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And it was all going *so* well…..

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… my decluttering of the house, that is – as I’ve been carting off books to the charity shops every week and even selling a few online. However, I’m still not sure the ratio is right, and the four I took in to donate yesterday have alas been replaced by five…

The problem is that yesterday I decided to pop into *all* of the local charity shops, which I haven’t done for a while – and these the are the ones that came home:

finds 14 5 16 b

I have perfectly good reasons for all of them: “Kolymsky Heights” has been on the wishlist since it came out and couldn’t be turned down for 75p; the rather frail Wharton is a Virago I’ve never seen before so it was a no-brainer; the British Library edition of “The Hog’s Back Mystery” is in perfect condition for £1.75; the Stephen Spender I’d never heard of, but sounded fab; likewise the Mary McCarthy – I have several of hers and I really need to get reading her!

finds 14 5 16 a

So basically I spent £6.20 on five rather wonderful books. And apart from the issue of space, I really don’t think I can be blamed for that – do you???? 😉

(As an aside, there were a couple of tempting titles in the Oxfam – but their prices have gone rather silly again, so I figured I should quit while I was ahead and just settle for these five….)

… in which I am reminded why I love library sales!

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And also the local charity shops, of course. I *have* been diligently taking books to donate every week I can recently, as many as I can carry (and this week’s pile was particularly heavy). However, that hasn’t stopped the incoming volumes, and I suspect the ratio of out to in is only keeping the amount of books in the house static 😦

Nevertheless, this week’s finds were particularly lovely! The first came from the Samaritans Book Cave, where I mostly donate:

ship

 

I used to read a *lot* of sci-fi/fantasy in my youth, but have tended to drift away from it. But it’s been rather calling to me, and I never did read McCaffrey, so I thought I would give this a whirl. I think it’s one of her more famous titles, plus it has a lovely vintage cover! 🙂

Next up was a call into the Oxfam, who were having a buy one, get one half price promotion on all their fiction:

wildwood hatchett

Another Nigel Williams title – yay! And no, I don’t know why Wildwood was shelved with fiction either, but I came home with these two for less than £3 which has to be good. Roger Deakin seems to get plaudits everywhere so I’m looking forward to this.

And finally I had to return a library book, so it would have been rude not to check out their summer book sale, especially as this nice Hesperus volume screamed at me while I passed:

unmade

And it cost – 20p…..

I now have three lovely Francoise Sagan volumes, all different editions and all lovely in their own way@

sagans

I reviewed Bonjour Tristesse here a while back, and I recently read A Certain Smile, which I will eventually get round to reviewing. Sagan’s an intriguing writer, capturing very much her time and her age in the first two books I’ve read – I’ll be interested to see what her other works bring!

So some nice (and very reasonably priced!) finds! It’s a shame libraries can’t hold on to all their stock, but it does work to my advantage sometimes… 😉

 

The weeding continues…

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although the phrase “one step forward, two steps back” comes to mind, because although I donated another seven books today, I did come home with three new ones…

larkin proust dawson

However, I’m not going to beat myself up about this *too* much; because for a start the Jennifer Dawson is an upgrade of a Virago I already have. Mind is a bit more battered, so this one will be a shinier replacement. The Proust matches my set of “Remembrance….” very nicely and the Philip Larkin is essential as I think I own everything else of his that’s been published. Having said that, I’m not 100% sure I *want* to read the Larkin, as I’ve heard scurrilous things about it – we shall see….

…in which I am Slightly Flummoxed!

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But very much in a good way!

The reason being that I popped into a charity shop today (what’s new? I hear you cry?) Well, this was one of three which are at the far end of the Big Town and which I don’t usually go to. However, I *was* passing today and stuck my head round the door on the off-chance… And almost missed this:

foxed 1

This unassuming looking little volume is in fact a Slightly Foxed hardback – a thing of great loveliness and certainly not the kind of thing that you’d expect in a charity shop! It’s “The Past is Myself” by Christabel Bielenberg and it’s most definitely one of the SF editions I would choose to read – so it came home with me at the bargain price of £2.50!

foxed 2

I’ve resisted the Slightly Foxed books simply because they’re so lovely and I would want to collect the whole lot if I bought one. Oh dear – what have I done…. :s

Getting back to normal (or at least trying to…)

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Because it hasn’t been very normal on the Ramblings lately, I’m afraid. While my scheduled posts were popping up during the week, I’ve been running around like a mad thing dealing with a few emergencies re the Aged Parents, involving emergency ops, finding a safe place for one AP, and kennelling their dog. It’s a good thing I wasn’t at work, really, but it wasn’t the Easter break I’d been anticipating… Fortunately things have settled a bit, and I can get a little reading in before the hols are over.

