Saturday, September 24, 2016

A ridiculous orgy of bookshopping

Well, this has been another of those weeks. The weeks when the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library have their Big Book Sale. The weeks that end in exhaustion and a mingling of giddiness and shame. The weeks when Andy imagines what life might have been like had he married someone less obsessed with books.

And this time, I am almost embarrassed to show you the photo of all the damage. I really don't quite know what came over me. It was, I believe, a particularly good book sale, so that there were many genuinely exciting finds. And the excitement from those finds somehow led me (much like an alcoholic on a bender) to get more and more carried away, which led to more exciting finds, which led to, well, you get the picture.

But I must face up to what I've done, and so I make a full confession of the scope of my depravity, in a single photo:


As Colonel Hastings so often says on the "Poirot" series that we've been addictively watching on Netflix, "Good heavens!"

The grand total: a staggering 96 books (and we were staggering, from exhaustion if nothing else, rest assured). This is actually the product of two different trips to the sale, one to the madness of the Tuesday evening "members only" preview, from whence 59 of the books came, and then a surprisingly successful reconnaissance mission today, which brought 30 more books into our apartment. (No, it's not that I can't do math, but 7 of the books actually came from a book giveaway, believe it or not, hosted in our neighborhood this past Sunday. See below)

I will say upfront that, alas, with our trip looming in less than two weeks now (!!!!) and last-minute planning going on at a frenzied pace, not to mention with the sheer numbers of books in this haul, I don't have time to do the full individualized book fetishization that I usually do for these posts, and which I dearly wish I could do this time too (I've kept returning to the piles of books all week long, merely to gaze adoringly at them, as Andy sighs). Perhaps I can return to them in November for further fetishization. But I will provide some more detailed pics and some brief explanations of some exciting finds.

First, those of you from the DES discussion list, and others who are fans of D. E. Stevenson, just look at this:


It seems ungrateful somehow to have any regret at all over finding an unprecedented six DES novels at one sale, but I can't help a tiny wish that I could have found just one more Mrs. Tim, Mrs. Tim Carries On, which would have made a complete (if slightly bedraggled) set. I don't even put DES on Andy's list of authors to search for anymore, because they're simply never there. But suddenly, on Tuesday night, there were four of them, and today, amazingly not picked over on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, there were two more. 

Other finds are perhaps less astonishing, but nevertheless very satisfying. Here are some of the best of the hardcovers I came across:


The one that you can't make out at all, in the middle of the pile, is, appropriately enough, a study of Bath by the eccentric and entertaining Edith Sitwell. I'm afraid it may have to make more of a reminiscence after our return than a preparation for it, as my time is limited in the next two weeks (what with the actual publication of the Furrowed Middlebrow books just a few days before we depart!), but I'm happy to have the book anyway. And I had just been thinking I needed to read Doris Grumbach's novel about the Ladies of Llangollen, and there it was in a pristine first edition! And here are even more hardcover finds:


I seem to be collecting Anita Brookner novels now. I've only read two of them, but I now have three more to add to the two that were already on my TBR shelves. Ahem. The Elisabeth de Waal novel on top was, as many of you know, a Persephone reprint last year, and I've always meant to buy it, so how could I resist a pristine copy of the American edition for $3?! I was delighted to find a lovely copy of Elizabeth Bowen's stories, and yes, that is actually a Mabel Esther Allan in there, another first for this book sale.

Of course, what is any book sale without a few lovely green Viragos:


I even had substantial success at the tables of paperbacks this time around, which I usually save for the bitter end because so few of my authors have been reprinted enough to be available in paperback:


That incredibly beaten up book on top, which you may not be able to read, is a 1947 Pan paperback of Rose Macaulay's Staying with Relations, a book I read only recently from the library (I hope to report on it here some time before the next presidential election!). I'm sure I'll be fetishizing that one here somewhere down the road...

