Fun and books in London!


When Liz (who I also know through LibraryThing) pointed out that although we’d known each other for ages we hadn’t actually met and wasn’t it about time that we did – well, what better excuse did we need to arrange a lovely meet-up in London? Fortunately, some other friends from the LibraryThing Virago group were able to come along too, so in the end there was Liz, Ali, Claire, Luci and I (plus a flying visit from Middle Child who was in London to see a show and was able to catch up with us for a while – which was lovely!)

The day started with a couple of detours: after a hideous wait to top up my Oyster Card at the mainline station (thanks Network Rail for having no ticket offices any more and inadequate machines), I popped through Covent Garden to pay a flying visit to the kikki.k stationery shop – which was very, very beautiful and resulted in a small amount of spending:


Well, I *did* have a 25% off voucher!

Then another flying visit, as I met up briefly with Simon from Stuck-in-a-Book to take a quick look at a very lovely Dufy exhibition in a private gallery – and on the way back to Charing Cross Road to meet the ladies, I may well have stumbled into Waterstones Piccadilly, and this may have happened:

jacobI feel no guilt about this one, as my original copy of “Jacob’s Room” from 35 years ago had such brown, crumbly pages when I took it out the other day that it would have fallen to bits had I attempted to actually read it. And I *do* want to re-read it, so there you are!

We lunched at Gaby’s, a rather wonderful deli at the bottom of Charing Cross Road, and then headed for the bookshops, but only after Liz and Luci had managed to increase my book stash a little:


These two were from Liz – “Belinda”, because I’d expressed a keeness to read it and she had finished it; and the Laxness because she thinks it’s a little odd and that somehow I am an expert on odd European books! We shall see! 🙂


Lovely Luci always comes to gatherings laden with books to give away or donate. It’s hard to restrain yourself in the face of such generosity, but I was very pleased to have a Nemirovsky I didn’t have, and also a novel by Mavis Gallant, about whom I’ve heard very good things.

The rest of the day was spent happily mooching in bookshops – Any Amount of Books, Henry Pordes (who have dramatically cut down their stock of paperbacks, alas), Bloomsbury Oxfam, LRB Bookshop and then finally onto the Persephone shop as the light was fading – and here we are!


Needless to say, we didn’t get out of the shop without some serious spending – and I would guess it’s a toss-up between Liz and Ali as to who was the winner in the book-buying stakes! Apart from Jacob’s Room I only actually *bought* these:

bought-booksThe Persephone is “The Sack of Bath” by Adam Fergusson; the Duras and the book about Angela Carter were from Any Amount of Books; and the Sitwell from the Bloomsbury Oxfam.

After repairing to a nearby pub for a sit down, a drink and the use of the facilities, it was time to head home. It was a lovely day and a real pleasure to spend it with some wonderful friends – let’s hope it won’t be too long before we can have another bookish day-trip to the capital! 🙂

A New Volume – plus Bookshelves!


Simon at  Stuck In A Book has been showing off some of his lovely books/shelves and demanding that we all do likewise (well, not quite!). But as I received a lovely new book in the post today (again, thanks to Simon’s recommendation) I thought it was time for some pictures:

First up is “Guard Your Daughters” by Diana Tutton, which Simon has been raving about so much that many of us have rushed out to buy a copy. I was very pleased with mine as it has a wonderfully kitsch dustwrapper which is in fabulous condition and a bargain at a very reasonable price from Amazon – can’t wait to read it!

Next some bookshelves! This is a section of one of my shelf units which is notionally for women writers although the order does get a bit rambly at times. Here we can see Jean Rhys, Dora Russell, Dodie Smith and Muriel Spark rubbing shoulders, with Dorothy Parker and Katherine Mansfield behind. The Dodies are calling to me to be read next…

Next, just a few of my Colette books – there are more behind and some on a shelf above. I love Colette and although I already have two copies (or possibly three – I can’t remember!) of my favourite, “Break of Day”, I’m sorely tempted by the Capuchin Classics reissue because it looks so pretty.

Here are just a few of my old Penguins which are lurking on the women writers shelves (well, Pamela Hansford Johnson is in there, so I suppose that makes it ok).  I love old Penguins and reading A Penguin A Week has only made things worse!

Finally, some Persephones and Hesperuses (Hesperi?). Both publishers produced beautiful volumes and a lot of my Hesperus books are scattered around according to author (Austen with Austen, Dickens with Dickens etc). These are few of the more recent ones and some very pretty grey spined books too!

I rather enjoyed choosing some of my shelves to photo. The danger I find is that I’m too busy tracking down a new author or book to remember what a lovely collection I already have (and a big tbr!). Maybe I should take part in one of those challenges in which you can only read what you already have!

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