I don’t know how it’s never occurred to me to do a blog on Bookends before, because it is truly one of my favourite shops in Northern Ireland; but I have been struggling to start (and more importantly finish) blogs these days, so I’ve been digging in the very hidden recesses of my brain for inspiration.
Also, I was there today, so I am feeling super inspired and babbley. Shut up, it’s a word.
Anyway, Bookends is a very hidden treasure, tucked away down the side of Bangor train station. That’s Bangor, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland…in case any of you are from Outer Mongolia and there happens to be a Bangor there, too. Or Wales. There’s a Bangor in Wales.
You’re welcome for the valuable trivia.
Back on topic; it’s a second hand book shop. The greatest second hand book shop I have ever been in, and trust me, I have been in many. I venture here about twice a year, but today was hands down the most successful visit I’ve ever been on. I GOT SO MUCH STUFF.
And then I made my wonderful other half carry my very heavy bag of books back to the car. I am a lady, I don’t do no carrying.
I can’t really tell you about their stock, because there are many, many, many books, in all imaginable genres, and I only ever really make a bee-line for the Fantasy section…also, it changes A LOT. I can tell you that the shop itself is like something off TV; Black Books really does come to mind, but the staff are much nicer and less likely to scream at you in a drunken rage. Much less likely, I’m sure. Both the owner and his bearded colleague were happy enough to help us dig through PILES of books and comics to find something that suited us, and oh, did I find stuff.
We stumbled in on a good day, too – 50% off loads of different genres (including Sci-Fi/Fantasy) and comics for 50p! 50-freakin’-pence!
Bearing that in mind…here’s what I came away with on this particular visit.
I am a huge David Eddings fan (go read The Belgariad!) and this giant, GIANT book was only £5…minus the 50% from the sale. Wow, right? The teeny picture below is to give you some idea of just how big it actually is. Glorious, but maybe not one for reading on the train. Shoulder ache.
As much as I love David Eddings, my heart will always truly belong to Raymond E. Feist. I quite own a lot of his books, but being the literary hoarder that I am, I figured I might as well start aiming for a full collection of magical and wonderful works.
The eagle eyed among you may have glanced your eyes over the last picture there and noticed ‘Gosh, you have books one, two and four, how silly of you!’, but they didn’t have book three and I can’t turn down a bargain (£1.50 each, including discount, I think). If you happen to come across ‘Rage Of A Demon King’, make a girl’s day and send it this way?
Oh, that rhymed. Neato.
Similar situation here, book two of two, and I don’t own book one…but see that little sticker on the front there?
OH YEAH! Now, I know it’s not actually worth any money, given it’s not a first edition and isn’t in marvellous condition, but it’s a sentimental thing, really. I’ll enjoy owning it and showing it off to people who appreciate my Feist collection.
Like, erm, my Dad.
Finally, I got myself Hannibal Rising, but I reckon the boyf. will get in there before I do. I’m addicted to the Hannibal television series, although I was never a Thomas Harris fan before! Just finished Red Dragon, I couldn’t put it down. I did call in to find Silence Of The Lambs, but it wasn’t there. That’s my excuse for the giant book haul.
As well as books, I had a good rifle through the stacks of comic books that Bookends had to offer. The lovely gentleman working there had me pre-warned that these stacks have been rifled through a lot – but I wasn’t really looking for anything of real worth, just little things that would appeal to my odd collection.
If you are a Marvel fan, get yourself down there- they had boxes upon boxes of Avengers and Mighty Thor…but alas, I would not know where to start with any of these titles, and I’m trying (and failing) to devote myself and my budget to my love of Batgirl.
Oh, also Uncanny X-Men. So many mutants.
These are the comics that I did get. IS THE PICTURE BIG ENOUGH? HUH? Two from the mid-Eighties and one from 2001. Again, nothing I really collect, but these were all the Detective Comics that they had, and for 50p each, I didn’t want to leave them there to gather dust and never know the love of a real home.
Side note: check out the chick on the top issue there…Nocturna. Apparently, her only real reason for becoming a villain was that her skin was slightly paler than that of your average human being. She’s still got nothing on me.
Before this starts to get too long and babbley (still a word), I’ll wrap this up. If you are looking for a nice little day trip, Bangor is well worth it. Some parts of the town look like they exist somewhere out of time and space (could do with a dab of modernization, is all I’m saying), but there’s this incredible little book cave, a brand new shiny CeX and the freakin’ Pickie Park.
They’ve done the Pickie Park up loads since I was a kid. I had a go on a pedalo swan, but I think it’s maybe more for little children. That’s not to say it’s not a whole bunch of fun.
Off to settle down now to read one of my lovely new books…they have that great second-hand, pre-loved smell. Get to Bangor before the weather turns and freezes the marina into a giant iceberg of misery. It’s well worth your time.
I may have discovered the cure for writer’s block…and it may be snow. Seriously, I have been freakin’ prolific this week, because it’s too cold and difficult to get anywhere or do anything. Hence, a Sunday review that’s actually on time. It’s such a shame that my life is quiet and simple, and I am desperately running out of things to review. Without turning this into a movie blog, which would be dumb, because I like to watch the same flicks over and over and over and over.
Clerks and Tangled are currently in heavy rotation. I think the trick is to have insane variety. And catchy Disney tunes.
Anyway. Yes. It’s Sunday, I should decide what I’m going to review…shall I be a tad more intellectual, perhaps?
REFUGEEKNI’S 10 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE
I always hate those sort of titles, because it’s like…your death is imminent. And probably zombie related. It is sort of catchy though, so I suppose I shall leave it. Anyway, I’ve tried not to be too obvious in my choices (I could have just picked any book from A Song Of Ice And Fire or The Hobbit and gone back to bed, but I owe you more than that).
