Category Archives: Acqusitions

Sean’s Week in Review

The Week In Review

In a quixotic attempt to write more and reinvigorate this blog, I present to you the new feature, the week in the review wherein I note books acquired, work done, and posts written.

On Writing Well: 30th Anniversary Edition, William Zinsser (amazon)

Hell on Two Wheels: An Astoning Story of Suffering, Triumph and the Most Extreme Endurance Race in the World, Amy Snyder (Amazon)

Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner’s Story of Love, Loss, and a Record –Setting Run Across America, Marshall Ulrich (Amazon)


Restarted the study of Hebrew on Shabbat, putting in 1.25 hours and getting through a part of the alphabet. The plan with this is to get a decent level of letter recognition / pronunciation in the coming months and then focus in on vocabulary. Its intimidating, but an exciting project. I’ll probably post more about this.


I reviewed Aristotle’s Children by Richard Rubenstein here

Acquisitions: 3-8-2011

Lent is almost upon us, and this year I’m going to go without acquiring any books for 40 days. No laughter from the peanut gallery: I’ve done this before, so I know it’s possible. One consequence, though, is that I go on one final book-buying splurge before the restraint, sort of a bibliophile’s Mardi Gras without the beads and regret. Here’s what I hauled in this weekend:

The Fiction, by H.P. Lovecraft. Barnes & Noble (New York, 2008). I collect Lovecraft, and this doorstop of a volume is a helpful all-in-one-place collection of his stories. I got it for half off the already cheap cover price at an indie book shop near the university.

A Dictionary of American Proverbs, David Kin, ed. Philosophical Library (New York, 1955). Indie book shop in the nearby college town. Features a preface by Mark Van Doren, distinguished poet and academic and father of disgraced quiz show contestant Charles Van Doren. Charles, somewhat incredibly, is still alive. Opening the book at random, we find this proverb: “God protects drunks, fools, and infants.”

A Handbook of American Folklore, Richard Dorson, ed. Indiana University Press (Bloomington, 1983). Indie book shop in the nearby college town.

Red April, by Santiago Roncagliolo (translated by Edith Grossman). Vintage International (New York, 2009). Indie book shop near the park where I walk. When the cashier asked what it was about and I said, “It’s a novel about the Shining Path,” he said, “Oh! Are you a fan?” in the way that made me think he believes Sendero Luminoso is a band or something, rather than the most viciously murderous Maoist insurgent group in the world. I am not a fan, by the way.

1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About, by Joshua Clover. University of California Press (Berkeley, 2009). Indie book shop near the park where I walk. I’m grateful that someone is offering a counterpoint to all the stifling Boomer nostalgia that exists in pop culture, but I’m not sure why Kurt Cobain is on the cover of a book about the year 1989. His moment was still some years down the road.

Vampires Are, by Stephen Kaplan, Vampirologist (as told to Carole Kane). ETC Publications (Palm Springs, 1984). The indie book shop near the university. I’m very excited about this, which is by someone who founded something called the Center for Vampire Research and spends the book trying to convince the reader that vampires are real. If Stephen Kaplan is still alive, I hope he made some scratch from the “Twilight” phenomenon. He earned it, if only for this dedicated research: “Our next stab at understanding the vampire-like person was to try to find out how it feels to sleep in a coffin, (but) getting a coffin in the first place was not easy.” It never is for the pioneers, Stephen.

The Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft, by Leonard R.N. Ashley. Barricade Books (New York, 1986). Indie book shop near the university. Ashley has written many of these, purporting to be encyclopedic accounts of demonology, ghosts, werewolves, etc. I hate them. They are riddled with errors and the writing style is appalling, and I am trying to collect them all. Such are the manias we endure.

The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America, by Wyn Craig Wade. Oxford University Press (Oxford, 1987). A different indie book shop near the university. I’ve been looking for a good one-volume history of the entire Klan (1860s, 1920s, Civil Rights Era and beyond), and this appears to be it.

The Lawless Decade, by Paul Sann. Dover Publications (Mineola, New York, 2010, originally published 1957). The indie book shop near the park where I walk. This is a treasure. Paul Sann was an editor at the old New York Post, when it was a crusading liberal paper. But he was no crusading liberal: he was a magnificent tale-teller and observer of big city life. His book about the gangster Dutch Schultz is a masterpiece of mob literature, and his “Fads, Follies and Delusions of the American People” is an unjustly neglected classic. This one is about the 1920s.

