Those who thought I have learnt good habits, or become a better person, under the strictures of Project 24 probably had those beliefs dispelled on January 1st, when I bought twenty-four books. Just in case there are any lingering doubts, I thought I’d better share with you my purchases since the beginning of the year (Jan. 1st purchases not included – posted about them already!) Oh, how I missed going into a bookshop, gleam in my eye, wallet in hand, knowing the only things holding me back were time and the limited number of bags one man can carry at any one time!
One of my favourite bookshops for potential bargains is Notting Hill Book & Comic Exchange. A cramped ground floor, with the choice pickings – and three sprawling, untidy basement rooms, where books are all only £1 each. Last time I went they were 50p each, but I suspect they made nary a jot of profit that way. Last Saturday I met up with Sakura (aka Chasing Bawa) and we went book-hunting. Sakura wisely took books to exchange, thus getting vouchers to spend in the shop. I can never find more than one or two books I am willing to part with, and they’re always in Somerset rather than Oxford, so it was cold cash I parted with.
I bought nine books… and they came to £9. Not all were downstairs, but they actually only charged me 50p for some, so it balanced out. Nine pounds! When you think that the uncomfortable bus journey to and from London cost £13… Anyway, enough prevarication – here’s what I got.
– Foreigners by Leo Walmsley
Jane (Fleur Fisher) wrote this very compelling review of Love in the Sun by Walmsley – I’ve not been able to track that down, but thought it might be worth picking this one up.
– The Gipsy in the Parlour by Margery Sharp
Another author Jane likes, but one I actually first read in 2003 or thereabouts – I read The Foolish Gentlewoman after reading in letters by P.G. Wodehouse that he liked it a lot. And last read in 2003, so far, but I’ve got a fair few waiting on my shelves.
– Loving by Henry Green
All manner of people have told me to read this, and a nice Penguin never goes amiss.
– The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill
I’ve not read any of Hill’s ghost stories… I’m not entirely sure I want to, as I’ll most likely be terrified, but… maybe in the summer.
– The Empty Room by Charles Morgan
Like Margery Sharp, Morgan is an author I read once, enjoyed, and never quite returned to. Still, at least this will give me another option.
– Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark
You all know that I’ve become besotted by all things Spark – and this is simply another (short! hurrah!) novel of hers to add to the shelves.
– The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
I read this a year or so ago, but it was a library copy, and I thought I’d quite like one for myself. You know how it is.
– The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford
I’ve been considering getting this one for a while, since it sounds exactly the sort of thing a bibliophile would enjoy, and at £1 I felt I could take a gamble.
Most excitingly, I spotted Potterism by Rose Macaulay. To be honest, I still can’t remember whether or not I have a copy (LibraryThing says no) BUT when I flicked it open…
After all this excitement, we then popped to a nice little cafe, where Sakura kindly bought me a cup of tea, and we ooohed and aaaahed over each other’s purchases.
But this is not all! I have been hungrily around Oxford’s bookshops; I have bought one or two things online – here are my other finds.
– Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
This novel has been on the edge of my book-consciousness for a while, but I can’t remember why. Did one of you mention it? A beautiful Folio edition (sans boxy-thing – it’s the yellow patterned book) swung the deal. But illustrations by Beryl Cook… can’t say I’m excited about those.
– Leonard Woolf by Victoria Glendinning
Oh, the times I walked past this in the £2 bookshop last year! Praise be that it was still there in 2011…
– Letter from New York by Helene Hanff
I didn’t realise the author of 84, Charing Cross Road had done much more, so was pleased to spot this collection of articles.
– The Demon Lover and other stories by Elizabeth Bowen
I bought this in Langport, Somerset in the sweetest, and most bizarre, bookshop I’ve seen in ages. Dozens of pieces of furniture placed at random… not many books, but this collection of stories might help me find my way back to Bowen, after not enjoying The Last September. 2010 was the year of giving authors another go; something I should continue this year – since it was so rewarding.
– The Bondmaid by Pearl S. Buck
Since I loved The Good Earth last year, this leapt into my hands. I daresay Buck will follow the Sharp-Morgan path, of arriving on my bookshelf and never making it to being read, but… maybe one of you can give it a shove in the right direction?
– Daphne by Justine Picardie
Everyone else was reading this a few years ago… now I might join ’em.
– England, Their England by A.G. MacDonell
This was recommended to me by Tim, my colleague, and the first page was very funny. I’m not sure what led Tim to recommend it, since I don’t think we’ve talked much about books we like, but… I’m quietly hopeful.
Not pictured is The Public Image by Muriel Spark, which I bought in Somerset and left there. And lovely Deanna, who reads this blog, says another Spark is winging its way from her… I will thank her suitably profusely when it arrives!
Phew! There you go. For those who didn’t read my blog before 2010, this is more or less standard Stuck-in-a-Book behaviour…
And as always, I’d love to know your thoughts on them: have you read any? Which should fight its way to the top of the tbr pile first? Just how exciting is that Rose Macaulay signature?!