Books Books BOOKS!!!

April 15, 2018

Yesterday, my wife and I took a little adventure to some of the cooler parts of southeast Michigan. I’m not talking chic nightclubs and fashion outlets, but bookstores. The place where all the cool kids hang out! Hey, we were there, so that counts, right?

But seriously, there were a lot of interesting folks out. It’s good to see that reading, and books in general, are still so popular. I’ve always loved reading (hey, that’s good for a writer, huh?), and when I have a chance to get my hands on something that is damn near impossible to find, I’ll relish the chance.

First, we went to John King Books in the great city of Detroit. I found out about King Books about a year ago, maybe even sooner. It’s odd, too, considering how much time I’ve spent up there, and I used to live there for a short while. I get that I’m not going to know about everything up there, but still, something like that you’d think I’d have heard of it.

So we braved the rain, sometimes a slight mist, others a torrential downpour. At one point, traffic stopped completely due to an accident hogging two lanes. I love having to merge all the way over! I realize it was one lane, but there was no reason for it to take that long to get past. Typical with accidents, though, people love to gawk, people love to think they are obligated to get out and help, even when cops and rescue squads are on the scene.

Anyway, we got there and once we were inside, the stench of old, musty books slammed into us at once. No surprise, because there were tons of books. Literally. This is a four-story building that is crammed to capacity with used books. Anything and everything you could imagine—except romance, apparently, because neither of us saw any of those. Not that we were looking, but you’d expect to see a huge selection.

So I was looking for many titles, but two in particular. Did they have them? Nope. In fact, most of the stuff on my list wasn’t there. Plenty of other titles by those authors, but not the ones I wanted. It was okay, though, because I found two books I’d had my eye on for some time.

Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyre. I’m pretty sure this recommendation came from a list I was looking at on Goodreads, but possibly from somewhere else. It sounds interesting, not like all the typical fantasy that you always see. I’ve read a few of her Star Trek titles before, a long time ago, sure, but she didn’t make me throw the book across the room, so there’s that.

Knight of the Black Rose, by James Lowder. This is from the Ravenloft series, D&D’s horror line from the 90’s. Someone still does Ravenloft, but I’m not sure who. That’s not important. What is, however, is the fact that I had tried to get into Ravenloft bigtime in the 90’s, but never managed to afford the books and boxed sets, let alone find friends willing to play it. I had read a few of the novels, but never followed up on it because I never knew which ones were worth reading and which were trash, in addition to not wanting to devote myself to a long series like that. This was one I’d always had my eye on, and Lord Soth was always a cool character, so hey, why not? Plus, the other night I went through my Goodreads list and filled in a lot of books that I had read over the years, which included three Ravenloft books, which led to me reading reviews of other ones, and that led me to having the idea fresh in my brain.

So that was that. We left, and went over to Lafayette Coney Island for lunch. It was okay, but not spicy enough. Not the issue. We jumped on I-96 and stopped at RIW Hobbies in Livonia, my old gaming store/hangout from way back when. I mean, it’s in a different building now, but I still love the place. I was hoping to find paints I needed, and they had them! Plus I found a brush that doesn’t look like it’ll wear out on my in two weeks. Back on track!

Finally, we went over to Ann Arbor. Isle of Dogs had been playing at the State Theater for a while, and yes I am aware it is in wide release finally, but we wanted to see it up there. The State in as independent theater, and an Ann Arbor institution, so why not?

After getting a coffee, we walked over to the Dawn Treader Bookstore. Not nearly as huge as King Books, this is a quaint, quiet place with a nice selection. Plus, Star Wars toys hanging from the ceiling! And the owner is super nice (which you’ll find out in a moment). Again, the main books I wanted they didn’t have, but I did find several others.

The Deep, by Nick Cutter. A horror book I’ve never managed to find. Even my library system doesn’t have this! So, I snatched this up at once, not even thinking about it. Excited, and probably next on my list.

The Riddle Master of Hed, by Patricia McKillip. I found this while searching for Riddler merchandise on ebay, of all things. Having never heard of it, but liking the cover art, I read the synopsis. It sounds interesting, and yet another fantasy novel that breaks the mold. A lot of longtime fans speak highly of this book and the series as a whole, so I figured I’d get it when I saw it.

Under Enemy Colors, by Sean Thomas Russell. I have always loved pirates and books about them, which has spilled over into an interest in nautical fiction. I saw this in a bookstore a while back, and couldn’t seem to find it ever again. It has rave reviews, and supposedly the naval battles are incredible, which is right up my alley.

So the owner who was ringing me out saw Under Enemy Colors, and asked if I was into O’Brian at all. I never really wanted to read any of the Aubrey books; I mean, they sound cool and all, but it’s a long series, and I just couldn’t find an interest in them. We got into a big discussion about the movie Master and Commander, which is nothing like the books supposedly, so he ultimately went to the shelf, grabbed the book, and told me to take it. If I read it and like it, pay him. If not, bring it back and he’ll recommend something different.

That was a cool move, but I still don’t know if I want to read it. I’m sure I will, because I keep seeing that it’s a quick read. Plus, hey, another “classic” I can put on my list.

So after that we saw Isle of Dogs (awesome, as usual for Wes Anderson) and ate dinner, then came home. All around, a great day, and one with some new books as well.

You’re probably wondering, Myke, why don’t you just get those books from the library? Or off Amazon for that matter?

Look, I love supporting small, local businesses. I realize online shopping is often easier, and sometimes cheaper (not so in this case), and oftentimes you don’t have to drive around and hope to find something. But being in those bookstores, around people, finding new things, sometimes getting into conversations with perfect strangers about all sorts of stuff is not an experience you get on Amazon.

I’m into gaming, and a lot of gaming stuff is readily available and cheaper online, but my friend’s store might collapse because I didn’t buy from him. That particular bottle of paint I need for my miniatures that none of the five shops in Toledo have in stock? I found it at RIW in Livonia, plus other cool stuff I didn’t know existed, which I subsequently didn’t know I needed.

Please, ladies and gentlemen, buy local. Support small businesses. Support authors and artists and musicians! You’re helping a good cause, and might just find your next favorite thing while you do.

Be cool, my sexies. Always nice to know you’re there, and I can’t thank you enough for that!

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