16 November 2014

Old news : Old books

 
I have been so bad at keeping up with my blog feed. It has been about 30 days since I really looked at it and I had about 500 blog posts to look at. Actually, as I write this I still have about 390 yet to go through. I'm just now hitting all the readathon posts, and you all know how long ago that was.

I also just came across Simon's post about the man who got locked in the Trafalgar Square Waterstone's. This is also a topic we have chatted about on The Readers. For those of you who haven't heard the story, a man accidentally got locked in the store and Tweeted about it and it was a big, fun, hullabaloo, especially for us bookish types.

The thing is, I actually wouldn't find that at all interesting. Well, let me qualify that, the only way I would find it interesting is if the store was a secondhand bookshop. I would find a new book, bookshop realllllllly boring. Here's why: I would be too keyed up to want to read anything and there are no surprises in a new bookshop. I pretty well know what I would find, so short of reading, there wouldn't be much that would interest me. Whereas in a used bookshop, the whole night could be spent rooting around for hidden gems. I never have enough time in a used shop to really comb the shelves and dig through the many layers books stacked here and there.

And, as an added bonus, I would have the time to organize and clean the store. This is a fantasy of mine. I would love to be let loose in a messy store in need of alphabetical rigor. I once spent 20 minutes at the main public library putting all their Trollope in proper title alpha order. It was fun and in the process I found five copies of the book I was looking for. (Of course, you are probably wondering why in the world the library shelves were out of order, but alas, that is the state of the sad DC public library system.)

Once on vacation I visited a great used bookstore in Nyack, New York. It was a store I had spent some time in about five years previously. It was clear that in the intervening years the owner had given in to his obvious hoarding tendencies and couldn't keep up with the mountains of books he was acquiring. I told John I could spend the rest of my vacation just organizing that store. If only.

But in a new bookstore. Oh look, there is Atwood. Oh look, there is Dickens.  Oh look, there is...see what I mean? No surprises, everything in order, yawn.

Places I would like to get locked in:

1. A cathedral with a giant pipe organ. I can't actually play the thing, but I would like unlimited time to play around with the stops and see what does what with no time constraints. John once bought me an hour with the organist of the National Cathedral here in DC which was almost as good.


2. A grand old English house like Chatsworth, but also preferably one that hadn't been kept up too well. I want to see all the rooms that the public doesn't get to see like attics and such.


3. The Cabinet War Rooms in London. They are set up just like they were during World War II. So many files and push pins and typewriters. It would be fun to play around.


4. Buckingham Palace. For a similar reason to number two above, but also because I would love to comb through the Queen's collections of jewels and clothes. See what's on her bedside table, etc.

5. The V&A. Of all museums, I think this one would be the most fun. Again, lots of attic-fossicking action.


6. The library at Sissinghurst. Not only because it is a library, but because it is chock full of early 20th century fiction. No doubt I would find some gems there. Would also like access to Vita's study up in the tower which also is lined with books.


7. The library at Blenheim. I've noticed when I have been to Blenheim, that not all the books in the library are ancient. Plus there is a pipe organ and really comfy furniture.


8. The food halls at Harrods.



17 comments:

  1. Can I just say that you have provided me with a case of the giggles...the Queen's bedside table! I would be right there with you, if I'm honest.

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    1. I don't wish to invade her privacy, but I really would like to see.

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  2. The V&A! This is one of my long-pondered fantasies - having unlimited and unobserved access here! I completely understand that one. It captures my imagination in the most profound way.

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    1. I wouldn't know where to start. And I would need roller skates.

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  3. Like the idea of being locked in the Food Hall at Harrods. The pet section is pretty funny too but wouldn't want to be locked in there. I always thought it would be fun to be locked in to a large zoo or the Smithsonian. Interesting places to think about.

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    1. I don't think I have seen the pet section. Do they have live animals?

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  4. Ohh, definitely the last, especially if somehow I could rationalize that eating the food was not stealing - if I could somehow pay for all of it afterward. Also, I think you're right on about being locked somewhere where you could poke around and discover things, or just some big old castle-like house with warren-like hallways to go wander in and explore.

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  5. Great ideas! Any of them would do for me (Except the pipe organ, as I'd quickly get bored with that).

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    1. Well, I am not sure I could do the whole night, but I would like a long uninterrupted period.

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  6. Did you ever read The Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler as a kid? It is a middle grade book about two siblings who run away from home and hide out at the NY Met. They finance their stay (food and drink) by taking the change people throw into a fountain, I think. Ever since I was a kid, that was a fantasy of mine.

    As an adult, I would LOVE to sort out the books a used bookstore and catalog them. Making order out of chaos. But spend the night? Not so much. I like my own house too much.

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    1. I loved The Mixed Up Files when I was a kid. And a much more interesting place to spend the night then a book store.

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  7. What a fun thing to think about. I can think of several used bookstores that I would like unlimited, uninterrupted time in, but not a single new one.

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  8. I've often fantasized about being locked in old stately houses and museums exactly to be able to take a look behind the closed door you pass by during your guided tour. The works of art on the walls of the Louvre, for instance, are only the tip of the iceberg - I want to see what they're hiding as well as the restoration ateliers.

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  9. I would like to get cozy in the Sissinghurst library. The Abbey Bookshop in Paris (in the Latin Qtr) is lots of fun ..... books piled literally to the ceiling and 99% of them are in English, both hard and softcover. My kind of place....I love to dig through the stacks for goodies. Also checked out an old bookshop on Rue de Vaugirard manned by a very nice, friendly lady of a certain age who did not seemingly speak English, or at least didn't want to try. Very vintage books and small pieces of French artwork, but books mostly in French. Shop did yield, however, a nice little box of some very old postcards, used ones including stamps, which made it not a total washout.

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