books, what I brought home

Okay, is it weird that I can often do my best book shopping in Value Village, totally not a bookstore, totally ignorant about the classification of literature? If this keeps up, I’m going to end up wanting to go every week or so! While of course I want to support publisher, author, bookshop, industry, I can’t help but get a thrill when second-hand book shopping.

The hardest part about this kind of shopping is finding books you love but already have. Then I know it’s a compulsion, an addiction I’m fighting. I don’t need several copies of favourite books just because I might now have found the pristine hardcover, but I will buy a different edition if it’s special in some way.

Look at what I found today:

After buying the Bean Trees, I'd decided only this weekend I wanted to try this book again. And here it was today. Score!
I'm a sucker for children's books, especially classics. This edition's jacket is rather brittle and a bit torn but the copyright is 1962, after all, and the hardcover is in fine condition otherwise. Illustrated by Mary Shepard. I loved this story growing up!
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I've been attracted to this book for a while and then it was reviewed during KIRBC's Keep Toronto Reading Series and that doubled my desire. What luck!
Another I've eyed up for some time because I love a good medieval mystery. A lovely Penguin.
Winner of the 1999 Booker. I read Coetzee's Foe in university and I've been forever meaning to read this. South Africa has always intrigued me and Coetzee's writing is excellent.
I'm not lying when I tell you I've never read The Great Gatsby. It's my brother-in-law's favourite book and he's not a huge reader. That's saying something. Plus, I figure it's time.
Pulitzer Prize winner. I've saved my most exciting purchase for last. I'm in love with Annie Dillard. Her books are among my very favourite, especially this one and Holy the Firm (but not the Maytrees, really). And this edition is totally gorgeous. It was published in 1974, appears to be a 1st ed. It's a lovely large hardcover, with beautifully designed jacket, endpapers, and layout. It smells just as it should, and sends a thrill up my spine to hold it. I cannot wait to read this book again. It is perfect.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek endpapers; these photos don't do the book justice.

I can’t tell you what a great day it is when I buy second-hand books. O the stuff you can find, the places you’ll go!

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what I brought home

All this book talk got me in the mood to go shopping, particularly second-hand book shopping. I needed to drop off some stuff at Value Village today so I thought I’d just run in and take a peek to see what they had. Almost an hour later, still in Value Village, I was standing with a small pile of books in my hands. Surprise!

What I brought home: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, which I’ve been meaning to buy forever and the beginning of which I feel I’ve read a million times standing by the shelves in various bookstores; Testament by Nino Ricci, because I absolutely loved The Origin of SpeciesThe History of Love by Nicole Krauss, which I read when it first came out and which I really enjoyed and would like to read again; and lastly, a book of translated (from the Czech) folktales called The White Princess, by Mária Ďuríĉková. I have always adored folktales and have French, Russian, Tibetan, and more collections of them on my shelves. This is a clothbound book printed and bound in Czechoslovakia, in very good condition, almost fine even, and the illustrations by Miroslav Cipár are totally awesome. I think they might be watercolour.

The White Princess, clothbound 1988

What I left behind, only because I think I can find better editions: The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories by Henry James (I gave my copy to my mom. Has anyone seen The Innocents, the 1961 adaptation of The Turn of the Screw? It’s creepy and I love it!); The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, which was one of my favourite books when I was a kid and which I checked out of the library countless times; Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde by RLS (nope, I still haven’t read this!); and The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, which has been on my list since I long ago copyedited a book that made a study of it.

From The White Princess

Sometimes I don’t know which kind of bookshopping I prefer. I’ve always really enjoyed buying new books and I imagine Biblio will be a new-book store. I prefer things to be organized, and to not have to take ages to sift through piles of books. I guess it depends on my mood, really. When I lived in Hamilton, my ex and I would map out all the second-hand shops and take a day exploring. The haul we’d bring in those days! The treasures we found! It was so much fun to pour over some of them in the cafés we’d stop in for a break or at home before putting them on the shelves.