I *had* planned a little post over the Easter weekend which was to be titled “I love it when a book calls my name!” – because that’s what it felt like recently when I had quite a nice book haul. I had a few little arrivals from various sources and they went something like this:

roadside

“Roadside Picnic” by the brother Strugatsky came through the post – I’ve loved both the books of theirs that I’ve read so I figured it was about time I read their most famous work (and I did love Tarkovsky’s film “Stalker” that was based on this book).

aldanov

Two lovely old books by Mark Aldanov, also through the post – inspired by the interesting post here, on the Russian Dinosaur blog – I love discovering new (old) Russian authors. And aren’t the covers lovely??

gallant

I wish I could remember where I heard about Mavis Gallant and this book of hers – but I can’t. However, it sounded lovely and I ordered a cheap copy online – the first version that arrived had the right dustjacket with completely the wrong book inside it… Fortunately, a replacement was forthcoming….

The rest of the books to follow were charity shop finds, and very nice ones too!

maigret

First up, a couple of Simenon titles in a nice old Book Club edition: “Maigret and the Millionaires” and “Maigret and the Gangsters” – which were perfect reading for recent stressful times.

horror

This one I’m not too sure about, however. It sounded good from the blurb, so I risked 75p, but when I looked it up online, I read quite a few negatives about the quality of the writing and the lack of original content. I’m not sure if I should spend any time on it – has anyone read it, and have they any opinions??

Down in the Samaritans Book Cave, I spotted this:

ratushinskaya

I have Ratushinskaya’s memoir, but I didn’t know she’d done a novel too – and it should hopefully be right up my street! I scanned the rest of the shelves and didn’t spot anything, so was just about to go and pay a paltry 50p for the above, when I swear a book was calling to me…

fitzgerald

Even though I’d checked out the fiction section, my eyes must have slid over this one without seeing it, because I’ve been looking for it for ages! And it must have known and called out to me, because something made me go back and check to see if it was there and it was! So a lovely few new books  have arrived, and I feel no guilt because there are four large boxes of books in the garage on their way out and more to follow. Now I just need to get my brain back into gear to do a little more reading…. 🙂

More Little Black Lovelies – and cautious optimism…

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I suppose it was a given that I would feel inclined to add a few more Little Black Classics to my stacks, bearing in mind how well I’ve got on with the Russians so far (review to follow!)  Fortunately, Waterstones still had their lovely display (though they had moved it) and I decided to come home with these beauties:

lbcs

Sappho, Katherine Mansfield, Kate Chopin, Marx and Engels plus H.G. Wells – what fun! It’s yonks since I read The Communist Manifesto so I rather fancy a revisit, and the rest are all authors I’m fond of, and here they are in bite-size chunks. I think these LBCs are definitely the most successful of the Penguin special editions I’ve experienced!

I thought these would be enough for one day, but the charity shops had other ideas…. I blame Simon at Stuck-in-a-Book for this first one, actually, as he was singing its praises on Vulpes Libris this week and so I couldn’t ignore it in the Oxfam:

guest cat

This next lovely book was from the Samaritans Book Cave – a beautiful Everyman hardback collection of four of Irene Nemirovsky’s novellas – “David Golder”; “The Ball”; “Snow in Autumn” and “The Courilof Affair”. I need to read more of this writer (I’ve only read “David Golder” so far) so this is an ideal way to do it – and a rather luxurious hardback for only £2.50 is not to be sneezed at.

nemir

My final find was an original green Virago in wonderful condition from the Crack On charity shop:

holtby

I own several Holtbys, but not this one – so it was worth 75p of anyone’s money!

As for the cautious optimism – well, I’ve read all 6 of the Russian Little Black Classics I picked up last week, and they’re all wonderful, particularly the Dostoevsky, which was stunning. I felt so uplifted after successfully reading them that I plunged into “The Leopard” and am a chapter in with no sign of stopping. So maybe the reading crisis is over – fingers crossed….. 🙂

The Joy of Library Sales! (and of course charity shops…)

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It’s been an odd sort of week at the Ramblings – mostly because I chose to spend the bulk of the half-term break being ill with some kind of flu-like virus. I was not amused, but at least I seem to be coming out of it – just in time to return to work!

