25 albums, 15 books & 10 food trucks for 2013

I have been known to add my two cents to the year-end list canon, and so it is well-documented that my best-of lists do not discriminate by the year something was released but rather by the year that I first experienced it.  To me it just seems more authentic, and more helpful.

And so what follows are three lists: (1) twenty-five albums and (2) fifteen books released (incidentally) in the past sixty years, as well as (3) ten Houston-based food trucks that I patronized this year.  I highly recommend you experience all fifty of these things for yourself.

albums | books | food trucks

25 albums for 2013, with audiovisuals



Reflektor by Arcade Fire (2013)


berlin trilogy

The Berlin Trilogy (Low [1977] / “Heroes” [1977] / Lodger [1979]) by David Bowie


onthebeach2 zuma

On the Beach (1974) / Zuma (1975) by Neil Young


trouble will find me

Trouble Will Find Me by The National (2013)



Unreal by Hebronix (2013)


flower lane

The Flower Lane by Ducktails (2013)


aw-come-aw-wry muchacho heres to taking it easy

Aw Come Aw Wry (2005) / Muchacho (2013) / Here’s to Taking it Easy (2010) by Phosphorescent



Howlin by Jagwar Ma (2013)



Strange Mercy by St. Vincent (2011)



Graceland  by Paul Simon (1986)



Real Estate by Real Estate (2009)


head on the door

The Head on the Door by The Cure (1985)


smile sessions

The SMiLE Sessions by The Beach Boys (2011)


its a corp world

It’s a Corporate World by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (2011)



B-Room by Dr. Dog (2013)



An Awesome Wave by Alt-J (2012)


light up gold

Light Up Gold by Parquet Courts (2013)


nostalgia ultra

Nostalgia, Ultra by Frank Ocean (2011)



II by Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2013)


major arcana

Major Arcana by Speedy Ortiz (2013)

(Honorable Mention)

Beatles/Paul McCartney/Wings DJ set 2013 by Chris Holmes

15 books for 2013


tenth of december

Tenth of December by George Saunders (2013)

NOTE: This could really be George Saunders et al.  I also read CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, In Persuasion Nation, and Pastoralia, all of which are worthy of your time.  But Tenth of December was the gateway book, and it’s the best of the four.



On Beauty by Zadie Smith (2005)


fortress of solitude

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (2003)



Stoner by John Williams (1965)


been down so long cover

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Fariña (1966)


waiting for godot

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (1953)


will you please

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver (1976)


jesus son

Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson (1992)


last policeman

The Last Policeman by Ben Winters (2012)


unchangeable spots

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma (2013)



Lexicon by Max Barry (2013)


judith hearne

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore (1955)



Ratner’s Star by Don DeLillo (1976)



House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)


geek love

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (1989)

10 food trucks for 2013


htown_american_type_tattoo  htown chicken

H-Town StrEATs



Flip ‘n Patties



Fraiche Mobile Kitchen



Speers Rolling Bistro


third coast

Third Coast Steak Sandwiches



Melange Creperie



Muiishi Makirritos



Churrasco Truck



Pho-jita Fusion



Rock ‘n’ Sandwiches

NOTE: I wanted to provide an all new list of food trucks for this year, largely because there are a ton of Houston trucks that deserve your patronage.  That said, all of the trucks on this list (or all of the ones that still exist, anyway) still make very good food, and you should still go to them as often as you can.



Using our LibraryThing Catalog

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve boarded our bookmobile and browsed our collection of literature, music, and film in person.  But did you know that you can also browse our shelves virtually?  Our entire catalog (including what you see on the truck, what’s in storage, and what’s checked out) is housed on LibraryThing, and each item is tagged with its appropriate format, subject, collection, availability, and provenance.

What follows is a brief tutorial on how to access and utilize our catalog through LibraryThing.

From the LibraryThing homepage, type theBPTL in the search field at the top right.


Select the Members field from the left sidebar, and choose The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library from the Member search results.


Click on the Collection called Your library.


This will take you to a list version of our catalog.  It should be noted that you can alternately get this far by typing www.librarything.com/catalog/theBPTL/yourlibrary  into your browser, or by clicking just about anywhere on our Catalog page.  If you’re interested in exploring specific titles, authors, and/or tags, the list view of our catalog is probably the way to go.  But if you’re looking to have a more aesthetic browsing experience, you may want to shift over from List view to Covers view.  Start by pressing the button that says Covers near the top of the page.


In this example, the items have been automatically sorted by title, without regard to format, author, subject, etc.  This, of course, is not how you will find the items sorted on the shelves of our bookmobile.  One reason we use tags on LibraryThing is to try to emulate the order in which you will find things on the truck.  Follow these next couple of steps and you’ll see about as close an approximation of a virtual representation of our shelves as it gets.

