Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book season

Listening to: Boys for Pele - Tori Amos. Haven't listened to this in a long long time. A bit of rediscovery is in order.

As the Airshow season ends, so the bookfair begins. I like reading, always have, and bookfairs are an excellent place to score fresh material. Apart from the library sale, the first big fair of the season is the Bookfest in Upper Hutt, with smaller fairs dotted around the winter, culminating in the season finale second hand orgy that is the Downtown Community Ministry fair on the waterfront in September. Sometimes the fairs can be spectacles in themselves, as summarised in this post by the able judge, but the best thing is browsing without knowing quite what you will find, even if you can't find the particular book you were looking for (yes, I hunt for specifics as well as gather).

Biggest score from the Upper Hutt fair two weeks ago was this, for the princely sum of $4:
The day in question was in 1987, when the Cold War was still very much a going concern, and mystery about life on the other side was still rife. No-one at the time had any idea that the whole enterprise would come tumbling down four years later, but the new policies of Glasnost and Perestroika put in place by a certain Mr Gorbachev were hinting that things might be changing. Given that the Cold War was prominent in my childhood, I find this sort of stuff immensely interesting.

Occasionally due to the nature of the books, some unexpected items are found within:
I think this book was bought in Australia as a gift for a girlfriend. The card and paper are by a then prominent Australian artist, and the beautiful (seriously) inscription in the card mentions a trip to the country. What happened to you 'Princess' and 'Froggy'? How did your life together work out I wonder?
There are some great and revealing pictures in the book, but this from a Soviet maternity ward is my fave:

Also interesting in my childhood (and now) were volcanoes, and scored for the sum of $1 was this little book:
Despite the somewhat strange title, this is a really neat little guide to the Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro volcanoes.
Its 25 years old, so doesn't include the most recent eruptions, but has a ton of interesting information about the geology involved. And lots of pretty picures of past events:
It will make the Tongariro crossing even more interesting when I do it eventually (next summer hopefully. At the third attempt. Stupid mountain weather).

Getting an honourable mention is the Usborne Mysteries of the Unknown omnibus. Originally published as three volumes (two of which found their way to my sisters), I devoured these as a child, fuelling a continuing fascination with the unexplained:
I mean, how can you go past gatefolds like these?
A lot of effort went into making these things look good (without a hint of sarcasm). These are quality publications, even at 30 years old.
They were originally published in 1977, which I remember thinking was a long time ago when I first encountered these books in 1983 or so. Endearingly, the UFO volume makes no mention of Roswell, or any hint of cover up or conspiracy, bless its sweet little heart. I'll have to find modern day equivalents for Charlotte when she is old enough to read them. Or she can just read these.

Also they make a great companion for this from the same era and publisher, which I picked up at a fair last year:
I love how colour pictures are advertised as a selling point. Does it have experiments? Yes, lots. Did I try them all as a child? You bet.


R said...

I love that Soviet hospital one. Who knew the Baby Factory was a Russian franchise?

billy said...

The Mysteries of the Unknown series were maybe the coolest kids books ever.

Anonymous said...

cool books! I especially like the one about volcanoes! the bf would like the planes one of course!