Shelf Life for October 2019

Books Read

Books Bought/Found/Given
New England Graveside Tales by T.M. Gray
More New England Graveside Tales by T.M. Gray
Vacationland by John Hodgman
Ragman’s Memory by Archer Mayor
The Disposable Man by Archer Mayor
The Day It Finally Happens by Mike Pearl
Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
An Actual Life by Abigail Thomas
A.D.: After Disclosure by Bryce Zabel & Richard M. Dolan
Six volumes of the Time-Life Library of Curious and Unusual Facts series
Four volumes of the Time-Life Mysteries of the Unknown series

October came and went quicker than a passing autumn breeze.

I was floating in limbo at work when the month began, waiting to start working with a new client and moving from school to school, day after day, working with other kiddos. I started feeling more settled once I landed at a long-term spot in a school that was new to me, and I was so preoccupied getting to know the new client that I lost track of time. My wife and I managed to get away for three days in the middle of the month for a research trip in southern Vermont for my novel. After returning, I blinked and it was Halloween. That day brought hard rain and high winds, as well as flash flooding.

In the rush of the month, I didn’t get any books read. I started five different ones, including three that show up on this month’s list of books I added to my collection. But I never made it to the end of any. The first week or so of November will see me finishing them.

A vast majority of the books I brought home last month came by way of the trip Alison and I took to Bennington, VT and the Glastenbury wilderness area. As I said, we traveled there to conduct research for my novel, but we also stopped at several book stores and antique shops along the way.

I got my hands on four more volumes of the Time-Life Mysteries of the Unknown series at Fort Ann Antiques in Whitehall, NY, as well as six volumes of the Time-Life Library of Curious and Unusual Facts series. I was unaware of the latter series, but it’s as interesting and thorough in its research as Mysteries of the Unknown, particularly for its time of release in the mid-1980s. 

Most of my novel writing is focused on the paranormal and odd, and my research bookshelves are getting filled out quite nicely. I’m hoping to convert the storage area over my garage into an office, and I’m excited to have those books at the ready there.

Two other books added to those shelves are T.M. Gray’s New England Graveside Tales and More New England Graveside Tales. I was unaware of these collections until I found them at the Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock, VT, on the way home. These are oversized books that, while including plenty of stories that appear in other books I have, go the extra mile by including addresses and other background material to round the tales out. 

Alison and I stayed at an incredible Air BnB on the New York side of the VT/NY border, roughly 10 minutes from Bennington. We made friends with the llamas and alpacas that live there, as well as the five dogs (all good dogs) and various poultry. About 10 miles north of the place is a little, artsy town called Cambridge, NY, that we fell in love with. To the point where I’ve visited real estate websites and fantasized about moving there someday. 

Right on Main Street in Cambridge is Battenkill Books, one of the nicest independent bookstores I’ve ever been to. The employees were super friendly, and the selection of titles was excellent. While there, I got hold of an autographed copy of Wayward Son, the latest from Rainbow Rowell. I’ve mentioned Rowell a bunch in previous Shelf Life pieces, and adding her autograph to my book collection gave me a nice thrill. I also found a hardcover edition of John Hodgman’s Vacationland, a book I missed out on at its initial release. 

As much as I was excited to find those books, though, I was even more excited to discover Battenkill Books. It represents the very best of independent bookstores, and it’s the sort of place that represents the future of brick-and-mortar book sales. The inventory is well-curated, and I felt at home browsing the shelves.

If you find yourself in the vicinity, you could do a whole lot worse that stopping by and finding yourself something to read.

Anyway, that’s my experience with books for October. What did you read or add to your collection last month? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to find out.

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