As you may remember, next year I’m starting Project 24. Not only am I 24 myself at the moment, but that is the number of books I’m intending to buy (for myself, anyway) in 2010. So, before privations set in, my friend Lorna, my brother Colin, and I all went off to Hay-on-Wye for a day’s book buying. It’s a three hour drive from here (if you’re still a fairly nervous driver in the dark, like I am) which left us with 4.5 hours book shopping in Hay – in which time we managed seven shops. Lorna, believe it or not, spends even longer in a bookshop than I do – which makes her the perfect person to take. Colin, wisely, abandoned us as soon as we got there. Not for him the hours looking at every book in the shop.
I realise that I’ve not explained what Hay-on-Wye is, for the uninitiated – it’s a town filled with secondhand bookshops. Yes, filled. We went to seven, but I believe there are over thirty. Some specialist, some general, some tiny, some huge – but something of Elysium for book-lovers. I came away with 15 books, but three of those are presents for other people, so I won’t include them in this list…
The Present and the Past – Ivy Compton-Burnett
A God & His Gifts – Ivy Compton-Burnett
Daughters and Sons – Ivy Compton-Burnett
Secrets of a Woman’s Heart: The Later Life of ICB – Hilary Spurling
As you can tell, the trip was quite a successful one, as regards ICB. And these books actually all came from different shops. Luckily I had my notecards with me, listing every book that I own, so I didn’t get any duplicate ICBs. As I’ve said before about her, I need to ration her novels out – now I have enough to keep my going for a few years at least.
The Love-Child – Edith Olivier
The Seraphim Room – Edith Olivier
Yes, I do have the Virago edition of The Love-Child. Two, in fact. But this was a lovely 1927 edition, and… well, I shan’t bother defending myself. People are in two firm categories when it comes to buying books you already own. Either they find the idea so ridiculous that no amount of rhetoric will persuade them otherwise, or it seems so natural a thing to do that no explanation is necessary.
And then, having seen The Love-Child, I came upon The Seraphim Room. I don’t know about you, but when I’m making special trips to book-towns or big bookshops, I wait for the moment which makes the journey special and memorable. The discovery of a book which will make the excursion worthwhile (above and beyond its intrinsic fun) – and this book was it. I’ve wanted to buy it before, and not been able to find a copy online for less than £70. But this one accompanied me home, having set me back… £4! Hurrah and huzzah!
Sing Me Who You Are – Elizabeth Berridge
I know her as the Persephone author of Tell It To A Stranger – this little novel looked intriguing.
The Debt to Pleasure – John Lanchester
Book Group is reading this later in the year, so I thought I’d pick it up whilst I saw it.
Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper – Harriet Scott Chessman
Lynne (from dovegreyreader) lent this to me years ago, and I’ve been keeping an eye out for a cheapish copy ever since. In fact I saw half a dozen copies in Hay – like waiting for a bus, I suppose.
Prince – Ib Michael
I’m keen to read more Scandinavian literature, so I pored over the Scandinavian section of the Hay Cinema Bookshop (which is one of my favourites). This Danish novel, subtitled ‘a novel of icebergs and amber’, looks very atmospheric and perfect for a cold winter evening. And trust me, it’s pretty cold here in Somerset at the moment…
As always, I welcome and cherish comments on recent purchases – do feel free. I’m tentatively planning a visit to the Bookbarn before the end of the year, so these couple of weeks are the book equivalent of a huge feast before going on a diet.