14 April 2014

Bits and Bobs

  
Last week Teresa from Shelf Love tweeted about the big Stone Ridge Book Sale just outside of DC, linking to a story about how this year was to be the last for the annual spring event. Filling three gymnasia over four days, one is hard pressed to resist. Last year I went for the first time with Teresa and Frances (Nonsuch Book) and we had a great time gossiping and browsing and of course buying. This year I am trying not to acquire books since we are in temporary quarters and spending all our spare cash on the house project. But my need to have something to do outweighed those concerns so I grabbed a couple of bags and headed out to the sale.

After packing up my library in January my book buying interests have shifted. I used to cast a pretty wide net at these sales, snapping up hard to find titles or editions just because they were hard to find. It didn't always matter whether or not I had any notion of reading them. But after weeding 20+ bags of books this winter I have a much more narrow focus when it comes to acquiring more.

Even though I did indeed limit myself to things I think I might actually want to read, and even that is within the more limited universe of harder to find titles, I still managed to fill a bag.


I can reasonably say that I am interested and reading all of these. And with an exception or two I tried not to buy anything that I could get easily at the library.

From top left

I enjoyed one Tove Jansson book and abandoned another. At a hundred pages in a pretty NYRB Classics edition, I thought I should give her one more chance with Fair Play.

Recently Simon Thomas got me hooked on an online geography quiz where you have to try and name (type) 196 countries in less than twelve minutes. After two days of practice I was able to name all of them with eight seconds to spare. One that is too small to appear on the map and therefore easily overlooked was Andorra. I've already started reading Andorra by Peter Cameron and will have a few words to say about it in the near future.

I've started watching The Forsyte Saga when I do my ironing and Simon Savidge and I recently talked about it on The Readers as one of those classics we hadn't read but wanted to.

Always interested in finding Virago editions but trying not to buy stuff I won't read, I was on the fence about None Turn Back by Storm Jameson. In the end I decided in favor of it because I wanted to read more about the 1926 general strike.

I read A Girl from Yamhill a memoir by children's author Beverly Cleary years ago and loved it.

I tend to like Doris Lessing when it isn't The Golden Notebook. Plus I always like when a serious author's work has been packaged to look like trash.

For better or worse I am a Tom Wolfe fan. I almost didn't buy this because I could get it at the library and the dust jacket has sun damage, but eh, what can you do.

My recent interest in old fashioned spy novels prompted me to pick up CIA Spy Master by Clarence Ashley.

For my collection of UK related non-fiction I bought London Nights by Stephen Graham a collection of studies and sketches of London at night. The illustrations aren't very good and it seems like it might be a little too chummy, but I like the fact that it is a contemporary look life in London from 1926.

I like Mary McCarthy's work so Birds of America (a young man goes to Paris) was a natural. Plus it is a nice hardback with dust jacket in mint condition.

Tea, 1917, short. Should have been a fun, quick read. Well it was quick, but A Cup of Tea by Amy Ephron was pretty predictable and one-dimensional.

I am drawn to non-Maigret Simenon. Plus I love that the title character in The Widow is named Tati.

I've only ever read one Alexander McCall Smith books and thought The Unbearable Lightness of Scones might be something good to read during a slump. Plus I like the title because it pokes fun of Kundera's uber serious novel and it reminds me of my blog post Zadok the Scone.

Part of me thinks I have already read When the World Was Steady...damn, I just checked my list, I have indeed read this. The cover art messed me up. I should have known better.

Love me some Elizabeth von Arnim and I just saw The Caravaners reviewed by The Indextrious Reader.





12 comments:

  1. Fingers crossed you'll like this Jansson! I love it, predictably. And I also love The Caravanners - wonderfully dry and ironic, and prescient in its way.

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    1. I liked the Jansson but still not as much as Travelling Light. The Caravanners is on hold at the moment through no fault of its own.

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  2. The Forsyte Saga is one of those books that stands out for the reading experience as much as the story. I remember being glued to it for days during a particularly bad January snowstorm. Somehow I managed to finish in less than a week... very unusual for me and a chunkster. If you're enjoying the series, you'll love the book!

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    1. Good to know that TFS is good for the experience. Sometimes I see the film of something and lose all interest in the book.

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  3. I, too, enjoyed A Girl From Yamhill - I have the next one on the TBR. I should've read it this past weekend for D.E.A.R. Day, but had other things on the go already. You mentioned your spy reading...have you ever tried any of the Raymond Chandler books? I have not myself, but dh likes them and they might fit your "older" requirement. That said, I think they are more detective than spy... That's an impressive haul!

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    1. I need to go look up what D.E.A.R. Day is. I've read one Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep. Was not a fan. Isn't that the one where they are always two sheets to the wind because of all the cocktails?

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  4. So many great finds! Hope you'll like the Caravaners more than I did this time around. Maybe I'll reread it someday and enjoy it just a bit more.... I covet some of your new books though :)

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    1. I haven't gotten too far into the Caravaners but am enjoying so far.

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  5. I have that edition of The Caravaners, but haven't read it yet. I have two NYRBs by Tove Jansson but haven't read either one yet.

    And that is a dangerous geography quiz, I can see that sucking up an entire weekend. (Just tried it and gave up with four minutes left, I had 142 countries. I used to be really good at geography quizzes though I usually fail miserably at the Pacific Island nations and the Caribbean islands). I'm also fond of the Geography Zone quiz, which actually requires you to identify countries on the map. Sporcle also has great geography quizzes.

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    1. I haven't been to that quiz lately. Must go back again, I don't want to lose what I have picked up.

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  6. Also, I loved The Forsyte Saga, though I couldn't get into the series. I should try again sometime as I've had a tremendous crush on Rupert Graves since he was Freddy Honeychurch in A Room with a View.

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    1. Trust me, watch TFS while ironing or something equally tedious, you will be grateful for it. I had a crush on RG back in the day as well, but then I saw him in some Noel Coward thing on stage in London and he was not very good. Plus, from my cheap seats I couldn't see him very well.

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