But wait, there's more, as they say. Here's a whole slew of other books not quite so directly related to this blog, but I was on a bender (and apparently laboring under the misapprehension that I would a. live forever, and b. have unlimited time for reader):


A few of these will be re-reads of books I know from my misspent youth as a scholar of modernism, but a few I don't even know anything about. Will the Maurice Baring be a keeper, one wonders, never having heard of him before? But it was published by Oxford Twentieth Century Classics, so I added it to my granny cart. And who on earth is Theodora Keogh? We shall see. But as for the book on top, Junichiro Tanizaki's The Makioka Sisters, some readers of this blog might find it as lovely and addictive as I did. It's a rather quiet novel of domestic family life in Japan in a time of social change, so I can't resist a quick recommendation of it.

I didn't neglect the mystery table, though I had perhaps a bit less success than usual:


Those are the last two Iain Pears art history mysteries that I didn't have, so I was pleased with that, and one of those might make its way onto the flight to England with me.

And last but not least (well, perhaps least as well, but not negligible anyway), I mentioned the book giveaway held in our neighborhood last weekend. We almost forgot all about it, what with the Emmy Awards on Sunday and preparations for our trip, as well as anticipation for the bookstore, but we sauntered down the hill on Sunday afternoon and I came back with seven books:


Yes, that makes three E. F. Bensons in all this week, in addition to the Mapp & Lucia series waiting patiently on my Kindle, all despite never having actually read one of his books. But smarter people than me adore him, so I am preparing to be addicted.

And that's that. A mere 96 novels to add to bookshelves I only recently culled with considerable agonizings and tearing of hair. Clearly, we need a bigger apartment...

But as a closing, here are some photos the nearly exact copies of which you've seen several times before, but Andy took a few pictures of me, the line, and the inside of the book sale for a co-worker who had never been, so I might as well share them with you as well:

Geek waiting (im)patiently in line

The (almost) full length of the line 15-20 minutes before opening

Early on in the sale, before all the hordes from further back in
line had made their way inside

All in all, a completely decadent example of lack of self-control. But, as the youngsters say these days, "Sorry not sorry!"

50 comments:

  1. Scott, I'm speechless! With admiration, I might add, not disapproval. Even greater admiration for Andy who loves you enough to support the madness of adding 96 books to your library. Lovely pile of DES & I'm also collecting E F Benson, waiting for the bug to strike. I have happy memories of the Elizabeth Lemarchand mysteries so I hope you enjoy those & I have the Makioka Sisters on the tbr shelves so good to hear a recommendation. I also read a mention of Angle of Repose this week & with my recent interest in pioneering stories, I may have to get a copy. Also loved Exiles Return, what a gorgeous copy you found, even though it's not a Persephone.
    I've just started reading Chelsea Concerto (I've ordered a copy but Rupert kindly sent me a review PDF) & loving it. So excited about this & the Winifred Pecks especially. Good wishes for publication day.

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    1. Thanks, Lyn. I'm always looking for Lemarchand's first book, Death of an Old Girl, but always manage to find anything and everything else by her. Re Angle of Repose, I started reading it in grad school and was loving it, but school intervened and I never finished. I'm definitely looking forward to Exiles Return too.

      Glad you're enjoying Chelsea Concerto, and I hope you enjoy the Pecks too!

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    2. Scott, you put me on to Lemarchand's Death of an Old Girl when you did your blog on girls' school mysteries (starting with Christie's Cat Among the Pigeons) and I loved it! Happy hunting!
      Tom

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  2. I predict you will not regret the Bensons. And congratulations on all the beautiful Viragos! The sight of those still makes my heart beat a bit faster.

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    1. The Viragos have become much rarer creatures in recent years, so I was delighted to find six of them. There were a few others, in fact, that would have been duplicates, and I had to pick those up too and admire them for a few seconds before putting them back!

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  3. I lived in SF for years before I got married, and I regret never going to the Big Book Sale!

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    1. You missed out, Miggsy, but it's a good excuse for a return visit to SF!

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  4. I have turned completely GREEN with envy at your GINORMOUS book sale and your HUGE pile of treasures. Never ever in a 1000 years of book hunting would we have anything like that over here. * Huge sigh*.
    Never mind, I have 2 of your special new reprints coming soon - that will have to satisfy my book envy for a while!

