Saturday, May 2, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #36

The first two books on the left are on the topic of vinyl records. The short but tantalizing description of Lament from Epirus: An Odyssey into Europe's Oldest Surviving Folk Music is this: "In a gramophone shop in Istanbul, renowned record collector Christopher C. King uncovered some of the strangest — and most hypnotic — sounds he had ever heard." And the title of Amanda Petrusich's book is also very descriptive: Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records.

These books also bring to mind one of my favorite podcasts of 2019: Ephemeral. Alex Williams' show is a clear labor of love that I cannot recommend highly enough. Two of the episodes that will stick with you for a long time, I think, are Diaspora and Reputation.

All of this also makes me wonder what's up these days with Zero Freitas, the Brazilian businessman who has amassed millions of old records and wants to create an Emporium Musical. The New York Times wrote about him in 2014 and The Vinyl Factory published an interview with Freitas in February 2016.

Moving along, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America is just absolutely, utterly, unacceptably out of place. What can I say? Bookshelves are a constant work in progress. This history volume more properly belongs with either the Weather Books or the Somewhat Chronological U.S. History.

Then comes a large collection of books about computers and computing, some especially focused on the transformative moments in the second half of the 20th century. There are books on PARC, PLATO, Richard Garriott, artificial intelligence, the evolution of computer games, cyberwarfare, hackers, the dawn of cyberculture, Claude Shannon and more. Though it's now a little dated, 1997's Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace by Janet H. Murray is an engrossing look at new forms of storytelling and gaming that emerged in the computer age. Murray's book contains several discussions about Infocom games. The final book on the far right is Break Out: How the Apple II Launched the PC Gaming Revolution, by David L. Craddock. As we shall soon see, these are not all of the books on computers and computer gaming! Hashtag nerd, as Mom would have said.

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