Lori's Book Nook

Archive for the ‘Used Bookstores’ Category

Yikes! I’m 23 days into the #95books challenge (my first post on that), and only 7 books in…and no real theme to my reading. But that’s not new – and I fully intend on following my nose from book to book.

Continuing the list:

#5 – Julie Powell‘s Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I enjoyed the movie – the pseudo-biopic with the delightful Meryl Streep as Julia Child – so thought that reading Powell’s memoir of cooking through Child’s classic cookbook would be fun. It feel off a thrift store shelf into my hand, so that was an easy decision, honestly. In the end, it an amusing bit of trifle, with a lot of honesty and personal anguish: “And as the week progressed the throbbing of my biological clock syncopated with my crepe anxiety until they formed one jazz rhythm.”

#6 – Carol Shields’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Unless. Again, a novel that dropped off a shelf in the thrift store that I’d been meaning to read. Shields’ prose is smooth, deceptively simple, the story carrying the reader along until you realize that you’re deep into it, unable to leave it. The link above is to a Salon review that has a line that struck me as being very descriptive of the experience:

Shields’ fiction has always had this sort of stealth spikiness, like soft fish that, when bitten into, turns up a web of bone, or like that sweet middle-aged lady next door when you were growing up, who turns out to have been watching you more shrewdly and understanding you more completely than you ever suspected.

#7 – Kurt Busiek & Cary Nord’s graphic novel of Richard E. Howard’s stories Conan: The Frost-Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories. Yes! A graphic novel is a book. An early set of stories by Howard, this lovely collection of comics was a hardcover gift to my husband at Christmas. It’s a good yarn, and the story reminds us to beware of what we wish for – always a good lesson.

So…what’s next on the pile to be read? I’ll let you know soon enough!


My #1 pleasure in life? Browsing in a bookstore, esp. a second-hand bookstore, or one with piles of discount, ‘remaindered’ books…I love the never knowing of rummaging these piles.

Anyone else with me? (If you’re ever in Victoria, check out Munro’s Books, for those sale tables and extensive selection of new books)

Today’s treasures:

The Book of Martyrdom & Artifice: First Journals and Poems 1937-1952, Allen Ginsberg.

Random excerpt (p168 in my copy):

“January 13 [1947]

Tried tea and junk tonite for second time.

Hip conversation:

“You bug me.”

“I bug you?”

“Yeah, you bug me.”

“I bug you.”

“You bet you bug me.”

“Well, you bug me.”

“So, I bug you.”

Hmm. Art?

I also picked up Rita Mae Brown‘s memoir, Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. First couple of chapters are fun…but then her writing is always fun.

Well, I seem to have been in a gay mood, now that I look at it. Must have been the discussion this morning over breakfast about the local baker who discriminates against those of alternate sexual persuasion. Guess where I don’t buy cupcakes?


Are you a book lover? A bibliophile? Do you get no greater joy out of life than browsing a used bookstore? Do your knees get weak at the thought of a library book sale?

Have you been to Paris yet?

The Parisiens know books, appreciate books. You’ve probably seen the pictures of the book stalls that line the Seine, in their ubiquitous green carts. These are les bouquinistes, the legendary booksellers of Paris:

They are part of the Paris legend. 217 booksellers spread out their 900 stands along the capital’s 11 quays, which represent a three kilometer walk. The onlookers pass by their sides, rummage through the famous green boxes, buy a book here and there, a poster, a vintage print. But who are these men and women who brave the wind, the cold and the rain? Winter is here, but they are still at the task. Enter into the biggest outdoor bookstore.

The quote above is a translation of an audio piece from La Guinguette — a very good online French journal. I want to put a plug in for them, as they have great products, and the audio is free to listen to. (You can download it if you subscribe.)

This article is a great example. this is not French for the beginner, instead it is the French as it is spoken in the streets. Read this article in the English translation, but also play it, to get the ambient sound of the Paris streets as bouquinistes are interviewed at their stalls.

I can almost picture where each stall is, as it’s described in the article. On our honeymoon, we rented an apartment next to the Seine, on the rive gauche, with green stalls outside our door…

And the French are wonderfully book mad. Here’s a picture of me paying 2 euro for a book at a vending machine:

Another way to access books!

Another way to access books!

As the New Year approaches, some people like to think of ways to better their lives, and to some, that means reducing clutter.

But to declutter books — is that really something a book lover wants to do? No, I don’t think so…but the reality is that sometimes we may have to do it.

