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.
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 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.