately they are open until 10 PM everyday.

I love going to used bookstores and there aren’t very many around here anymore so this should be a fun way to spend my Saturday afternoon.

Dangerous Visions is changing its name!

I went to browse the Dangerous Visions bookstore website today because I hadn’t looked at it in a while, and there is a message indicating that they are holding a contest to change the name of the bookstore, after 25 years of having that name. There is also a note that indicates not to make a big deal of this, that they’ve been planning it for some time. But what gives? Is nothing sacred?