Tag Archives: old times

Books While Traveling

My copy, circa 1995

I spent a fair amount of time during high school shuffling back and forth by plane between states to visit with my mother and father. My ultimate go-to book of all time is Belgarath the Sorcerer by David and Leigh Eddings.

This book wins for a few reasons.  They are one of my favorite authors (I’m glomping them together into one entity; I don’t think they’d mind) and largely responsible for my desire to write fantasy. Their stories have a light, humorous feel to them, and the banter between characters keeps things entertaining.  This book is also a follow-up to the ten-book series, retold from the POV of one of the most major characters responsible for orchestrating the whole shebang across a period of 7000 years, and so it’s a good sampler, so to speak, of parts of the overall story.  It’s also fairly long, which doesn’t hurt when you have to fly and kill time on long layovers.

I once had the idea to make hash marks on the inside cover, once for every time I read it, and am a little sad that I didn’t.  I’d have to put the count up around 20 at least.  You can’t tell in the picture, but the edges of the covers and the spine are covered in tape to make them more resilient. I did this to all of the books I bought in highschool–mass-market paperbacks were cheapest and I had to make them last.

One of the times I can remember where I didn’t read Belgarath was when my girlfriend at the time gave me her hardcover copy of The Dark Half to borrow for the trip.  Now that book is forever linked with her (we moved on, literally in my case, but keep in touch) and that time period. Behold the power of the blog/journal: I hadn’t thought about that in darn near forever.  I can still remember sitting in the airport with it and waiting for my dad to pick me up.

I also love finding used bookstores whenever I travel.  It has to be a used book store–chains are okay, but if you’ve been in one, you’ve been in them all.  And they get bonus points if they have a resident cat or two. I might go so far as to say that any proper used bookstore requires a cat.  Some good stores that come to mind are The Bookshop (Chapel Hill, NC) and Beckham’s Bookshop (French Quarter, New Orleans).

A habit I’ve fallen into is to search for Jonathan Carroll books while I’m there. Of course, I could just buy them from Amazon or the local place here at home, but there’s something pleasing in the ritual, in the hunting and finding of that trade paperback copy with a hand-penciled price, and in delaying the procession through the backlist of one of my favorite authors.  The only problem is figuring out how to support him directly. (Please oh please, support your favorite authors)

Like many others, I have a Kindle now, and so the interesting thing will be to see how it integrates into my travel reading.  Alas, Belgarath isn’t available in ebook form.  Would it still feel the same if it was?

* * * * *

How are books and travel linked for you?  Are there memories associated with the two?  What’s your go-to book for travel?

Note: I originally wrote this in mid-July, thought it was scheduled, found it wasn’t, and got too busy for a while to do anything about it.

Responsibility Means…

My 365 image from the 27th reminded me of an old teacher that I had.  We were given sentences to write as punishment any time we did something wrong in class.

His default was “Responsibility means following directions,” but he would also adapt it to meet the infraction in question.

But they always began with “Responsibility means…”

There are multiple ways I could go with this.

The whole idea of punishment in schools (now versus then), that people rarely write by hand any longer, that it could be a good exercise for character-building in fiction or the feel-good sort of post that says “Responsibility means being true to yourself” or some such.

But those are all expected.  Boring.  Cliché.

Instead, I’ll just think about old times past and all the teachers who have made me who I am by being wonderful or terrible.  Images flicker by in my head.  Old Italian math and English teachers (one who once went on a rant about profanity in school and how we never respected it and instead reduced it to, “hey, are you gonna eat that f’ing sandwich?” ), a fifth-grade teacher who kept a pet hamster in his classroom, a high school English teacher who was a little crazy but loved my stories.

03: I Will Not Forget

03: I Will Not Forget:

The bad side: I completely failed to upload or even shoot my Day 2 image for the 365 project yesterday.

The good side: it gave me this idea for today’s image.

I have a lukewarm relationship with filters: they’re great, but in the hands of people like me, who don’t know very much about photography skills, they feel like more of a crutch than anything else. A way to hide or dress up a mediocre image. But I felt okay playing with this one a bit because the idea of writing sentences as punishment is so long-standing.

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CDs and Burgers

I’ve been buying a lot of CDs lately.  (For some more thoughts on physical versus digital media, see The Great Physical/Electronic Media Disparity.)

Having the physical products reminds me how much I enjoy having the album artwork and liner notes available.  At times, they don’t seem like they matter, but other times it makes it feel like a more complete product.  Plus, it’s a chance to show off cool artwork, and I’m a fan of that.

It also reminds me of my high school years.  I got a job at McDonald’s when I turned 16.  Steady pay and zero bills meant I had a lot of expendable cash that I spent on food, music, and video games.  My friend Rob and I would usually hit the mall:  Burger King (I wasn’t a vegetarian yet), then the arcades and CD stores.  This was mid-late 90s, so digital players (indeed, even the formats, really) hadn’t caught on yet or become widely available.

It always felt good to come home with new music.  A new disc was a prize.

I hated (and still hate) those stickers on the edges of the jewel cases, though. Frustrating.

Looking back, though, my knowledge of music and bands was so much more narrow than it was now.  The only way I found out about bands was MTV (remember when they played music?) and friends.  Or if an album cover / back looked particularly interesting and I took it home with me. A thought just now: how crazy is it that CDs don’t even have any text on the back?  Even paperback books have a little blurb about the story.  Why is there no text on the back of a CD?  Something to say what it’s about?  I’m still in the process of writing and recording a few different albums.  I’ll make a point to put something on the back in the event that the physical product is the first thing a person comes in contact with.

Nowdays, I can’t imagine trying to find new music without all the reviews, lists, recommendations, and song previews on Amazon and other sites like it.  Only now is the back text perhaps unnecessary.

I suppose the internet is every CD’s back text.