It was all going so well. I’d only bought 7 books so far all year. I was – let’s be honest – a little smug about how easy I’d found it.
Reader, I have something to confess. I’m now up 12 books… yep, halfway through my 24 book allowance. And that puts me a solid six weeks ahead of where I should be.
Let me explain – I spent a week in Shropshire (which was lovely, and very sunny, and all was great until I got a sick bug…) and on Saturday I was up in London for a little blogger/podcast meet-up. More on that very soon, but let’s just say that it involved a very good little bookshop – Walden Books in Chalk Farm. Between these things, much temptation was thrown in my path… so which books did I buy?
Catchwords and Claptrap by Rose Macaulay
That’s the Hogarth Essays pictured above – a little treasure I saw in the bookshop next to where we were staying in Ludlow. I do enjoy that – despite the implicit and explicit antagonisms between Macaulay and the Woolfs in the Battle of the Brows – they also published her. This essay is about slang, and a lovely little book.
The ABC of Authorship by Ursula Bloom
We visited The Aardvark Bookery, which was on the way (if memory serves) to a Victorian working farm. I couldn’t come away empty-handed – and I’d have had very full hands any other time. On this occasion, I picked up a fun 1938 guide to writing – very much a period piece, rather than useful reading advice now. Bloom was extremely prolific, and I’ve read a handful of the books she published as Mary Essex.
All the Dogs of My Life by Elizabeth von Arnim
We popped into the small, lovely town of Presteigne – which included a tiny bookshop. Nobody was there but the door was open, so Dad and I had a mosey. After a bit, somebody put his head around the door – and asked us to turn off the lights and close up when we were ready, and put money on the desk if we bought anything. “It’s an honesty bookshop – isn’t it great? This is Presteigne!” I thought I hadn’t found anything, but happened to scan the shelf of books about dogs. And here this was!
The Pelicans by E.M. Delafield
Walden Books was a real treasure trove of (fairly cheap) interwar novels – there were even quite a few Persephones there – but I hadn’t expected this. Finding The Pelicans was one of those rare moments – where I grab the book and clutch it to myself, lest anybody sneak in and get it before me. (With two book bloggers on the premises, this wasn’t impossible.) It’s not exactly unfindable online, but I’ve almost never seen E.M. Delafield novels (beyond the obvious half dozen) in the wild, as it were, and it was rather a thrill.
Country Notes by Vita Sackville-West
And I couldn’t resist this one either – same bookshop – even though I knew it was taking me to the end of June. It’s a collection of short essays by Vita Sackville-West about the countryside, in a hefty hardback, with the sort of fairly terrible photography which must have looked impressive back in the day. But a nice book to add to my VSW collection.
So, in summary, as people used to say back in 2012 – ‘sorry not sorry’. I’d do it again. But somebody make sure I’m locked in the house until the end of June, m’kay?