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    1. Hmmmm, and I always say I'd love to move to England--maybe I couldn't leave the book sales after all??? Hope you love the new books, Sue!

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  5. I am so glad to see that I am not the only one that loves book sales. I lose all control when I am in a room with stacks and boxes of books, and I go all giddy. I see it as a treasure hunt! You found some real winners. I can't believe you got all those DES books at the same time. How fun! I look forward to your reviews of these books. Enjoy your trip!

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    1. If you could have been at the sale, Jennifer, you'd have seen quite a few people losing all control! And the DES books were really a shock, especially that there were still two more there four days into the sale.

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  6. You being altruistic and helping replenish library funds. That's what I tell myself when I buy books from the library. Also, if you need more justification - it's a cheaper hobby that Formula 1 racing or showjumping.

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    1. I do always tend to think, when I'm debating about whether I will really read a book or not, that the prices are ridiculously cheap and it's all for a good cause. Some of the books will likely be donated back too, so clearly you're right that it's all altruistic!

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    2. Cheaper, and takes up less space, too.

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  7. A good haul indeed. Those editions of HIGHLAND FLING and LUCKY JIM look exactly like my copies.

    I have to admit, despite the praise of many people I trust, I didn't much like the one LUCIA novel I read by E. F. Benson. In part I thought it really meanspirited.

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    1. I particularly like that "vintage" edition of the Amis book, Rich. And I wonder if, as another commenter said below, one doesn't have to be in a particular frame of mind to enjoy EFB. I guess I'll find out someday when I actually get round to reading him!

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  8. Ooh, Dude! That is a great looking copy of Thirkell's Marling Hall! You scored, man! (My little nephew would be so humiliated at me using his language!)
    Tom

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    1. Thanks, Tom! Well, one of the joys of getting older is that we can embarrass those younger than us, right?

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  9. Great Hall! Enjoy! I enjoy E. F. Benson, but do have to sometimes be in a "snarky" mood, as some characters like to score off others more than in some of my other enjoyed authors. If you take on the Mapp and Lucia ones you really should read in order, to watch the personalities develop. It is sad that your Mrs. Tim collection missed Mrs Tim Carries On, perhaps the best of the four. Do I dare say "Better Luck Next Time", when you got over 90 treasures this sale/give away?

    Jerri

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    1. You should have seen me searching for DES at the sale, Jerri. I found the first one and thought, wow, what a fluke. Then I found the second and thought, someone must have donated a collection--at which thought I was shouting across a crowded table at Andy to be on the lookout for more. Amazing to find six, but I do wonder if some other lucky browser found Mrs Tim Carries On...

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  10. Oh glorious. I wish I lived near a sale like that. And btw I have that very edition of Thirkell's Marling Hall.

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    1. Thanks, Grace! Full confession: I already had a perfectly nice paperback of Marling Hall, but you know how it is...

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    2. Even though I mostly read ebooks now, you will pry my hardcover and gorgeous paperback editions of I Capture The Castle out of my cold, dead fingers. Same for my Margery Sharps.

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  11. Hey, you snagged my Angela Thirkell! (Seriously, there is some worrisome overlap in our tastes, but hopefully we will avoid coming to blows.) I was there this year Wednesday and Friday.

    Per your apartment and the books - just don't let the fire marshal in! I had a small accident a few years ago with the stove, and the fire marshal came, looked around and then pronounced the sentence of doom to my landlady: "There are too many books in this apartment, and they are a fire hazard."

    My darlings had to be sent away to storage and I was henceforth subject to constant intrusion by the owner of my lodgings. Fortunately, I was eventually able to buy a house but you can't always count on this option being available.

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    1. Good advice to remember! I do occasionally cull the herd though, with much agonizing, so the total number of books in our apartment is never TOO much of a hazard. In San Francisco one has to worry about earthquake hazard too--I sometimes imagine just a moderate earthquake leaving the rest of the city unscathed but burying me under piles of books!