OK, that’s it. See you at Easter.

(V. Charm)

Acquisitions Week of 3/6/2011

Well my local shark pit of frenzied, desperate, deal-seeking bibliophiles (aka the soon to close Wall Street Borders) finally dropped the prices to 25-40% off. Now we’re talking. I look forward to when they drop to 35% off and I find myself buying slightly stained romance novels.

David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet,  Random House (2010) I’ve yet to read anything by Mitchell, but this book and Cloud Atlas are on the short list of books I need to read soon.

Neil Gaiman, American Gods, HarperTorch (2002)

I’m trying to bulk up my knowledge of modern SF/F, and no better place to start than Gaiman.

Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel’s Dart, Tor Fantasy (2002)

People in SF/F fandom rave about this book… I didn’t realize until after I bought it that is apparently smutty.

John Scalzi, Old Man’s War, Tor Science Fiction (2007),

Like Gaiman, this is apparently a must read of modern SF.

– Sean

Acquisitions for early-March

None of the Borders in my state or the one to its west are going out of business, so unlike the vultures Sean and Charm, I have not been picking at their corpse for new books. I have gone online and picked up some books I need to go through for some background research. The second book is mostly a straight survey of New Thought and different “Mind Cure” beliefs, but the first and third are more “mile wide and inch deep” books that cover a wide array of mystics, cults, healers and con men, in other words, for my reading tastes, a tall, cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day.

The Confusion of Tongues: A Review of Modern Isms by Charles Ferguson (Doubleday, 1929)

Mind Cure in New England: From the Civil War to World War I by Gail Parker (University Press of New England, 1973)

Mystic Healers and Medicine Shows: Blazing Trails to Wellness in the Old West and Beyond edited by Gene Fowler (Ancient City Press, 1997)

-The Filled Slip

Acqusitions for the Week of 2.27.2011

Unlike Charm, I haven’t found anything worth getting in the the Wall Street Borders, which is closing. Perhaps illustrating the efficient market hypothesis, it is already mostly picked over. I might pick up some trashy paperbacks when they drop the prices a little further.

Just two this week from my local used bookstore.

Frankenstein Unbound, Brian Aldiss, Pan (1973) – Unnamable Books

Living in the Age of Moschiach, Arnie Gotfryd, Merkos Linyonei Chinuch (2000) – Unnamable Books

– Sean

Acquisitions for the week of 2/27/11

Last week, I said no more new books, at least for a while. What a dismal failure. The continued death spiral of four nearby Borders is simply too tempting to a bargain-loving book jockey like myself. Below is this week’s intake.

Antwerp, Roberto Bolañ0 (translated by Natasha Wimmer). New York: New Directions, 2010. Picked up at a Borders that looked like a cyclone had blown through.

I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On: A Samuel Beckett Reader, Samuel Beckett. New York: Grove Press, 1976. This volume is probably on every third undergraduate shelf, but there are many shameful gaps in my library. Remedy courtesy of the plundered Borders.

Mafia: Inside the Dark Heart: The Rise and Fall of the Sicilian Mafia, A.G.D. Maran. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2008. There must be a lot going on in this book, because it has two subtitles. Borders.

Crime: A Pictorial History of Crime, 1840 to the Present, Julian Symons. New York: Bonanza Books, 1966. Indie record/book shop two towns over. I was actually buying records, but they had some inexpensive volumes I didn’t want to pass up.

The Magical Arts: A Short History, C.A. Burland. New York: Horizon Press, 1966. Indie record/book shop two towns over.

Death Commits Bigamy, James M. Fox. New York: Dell Books, no publication date (probably late 1950s). I love the early, pulpy paperbacks with the lurid covers. This one’s by the author of “The Iron Virgin”! Indie record/book shop two towns over.

(V. Charm)


Acquisitions: Week of 2-20-11

I feel like this is some kind of Tweet Your Weight-esque exercise in public shaming, because the last two weeks make it look like I do nothing except buy books that I will never be able to read. This week, though, there were special circumstances: an order from a month ago showed up on my doorstep, I had a gift certificate, Borders began a liquidation sale, and the county library had its somewhat melancholy sale. I may want to guard against unnecessary acquisition, but not so much that it will override my inner cheapness. So let’s do this.

No Retreat: The Secret War Between Britain’s Anti-Fascists and the Far Right, Dave Hann and Steve Tilzey, Milo Books (2003) – Amazon UK.