I also got a *lot* of reading done before the illness really kicked in (reviews to folllow) and then hit a slump, which I am only just coming out of – I didn’t much like it when I was in it, though. And it was also a week in which no new books arrived – until today, that is…

I felt well enough to pop into town and return a library book; only to find that the library were having a little book sale. This is often an excuse for wild abandon and mass book buying, but I *was* restrained, picking up just two:

beauvoir zweig

I was most chuffed with the Stefan Zweig – I already have Buchmendel, but not the other story, and having been bowled over by “The Grand Budapest Hotel” recently, I feel ready to read more Zweig. I already own the Beauvoir, but this copy comes with extra material at the end. And it was 50p for two books, so there you go!

As for the charity shops, I wasn’t intending to visit them today, but I slipped into the British Heart Foundation as last week they’d been moving their bookshelves around and so I couldn’t browse. The newly tidied shelves had one volume that caught my eye:

mystery in white

This particular volume of the British Library Crime Classics has been highly rated by many bloggers I respect, so I was happy to part with my £2 for a copy in brilliant condition!

And last, but definitely not least, I thought I’d show my face in the Samaritans Book Cave – a place where I could happy pick up umpteen books – and came away with two wonderful Virago titles:

miniver robertson

I was particularly pleased with these because they’re original green covers and they’re in fabulous condition – the Samaritans peeps opined that they looked unread, and I’d agree; they’re just a little tanned on the pages with age, but the covers are lovely. The peeps were saying they hadn’t had many Viragos in lately (they know of my love of them!) and so it was an extra delight to find these. I’ve actually read “Mrs Miniver” in a modern cover version, so it was nice to get a green. And I own a different E. Arnot Robertson (an author who strongly divides Virago readers!) so was a great find.

So the week ends well, with some lovely new acquisitions to make up for a dullish, illish few days – off to do some reading! 🙂

“I have seen the charity shops of Leicester….”

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… and survived to tell the tale!! Well – my feet might be complaining a little… 🙂

Yes, I have been a little quiet here over the last few days as I started off half-term with a flying visit to Northants to visit the Ageing Parents and then on to Leicester to stay with Youngest Child. All three offspring are now based in the city so at least I only have to travel to one place to see them all!

I had something of a book crisis before setting off, starting several books and then abandoning them, before settling on taking “The North” by Paul Morley with me. I’ve had this for ages and I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet, so it seemed ideal train reading.

One of the nicest things about travelling by train is the time for reading, and there was an added bonus on this journey as I was going via London St. Pancras station which has a lovely and recently opened branch of Hatchards. It looked so appealing as I passed by that I felt I must pop in. Although it’s small it’s very perfectly formed with lots of judiciously chosen books on little tables just right for enticing the unwary traveller to part with money – which I did, I confess!

These are the two books in question – the Lem in particular I have heard much about and been keen on tracking down for ages, but haven’t ever come across. I’ve decided I need to actually read a few pages of a book before jumping in and deciding I want to read it – this may help me become more selective! The quick look at the pages of “The Cyberiad” convinced me I should try it, and my eye was also caught by “Flatland” that was sitting next to me. The helpful bookseller assured me her colleague thought it was wonderful and was completely obsessed by it, so I figured I would give it a try!

As for the charity shops of Leicester – well, I’ve banged on about them before, and there are quite a few of them! My favourite is the Loros Charity Bookshop, and over the road from it an Age Concern Bookshop. I found a few treasures at each:

These three were from the Loros: the Fred Vargas because I liked the first of her stories; the Sagan because it’s a lovely old Penguin I don’t have, and the Berlin Alexanderplatz because it will be ideal for German Literature Month! I *could* have picked up many more titles, but I was good!

This lovely came from the Age Concern shop, and I was *so* please to come across it (especially for only £2.50!) I’ve been looking at so many Trollopes in charity shops (that really sounds *wrong*!) and they’re most often old and tatty and nasty. This wasn’t and it’s one I want, so yay! If I’m honest, the rest of the charity shops really didn’t have much to interest me, but that’s probably something of a relief to the bookshelves (though not to my feet, because they’re fairly spread out and take a lot of walking around Leicester to get to…)

Youngest Child and I did pop into the Leicester Waterstones too – and their selection of books didn’t seem quite so adventurous as my local branch, despite it being larger, which was a surprise. However, while we were queueing for YC to buy a book, I noticed that they had both types of Books Are My Bag totes hanging on the counter, so I suggested YC ask for one of the Tracey Emin ones. Bizarrely, the lady behind the counter began to look for a price, and so we had to explain to her what they were… She commented that she had been away, but this set me thinking about how BAMB really needs to work together with the bookshops they’re supporting to try to get the promotion to be much more high-profile. Not only do they not publicise the event enough, the bookshops don’t seem to be wanting to push it. Most odd…

However, very sweetly YC gifted me the Emin bag as I didn’t have it – bless her! I had a lovely time visiting the offspring and APs, found some nice bookish treasures and got plenty of reading done on the train – so a nice start to half term! 🙂

*********

I haven’t forgotten about the giveaway for “On Roads” – in fact, I might well have picked up an extra copy in Leicester so I can give away more than one! – and I’ll be announcing the winners tomorrow – watch this space!