- The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
This recommendation comes with a warning; this is one twisted, horrible book. Not one for animal lovers. Or fans of basic human decency. Banks’ novel is centered around Frank, who kills wasps (and various other small creatures) in complex rituals, believing the outcome to indicate some aspect of the future.
Gory, soul-destroying and fascinating – this is not a novel for the faint of heart.
- The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
While my first choice is dark and terrible, my second is deep, but uplifting. I am not a religious person and despite the title, I truly believe that this is not a religious book. It’s very human, revolving around the idea that when you die and go to heaven, you meet the five people to whom your life was most influential. The protagonist, Eddie, tells the story of his 83 year long life through these people he meets – although some of them he didn’t even really know at all.
It’s a thought provoking read, and while it isn’t necessarily ‘geeky’, everyone should read this book.
- Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Androids and bounty hunters! Strongly influenced Bladerunner. Need I say more?
- The Dice Man by “Luke Rhinehart”
What if you left everything in your life entirely to chance? To the roll of some dice? Luke Rhinehart does this, and the results range from entertaining to life-destroying. A truly intriguing read – sex, murder and psychology.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Inspired one of the greatest movies of all time (Demolition Man. No, really, I truly believe that it is a masterpiece), Brave New World is set in 2540, in a world where psychological conditioning and ‘reproductive technology’ are the order of the day. I guarantee, you won’t be able to put this book down.
Sidenote: my cat is named Huxley. Surely, that is the greatest of all honours ever to be bestowed on an author?
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
If you haven’t heard of the book, you’ve surely heard of the movie, starring Aragorn. Um. I mean Viggo Mortenson. McCarthy gives us the post-apocalyptic world that we most definitely do not want to think about. Zombies are all well and good, but starvation and complete and utter hopelessness? Very real fears. The novel follows a father and son through the murderous wilderness, and the massive lack of punctuation is just further testament to how THERE IS NO POINT TO ANYTHING.
Don’t expect a happy ending.
- Misery by Stephen King
I am not a huge horror fan, but this book really stuck with me. In an age where celebrities are considered public property, the scenario of a super-fan abducting an idol and keeping them locked away is not as fanciful as you might like to think.King at his very best – you’ll never want your fifteen minutes of fame, after all.
- The Great Gatbsy by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A strange choice for a geeky selection of books, I’ll grant you, but this is truly a masterpiece. I read it at least once a year, but I’m amazed every time. The characters are so real that you’ll want to scream at them (or hug them), and you’ll further lose your faith in humanity. Because everyone is a dick who is out to use and abuse you.
- The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Oscar! Beloved Oscar. Another book I consider to be extremely psychological (it would seem I do like a page turner that messes with your head…), Dorian Gray is a vain narcissist, granted immortality. While his physical self is left untouched by his years and his sins, his portrait bears the scars.
I am a massive Oscar Wilde fan, for the same reason I am a Shakespeare fan. People and their attitudes never really change; The Portrait Of Dorian Gray is as morally relevant today as it was when it was written.
- Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell TERRIFYING, because it practically came true. The government are in your homes, in your heads, watching your every move! Big Brother is watching, people. Always watching.
There! I think my book choices may say more about myself than anything else, but at least you’ve got a nice little peek inside my brain. Obviously, there are also hundreds of other books you NEED to read – I am a huge fan of the fantasy genre, and while I’ve avoided it successfully for this whole blog, I do so love a book with a nice wizard or a lost prince or an angry god.
That’s another blog for another time, though.
p.s. I have a Facebook page. It needs your love.
I like to keep the blog topical, and reasonably local – so Bram Stoker’s 165th birthday is a two birds, one stone kind of deal.
I am a huge vampire groupie. I mean, seriously. If anything has any sort of vampire in it, I am all over that. Low budget and cheesy, or cinematic masterpiece – I don’t care. And, to me, the vampire trend most definitely started with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. If you haven’t read Stoker’s most famous novel, I highly recommend that you do. Now.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
There. That’s better. Great, huh? Each character is multi-dimensional, well written and charming. Dracula himself, especially so. Hell, Dracula is the original sexy vampire! Mysterious, brooding and sitting on top of the property ladder, it’s understandable how the guy managed to get himself a harem of wives.
Every writer who has approached the supernatural since 1897 has been influenced by this foundation of popular culture, whether they admit it or not.
While Bram Stoker brought us the original vampire, Anne Rice had a huge part to play in how modern media approaches the subject today, as we got to see the life of a vampire, told by a vampire. Their feelings, their motivations (beyond being evil blood suckers) and their immortal loneliness…Rice gave us these insights, and the majority of vampires written/filmed/acted today work with both these great works in mind.
Alas, the day of the literary epic has passed, and we are in a time of teen chick lit, where, were vampires are concerned, Twilight rules the roost. Like I have said, I am into anything with hunks with fangs, so I can’t bring myself to hate Twilight quite as much as I should. in fact, I appreciate it, for getting so many young people reading, invested in characters from something other than Hollyoaks. However, it makes me sad that the traditional vampire character and ritual have been lost in an attempt to turn down the gore, the sexuality and limitations that come with the vampire ‘curse’.
Sparkling in the sunlight? Give me a break. You should explode in a bloody and screaming firework display.
God, I nearly forgot The Lost Boys. I’m just skimming iconic vampires here, and the ’80’s gave us an awful lot. I used to have such a thing for Corey Feldman…
The important points remain. A blood lust that they struggle to control, torn between being human and an animal, and the misery of facing an eternity alone. These are the things we know and love about vampires, the constants.
So, Happy Birthday, Bram Stoker – thanks for the icon.