Gone Fishin’ (For Vintage Books)

————- The Book (R)evolution ———–

Books: the printed text on packs of paper fitted into paper covers which were predicted to have become extinct by now.

Well, looks like that prediction was wrong.

So, so wrong.

The rise of the ebook and the ebook reader meant that people were beginning to question the worth of the actual physical book. An ebook was cheaper and much more practical when travelling (because let’s face it, you just can’t carry a 700-page novel on a hike. Or you can, but it won’t do you any favours). Soon, Kindles were all you saw on Amazon, and book sales dropped dramatically.

Those were dark times.

But then something changed, or rather, grew to such a scale that it became all the more evident: people missed the feel of ruffling through paper pages, the sight of an ever-growing library as opposed to a digital one on an ebook reader. They wanted the real, old-fashioned book back, just as people today are turning back to vinyl records. The countless tea spills on pages was disregarded.

The book has made a dramatic entrance once again into the homes of book lovers everywhere. Publishers are taking care to produce beautiful, good quality hardbacks and paperbacks, and, after neglecting the book’s actual design for so long, have taken old and new tales and published them in gorgeous editions. These books have become so aesthetically pleasing that the world has created an online appreciation for them, with the grand trend known as #bookstagram (have a look at it on Google Images).

———- Lovely Libraries and Vintage Books ———

Having shelves lined with dozens of books was an essential part of every household in the past (having an entire room, a library, was more common than not). It was a form of expression, perhaps, as well as a place of reference and relaxation (no Internet, no problem). Even in this day and age I believe I’d feel lost without my collection of books nestled together upon my shelves, and I believe many feel the same way. Having a bookshelf in a room is a pleasure for many reasons. The obvious one is, of course, the access to hundreds of alternate worlds and realities, but the less obvious one is the aesthetics, especially when they are rare editions or vintage fabric-covered hardbacks.

Digging around in old book sales is the perfect way to unearth such treasures. You never know what you might come across: the first ever edition of your favourite classic, a letter tucked away in the pages of an encyclopedia … My aunt had once discovered my grandfather’s grandfather’s school book (she recognised the name scrawled inside) – a really lovely surprise.

I’ve stumbled upon one of those fabric-covered hardback editions of ‘I Capture the Castle’ with its title printed in gold on its spine, as well as tiny editions of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Othello’, the latter of which must have been an old school book because tiny handwritten side notes can be found on every other page.

Where to Find Vintage Books

Before I give any suggestions, please note that I am not writing this to advertise any businesses / places. I’m only sharing places I know and enjoy going to.

If you’re after the really old editions dating back to decades upon decades ago, pay a visit to church sales. Some ideas in Malta:

  •  St. Patrick’s Church in Sliema usually holds a big book sale a couple of times a year, so look out for any flyers.
  • The Anglican Church in Rudolph Street, Sliema, has a little bazaar full of vintage books as well as old jewelry and other things. Everything there is free, but they appreciate a donation (although it is not compulsory).

Deja Vu Books & Stationary in Swieqi used to house some lovely second-hand books and was a true gem, though has shut its doors and no longer exists. They did a fantastic job at brightening the world of reading in Malta, and it’s a shame they’ve closed down.

Tips When Buying Vintage Books

  • Look out for bookworm.

Seriously. Take care to spot any pinprick sized holes in pages before you take the book home and infect your entire shelf.

  • Have a look inside the cover.

Maybe it’s signed by the author, or the name of the previous owner is one you recognise.

  • Pick up all the ones you love.

I probably sound a bit ridiculous writing such an obvious statement, but it’s a horrible feeling to regret not getting one you had really liked, because in all likely hood you’re not going to come across it again.


 

I hope that you enjoyed this post, and really encourage you to pop into the places I mentioned above. It’s a real treat, I promise 🙂

 

 

 

 

= Postcards =

Postcard (n.) – a card for sending a message by post without an envelope, typically having a photograph or other illustration on one side.

