Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Peripatetic Autodidact

if I had to categorize myself between one of these choices:
1. tv junkie
2. cybernut
3. bookworm

it's obvious from the above photo of little Stevie Belew, age 7
which description suits me. I'm a bookworm.
I love to read. I love books. I love just being in bookstores.
I love having books throughout my home.
I will never have enough books!

I buy hardcover books as often as possible for their durability,
but I do subscribe to 6 magazines and I save them all as well.
my favorite magazine, if it can be called that,
is Automobile Quarterly which comes out (naturally) four times a year.
it's called a "magazine" but it's much more than that.
it's a hardbound edition of some of the finest photography of
and writings on the history of automobiles.
it's a fascinating way to read our modern history.
AQ wins awards yearly for their content and design.

AQ began in 1962. their back editions are rare and difficult
to find. some are expensive as well.
I began collecting Automobile Quarterlies in the early 1980s
by frequenting used bookstores wherever my touring took me.
the first few I found at the infamous Strand bookstore in Manhattan.
it took two decades but now I have all 190 editions thus far.
(I know the math doesn't work. it's because recently they've
started sending 5 a year. I don't know why).

I read books in the early mornings before the activity begins,
or at the end of the day just before bed,
but most of my reading happens while I'm on tour.
airports, airplanes, backstage, and hotel rooms.
I am completely happy to spend the entire day in my hotel room
armed with only a book and a coke with lots of ice.
(it certainly helps when you end up stuck in some
of the places you see posted on robert's diary).

countless hours spent in airplanes or in
hurry up and wait mode have taught me to carry
a book at all times.
I probably read 30 books a year
(plus the monthly magazines and newspapers).
this year has been a bumper crop year for reading
and I've loved every minute.
the only problem is this:
after I've read the books I bring with me on tour
I start buying more books. eventually I have
more books than I have luggage and my
my luggage feels like a load of bricks.

lo and behold, santa claus may have solved my dilemma.
I now own the Amazon Kindle.
don't know what a Kindle is?
it's a hand-held electronic reader
about the size and weight of a paperback book.
but it holds 100 books!
naturally you buy the books from amazon.com
the good news is the prices are low.
$10 for most new books, even less for older books.
Jane Eyre, for example is only 50¢

the Kindle is wireless and works everywhere.
when you make a selection it downloads into the Kindle
in about a minute and you can read a free sample chapter
before deciding to buy. there are 200,000 books to chose from,
as well as some newspapers, magazines, periodicals, and blogs.

I'm not a salesman for Kindle of course,
just a happy boy now that I can travel with
more books than I can possible read.
if you want to know more:
amazonkindle.com is the place to go.

of course I'll continue to frequent bookstores
and to buy hardcover books.
I will never have enough bloody books!


  1. Adrian:

    Try downloading books from Project Gutenberg and putting them on the Kindle. Lots of great literature and you can just drag and drop the text files right into the Kindle.



  2. wow---adrian belew-----the youngster-----
    my family had similar chairs/couches-----
    the upholstery-----was like a design---made from nylon--or some man-made-s-it-------!---
    you could run your fingers into it-------
    so---whilst you read------i imagined---my little green army men---were climbing threw the furniture----great advertisement for amazon---------and yeah--you are a "book freak"-------please wish all----"a HAPPY GOO YEAR"-------LOVE-------GARY----

  3. Adrian,

    You are bound to get lots of bookstore and book recommendations after this post. Let me be the first. If you have any spare time in St. Louis this spring, there's some good independent book stores in the area.

    These are both down the street from Blueberry Hill:
    Subterranean Books - 6275 Delmar
    Star Clipper (comics/graphic novels) - 6392 Delmar

    Left Bank Books - corner of Euclid and McPherson in the Central West End section of St. Louis

    One of the fun benefits of traveling to shows for Roy and me is hitting the used book stores/ record stores/ museums in each city.


  4. Did you ever read "the aesthetics of rock" by Meltzer? "written in my Soul "by Bill flanagan, "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby?

  5. and did you ever see "Wings of Desire" the Wim Wenders film. We watch that every New Year's Day.

  6. Books! Me too!
    Strands in NY reminds me of a trip I took there. I had my backpack with me, and filled it with the heaviest books I could find, (not intentionally of course, that's just the way it turned out), and ended up walking all over Manhattan carrying the heavy pack.

    A few years ago, about a thousand of my rare books were destroyed while in storage. Wanna see a grown man cry?

  7. The Strand is a favorite of mine, too. There are several other good bookstores a stone's throw (or a quick walk, if you're not the type to throw stones) away. There's no such thing in life as too many books or too much music.

  8. What a great picture! Reminds me of me, except for the glasses - need 'em now, from all the marathon sessions by 7-watt nightlight throughout my formative years. Besides Gutenberg, a fine PD site is sacred-texts.com, for a focus on religio-mytho-pan-cultural-philosophy.