Fiction therapy

Last night I went grocery shopping, then stopped by my local bookstore. (Books Inc, in downtown Mountain View.)

There were half a dozen books I'd been wanting to buy, and I figured I'd try the bookstore before ordering them from Amazon. I like supporting local bookstores; I'm not patient enough to order books through them (it often takes a long time, and then requires another trip to the store), but if they have something in stock, I'd rather buy it there than online.

It turned out that the only one of the books I was looking for that they had was Jumper, the Steven Gould novel that the recent movie was based on. I liked the movie but felt like there was a bunch missing from it; I hoped the book would fill things in. I was rather surprised at the checkout counter when one of the guys behind the desk said (loosely paraphrased), "I saw the movie of this, but I felt like there was a bunch missing from it; I hope the book fills things in." I wonder if that's a common reaction, or just coincidence. (I had actually started reading the book a couple weeks ago, so I suspected that the storyline was different enough that it wouldn't be much help, but I was intrigued anyway.)

I also asked if they had two other books, which I hadn't found on the shelves: Philadelphia Chickens and David J. Schwartz's just-released Superpowers (which I'd heard him read from at WisCon and very much enjoyed). They said they had a copy of Chickens in stock but they couldn't find it on the shelves. Sadly, they didn't have Superpowers, and ordering through them doesn't tend to get them to order more than one copy.

I was pleased, though, to see that they had a couple copies of Sarah Prineas's just-released first novel, The Magic Thief, even set face-outward on the shelf. For those who haven't encountered it, it's a middle-grade fantasy novel, the first in a new trilogy, featuring a young thief in a quasi-Victorian world who steals a magical focus from a wizard.

I also ended up picking up a copy of the first volume of the comic book Rex Mundi, which I hadn't heard of but which looked intriguing, and the latest Hartwell/Cramer Year's Best SF.

I was startled to see a display of old-fashioned Adventure Novels, reprinted by Penguin, with the display title "Great Books for Boys." I gather that Boys' Adventure is coming into vogue again, perhaps spurred by the success of the Dangerous Book for Boys (and Daring Book for Girls), but I was surprised by the particular selections. Well, okay, I was specifically surprised by the inclusion of H. Rider Haggard's She--certainly a classic adventure novel, but one which is not unproblematic in a variety of ways in the modern world. Another selection, Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, also seems an odd choice; I haven't read it, but I gather that it has pretty heavy philosophical underpinnings.

The Prisoner of Zenda, though, seems like an excellent choice for this kind of thing, and if I'd been thinking I might've even bought it; I think my only copy of it is electronic. And now that I think about it and do some further research, the rest of the selections also seem like good choices of classic adventure books: The Lost World, The 39 Steps, Riddle of the Sands. I haven't read any of them (and not sure whether I've seen the Hitchcock movie of Steps), but they sound very adventuresome.

Anyway. I came home and ordered the rest of the books I wanted from Amazon, particularly the last three volumes of the complete Theodore Sturgeon short stories, which I had been misguidedly waiting for paperback editions of for years. I seem to have missed the window on volume 8, Bright Segment--it appears to have gone out of print, and I doubt there'll be a paperback version, and the used hardcover copies available via Amazon are pretty pricy. I'll probably pick one up there anyway sooner or later.

Anyway, all the book shopping cheered me up significantly. Yay, books! Remains to be seen whether that mood boost will last.

One Response to “Fiction therapy”

  1. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    I’d be curious whether they annotated She — on reprints of old Enid Blyton, I’ve seen end notes in the back talking about the racism in the books, and why they left it in, as part of the time and place the books were written.


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