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    2. No, Scott, you don't understand. When the earthquake comes, the books will hold up the falling debris from above and give you a place to shelter in the stacks of books. Although there is that Hazel Holt/Mrs. Mallory book about someone crushed under books and Susan D's short story. So, take care you you store them!

      Jerri

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    3. Foose! What a tragedy! I can't imagine what that would feel like. (well perhaps I should, because it sounds like the premise for another story.)

      For anyone who's read The Guernsey Literary etc, remember near the beginning of the book, Juliet's fiance insisted her books should come off her shelves and be stored in the basement, to make room for his (I think) sports trophies. So she broke the engagement and kept the books. And then the flat was bombed and all her books were destroyed; ironically, they'd have been safe in the basement.

      But so glad you have a happy ending with a house AND the books.

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    4. Fortunately, although Andy sometimes shakes his head pityingly at me as I sort and reorganize my books, he has never once suggested I shouldn't have them! By the way, Rose Macaulay also has a short story about losing all her books and personal papers in the Blitz. Ugh.

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  12. What an amazing haul. I am very jealous, although I have been buying plenty this month since finding your blog and trawling through old posts. Not quite 96 though!

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    1. Oh, good, Brie! Glad you're finding things to read in my old posts, and glad you've found the blog.

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  13. Lord have mercy! An excellent haul - I am very, very impressed (not just with you; with Andy's tolerance!)

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    1. I believe Andy is being considered for sainthood, Simon. Saints are allowed to give occasional sarcastic and pitying glances, right?

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  14. Very envious of your haul this year. The book sales around me have been incredibly disappointing this year.

    On a high note though, I got an email from Amazon saying Bewildering Cares had shipped. Oddly the others I ordered haven't been shipped yet, but at least one is on its way!

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    1. Sorry your local booksales haven't been up to snuff, Melissa. I felt the same about ours last time, but it certainly improved this time! Hope you enjoy the new books--odd that Bewildering Cares could have shipped, as I didn't think it was released yet, but if so, all the better for you!

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  15. Reading this account of your treasure gathering gave me almost as much pleasure as if I'd been there myself. Thank you - I love the way books bring people together from all over the world. Tanya at ninevoices.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks, Tanya! And I enjoyed your Dorothy Whipple review at your blog.

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  16. This link should go to the Amazon US record for most at least of the Oct. 3 Furrowed Middle Brow releases. They are looking good!

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_8?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=furrowed+middlebrow&sprefix=furrowed%2Cdigital-text%2C226&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Afurrowed+middlebrow

    Jerri

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    1. I'm planning to share what I think is the exact same link in my next post later in the week! Thanks, Jerri.

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  17. Those D.E.S. books sell for $50 online not $3.That charity certainly missed a trick .

    Cindy

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    1. What a seller is asking and what people are willing to pay aren't necessarily the same thing, though.

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    2. This is true.One book i want has been £70 for 2 years.The seller told me he would take 10% off the price.I had to decline.
      Georgia.

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    3. I've flirted with the idea of a post about ridiculous prices on books. I think sometimes it's a case of a pricing algorithm gone berserk, as when I saw a copy of Ivy Litvinov's mystery--generally pretty readily available for less then $10--listed for nearly $1000!

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    4. I would feature RHODODENDRON PIE by MARGERY SHARP.£235--2 copies on Amazon uk.Do not all rush at once to buy.

      Tina

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  18. The 6 D.E.STEVENSONS cost $164.17 approx if bought on Amazon today.You paid $18.

    Sherryl

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    1. Good for Andy to know if I get hit by a bus, Sherryl! Otherwise, I intend to keep them on my shelves, but they were certainly a great deal!

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  19. Well Cindy maybe the charity have not got enough helpers to sort the books out.
    Brian P.

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    1. Actually, I think they make a point of not filtering out more valuable titles, at least for the most part. It's part of the appeal of the sale that people occasionally find treasures.

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  20. Oh Scott... all I can say is, "Good heavens!"

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