11. The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays

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Richard Hofstadter

1964

I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric.

This is a collection of essays by historian Richard Hofstadter. Though I doubt it has ever really lost relevance since it was published in 1964, it has definitely gained a lot in the past year or so. It’s titled after Hofstadter’s most famous essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” (which I’ll just refer to as “The Paranoid Style” from now on), and that essay was the reason I picked up this book. The collection adds a bunch of other essays loosely based around the themes that attracted Hofstadter in this period of his career: the cranks, kooks, and mad prophets of American political life. Continue reading “11. The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays”

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10. On Writing

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Stephen King

2000

You must not come lightly to the blank page.

In the crowded genre of books about writing, we can now declare Stephen King’s On Writing to be a standard. It’s so often read and recommended that many who have never tried a word of King’s fiction will yet have this one on their shelves. And for good reason. King, whose stories have entered our cultural lexicon in a way that other fiction mega-sellers, like John Grisham or Danielle Steel, couldn’t dream of, is as successful and prolific a guide as you could wish for. Continue reading “10. On Writing”

May Book Haul: The Finale, Part 1

I’m going to put all these books away now. Since I brought them home in May they’ve been in a stack on the living room floor, but other books have come into my life since then (surprise), so it’s time to wrap up this used book haul, the biggest of the year.

I’ve already mentioned Robinson CrusoeThe Remains of the Day, and The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain. Here are the rest of my finds:

1. Survival by Margaret Atwood

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Continue reading “May Book Haul: The Finale, Part 1”

Cool Shop, Open Wallet (part 1)

Storefront of Wayfarer Books in Kingston, ON

Wayfarer Books Bought & Sold

85 Princess Street
Kingston, Ontario

Let’s take a break from going through my latest summer book sale haul, to inaugurate a new series. I think I’ll call it Cool Shop, Open Wallet. Over the past couple years I’ve been photographing the bookshops I visit, so I’m going to start posting about these exceptional places. They’re shops I frequent regularly, or did at some point in my life, or visited a single time while travelling. Either way, if I’m posting about them it’s because I loved what I saw there, and invariably opened my wallet to snag some of their fine inventory for myself.

The first in the series is Wayfarer Books in Kingston. This takes me back to my student days, before I had a blog or took photographs, back when my own book collection was probably one fifth of its present size. I spent my dishevelled student hours here when I wasn’t lost in the stacks at Stauffer or frantically typing in the reading room at Douglas Library, back when life turned on essays and eating. This was one of the first indie shops I explored in my indie life far from home. So Wayfarer started a serious habit.

One of the best things about this shop, besides the atmosphere and selection, is that some of the books bear extensive inscriptions by the storeowner. Don’t worry, he writes in pencil, but the descriptions are so interesting that you wouldn’t want to erase them anyway. You have to love that a shopkeeper takes the time to transcribe his knowledge of a particular volume for its future readers. Plus, now I always know which of my books came from here.

Among them: a fine old copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and W.H. Hudson’s Green Mansions.

Photo of an inscription on the inside of a book, $15Two books on a couch. The foreground volume is Dante's Divine Comedy

If you’re ever in Kingston, make time for this gem. One of its Google reviews places Wayfarer in league only with Shakespeare & Company in Paris and City Lights in San Fransisco. You may think that’s an exaggeration, but I say it’s exactly right.

Book Haul: The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain

Cover of The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain

I try to be picky about coffee table books, since I have more of them now than I could ever possibly display on my coffee table. But this one made it through.

I’ve been wanting a digestible history of Britain for a while (mainly since stumbling my way through the Wars of the Roses via Shakespeare). Nothing signals digestible more than the word “Illustrated,” right? By the time I get to 1066 and All That I’ll be a veritable expert in the field.

Unexpectedly one of my favourite finds of the year so far.