First, click the Edit sort order button near the top of the screen.  This is represented by two vertical arrows, one pointing down, and one pointing up.


In the Sort by field, select tags and Up.  In the Subsort by field, choose author and Up.  Up sorts in alphabetical order, and the sort and subsort fields create a sorting hierarchy, first sorting by tags, and then sorting by author within the tags.  Then hit the Sort button and let LibraryThing work its magic.


This is what the catalog should look like after performing this sort.

You may additionally want to explore a particular format (book, cd, dvd), collection (fiction, nonfiction, kids), and/or subject (poetry & plays, world literature, cultural studies).   This is where tags really start to come in handy.  To explore our tags, click on the Tags button near the top of the screen.


The default sorting order for tags is again alphabetical.  In the example below, the tags are ordered by their count, listing the most commonly used tags first, and across.

So say you were interested in seeing what essays and short stories we have in our collection.  Select the essays & short stories tag.


Here you will find a list of all of the books of essays and short stories we have in our collection.  If you followed the instructions on sorting order earlier, they should be organized by tags and subsorted by author.  At this point, you may want to switch back over to List view in order to view more information about each title.


Here (in this case, on the second page of the results) you can see that some of these items have tags supplemental to the uniform book and essays & short stories tags.  One tag you will commonly see is out, which is attached to all items that (you guessed it) are currently checked out.  If an item is checked out, it should be followed by another cryptic-seeming tag that starts with a z and is followed by three numbers.  This tag indicates (again, cryptically) to whom an item is checked out.  When an item is returned, the out tag disappears, but the z-tag remains.  This is an attempt to track any particular member’s checkout history, as well as an item’s provenance (here meaning to whom any particular item has ever been checked out).


All of these z-tags can be found through the Tags page as well.  If you’re interested in looking at your checkout history, including what you currently have out, click on the z-tag that is in accordance with your library card number (i.e. z104 is the tag for member no. 104).


If there is an out tag immediately preceding your z-tag, then it is something you currently have checked out.  If there is no out tag OR if another z-tag precedes your z-tag, then you have returned the item and it is just part of your checkout history.

If you are interested in learning more about a particular title, just click on the title in question.


This will take you into the title’s record and provide more information on the item as contributed by the greater LibraryThing community.


If you’d like to request any of the titles you see in our catalog, please feel free to send us an email at theBPTL@gmail.com.  If an item is tagged as out, it will be a bit more of a process, but if it isn’t, it shouldn’t be any issue at all.

Thanks for your time.  Hope you find this to be of use.

The BPTL at UP Art Studio’s Anniversary Show

up art

We’re happy to announce that we’ll be making our return to UP Art Studio next Saturday, November 16th from 1-10pm for their first anniversary show, Still UP Yours on Main Street 2.  You can tell from the flyer above that this event’s going to be jam-packed with entertainment: live mural paintings and installations, an indoor art gallery and outdoor art market, live music, free booze, a couple of food trucks, and generally good vibes.  We’re really excited to be back, and can’t wait to see what the artists have in store this time.   If it’s anything like last time, you won’t want to miss out.

(map) (event page)


Urban Harvest Eastside Market: the BPTL’s Sunday home


It’s been about five months now since we started parking at the Urban Harvest Eastside Market on Sundays.  While our attendance has been far from perfect, Urban Harvest has quickly become our favorite and most consistent stop.  Since we started up, it’s been important for us to be open on Sundays, since Houston has, for whatever reason(s), something of a deficiency of libraries that are open to the public on Sundays.  So it’s nice to have somewhere that we can reliably park, where the community knows they can find us (map).

It’s just icing on the cake that our fellow Sunday market vendors are so friendly, so talented at their respective crafts, and so darn generous.  Most of us have stuck it out through the new market’s growing pains, and while there is still room for growth, it has slowly but surely become a full-fledged go-to weekly market.  If you hop on our truck at the right time (say, noonish), you’ll catch us eating an inspired meal from Oddball Eats (who also catered our wedding), or Ripe Cuisine, or Blackbird Foods, or Canopy.  There’s a different live music act every week, all the fresh produce you could ask for, juice, popcorn, canned goods, the works.  There’s a Children’s Gardening Series every second Sunday, and we tend to have a craft on the truck to accompany it.  In sum, it is a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

As a way of giving back to the vendors and staff, we have begun offering them a $5 discount on membership (similar to our donation policy, minus the donations).  Effectively, this means that each vendor/staff member is entitled to borrow one item from our collection at a time completely free of charge.  If they’d like to borrow more than one item at a time, the cost of membership would be $5 annually for two items at a time, up to $15 annually for five items at a time.

The Urban Harvest Eastside Market runs every Sunday from 11am-3pm.  We hope to see you out there some time.