Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, October 15, 2016

If I Were A Rich Man: The Library: Holes

I am broke.

A few years ago in a fit of pique about that I sat down wrote a detailed outline of every damn thing I could see myself spending money on.

I don't know if it's why I did it but that document serves more or less as an outline for the type of life I would ideally like to live, describing not just the physical objects themselves but the general life objectives they fill. For a lot of reasons I feel it's useful to have what  amounts to several in case of "opportunity for the love of god break" plans

That being said, lately, my avarice has been acting up so it's time for another one of these.

Specifically what triggered this one was watching an adaptation book I liked as a child. One of the more common aspects of this particular version of my "I Want" pique is that I want to build a fairly substantial personal library. Right now I don't have the money to do it and even if I did I can rattle off the top of my head  a dozen or so better uses of the money.

But, still it keeps coming back to me. While I've compiled a list of volumes I would like to purchase this isn't that. This blog post itself would turn into a book if it were. This is merely to describe the methodology behind one aspect of one aspect of one aspect of a much larger methodology.

Before I start filling my library with new volumes I would want to make a commitment to filling holes. Obtaining books that are related to books I've already read and or own rather than just books I think I would be kind of interested in so here goes.


What kicked this off was nostalgia but unfortunately a lot of my books aren't in the best of shape. Part of that is time. But also ... I had a dog. I loved Rex but especially as a puppy he was damn destructive and he straight up wrecked a lot of my older books. (NEVER ASK ME TO WATCH THAT MOVIE!)  A lot of them are still readable but yeah I'd like to get new versions of anything that's pretty rough.

Fortunately or unfortunately most of the ones that are super wrecked are for little-little kids but you know I still think there is some value in going over those every now and again and would want to keep some of them around just for nostalgia's sake.

That said what he got wasn't just isolated to that stuff and a lot of the paperbacks are falling apart anyway. I would just like to straight up replace a lot of the rougher stuff.

Encyclopedias & Reference
In this day and age Encyclopedias are a damn foolish waste of money and you are a sucker if you lay down the grand it takes to buy a new set.

Don't care!

I was a nerdy little scamp growing up on PBS. And if I do want to recapture an aspect of my childhood I'd just like to have an encyclopedia set I could flip through when I'm bored. Oh sure just web surf you will say. Just follow the wiki hole.

Well if I'm building a library sure part of my endgame is a digital version of of all personal media including books kept on a private server but there is just something about books that even this technorati can't just give up.

Children's encyclopedias sets on the other hand actually still have some value and hold up. Especially ones that aren't organized alphabetically but by topic.  For my money Childcraft were the best versions of this and my set which his both still in my possession and readable was massacred by my dog.

If you have kids, and have the money they are a pretty good investment especially if you get them early. That said that's not why I want them.

A couple of volumes of Childcraft were actually children's literary anthologies, with works ranging from Pippi Longstocking to Paddington Bear. It's a god damned goldmine of children's lit.

Updated Editions of Anthologies
In my pondering on my ideal library, I realized just how useful my old English textbooks were. Specifically, the Norton and Bedford anthologies  ... are a god damned goldmine. They are comprehensive and pretty well-edited. And in general thumbing through my old English textbooks, and updated versions thereof is a pretty good foundation to build the rest of the library from. Not all of it mind you. But it's a good place to get ideas on authors and their work.

Updated Editions of Academic Texts
Because my mom spent 30 years as a teacher I would say about a good third of the texts on my shelves right now are academic textbooks. A lot has changed. I like having those books around to reference and even train my brain when I get bored or whenever I think I'm going soft but they are so old they just aren't reliable anymore, especially the science texts.

Whenever somebody gets uppity about libraries throwing out books this is why I have to look at them crosseyed. The books are just wrong in some places embarrassingly so.

That being said textbooks are condensed versions of fields of study combining several volumes into something accessible to the layman, especially those meant for children. Not unlike anthologies they are a good starting point for finding things like primary sources or notable works within a field and providing context that those sources alone might not.

Which is to say I've always wanted a set of the Feynman Lectures but want to make sure I have other texts to reference if I ever do decide to do a deep dive and reclaim my lost sciency self.

Works of Influential Authors

You can't turn over a stone in science fiction movies without seeing the influence of Phillip K. Dick. I realized this as a youth and bought an anthology of his work and while it has a lot of what he wrote what intrigued me wasn't there. I was interested in how his work got adapted into the movies I loved but those stories weren't in the anthology.

