31 August 2014

How do books end up in your house?

  
I tweeted this morning that during the five days that Simon Savidge (@SavidgeReads) stayed with me here in Washington, DC, thirty-one books managed to find their way into my apartment. Borrowed, bought, given, and free, I somehow managed to acquire thirty-one books in five days. Sue Parmett (@SueParmet) wanted a list of the titles. That is just the kind of pesky question I would ask and it seemed liked a great topic for a blog post.

So here are the many ways that these 31 books found their way in.

Borrowed
In the lounge of the enormous apartment building we are currently living in there is a nice little lending library. When we walked by it one night, Simon and I went in and had a look. We ended up taking six books back to my apartment. Three of those were Simon's picks. I am not sure how he thought he would read three books in fewer than five days, but who am I to judge.  And I guess the nice thing about these six, is I can return them any time I want and they cost nothing.


I picked up The Bookseller by Mark Pryor because of the title and because Susan in TX (@readinginTX)  had mentioned the Hugo Marsten books recently. I'm 58 pages in and liking it. The Ambler I picked up because I can't get enough of him these days. The Carlos Ruiz Zafon was recommended by Simon. We will see how that turns out. The other three were Simon's picks. He read a bit of the one of the Vargas titles and found it wasn't to his taste.
Bought
Not surprisingly Simon and I spent a bit of time in a book store or two. Since he was worried about space in his luggage, he ended up buying next to nothing. I, on the other hand went a little bonkers, partially due to his urging. I was glad for the peer pressure as I have been trying to inject more contemporary novels into my reading.

Our first stop was the fantastic independent bookstore in my neighborhood (and the best one in the city), Politics & Prose. Two problems with this visit. 1) Too many people at Booktopia in Asheville has hyped it up to Simon so he was expecting something more than just a good indie store. 2) There was an employee who was downright and too audibly rude to a customer on the phone. Granted, it sounded like a really annoying, probably even someone with dementia, kind of customer, but it was really off putting. But, it didn't stop me from picking up a few things.


The top one is a about a Frenchwoman living in a small town working in a fabric shop when she wins the lottery. Plus the colorful cover was quite alluring. The Kerry Hudson book was a Simon, you must own this, pick. It has a hilarious, curse-filled opening line. The Lerner I bought because I am trying to learn Spanish and am looking for lit that has Spanish speaking settings. The Carol Shields is one of her earliest (maybe her first?), and to my mind one of her best. And it is perfect for those of us who like a literary romp. Largely overlooked, it is now back in print thanks to Open Road Media. The Koch sounds very interesting and was also a Simon, I've heard lots of good things about this one, kind of book.
The fantastic Capitol Hill Books, where you swear some of the book stacks are structural and holding up the Victorian townhouse. This place is chock full of reading copies, but frankly I think their prices are a bit high for such battered up stock. Linda W (@GrnArrowFanGirl) Tweeted that she thought she would go a little bonkers in this store because of everything there is to look at. I totally agree with her and when we first got there I kind of plopped on the floor and just stared at what was in front of me. It worked pretty well, that is how I found the three Monica Dickens you can see below.

I never pass up an Ambler I haven't read. Monica Dickens has never steered me wrong. I loved Jenn Ashworth's A Kind of Intimacy so when Simon pointed this one out, I had to have it. The Chesnutt was published in 1900 and is about a light-skin African-American couple who decide to live as whites. The bottom one with part of the spine missing can be seen below.

No idea about this novel or the author, but with a cover like this, I couldn't pass it up.
 
One of the things I have been keeping my eye out for is books by people of color for Aarti's A More Diverse Universe reading week beginning on September 14th. I was ready to read a third Adichie for the year--and I am still planning on doing that--but I thought I should mix it up with some other titles. I managed to pick up three or four books that will fit the bill and that I think I can get to in time. In addition to the Chesnutt listed above, I also bought a couple at Busboys and Poets bookstore/café, and then picked up a free book, shown further down the page, that will fit the bill.

These are all from Busboys and Poets. The Gay and the Singh are for A More Diverse Universe. The top book is a Simon-encouraged choice about a young gay man in South Africa.

Given
Simon brought be two gift books from England that he has talked about on The Readers. One book that he won in a Yankee Swap at Booktopia in Asheville. And then a little New York guide that he didn't mean to leave behind.

Can you believe Simon got me to read Gone Girl? I can't. It was kind of clever and interesting but I have some reservations about it that I can't quite put my finger on.

Free
I've written before about the little libraries that have popped up in my neighborhood which are always a good source for free books, but I also found some at a café and in a box sitting on the street near Dupont Circle.

This one I picked up for free at Baked and Wired in Georgetown. They had a take one, leave one shelf. It is a graphic novel that I wouldn't have probably picked up but Simon kind of foisted it on me. Then I thought it might be good for A More Diverse Universe.

I've never read any DLS and this was in one of the Little Libraries in my 'hood, as was the E.H.Young, and I never pass up a Virago I don't have. The bottom three were all taken from a box of free books in front of a brownstone near Dupont Circle. Alice James was Henry James' sister. Again, I never pass up a Virago. And the bottom one appears to be a Portuguese version of Under the Tuscan Sun.

The whole pile

   

26 comments:

  1. Love reading about book finds.sounds like Simon was a great book enabler for you.hope he found some great books in Strand.Thanks for sharing your finds.love the library in your building.

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    1. He was a great enabler. Particularly because even when I want to buy newer fiction, I don't know what to get. But it was like shopping with a recommendation machine.

