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… in which I (mostly) resist the bookshops of Leicester! :D

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Those of you who follow me on social media might have picked up that I’ve been off on my annual tour (ahem!) round the East Midlands, visiting the Aged Parent and the Offspring in their various locations. I *do* look forward to this modest journey because:

a. it’s nice to get away

b. I like to travel on trains…

c. you can read a lot on trains!

(It *is* nice to see family, too!) So I left Mr. Kaggsy holding the fort, and scheduled a lot of posts and set off. I had a bit of a quandary about what chunkster to take along to read en route, and in fact I ended up taking this:

Victor Serge is an author I’ve covered many times on the Ramblings; I love his writing, and his life is as fascinating as his books. His Notebooks have been released by New York Review Books, and the book was the perfect companion to my travels. As you can see, there is a positive *forest* of post-its – sign of a book which is going to make you think and stay with you, which this one definitely is. I am still reading and will share some thoughts eventually…

So, normally on my visits I end up buying *lots* of new books, but I was amazed to return from my travels with only *two* new volumes!! These are they:

Chagall and Berger

The  Chagall caught my eye as I whizzed into Hatchards at St. Pancras whilst on my way to a rail connection; it was about his life in exile and I kind of felt it chimed in with the Serge. Plus it’s a pretty new Penguin Modern Classic – I do like their current colour scheme! The only other book I picked up was from the one second hand shop in the centre of Leicester (nothing from the charity shops!!) It’s an old Pelican edition of some selected essays and articles by John Berger which I’d never come across before, and it was Not Cheap. However, a glance at the contents was enough to persuade me:

Berger contents

I don’t know if you can make it out from my rubbish photo, but there is an essay about Victor Serge! Berger on Serge – oh my! Not to be resisted! I still can’t believe that I only came home with these two new books; as Youngest Child reminded us, Middle Child had to lend me a suitcase on one visit as I had so many finds to transport home. Maybe I’m just becoming more selective…

Whilst in Leicester, we paid a little visit to the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery. I always like to pop in when I’m in the city, as it has a nice collection of German Expressionists as well as some dinosaurs and Egyptians. The current exhibition turned out to be an unexpected pleasure, as when we arrived we discovered there was a show dedicated to the artists who were behind the wonderful images in Ladybird Books!

The exhibition was a real treat. There were sections dedicated to the main artists involved, with original artwork, Ladybird books and covers, as well as examples of other uses of each artist’s artwork. I grew up reading these books, as did the Offspring (we may still have some in the house…); so it was absolutely fascinating to see the stories of the art behind them. I’m particularly fond of the 1950s and 1960s artwork (I love that mid-century modern feel); and it was wonderful to see some large and lovely artworks from that era.

I took a few snaps of images that particularly caught my eye:

Harlech Castle – we used to holiday in North Wales and have visited the castle!

John Bull magazine from 1951 featuring the Festival of Britain – with which I have a bit of an obsession…

An extra fun element was the fact that as well as a wall display made up of a positive mosaic of Ladybird books, there was a pile in the middle of the exhibition that you could pick up and browse through. In fact, the exhibition was very child-friendly, with places where you could draw as well as reading nooks designed for children (and into which 24-year-old Youngest Child had to crawl… you can’t take them anywhere…)

A beautiful old typewriter on display – I learned to touch-type on one of these!! 😮

It was a really fascinating exhibition, and in fact the whole gallery/museum was a lovely place to wander through. On my way out, I spotted another resonance with my current reading:

John Berger quote

The gallery has a quote from John Berger on one of the walls – so they get a thumbs up from me!

As well as visiting the New Walk Museum, we also popped to the National Space Centre (there’s a family connection – don’t ask….) I’d never actually been inside before, but Eldest Child had visited with my late dad back in the day. It was actually a really interesting place to go, as I do like hearing about space travel, and there was an interesting show in the Planetarium. I also got very silly-excited about seeing this:

Need I say more? No.

Apart from all this gadding about, there was of course the chance to explore new to me purveyors of vegan food, and a favourite was the Prana cafe where we had yummy vegan scones:

Middle Child also played host and made me a lovely vegan Sunday breakfast, so I was very spoiled!

