Monday, April 28, 2014

OT7: Flow Books

I recently took my first trip to Hong Kong and after spending the first two days doing all the touristy things, I decided to hunt out some of the more unique cultural offerings. On a recommendation from a friend, I checked out the Hong Kong Film Archive and started discussing books with a woman who told me there was a secondhand bookstore in Central that specialized in English books.

Even though Hong Kong is officially bi-lingual Cantonese and English, the majority of people speak Cantonese and use Chinese as the written language so an English bookstore is quite uncommon but they do exist. An English used bookstore, though, is downright unique.

After a quick search online, there appears to be a small handful of stores. One of primary ones, The Book Attic, sadly closed down a few months ago (a fact I didn’t discover until I was in the dark corridor of a sketchy building trying to read room numbers by cellphone light). The other main one, though, was still in business.

A Hong Kong bookstore.
Flow Books, located at 38 Hollywood Road in Central, is exactly what I pictured an English secondhand book store to look like in space-starved Hong Kong. Packed floor to ceiling with a mix of bestsellers, classic lit, travel guides, and art books, it easily consumed the better half of a day.

Could lose yourself for days.
Spent half the time digging for interesting finds and the other half chatting with the proprietor about the state of the used book market in Hong Kong. Bookstores have it rough nowadays and even heavily bankrolled stores like Chapters are folding left right and center. Used bookstores have it even rougher with erratic sales and relatively smaller selections. Used bookstores that carry books servicing the native language of 5% of the population is just ridiculous.

A labyrinth of literature.
Nonetheless, he was in high spirits and obviously genuinely loved books to run such a business. I ended up telling him about the Biblio-Mat and the Monkey’s Paw, which blew his and everyone else’s mind at the store with everyone looking at me skeptically until I pulled up pics of it. Hopefully he’ll make the journey to Toronto to check it out.

I did end the day with two awesome scores by one of my favourite authors. If you like digging for random books and find yourself in Hong Kong, I highly recommend making a trip out to the quaint lil store:

Flow Books
1A – 38 Hollywood Rd. (Wing On Bldg)
Central, HK

Monday, April 21, 2014

S10: The Ancient East and Its Story

Freshly back from my trip to Asia and I’m hit with this:

Not literally, though. Cause that would hurt. A lot.
Title: The Ancient East and Its Story

The ancient east, in this regard, refers to what we now consider the Middle East. Centering on Egypt, Babylonia, and Assyria, it’s a thick 472 page history tome that makes me glad I stopped doing the ‘read a book all the way through each week’ project.

So happy that's done.

Written by James Baike, it has no publishing date but it was prior to 1928. How do I know? Cause the book plate on the inner cover states that this was one of the prizes presented from the Strathcona Trust for good work in physical exercises for the year 1928-1929.

Yep, you can be both a winner and a loser.

This appears to be a standard history textbook and contains a variety of black and white photographs. However, it also has a handful of colour plates. The best aspect of it (beyond functioning as an effective doorstop, anyway) are the pseudo-deckle pages that are uniformly miscut.

Riddle me this...

Colour makes everything better.

After three weeks abroad in Asia, though, reading more about any parts of Asia seems like overkill.

Monday, April 14, 2014

OT6: Needlepoint Redemption

Flying to Hong Kong from Toronto was a good 26 hours. Instead of packing something entertaining, I used the time to needlepoint. This was theonly uncompleted project from last year and has been the bane of my existence ever since I failed to finish it in week 22.

Greatly underestimated this.

The view from the back.
30 odd hours from beginning to end, it’s now complete.

Signed and soon to be sealed.

Never again.

Monday, April 7, 2014

S9: Switzerland

On the eve of my first vacation in a long while, the Biblio-Mat throws a curveball, which should surprise no one.

Quite European.

Title: Switzerland

It’s an interesting title as the original plan for this year was to head to Europe for a trip but instead plans have been sidelined and I’m now heading to Asia instead to meet up with family. As a reminder of what was supposed to be, Switzerland is a nice kick in the pants.

Pretty dustjacket, though.

Yep, that's Switzerland.

Written by John Russell and published in 1950, it does have a pretty interesting dustjacket. The interior 152 pages contain a nice assortment of black and white photographs on Switzerland. However the only colour piece was the title-facing plate.

Not quite a selling point.

Much better.

Reading through a few pages, it’s a little dry but most travel books are. Who knows, though, perhaps next year Switzerland will be a travel destination.