The earliest picture postcard was posted in London to the writer Theodore Hook in 1840. The illustration on this card was hand-painted, and it bore a penny black stamp (the world’s first adhesive postage stamp). Hook probably created and posted this card to himself as a practical joke on the postal service, since the illustration was in actual fact a caricature of workers in the post office. As amusing as this might have been for him at the time, he would have most likely been far from laughing had he known that in 2002 his postcard would sell for a record £31,750.

A postcard is the one thing you are guaranteed to see at almost every shop – nothing peculiar there. What is actually peculiar is that, despite them being an icon and a vital part of any holiday, they aren’t often bought, let alone sent.

In the past (pre-social media days) it was much more common for people to be seen making a beeline for the postcard stand outside a shop and spending some minutes examining each one, turning the rotating stand t-01tourism_jpg.jpg(to the annoyance of the ones on the other side of it). Postcards bought and stamps collected, a good half hour or so would then be spent reclined on a deck chair on a sandy beach, 26d44b2444d1c7ef699181939654410e.jpgsoaking up the Sicilian summer sunshine, or perhaps lounging on a sofa in the reception of a luxurious hotel in the middle of Prague – either way, a whole lot of postcard writing would be done. Little sketches of the day’s many enchanting and peculiar sights would be nestled between the short recounts on the few lines provided. Addresses jotted down, stamps licked and pasted, foreheads wiped from a hard time of writing (in the case of there being a large number of expectant people waiting to receive a postcard) and your postcards would be ready to be sent.

Besides sending postcards, it is a joy to receive them. It was quite a surprise when I’d ad12d6aac2f40f49a5a7373fb3a45a0e.jpgreceived postcards which had been posted weeks before from a country nestled halfway around the world.

I’m not saying that people do not send postcards at all anymore; many still do. It’s just that with so many people’s lives revolving around social media today we sometimes tend to forget that a tangible memory – a private one –  can be much more special than one posted on your online profile. Also, don’t get me wrong; sometimes it’s much more convenient to share your holiday memories online rather than by sending them by post.

All the same postcards should not die out. No amount of online albums could replace a precious personal collection of postcards.

Hope you enjoyed this post, although I must say that it’s a dozen times the length of an actual postcard! (Good thing it’s titled ‘Postcards‘ as a plural, huh?)

See you again soon,

Meg   🙂

 

 

 

 

 

The Glory of Old Films

 

Hello readers!

Some of you were no doubt around in the time when black-and-white films were the only kind available (i.e. ones in colour didn’t yet exist).

We’re now living in the age of special effects; films mostly being completely constructed ET_Moon.jpgout of computer-generated images. Most modern films are fantastic. Films like E.T. (released in 1982; not that modern, but I use ‘modern’ to describe films made in the computer age) could not have been created without a few special effects done on computer; the bicycle scene is what comes to mind when I think of this film.

Other films like Star Wars, Harry Potter and – much more recently – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are all crazily imaginative films. They are all full of the most amazing mythical beasts, space ships (in Star Wars‘ case) and magical happenings, mostly thanks to special effects edited into the shots. So how were black-and-white films so creative and captivating without all of that?thumbnail_20160811_181131

The Dance Routines (and perfect dance partners)

Think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: their dance routines were legendary and brought even the dullest ballroom to life with their jazzy tap steps. Their outfits also helped with the ‘no colour’ effect, though. Fred always wore a black suit with white trimmings to reflect the light and Ginger’s dresses often contained a dark colour and a lighter one rather than one solid colour, just like in the drawing I did of them opposite.

The Musical Numbers

Singin’ In The Rain is another great example, although I must admit that the only part of the film I’ve watched is the short scene when Gene Kelly is dancing (and singing) in a downpour, using his umbrella as a prop rather than as a shelter. There never will be another musical number in film that measures up with it, I’m untitledsure.