…. in which I, rather surprisingly, develop self-control!

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Fortunately for my bank balance and the rapidly diminishing space in my house, I was incredibly restrained this weekend! I didn’t actually buy myself anything from the local Big Town (although I was tempted at times) – I *did* bring home one small volume, but it has a story attached:

mountain

Yes, it is indeed a Beverley – one of his children’s books. I was having a coffee in Cafe Nero, feeling very smug about my lack of purchases, when I thought I’d have a look at their Bookcrossing books – they’re our local host for this. Although I joined Bookcrossing years ago, I confess I’ve never done anything about it, although I am aware of the Nero books. Usually there isn’t anything to interest me (the row of Eastenders spin-offs have been sitting there for many moons) – but this is a Beverley! So I brought it home and I *will* go on Bookcrossing and do whatever you do with it.

However, here’s the problem – well, two actually! Firstly, this is the third book in a series. Secondly, it’s abridged.

So now I have to persuade myself that no, I *don’t* need to go online and seek out a complete unabridged set. No, I really *don’t*……. Sigh……. 😦

The Further Exploits of the Queen of the Oxfam Shops

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No, that isn’t the title of a recent read – and lest anyone thinks I’ve gone rather arrogant, I should point out that I didn’t take that moniker upon myself! One of my lovely friends on the LibraryThing Virago group (you know who you are!) jokingly dubbed me that recently when we were having a conversation about Penelope Lively. I’ve only ever read Lively’s children’s novels and so another Viragoite urged me to get some of her work. I knew I’d seen some in local charity shops – hence my new title! And when have I ever turned down the challenge to track down a book? However, I tracked down more than I had anticipated… This is the pile I came home with and this is the story!

Off I trotted into the Big Town, and it turned out there *were* quite a few Penelope Lively books in the charity shops. I decided to be restrained and selective and picked out two I thought appealed, having a good read of the back blurbs, and they were only £1 each:

I remember reading about “The Photograph” when it came out and liking the sound of it. As for “City of the Mind” I have a thing about architecture and as this one is based around a London architect it was an obvious choice.

So I did think I was doing quite well with the restraint thing, until I hit the Oxfam… They had no Lively fiction but did have one of her books of autobiography:

Then I had a look at the general fiction and lo and behold! A Tove Jansson!!

Simon T at Stuck in a Book has always sung her praises and was encouraging me only recently to read some of her work – so grabbing this was a no brainer!

I should have left the Oxfam then, but I had one of those feelings you get when you’re on a book search…. I’d been looking at my Amazon wish list and one of the books on it was The Portable Hannah Arendt. The book is one I’ve wanted to pick up for a while, and although it’s not over expensive online, when you add on postage the price shoots up. Arendt is an intriguing woman, and she floated back into my thoughts because my friend H, who I saw last week, is very keen on her work – which reminded me I wanted this book. And oddly in the Oxfam I felt the pull of the philosophy section (not where I usually go) and there, sitting on the shelf waiting for me, was this:

Serendipity or what? You tell me – but it cost slightly less than the online copies and there’s no postage on top *and* it’s in excellent condition (important, because I’m so fed up with buying misdescribed books!) Phew!

So I came out of the Oxfam with a lighter purse (not by too much, though) and a much heavier bag. What happened next in The Works I refuse to take any blame for…. I had to go in there anyway for some stationery. And they have boxes and boxes and boxes of books for £1 at the moment (some even less). So it would have been foolish not to browse, no? These are what I found:

Uncle Silas was £1 and sounds creepy classic fun. The Spark was also £1 and is a Virago I don’t have. The Emma Tennant was 59p (59p!!!) – for a Canongate Classic!! I read Tennant in the 1970s/1980s but can recall absolutely nothing about her work, so this is a good chance to rediscover her.

I blame my friends on the Virago group – totally – my book habit may be a little out of control but they can’t say they haven’t encouraged me!! 🙂

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