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  2. Excellent work! I loved our book shop trip last year so much (even with similar concerns about my luggage weight - mostly coming after I had already filled my bags, rather than the restraint Simon S showed!)

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    1. Next time, save a Saturday or Sunday and we will go to Baltimore to a 'bookshop' where every book is free. I kid you not. I haven't been there yet, but really want to go.

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  3. That is quite the haul for 5 days. Books seem to come into my house in bunches as well. Bunches sounds nicer than binges. I have been told to ask by my dds who sometimes listen to The Readers with me...did Simon S. really bring you the "smelly book" that he promised you from the used bookstore? (We had a lot of fun with episode 99 - it was right up there with the Room 101 episode :) ). I hope you like the Dorothy Sayers. I had a hard time with that one because there were a few characters whose speech was written in a dialect that I wasn't familiar with and which I found hard to follow. If you don't like it, don't give up on her - you might enjoy The Nine Tailors better...a mystery connected with the bells in the church tower. Glad to hear that The Bookseller is off to a good start. I hope to be dipping into it tomorrow. (Found where I saw it - Matt's Blogpost at A Guy's Moleskine Notebook from Aug. 13) And, thank you for the mention - I've promised the kids I won't let fame go to my head. :) Happy Reading!

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    1. He did not bring me the smelly book. Thankfully. You weren't the only one to warn me about this Dorothy Sayers title so I put it back out in circulation in one of the little libraries in my neighborhood. I ended up enjoying The Bookseller quite a bit, not as taut or suspenseful as Eric Ambler, but in a very similar vein--and Pryor even mentions Ambler in the text.

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  4. 31 books in 5 days...that is how shelves become unwieldy, and it happens oh so easily...
    But you have some fabulous titles in there. I have a prepub edition of "The Room Upstairs" that is kind of neat, though I haven't read it yet. As to Swann, it's pretty common in these parts, as so much of Shields' work is -- but glad to hear it's been rereleased to make it more accessible. And have you seen the film version?

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    1. Most people I know who have read Shields have never even heard of Swann. And I had NO idea there was a film version. How crazy I must find it.

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  5. I like the way you found the books almost more than the books themselves!

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  6. Nothing like peer pressure to make the book acquisitions multiply!

    The Five Red Herrings is the only Sayers novel I haven't read, and from what I hear, it's not very good. So if it doesn't work for you, don't let it put you off her entirely. I agree with Susan that The Nine Tailors might be a better fit for you. Murder Must Advertise is another good possibility. My favorites are the ones with Harriet Vane, which start with Strong Poison; however, I'm not sure you'd like those as much as I do.

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    1. As I mention above, I kicked it to the cub without even trying it. Not being a mystery fan, it is probably best if I start with one her titles that is more widely regarded as a good one.

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  7. Sounds like you had a wonderful time with Simon! I'm in awe of your book finds -- and I don't know how long I could resist the free library your lobby!

    I'm really trying to bring any new books into the house -- my TBR pile hovers around 170 right now -- but I just bought two new books in stores in the past week, and ordered two more online. I'm hanging my head in shame because that TBR pile just isn't getting any smaller.

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    1. I don't think there is any productive reason for counting the number of books in a TBR pile, except to brag. We shouldn't feel guilt for all the wonderful things we have in store. Doesn't mean I don't cull books that no longer seem like a good idea, but, unless you are putting your family in the poor house because of your book expenditures, you should just let it grow as it wants.

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  8. Joy Street! I adore Frances Parkinson Keyes, and I think you will, too. Five Red Herrings would not be the Sayers I'd advise anyone to start with; I think Clouds of Witness is the best Wimsey-only novel, though my favorites are also the four books with Harriet Vane (Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night and Busman's Honeymoon).

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    1. So good to know about Joy Street. I took a chance, glad it sounds like it will pay off.

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  9. The Shadow of the Wind is the first in a series of four novels; I have read the first three. I enjoyed the books but thought they could be considered as YA as they follow the main character from youth through adulthood. You will know after this book if you want to continue the series,

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    1. I am enjoying The Shadow of the Wind. I don't think I would consider it YA though. He is a pretty adult-acting youth. And old soul.

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  10. Thanks to Sue for asking - I did want to but got all reticent and British and pathetic. Love that Library in your building and the free libraries popping up all over. I'm kind of glad I don't live there, however - too much temptation already.

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    1. You should never be shy to ask. I always want to know what people find.

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  11. I agree with Mystica, I love the story(ies) of how you came by the titles almost as much as hearing about the books themselves. That is quite an eclectic mix.

    You've lived in that building now for what, 6 months? And your only now telling us about the lounge/library area! How often do you check it, to see if the books have changed?

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    1. Until Simon and I combed through it, I only ever had a quick glance previously. I knew it had some pretty good books on it, but since I had so many of my own none of seemed as good as what I had upstairs. But Simon's superior knowledge of recent work made it more fun to pick a few.

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  12. I love that Monica Dickens' One Pair of Hands - hilarious. (And I've added the Delacourt to my TBR - that is the problem with gazing longingly at other people's wonderful finds. ;-)

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    1. Monica Dickens doesn't really disappoint so they seemed like safe bets. Will be interested to explore the 'hilarious' side of her work.

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  13. What a great selection of books. I am going to a fall festival today with one of the best book sales in our area. I have a rule that if I bring 10 new book ins the house - 10 old ones must go out:) It assuages my guilt.

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