The Humour

I’ve been meaning to watch Roman Holiday for ages, and only watched it recently. It’s a black-and-white film, but as with Fred and Ginger films, it’s full of life and humour. Watching Hepburn’s character jump excitedly onto a Vespa and running amuck through the streets of Rome (knocking over a view street vendors in the process) was one of the film’s best bits. The film is living proof that Rome – not Paris –  is the most romantic city in the world.   Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn on the film’s  iconic Vespa motorcycle, drawn by me. ⇓thumbnail_20160817_183752

 

Old films are usually brimming with witty lines; A Hard Day’s Night (1964) certainly is. Most of the film was apparently unscripted, meaning that The Beatles used their quick wit to come up with jokes and comebacks on the spot.

Fun Fact: The opening scene (when the song starts to play) showing The Beatles being chased by dozens of screaming fans wbdbf9cdc09ec879f119dd489f68592fe.jpgas completely unscripted.

 

 

 

The Film Plot

Sometimes films can be stereotypical. It’s the kind of films with original plots full of sudden changes and a turn of events that really captivate you. A case in point would be 4abb781b3764ca0e0e79ab2c49f498a1.jpgRolf Gruber from The Sound of Music: he appears at first as a charming Austrian fellow whom Liesl Van Trapp is in love with, but later reveals himself as a Nazi and betrays the Van Trapp family – ‘nough said.

 

There are far too many glorious films to write about, so I’ll stop here.

 

Until next time, then.

Meg 

 

 

 

 

 

))) Vinyl Records (((

Hello everyone!

You may have noticed that I’ve changed my blog name from “The Little Green Journal” to “Meg’s Musings“. Please note that my domain name / URL will remain as it was originally, so all you have to do is search for “The Little Green Journal” as usual.

Now back to today’s topic: vinyl records.

This will be the first article I’m writing for the “Old but Gold” section on my blog.

20161203_102818.jpg

 Vinyl Record (n.) : an analogue sound storage medium in the form of a flat polyvinyl chloride disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove.

That’s the technical definition of ‘vinyl record’. Although they were used merely as storage devices (just as USB drives and SD cards are used today) till around the late ’80s, vinyl records are making a huge comeback and it’s no surprise why.

Until a couple of years ago, the joy of leafing through dozens upon dozens of record sleeves in a tiny record shop in search of the latest album was long forgotten, and in the case of the post-’80s generations (including my own), it was something completely alien. In fact, it was regarded as an odd kind of gimmick, because all we had to do in order to hear the most recent song was do a quick search on the Web, and imagesif we wanted to buy it, we’d just have to head onto an online music store for an instant download. We’d look upon our parents’ (and grandparents’) record collection as something utterly archaic. If we were asked if we knew how many grooves were inscribed in a record, we’d reply with either “it depends on the album” or “I don’t know; a hundred?”, and look surprised when we were told that there was always just one single groove inside the record, unless you counted the B side, which would mean you have another groove there.djrooms_audrey-hepburn-200x200

Times have changed, however, and it is now the record-user generation looking down at us (or up at us, in the case where we’re much taller than they are 🙂 ) when we eagerly search the Web in the hope of finding a vinyl record shop close by. We are now heading out to scavenge record shops for second-hand records and reprints of old albums (others are enjoying the feel of purchasing new albums – as in those of singers nowadays – recorded on vinyl, but I’m sticking with the oldies). Now, when our parents and grandparents are nostalgically going through their record collections, we burst into the room with a broad smile, record player in hand.

So why did vinyl records come back into fashion? Honestly, I think it’s a question one can easily answer. The real question is “how are they coming back?”. Well, for starters, old bands are reforming and other 20th century musicians (Paul McCartney andtumblr_mxq4q13wpp1r9v931o1_500 Jimmy Page, for example) are still performing and recording.

Besides having all the glorious things an old record player had, record players you buy today can be compatible with Bluetooth and others are in the form of brief cases, making them portable.

So I think I’ll just stop here and put on a record to listen to.

 

 

Bonus: Here is a type of record player we will definitely never find for sale (although it would be really cool to own one):

 

Hope you enjoyed that little blast from the past!

Meg