Four Letter Nerd

Tag - Books

Bookshop Tour – Nashville

Used bookshops are some of my favorite places to be.  There is just something revitalizing about browsing the bookshelves, searching for the next book to add to your stack of unread-but-maybe-soon-to-be-read books.  In fact, I have to travel to Baltimore for work in a few weeks, and the first thing I did was look up used bookstores in the area.  This got me thinking about the bookstores that I often frequent in and around my own stomping grounds of Nashville, TN.  There are a handful of fantastic shops around town that I think all Nashvillian bibliophiles and out-of-towners alike should visit when they can.

Without further adieu, here, in no particular order, is a brief look at my favorite bookstores around Nashville:

Books at Cummins Station

Books at Cummins Station might just be the prototypical form when it comes to used bookstores as seen in the mind’s eye.  It’s eclectic style, collection, and decor make it a fun place just to browse around.  One of the best things about the store is the sheer enormity of the stacks.  The ceilings are very high, and there are bookcases stacked on bookcases with more books on top.  It’s actually a little overwhelming until you get used to it.  And the walkways are so narrow that it’s hard to get a picture that does it justice.

Ms. B’s Used Books & CD’s

Technically Ms. B’s Used Books and CD’s is in the suburbs of Nashville, not Nashville proper, but it has been my home shop for almost 15 years.  It’s not as big as the others on this list, but the owner is a great human being, and if you want a book that’s not on the shelves, she will order it for you at a discount.  In fact, I recently stopped ordering new books online and just have Ms. B order them for me.  If you are ever around Hendersonville, you should definitely drop by.  One thing I really like is how much my four year old loves going to the shop.  If I ever take him to a bookstore that’s not this one, he gets frustrated and metaphorically twists my arm until I stop in here too.  Oh, and she also buys and sells records, so vinyl-heads have something to browse as well.

Rhino Booksellers Charlotte

I’ve only been in this shop once or twice, but I will definitely be coming back.  Like Books at Cummins Station, Rhino Booksellers has a great vintage atmosphere that makes you take your time and enjoy it.  This shop has a great selection of nice editions.  I’ve found some really nice Tolkien and C.S. Lewis titles here including a really nice edition of Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas.  Come for the atmosphere, stay to get the shop cat to like you.

McKay Used Books

Credit: mckaybooks.com

If you can’t tell from the photo above, McKay’s is definitely the largest store on the list.  It is basically a warehouse of used books, movies, videogames, and music.  It can be difficult to find some specific titles here because of the vast quantity and the high volume of customers, but I always enjoy making the drive out to Bellevue to slowly wander the fiction section for an hour or two.  If you can’t find something to read  here you aren’t trying hard enough.

Parnassus Books

Credit: parnassusbooks.net

Unlike the previous entries, Parnassus Books is an independent bookstore instead of a used bookstore.  The shop is beautiful, there is a good selection of literary fiction, a really neat section of local selections, and it sponsors some fantastic events.  Earlier this year, I attended an event where John Scalzi spoke for a while, then held a meet and greet where I had my copies of The Collapsing Empire and the hilarious Redshirts signed.  Another fun fact is that it is co-owned by author Ann Patchett.

Atomic Nashville

Atomic Books is a small independent bookstore in east Nashville.  While it may be small in stature, it’s big in heart and uniqueness.  I found they had a lot of titles I’ve been wanting to read, or that have been recommended to me over the last few months, and their sci-fi selection is hella strong.  They also sell art, music, and local selections.  Oh, and they have a surprisingly stout selection of Little Golden Books.

Like I said earlier, used bookstores might be one of my favorite places on Earth.  If you find yourself in the Nashville area and are of the book persuasion, you should definitely block out some time to visit and explore some of Nashville’s best literature peddlers.  And if you happen to visit Ms. B’s tell them I sent you… none of the other shops will know who the hell I am.

4LN Top 4 – Michael Crichton Novels

You may or may not know who Michael Crichton is, but you are without a doubt familiar with his work.  Crichton dominated the early 90’s box office with films like Jurassic Park, Twister, and The Andromeda Strain, but he is also the man behind the original Westworld and ER.  In 1994, Crichton became the only person to land at the top spot on charts for television, film, and book sales.  Think about that for a second, the three most popular forms of entertainment all topped by the same guy at the same time.

Sidenote: I’m a pretty big fan of the Crichton novels I’ve read, but my wife is OBSESSED with the show ER. She is currently on her fifth or sixth viewing of the series, and there are fifteen seasons. Also, Twister is one of those movies that if it happens to be on TV, things get ignored – chores, kids, you name it.

Below you will find my Top 4 Michael Crichton novels along with a spoiler-free, mini synopsis.  Enjoy!

4. Timeline

timeline-crichton-book-cover

A tech firm led by a volatile, Bill Gatesian billionaire creates a time machine.  A professor in the employ of the firm is studying a 14th century French village with his team of grad students.  When he gets lost in 1357, it is up to his students to go back in time to rescue the beloved professor.  Oh, did I mention that 14th century France is violent?  This novel became a movie starring Paul Walker and Gerard Butler.

3. The Andromeda Strain

andromeda strain book cover

The government launches satellites to collect organisms and dust for study.  One of the satellites crashes in a remote town, which leads to an outbreak of a deadly virus.  A team of scientists enter a secure, high tech bunker in order to contain the (1950’s announcer voice) VIRUS FROM OUTER SPACE.

This novel became a TV miniseries starring Benjamin Bratt.

2. Sphere

Sphere Michael Crichton

A alien spaceship shaped like a (you guessed it) sphere appears at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.  A team of scientists is dispatched to a secret, deep-sea research facility to study, and attempt to make contact with the spaceship.  Deadly shenanigans ensue.

This novel became the 1998 film starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel F. L. Jackson.

1. Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Cover

Not only are dinosaurs no longer extinct, they are going to be on display in a brand new theme park named Jurassic Park.   A team of scientists  is invited to tour the park in order to make sure everything is on the up and up.  Chaos theory prevails.

This novel became the smash-hit blockbuster starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff erm Goldblum.

Honorable Mentions

Eaters of the Dead

eaters-of-the-dead-cover_8346

I am adding this to the list, not because I think it is in the upper echelon of Crichton’s novels, but because it’s fascinating.  Eaters of the Dead is a fictional retelling of actual journal entries written by an Arab traveling through Northern Europe in the tenth century.  During his journey, he meets a band of Viking warriors, and joins them as they suddenly return to Scandinavia and attempt to save the Viking clan from monsters in the mist.

This novel became the film The 13th Warrior starring Antonio Banderas.

There you have it, folks.  Have you read any of Crichton’s work?  What’s your favorite Crichtation (Crichton creation)? Let us know in the comments.