Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So, You Want to Attend a Book Show, Huh?

The Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show is an assembly of many booksellers from around the Midwest and from further away. They gather at the show twice a year to display and sell books and other printed materials to the public. It's a large one-day show, overseen by the owner of the Curious Book Shop, Ray Walsh.

The show is held in a convention hall the size of a large gymnasium in downtown Lansing, Michigan. Booths are set up for the dealers,
arranged in aisles, so that visitors can walk up and down to see what each dealer has on display. We typically have 70 dealers or more. An average booth might have three tables, and often each table will have bookshelves upon it, so there is truly a lot of material on display.

As this is an antiquarian show, most of the items on display will be older - secondhand, collectible, rare, and often out of print or unavailable. New items are typically not included unless they're related to collectible printed material. In addition to books, dealers bring magazines, postcards, prints, maps, comic books, and so on. Some items may be a few years old, some hundreds of years old. The prices may vary from a dollar to ten thousand dollars or more. There's always an incredible variety.

Visitors to the show should wear comfortable shoes and expect to spend at least an hour browsing. The show can be experienced as a museum as much as an opportunity for shopping. Seating is provided for people who need a rest, and there's a cart that sells sandwiches and other food items.

Although many of the dealers who attend the show perform appraisals, visitors should not bring their own books and items to the show without making prior arrangements. For security reasons, you can't simply walk in with your own books. You can talk to dealers and collect business cards, of course, and then make other arrangements later.

Some dealers are happy to haggle over prices, some aren't. A smile is your best bargaining tool!

See the show page at our website for more information about the upcoming book show.

Mark, the manager of the Curious Book Shop, has been attending the Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show for seven years.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Night Noise and Mister Rabbit's Wish

3/14/10 If you're seeking a thought-provoking book for children, here's a brief look at a pair of books by Michigan authors. Each deals with the nighttime adventures of a variety of animals, with one being factual and the other fiction.

Night Noise by Morrice author and artist Brenda Roy (Author House, $13.99) is a nicely illustrated book for younger children that uses a large-eyed owl as the main character.

It focuses on the different types of creatures and critters that abound in Michigan and make their presence known at night.

This creative, brief, light-hearted foray is told using rhymes, making it that much more enjoyable for children.

The detailed black-and-white drawings of the animals contrast well against the owl's big, wide-open eyes and the darkness of the trees in the forest background.

The owl explores the nocturnal habits and behavior of a fox, a raccoon, a coyote, whitetail deer and mice. It also examines the noises that bats, crickets, frogs and others make when the sun is down.

This self-published paperback is available by e-mailing the author at

Mister Rabbit's Wish by Brighton author Colleen Monroe (Mitten Press $17.99) uses a nighttime trip by an aging rabbit to provide poignant and useful insights.

Illustrated by her husband, award-winning artist Michael Glenn Monroe, this fanciful tale showcases a journey made in the beginning of winter by Mister Rabbit.

This time a pair of squirrels, a fox, a skunk, a deer and a mouse, as well as a cardinal and a pheasant, join him on his long walk.

They're off to visit the Wishing Tree, which has the power to grant wishes. En route to their destination, they discuss their desires. One wants a bigger den, another wants a nice birdhouse, others seek more acorns or cheese.

The tree isn't exactly what they expected. After the others make their requests, he asks for the same thing he's asked for every year since he was a young bunny.

His request, spoken softly to the tree alone, is an unusual one. On the journey back, the other animals realize the Wishing Tree's wisdom and gain more respect for the insightful Mister Rabbit.

The wonderful illustrations add to the book's enjoyment.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on March 14, 2010


Thursday, March 11, 2010

General Sedgwick's Last Words

John Sedgwick, a well-loved general of the Union army, died on May 9, 1864, at the beginning of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. While his soldiers dove for cover under the fire of the Confederate troops, General Sedgwick stood tall. "I'm ashamed of you, dodging that way," he said to hearten his men. "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distan-" He was promptly shot just below his left eye and died.

The War Between the States, the War of Northern Aggression, the Southern Rebellion, Mr. Lincoln's War - however you may refer to it, we have books about it. The Curious Book Shop has recently received a large collection of Civil War-related books, featuring a variety of voices, perspectives, and authorities on the subject.

Below is a small sampling of the Civil War books that we currently have in stock.

Come into the shop to find the anecdotes, like that of the unfortunate General Sedgwick, that make history interesting.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Bricklayer and Blood Ties

2/28/10 The FBI is at the forefront in two recent crime novels that have varying degrees of success. One is a thriller that's almost impossible to put down, while the other is a bizarre tale that stretches the imagination to the limit.

The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd (William Morrow, $24.99) is a compelling page-turner that showcases the debut of Steve Vail, who served in the FBI's Detroit office as a Special Agent for the Fugitive Squad.

Vail voluntarily left the FBI and is now working as a bricklayer in Chicago. In the first chapter, Vail single-handedly thwarts a bank robbery, then departs without sticking around for praise.

Kate Bannon, the FBI's newly appointed deputy assistant director, identifies Vail and later manages to convince him to assist the bureau. Vail, a classic anti-hero who doesn't work well under authority, is known for getting results. He agrees to help track down members of a domestic terrorist group that's initially attempting to extort a million dollars from the FBI.

When the body count rises and the demands increase, Vail gets more involved, discovering clues that FBI agents have either missed or simply ignored.

This is the first book in a series starring Vail and Bannon. The adrenaline-charged action never slows and the abundance of plot twists will satisfy even the most jaded mystery lover.

Noah Boyd is the pseudonym of Paul Lindsay, who served in the Detroit office for 20 years. He's the author of Witness to the Truth and five other thrillers.

Blood Ties by Kay Hooper (Bantam, $26) is the last book in the fourth trilogy of the paranormal Bishop Crimes Unit novels. This FBI Special Crimes Unit uses psychic skills to solve many crimes. They're now tracking a serial killer who's been leaving corpses in different states.

Outside of a small Tennessee town, two more bodies are discovered - and then suddenly, the SCU members become targets.

Soon, one member struggles for survival while others travel the gray area between life and death, trying to assist.

New readers are likely to be bewildered with the large cast of characters. Fortunately, there's a brief biographical section to help identify telepaths, mediums, seers, self-healers and other paranormals.

This one's merely satisfactory.

Ray Walsh
This review also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on February 28, 2010.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

The World's Mysteries Explored

FATE Magazine, founded in 1948, is a still-running bi-monthly publication devoted to the exploration of the strange and unknown. The magazine focuses on paranormal topics such as cryptozoology, cryptoarchaeology, telepathy, psychic abilities, life after death, and extra-terrestrial life.

Articles range from haunting stories to curiously inspirational. In his article "Losing Weight Through Past Lives" (Dec. 1987), Joseph Vitale asks the question "What made me give up the fat life for the thin one after over 30 years of the former?" The answer?

For one thing, I remembered a past-life experience in which I had been an old monk in a Himalayan monastery who, in the freezing cold of bitter winter, starved to death. I came into this life very, very hungry.

I'm not kidding. Remembering this past life awakened me to the fact that I was overeating now to compensate for a fear and a hunger I developed a long, long time ago.

Here at the shop, we have almost 400 FATE magazines, ranging in date from the 1950s to the 1990s, all with similarly odd tales. The February 1957 issue (pictured above) is available through the FATE magazine official website for $49.95, but you can find it in our shop for just $1.00!

Browse through our extensive collection ($1.00 each) and pick up a dose of the bizarre.