I’m happy with my finds today and am eager to get reading. Have any of you read these books? What did you think of them?

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books, what I brought home

I just got back from a few hours at Chapters. This trip has been long in coming, since December 28th, when I got my gift certificate from my boss. And yes, I spent a few hours! Colin was bored after less than one hour, and this is why I really should go alone. But he does enjoy buying books as well, and that is always something I feel I should encourage.

First, I forgot my list, which is always bad news because I’m so easily distracted. Of course, I could hardly remember what was on it, and to my disappointment (but not surprise), most of what I did remember wasn’t on the shelves. I find this often. Maybe I just don’t read or favour what the general public does?

Within less than twenty minutes, I had an armful of books I needed to sort through, and a heck of a time trying to decide what not to put in my arms as well. In the end, I made a rule that I buy only paperback, which I prefer anyway, so any new ones that aren’t out yet in paperback shall have to wait. The conundrum is that I fall behind on what’s current, but such is my life. (I tend to live under a rock when it comes to current events, too.)

In the end, having Colin do the math about six times for different piles of books, I decided it wasn’t a big deal if we went $60 over. I pulled out my Chapters card, a coupon for $5 off, and my $100 gift card to pay. And then the extra sixty.

Here is what I purchased, and I’m quite happy with what I chose:

1. The Bedside Book of Birds – Graeme Gibson, which is an absolutely stunning collection of artwork and literary pieces about or including birds. It’s a gorgeous book. Though its companion, The Beside Book of Beasts, is 30% off right now, I want to have both of them in softcover, so I decided to wait on it.

2. Happiness Will Ferguson. This is a hilarious novel (which is what you must expect from a Stephen Leacock Award winner) about a self-help book that actually works. What is special about my copy is that it is the Penguin Celebration version, the classic, beautiful simple orange and white edition (“orange for fantastic fiction”). I would love to blow up the cover and frame it. In fact, why not? I’m going to see if I somehow can. Penguin has always been one of my favourite publishers, alongside Random House, and while I carry the penguin on my key chain (a gift from a book rep), the logo certainly deserves a place on my walls as well. (Hmmm. Should Biblio have a special Penguin edition section? I think so!)

3. Nicolski – Nicholas Dickner. I’ve been eyeing up this book since it came out in 2005. Later it won the Governor General’s Award and soon it will be discussed on the upcoming Canada Reads program. I decided not to wait to hear it be defended and instead finally went with my gut.

4. Books Do Furnish a Room – Leslie Geddes-Brown. A Merrell coffee table book filled with beautiful pictures of rooms furnished with books. I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. Books make a room, and I still revel in the difference in atmosphere in our living room since I dismantled my little library to create a wall of books. As Cicero so aptly said, “A room without books is as a body without a soul.”

The books are wonderful and I’m excited about reading them. But I also came away with a special and lovely simple white tea mug, no handle (as I prefer), complete with strainer and lid, by Tea Forte, the most breathtaking tea vendor I’ve come across. I want to own everything they sell. (In fact, if Biblio can carry their line, I’d be very happy!)

I was just as excited about this cup as I was my books and couldn’t wait to brew tea so I could enjoy it in my new purchase. When we got home, though, and I opened the box, I discovered the mug was chipped. I’m still raging about it. I know I can return it but that’s beside the point! I’m so disappointed, and I’m also a bit of a child: when I want something, I want it now. I don’t want to wait to get a new one (but I’m going to)! It just took away some of the pleasure, if you know what I mean. I really hate getting home to discover something wrong with what I bought. My coffee table book has a banged up spine on the bottom but I’m all right with it, it’s minor, and my books aren’t perfect. But the mug, well, that does have to be perfect. It’s not as though Chapters is just down the street, either; it’s kind of a pain to drive there. But I will anyway, probably tomorrow. The anticipation of enjoying such a cup with my new books is too great not to go.

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