And fortunately, because of my good behaviour, I didn’t have a ton of extra luggage to haul back with me on the train, so I was able to relax on the return journey and enjoy the Serge Notebooks – perfect! 😀

*****

I did, however, return home to some lovely bookish post:

The Hugo Charteris is from Mike Walmer, and I’m looking forward to catching up with Charteris, as I did enjoy the first of his I read. The Hess book is part of a new imprint from HarperCollins called HarperVia, and is set in Germany in the early 1960s. It sounds absolutely fascinating, and will be ideal for Women in Translation month if I get to it in time… But first I need to finish Victor’s Notebooks! 😀

Sneaking in the odd tome…

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It’s been a little while since I posted about new arrivals, mainly because I’ve been trying to de-book the house a bit – and I *have* been very good about taking as many as I can carry to the charity shop each week. However, a flying visit to Leicester over half term inevitably meant trips to the charity shops there – in particular the Loros and Age Concern bookshops – although I’m pleased to report I was surprisingly restrained!

ch shop leics

These were my finds – the lovely early green Virago of Surfacing came from the Age Concern and replaced my modern copy (which I’ve donated to Middle Child!); and the Galsworthy short story collection was from the Loros. Yes, I know I fell off the wagon with the Forsyte challenge, but I *do* want to return to the books when the time is right.

The other two discoveries came from a new source to me – Clarendon Books, just round the corner from the charity shops. Despite numerous visits to Leicester, I’ve somehow never made to this one, which is surprising as it’s kind of perfect. A tiny little shop crammed to the gills with the sort of books I love, I was lucky to get out with just two – a lovely paperback of an obscure Colette I haven’t read, and a book I once owned, The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. So some lovely Leicester finds!

We also popped into the Waterstones – a nicely stocked one, but I have to say that I think my local Ipswich branch has the edge. The latter stock a wider range of publishers and I think use their shop and window space more creatively. However, as the only bookselling chain which seems to have a national high street presence, I certainly think they need support and so I purchased this:

zeno

The fact that I already own a battered old Penguin of this is irrelevant… Because if I’m honest I’m actually finding it harder to read smaller, older books with small type, a fact that’s become clear with my recent reading of a particular Hermann Hesse book. This looks to have bigger, cleaner, better set out pages and I think I’ll be more inclined to pick it up sooner because of the relative physical ease of reading it’ll bring. Hope so, anyway!

And there have been some other arrivals – some purchases and some review books – here are a few:

rev and recent

An intriguing little pile, no? So, what to read next!

Leicester Comes Up Trumps Again!

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Last weekend was a bit of a busy one, as we had to take Youngest Child back to Leicester for her final year at the university there. It’s always a bit of a dash, taking up most of Saturday (and weekends are precious when I’m back at work); but we knew we would see Eldest and Middle Child too, so that would be nice! I didn’t expect to be doing any bookshop haunting as time was so tight, and it was frustrating to know that the lovely Lorus Charity shop is not far away…

However, en route I got a call from Middle Child who was in the very same shop, and who proceeded to fire off a load of Virago titles at me to see if they were ones I wanted – and three of them were!

lorus

Left to right, we have a Mary Hocking (Indifferent Heroes), a Victoria Glendinning non-fiction Virago (A Suppressed Cry) and very excitingly, Infinite Riches, a collection of short stories. The latter is very existing and timely, as I was only reading about it on Buried In Print’s lovely blog the other day, and this particular copy is in amazingly good condition.  So huge thanks go to Middle Child, Ace Virago-Finder!

It was lovely to see all three offspring together, and we made such good time on the journey home that I had time to pop into town for some errands. And as I was dropped at the far end of town where I don’t normally venture, I decided to visit the Mind charity shop which I don’t often frequent (although they do have good books – I picked up a Slightly Foxed hardback last time!) Surprisingly enough, there were treats to be found here too:

mind

Yes, I *know* there are already two copies of “The Return of the Soldier” in the house; but this is a beautiful, first generation Virago in again amazingly good condition, and well worth 90p of anyone’s money. The Solzhenitsyn sounds fascinating – ’nuff said.

I guess going to the Oxfam was reckless – and when I got inside to find that they were having a 49p sale and that the sale table was plastered with old orange Penguins, green crime Penguins and blue Pelicans (amongst others), I did rather have the vapours. But I exercised strict restraint and only came home with these:

oxfam 49p

Well, you hardly ever see Aldiss in second hand shops. And I know something about Constant Lambert but I can’t remember what it is – no doubt all will become clear eventually.

So today’s Viragos are rather wonderful:

3 viragos

And the last couple of weeks has brought me 7 lovely Viragos in total:

7 viragos

The question is – what to read next???

“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!

A book-buying Jaunt to Leicester!

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It has been a little manic here lately at the Ramblings – in fact, it’s been a bit of year with family ill-health and changes in personal life, culminating in the tension waiting for Youngest Child’s A level results to see if she has got a university place. So it was rather lovely to take a few days out recently to visit Middle Child in Leicester – which obviously involved a little book hunting also, as the city does seem to be spoiled with charity shops! We also got the opportunity to visit the Aged Parents, who live half an hour from Leicester by train, so that was rather nice too. I took Eldest Child and Youngest Child with me so it was quite a reunion!

Another fun extra from this trip was visiting the local art gallery in New Walk and seeing some amazing Lyonel Feininger paintings. And the Richard III dig was close by so we had a quick look at this and the exhibition about the excavations – fascinating!