To this day I just want to buy everything the man wrote, sit down and read it to figure out how much Hollywood really owes him.

He's not the only writer I feel that strongly about. Most of Octavia Butler's work is is considered noteworthy yet all I have of it is Blood Child (in an anthology) and Lilith's Brood. And then there are authors of the traditional cannon of whose work I only have a bit of. I lost Tom Sawyer, and I while I have multiple copies of Hard Times I really want A Christmas Carol.

Roald Dahl

Growing up I loved Roald Dahl and I would be lying if I said those books didn't have a profound affect on me at a formative age. But well, I got them at an age when I just wasn't responsible with my possessions. A few of them survived but especially in light of the nostalgia trip that The Watsons Go to Birmingham gave me I very much want to restore and expand my collection of his work.

K.A. Applegate

It took me a long time to remember how much I liked Roald Dahl because after about the 5th grade my attention was beelined towards Animorphs and damn it those books hold up. Were they pulpy assembly line kiddie sci-fi. Yes. Yes, they were. But they were the best possible version of pulpy assembly line kiddie sci-fi they could be.

I still have most of the series but for a long time, one of my goals is to replace the books that are in rough shape from overuse and replace the holes I have in the series.

That being said I've also read some of K.A. Applegate's other stuff and it's just as good.

Everworld is very close to being the story I complain Once Upon a Time isn't.  And with, Remnants she beat a lot of folks to the punch in this current environment of young adult post-apocalyptic sci-fi.

Holes in Fantasy Series

I went through a fantasy phase... who am I kidding to this day give me any story that involves a sword and I'll at least try it. That shit is my jam. Now days if I want to buy those types of books I tend to buy them online but back when the bug first hit I was just spending a lot of time at Borders.

Which is to say I had very limited information. It was hard to know if a book was part of a series and if it was what volume. So I have a lot of incomplete fantasy book series, some of which I never even started reading because I have the second or third book. Some of these I know would be great based on everything I've heard about them but it's just not how I want to read the story. And its driving me nuts.

I have Clash of Kings but not Game of Thrones and it pisses me off so much. You don't even know.

Conversly while I have the first book of the Shannara series everybody tends to call the second book which I don't have the more interesting better read.

Series that Were Continued After My Pockets Were Empty
To that end it's been so long since I've had a book haul that a lot of my favorite series that were thought dead have been brought back and I kind of want to see where they go. Wheel of Time is complicated... in more ways than one but you know I want to see how it ends. Terry Goodkind is kind of ...insane,  but if you want to read gratuitous decapitations and fireballs burning the bad guys alive (and again that shit is my jam) he scratches that itch.

But the least guilty,  riddled with addendums and qualifiers is the Seven Waters series. I really want to see where the author went with it after she decided to continue the series. As loath as I am to admit it a lot of what I was reading stuck to the same conventions. Same song different arrangement but that series for a lot of reasons felt like something new.

At the time a lot of the shlock that was being poured out felt like a weaksauce retread of Lord of the Rings and since I liked Lord of the Rings so much I wanted more of it and was fine with that.  I still am.

But instead of playing out like the epics of Wagner the first book feels like and is a smaller scale fairy story where the stakes and motivations are more personal and more character-centric and up until that point I hadn't read fantasy like that at least not for a long time.

It was always about the armies, And the flags and the heroes, and the evil overlord. This was something different and forevermore gave me a greater respect for fairy tales, legends and folk lore.

Magic the Gathering Books
I am Vorthos

While yes I do play some games for the gameplay along what often hold my attention are the stories of the game. Not necessarily the stories as the writers tell them but the story that plays out by my actions as I play the game.

That being said the magic the gathering books often contextualize that cards adding to that story.

The Artifact Cycle of Magic the Gathering is great, brilliant, fantastic. Hell anything involving Phyrexians has my instant attention. (Oh how the Quest for Karn borked it)

That being said a lot of the books are hit and miss and after the threat of Phyrexia seemed soundly defeated I stopped reading. Every now and again I'll try to get back into the books but they are very hit and miss.

All the same if I ever do decide to do a deep dive back into Magic, and dear god is that another itch I can't scratch, I would want to know the lore. All of it. So I want to complete my collection of Magic books even the really stinky ones.

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