Garlands, Conkers and Mother-Die: British and Irish Plant-Lore, Roy Vickery, Continuum Books (2010) – Amazon UK.

Green Men & White Swans: The Folklore of British Pub Names, Jacqueline Simpson, Random House (2010) – Amazon UK.

Murder at the Savoy: A Martin Beck Police Mystery, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (2009, first translated 1971) – Local indie book shop.

In the Valley of the Kings: Stories, Terrence Holt, Norton (2009) – Local indie book shop.

Armed Forces (331/3 Series), Franklin Bruno, Continuum Books (2007) – Indie book shop one town over.

The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, David Grann, Vintage Books (2011) – Indie book shop one town over.

The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality, Branko Milanovic, Basic Books (2011) – Indie book shop one town over.

The Scarecrow, Michael Connelly, Hachette Audio (it’s a book on CD, 2010) – Liquidated Borders.

The Classical Compendium: A Miscellany of Scandalous Gossip, Bawdy Jokes, Peculiar Facts and Bad Behavior from the Ancient Greeks and Romans, Philip Matyszak, Thames & Hudson (2009) – Liquidated Borders.

My Year of Flops: One Man’s Journey Deep into the Heart of Cinematic Failure, Nathan Rabin, Scribner (2010) – Liquidated Borders. The Liquidated Borders is a pretty sad sight: the liquidators have shuttered the cafe and sold off all the furniture, and the workers were (understandably) gloomy and irritable. I felt like a vulture, albeit a vulture who will go back again when prices are further slashed.

1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America, Andreas Killen, Bloomsbury (2006) – Local indie book shop.

Irish-American Nationalism (Critical Periods of History series), Thomas N. Brown, J.B. Lippincott Company (1966) – Library book sale.

Whatever Became Of…?: The Story of What Has Happened to Famous Personalities of Yesteryear, Richard Lamparski, Crown Publishers (1973) – Library book sale. “Famous personalities” featured in the book include such unforgettable names as Pete Smith, Lon McAllister, Tom Drake, and Miss Frances’ Ding Dong School. I can sense I will cherish this book.

So that’s it. No more new books for a while.

(V. Charm)

Acqusitions Week of 2.20.2011

Death in a City of Mystics (Prime Crime Mysteries), Janice Steinberg, Berkley (1998) – Found on the street. Seriously.

Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible, Karel van der Toorn, Harvard University Press (2009) – Amazon.

Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, NYU (2003) – Amazon


Acquisitions Week of 2/13/2011

V. Charm is adding to his holding a lot faster than I am. My only acquisition this week is:

Israel Drazin, Maimonides: Reason Above All, Geffen, New York (2010) Received as a review copy from the publisher.

– Seanv2


Acquisitions, week of 2/7

I was belatedly celebrating some overtime this week, but that’s still no excuse. The piles of unread books lining my garret climb ever higher.  Still, here are the books I acquired this week.

W. Branch Johnson, Folktales of Normandy. The Whitefriars Press, London (1929). I got this at a used bookstore in the college town nearby, along with the next three.

Iona and Peter Opie, The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book. Oxford University Press, London (1955).

Ron Goulart, The Funnies: 100 Years of American Comic Strips. Adams Publishing, Holbrook, Mass. (1995).

Jack Berrill, Sheesh!: A Gil Thorp Collection. Take 5 Productions, Arlington Heights, Ill. (1991). Purchasing this makes me think I have sailed past some obscure point of no return. What’s next? Mary Worth toaster cozies?

Ben Snakepit, My Life in a Jugular Vein: Three More Years of Snakepit Comics. Microcosm Publishing, Bloomington, Ind. (2007). I got this from, along with the Cro-Mags’ “Age of Quarrel” LP on red vinyl and an Oi Polloi LP whose title cannot be printed in a family newspaper. The book comes with a CD. I’m the punkest guy in church.

Dan Berger, Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity. AK Press, Oakland (2006). I got this at a leftist bookstore in the same college town, along with the latest copy of The Workers Vanguard newspaper, which is published by Spartacists.

William Kleinknecht, The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America. Nation Books, New York (2010). This seemed an appropriate purchase given all the 100th birthday hoopla for Ronnie. I got it at a Borders. Word is that Borders is going to file for bankruptcy protection and announce the closure of at least 200 stores on Monday. This means bad things for writers, readers, and publishers.

(V. Charm)