Oddly enough, I noticed this visit how lacking Leicester is in traditional bookshops – or indeed dedicated second-hand bookstores. This seems a little strange, as it’s a university city, yet it has one Waterstones (not that big a branch although the staff were very helpful and knowledgeable). Apart from that, I found one actual second-hand book shop in The Lanes, and that was it apart from the charity shops. Middle Child reckons that people mainly order online because students can’t afford new stuff – a sad tendency but one I can identify with :s

While in Leicester I did have a little bit of a reading crisis, as I had foolishly only taken one book with me to read – Olivia Manning’s “The Spoilt City”, which I finished quite early in the visit (review to follow). I had reckoned on finding a new book or two in Leicester – which I did, but for reasons below, I couldn’t read any of them! This caused much angst as there was nothing on Middle Child’s shelves I hadn’t already read, so I ended up with Christie’s “The ABC Murders” (which I love very much, but didn’t take me long to get through) and then survived on an anniversary edition of New Statesman and Sherlock Holmes stories on MC’s K****e! I was *very* glad to get back to my books!

On to newbies! I was hoping for Viragos as I usually find them in the Loros Charity Bookshop but in fact MC found the first for me in the Age Concern shop for £1.25:

nymphMargaret Kennedy has passed across my radar quite a bit lately so I was delighted to find a copy of her most famous book. It’s been previously well-loved, obviously, but is all intact so I’m happy to give it a new home!

whiteObviously I am a bit of a Virago collector, and for a long time I’ve been trying to get the three Antonia White books that follow on from Frost in May, the first ever Virago. These were the last two I needed and so coming across them in the Age Concern bookshop for £1.75 each in great nick was a delight! I’ve had to update my wish list on LibraryThing following this trip to Leicester…

westThese were my last finds – “The Edwardians” and “Cousin Rosamund” in wonderful condition, for £2 each in the actual secondhand bookshop (which worryingly had a lot less stock than my last visit) I enjoyed my recent read of West a lot so this was a great find!

The observant among you might wonder why I couldn’t read one of these when I was having my book crisis – well the Whites and West are later books in a series, and I just didn’t fancy starting one of the others because in truth I was in the mood to read some Graham Greene for SavidgeReads‘ Greene for Gran event. I have now started “No Man’s Land”, a lovely little Hesperus Greene which I am enjoying immensely.

As a postscript, on my return a package was awaiting me with a new (old) book via the wonderful ReadItSwapIt – another one from my wish list:

strickenSo August has proved to be a good month for Virago hunting!

(and as another postscript, Youngest Child passed with flying colours and has got the university place she wanted – yay!)

Leicester Lovies – and a few other recent finds…..

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was able to pop into one of my favourite Leicester haunts on Saturday, the Lorus Charity bookshop. I needed something to read on the return journey anyway, so I had the perfect excuse and I did find a few treasures:

 

First up was this little volume – I already have a more recent Penguin version but it was old and orange and only £1 so I decided it should come home with me.

 

These two greenies came from a different second hand shop in Leicester and as Bawden has been much discussed on LibraryThing recently I snapped them up.

Yes, I know I already have this book too – but this was in lovely condition and so I decided to upgrade my copy, and force my spare on somebody else. I haven’t decided who yet, but I may just offer it on LT if I can’t think of anyone else who would like it.

 

Isn’t this pretty? I know nothing about D.E. Stevenson except that she has two Persephones, but I just loved the cover of this and thought that for 99p it deserved a good home.

 

Finally from Leicester, this represents something I found for my Secret Santa Receipient on LT – but I’m not going to give out any clues because it’s a surprise!

I’ve also had a few new treasures through the post:

 

Some Green Penguin Crime to brighten my day – particularly excited about the Elizabeth Daly as I enjoyed her last one so much.

 

To keep them company, some interesting-looking Orange Penguins!

 

This one looks rather fab, I think. I discovered recently that I had been foolish enough to part with my childhood copies of Little Women and Good Wives. They were only battered old hardbacks with no dustjackets, but I feel a bit sad that the part of me that says I mustn’t hoard too many books won out and I let them go – not even sure when, as many books have come and gone from my collection over the years. So I did a little looking into LMA and came across this – a nice Virago copy of Rose in Bloom is hopefully winging its way to me as I write.

 

Finally, some Bright Young People! Not all of these are recent – I have had Henry Green on the tbr for a little while – but following on from  The Bolter, and reading about Beverley Nichols on the reading1900-1950 site, I did a little researching about the group. The book to read seemed to the volume by D.J. Taylor and I did find a lovely 2nd hand copy! So I have put some of my BYP tomes together and am currently actually reading the Taylor book – first non-fiction for a while!

So the Leicester trip brought forth some lovelies which should keep me reading for a while!

 

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