Books, real, physical books are the very best thing in the world. They are a pure expression of modernity, the printing press, the written world, mass-produced, and yet they have a seemingly infinite variability and nuance. To visit a great used book store is to experience the breadth and depth of our great civilization, and yet, it's all just so anachronistic, isn't it?
When the time comes, a good read will be as unobtainium as something svelte in 5.56mm. So get yours now.
Here are the sort of books that are essential in building a great library. They're not rare or especially valuable, but good solid material for the foundation. They are like the brick 3-flats in Chicago (I was born in one), a broad, supporting base, of enduring value.
Let's start with Alan Moorehead. Here a fine writer meets up with subject matter to match, the history of the West apprehending and staking out the undeveloped world. Outside of a study of Burton, Moorehead remains a great entryway to the dark continent and points beyond.
|Early human history|
As long as we're going to use the Wayback Machine, we may as well go all the way and have James Henry Breasted in the larder. The great Egyptologist was born in Rockford, Illinois, and went on to become a giant, because giants still walked the earth in his days. Get his master text.
|James Henry Breasted, 1938 ed|
|Marc Bloch, Feudal Society, 1968 printing|
|Gardening super-duper-classics by Rodale Press|
Closer to home, here are two classics from the Mountaineers Press before they became popular and everything morphed into a glossy softcover consumer trail guide for the masses. These are first editions from 1968 and 1967, respectively. When I still lived in Chicago, I would read Bob Wood's books on the Olympic Mountains like they were the finest travel literature. The descriptions of the wild country were so captivating and engaging that I would read them again and again, imagining that I might one day move to this perfect place.
Fiction is important to have as well. In addition to the deep sets of children's classics I have been hoarding like mad, I have also been snagging other essentials of science fiction and literature. Here are a couple of examples, Fritz Lieber and Theodore Dreiser. Of course, both also have a Chicago connection.
It shocks me that Fritz Leiber is seldom on the shelves in the Sci Fi section of the corporate bookstores these days. The youth of today would be well-served by reading him.
|Leiber and Dreiser|
|Fussell and Bloom|
|Spengler, Man and Technics and DOTW|
Books. Get physical. Take delivery. Get stackin'.