A-holes In The Stacks
I love used bookstores, odd bookstores, and odd used bookstores. If you’ve read any of my writings, you know this. If not, well, hello, you must be new here – I’m Xenofact and I like bookstores.
One of the best thing about a good bookstore – and sometimes even more so a used one – is the amount of authors you encounter. Looking for one book leads to another, to another, and to another – often ones you didn’t expect to look for. A detour down a mysterious set of shelves can take you to a wonderland of discoveries. Then of course there’s whatever the store stocks that fits the tastes of the proprietors, another peek into the larger world.
Bookstores, the really good ones, are places of discovery. Even if you enter with a plan, you usually leave with something else.
However, you’ll also encounter works by authors that are, let’s be honest, a-holes. I’m not talking “oh they’re jerks,” I’m talking grifters, conspiritualists, abusive cult leaders, and so on. Since I usually haunt religion, philosophy, and science areas I probably see a lot more of this.
(It’s probably good I don’t go to the business section after these or I’d just end up in the fetal position.)
There’s something incredibly depressing to see a giant book by some grifting schemer who has only avoided jail as not enough of their cult has turned on him. It’s disturbing to see books by people replacing vaccines with quantum woo next to books on actual healthy practices. A bookstore, as thrilling as it is, can be quite depressing when you look at specific stock and know “someone is selling this, someone wants to buy this.”
But that’s the world, isn’t it? There are people out there who are exploitative – and some of them write books. Thank goodness there’s many good authors, past and present, writing actual, helpful stuff.
But that’s also discovery, what those stores allow. There’s a chance for surprise, for something new, even if you enter planning to get a specific book. Sometimes discovery is discovering something bad.
I suppose this is a time to remind ourselves to buy, read, promote, and give the good books, the ones that really help others out. There’s little use being impotently on the a-holes, we can just expose people to the good stuff.
And maybe when the a-holes get you down, enjoy the good stuff.