Sometimes You Still Need Books

I’m not sure that the transition of our mental capacity to mostly index-like functionality is really a bad thing. But for those of us who straddle the digital divide, those of us in our late twenties who spent our early life with books but got to the web young enough that it’s an integral part of life, it’s not always an experience that’s easy to embrace. So in my small efforts to resist — or at least balance out — the pressures of Internet-enabled thinking, let me briefly recommend a few of my favorite film and genre reference books.

Videohound’s Cult Flicks and Trash Pics — The definitive guide to cult, genre, and B-movies, and a lifestyle manual for aspiring Quentin Tarantinos, it’s increasingly valuable given the slow death of video rental stores and the subsequent loss of their knowledgeable clerks.

5001 Nights at the Movies by Pauline Kael — Love her or hate her, Kael is the essential film critic; her ability to combine insight, judgment and astute observation is, I think, unparalleled. I came to her work relatively late, but her work’s left a huge impression anyway.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and Peter Nicholls — You say you’re not a nerd? You don’t care one bit about the Hugos and the Nebulas, or who the Futurians were? Don’t know the difference between sci-fi and s.f. — and don’t care? This one probably isn’t for you. But if you’ve ever craved a comprehensive guide to the world of science fiction — both its creators and their creations, in every medium — this is a geeky must-have, packed with expert assessment, trivia, and cross-referenced entries. It’s not just great for looking up information; it’s great for reading, preferably out of order. Take an afternoon and follow the threads from entries on “David Cronenberg” to “Parasitism and Symbiosis” to “Hive Minds.” I promise: it’s even more fun than it sounds.