Over at 43Folders is a post about this very topic, with a link to the original source, a question and long series of rather good answers at Ask Metafilter on “Advice for clearing literary clutter” — although, for me, the asker loses some credibility for even thinking of the phrase “literary clutter”!

What do you think, O Loyal Reader? Is there such a thing as ‘literary clutter’? What does it look like to you? What do you do about it?

Or, as is the point, what are you planning on doing in the New Year to clear some space on your bookshelves (to make room for new books in 2008)?

We all need some mental relaxation periodically. I’ll often pick up a book I’ve read a thousand times, open it to the middle, and just ‘continue’ reading…calms me right down.

Yesterday, I picked up a bit of chick lit that had been sent my way (by BzzAgent actually — I participated in a preview of some upcoming books from Penguin, and they sent me one of the books…unfortunately, not the one I would have chosen), Your Big Break by Johanna Edwards. (A cute little story about a woman who works for a company that can be hired to break up with your boy/girlfriend for you, quit your job…)

It was morning, I was lying abed (again) with a cup of coffee, brought to me by my man, and I picked up this book. Its 308 pages were done by about 9:30 a.m. Maybe three hours (2 pee breaks, 1 break to get more coffee, and one to pour a bowl of cereal, which I brought back to bed of course!) to read through a $20 book.

No wonder I prefer 1) secondhand books, 2) meatier books. More value per word.

Am I alone in this? Does meatiness level contribute to your book buying? What are your criteria for buying a new (ie. not secondhand) book?

Found this site today: Damn.org which has a great library of .txt files, introduced as follows:

Welcome to my collection of classical literature. Despite the fact that almost no one has used this resource in over a year, I persist in trying to have at least ONE useful thing on this entire site. The works found in this library represent some of the greatest classical books written throughout history.

Please, people! Go to Dr. J’s site and make use of his resources!! He (?) hasn’t updated since 2003, but the library text files are still there.

Here are some first lines, in honour of the interest my previous post has accumulated (can you name the books?).

#1, in honour of the Christmas season:

 "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled
Jo, lying on the rug.

#2, ’cause it’s just great:

LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings

#3, one of my favourite books of all time:

IT WAS seven o'clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills
when Father Wolf woke up from his day's rest, scratched himself,
yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid
of the sleepy feeling in the tips.

#4, the first first line that ever caught my fancy:


   No answer. 


   No answer. 

   "What's gone with that boy, I wonder? You TOM!" 

   No answer.

‘Tis not a difficult quiz. Ten lashes with a wet noodle if you can’t get at least 50%. Hie thee to a secondhand bookstore — immediately — if you don’t recognize any of them!

So we did it. Traveled all the way to Portland, OR, to visit Powell’s City of Books…a mecca of sorts in the book world.

Was it worth it? Well, it was raining in Portland, so it wasn’t like we were going to do any other sightseeing. We’d woken up late in our campground, which was not in itself a bad thing, but instead of breakfast we had brunch…and we ended up driving all the way home that day/night, instead of either camping in the wet or getting across the mountains and setting up camp at night.

But, I’m not answering the question. Yes. It was worth it. It’s a fabulous bookstore. It makes me happy knowing that there exists a place I can get numerous John Fante or Lawrence Ferlinghetti books, should I need to. It had 4 copies of one of the books on my wishlist, Ursula LeGuin’s Dancing on the Edge of the World…now no longer on my wishlist, but in my library.
Another treasure that is now in my library, for a great price, is the New and Collected Poems: 1931 – 2001 of Czeslaw Milosz, Polish poet & Nobel Prize winner. One of the reasons I wanted a book of his poetry was A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry — a collection he edited. The choices he made, and his commentary, put him firmly in the category of Poets I Like.

I will leave you with one of his poems, entitled A Boy.

A Boy

Standing on a boulder you cast a line,
Your bare feet rounded by the flickering water
Of your native river thick with water lilies.
And who are you, staring at the float
While you listen to echoes, the clatter of paddles?
What is the stigma you received, young master,
You who are ill with your apartness
And have one longing: to be just like the others?
I know your story and learned your future.
Dressed as a Gypsy girl I could stop by the river
And tell your fortune: fame and a lot of money,
Without knowledge, though, of the price to be paid
Which one does not admit to the envious.
One thing is certain: in you, there are two natures.
The miserly, the prudent on against the generous.
For many years you will attempt to reconcile them
Till all your works have grown small
And you will prize only uncalculated gifts,
Greatheartedness, self-forgetful giving,
Without monuments, books, and human memory.


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!