Recent arrivals (free and otherwise)

Today has been a nice, lazy day so far. Sat in the sun with a book, got my hair cut, made some rock buns. There’s a very real chance that I may be Mrs Miniver without realising. BUT I also popped into some charity shops – donating a pile of books, and buying some (though, it should be noted in the interests of floor space, not the same number that I donated). I also bought in other charity shops earlier in the week.

But this week also saw the magic happen. Free books, y’all. FREE.

In one of the nicest streets in Oxford, St. John’s Street (on my way to work), somebody had set out a bookshelf with a note saying ‘free books’ – and the lady in the house kept coming out and replenishing the stock when it was getting depleted. Maybe she was moving; maybe she was sorting out the possessions of a recently-passed relative? Whatever the case, she was a blessing to the book-loving community of Oxford.

July 2016 books

Daphne du Maurier: a daughter’s memoir by Flavia Leng
I have accidentally topped and tailed this pile with Daphne du Maurier biographies. This was a charity shop purchase – I have somehow never quite worked out how many children Daphne had, so I’d never heard of Flavia. But I love these sorts of intimate perspectives, alongside the more detached writings of professional biographers.

An Autobiography by Agatha Christie
Somehow I have never bought Christe’s autobiography before – despite having had it on my mental tbr pile for the best part of 20 years. This edition comes with a CD that apparently has Christie’s dictation of some of the autobiography on it.

My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley
The first of my 3 charity purchases today. I keep buying books by Ackerley without yet having read any (though did recently read a book by his mystery half-sister, as you do). This one will also double up as a box crossed on my Book Bingo card – book with a flower in the title.

Several Perceptions by Angela Carter
I’ve still only read one novel by Carter, Wise Children, but I’ve been amassing them for years. This one looks pretty bizarre even for Carter – having looked through the blurb – so I might ease my way in via some of the others on my shelves.

What Hetty Did by J.L. Carr
Or James Carr, as this edition has curiously named him. The three books I’ve read by Carr have been extremely different, and two of them have been very good (A Month in the Country – which seems to be the only one that anybody reads now – and A Day in the Country, which is equally good in a very different way). So I wonder what this one will be like?

The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
This one, and the rest, were from the free shelves. I enjoyed Miss Lonelyhearts when Daunt Books reprinted it. This one is apparently all about 1930s Hollywood, and has a ludicrously ugly cover. I suspect it could be fun.

This England
This is a collection of short notes from a column in some British newspaper. The Spectator, maybe? It’ll get shelved on my dip-in-for-fun-sometime shelf.

Later Days by W.H. Davies
I’ve not actually read his more famous volume of autobiography, The Autobiography of a Supertramp, but the sequel seemed more up my street – entirely based on the fact that it takes place in the interwar years.

The Witch-Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Murray
I was stoked to find this one – because I had to read it in the Bodleian when I wanted to use it in my DPhil. Sylvia Townsend Warner referred to it when she gave interviews about Lolly Willowes, and it makes for an interesting comparison with that novel. And it’s nice to be able to shelve it alongside my own thesis books.

Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster
From D du M to D du M – in fact, my friend and colleague Adam picked this one up for me when he brought me the good tidings of the free books. I remember when this came out, I think, and everybody was all “Oh, Daphne was NOT a nice lady.” But I’ve learned that myself, through her letters to Oriel Malet, so I’m ready for whatever Forster can throw at me in here. Come at me.


9 thoughts on “Recent arrivals (free and otherwise)

  • July 31, 2016 at 8:49 am

    How do you come across such fascinating books?! Re: JR Ackerley, I really enjoyed “We Think the World of You” – another book based around a dog (and a pretty awful family.) Have a wonderful summer.

  • July 31, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Some lovely finds there Simon – and I loved “A Month in the Country” so I should really explore Carr’s work a little further. I *love* the idea of leaving free books outside your house – if I had more footfall past mine, I would do this! :))

  • July 31, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Why can’t I read biographies, I wonder ? I bought Hermione Lee’s biography of Penelope Fitzgerald last year and still haven’t got round to reading it. I can’t help thinking it’s a lesser genre somehow. Anything you could say to make me change my mind ?
    I have had WHD on my radar for some time. Looking forward to your reviewing it. I also have The Harpole Report which I haven’t read yet.

  • July 31, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Lovely finds! I have read the Nathanael West but before my blog was online and I cannot remember what I thought of it! I had an American boyfriend who used to send me lots of books by American authors.

  • August 1, 2016 at 2:33 am

    I now want to read a biography of du Maurier. Or her letters. I like books of letters. I must see what I can find!

  • August 3, 2016 at 2:33 am

    Simon, can I tell you something I learned about Brooklyn when I lived in Brooklyn? In Brooklyn, people leave free books out on the curb. Not occasionally, but OFTEN. This is an often thing that happens in Brooklyn. For real.

  • August 10, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    And they leave free books in ‘phone boxes on the Isle of Man.However they do not leave” Rhododendron Pie “by Margery Sharp or any 1920s rare stuff.

  • August 11, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Great haul! I’ve read the other one, but will be looking for Daphne du Maurier: a daughter’s memoir by Flavia Leng. Her book The King’s General is one of my top 10 books ever.

    I love your 50 Books You Must Read But May Not Have Heard About–Nella Last’s Diaries are great. I picked up another Muriel Spark (Finishing School) and will be getting to the Provincial Lady series soon, I hope.


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