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As the year starts drawing towards Christmas, I have to stop buying books – it is obviously not easy for me. However, buying books for other people does help to scratch the itch. The Librarything Virago group have a lovely Christmas gift exchange – which naturally involves books. I am currently enjoying selecting and buying books for the person whose name I drew. It’s one of the gifts I enjoy buying most each year.

So, the latest books to come into my house (that are for me) could be seen as my last hurrah for the year.

Some second-hand book shopping while I was away in Devon at half term yielded these lovely books.

Blind Messenger by Joanna Cannan (1941)– a bit of a rare find I thought, so I sort of took a chance on it. I loved Princes of the Land published by Persephone, and I have High Table by her tbr – Liz read it and liked but didn’t love it I seem to remember. I could really do with the print being larger – but beggars can’t be choosers – I will need to turn on all the lights when I finally read it.

Mrs Reinhardt and other stories by Edna O’Brien (1978)– I have often thought I haven’t read enough Edna O’Brien – and I do love short stories. I actually have another Edna O’Brien book tbr that I shall most likely be reading soon for my ACOB.

Mary O’Grady by Mary Lavin (1950) – a green virago I didn’t have – the story of a woman’s life, and motherhood in Dublin in the first part of the twentieth century.

The Ante-room by Kate O’Brien (1934) – a modern virago – set in Ireland in the late nineteenth century. I haven’t read Kate O’Brien yet – though I do have another of her novels on my tbr bookcase. I must say this does look very good.

Before going away, I started ruminating on Katherine Mansfield – I saw something on line about her which got me thinking. It ended in predictable fashion – I went looking for books.

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The Aloe – by Katherine Mansfield (1930) her only novel – well novella really – was later reworked to become her famous short story Prelude. She wrote The Aloe to capture her recollection of childhood. I have been wanting to get to know Katherine Mansfield better for a long time, I read The Montana Stories earlier this year – ever since when, I have had this yearning for more. Well I haven’t been able to fit more in to my A Century of Books – but I am planning on reading this very soon after I complete the challenge.

You may remember me posting about the lovely Second Shelf books – well despite their website not being completely up and running yet (you can’t shop from it just yet) I managed to order myself two reasonably priced Katherine Mansfield first editions. The arrived wrapped up like little presents (they were presents to myself!) and I was delighted with the look and feel of these books by an author I first read a few years ago but fell properly in love with earlier this year. So, I bought The Collected Stories (1945) and The Doves Nest (1923) I have already read a lot of the stories in these two books, but I will want to read them again one day, whether I should read first editions I never really know, probably collectors would say not to (I do sometimes read my first editions – though I don’t have many – books are for reading – aren’t they?)

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I have now ordered a surprise first edition from them – which I think get sent out in a couple of weeks. I have seen so many people tweeting their delight with their surprise first editions – that I caved in – surprises are exciting. I am really going to have to rein in the book spending next year – I have gone a bit mad lately – but the joy of books coming through the post is irresistible. I will no doubt let you know what I get when it arrives (I’m calling it my early Christmas present to myself).

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Something else I discovered because of Twitter – was book buddle – I bought one with pretty poppies on, but they come with lots of designs. A good potential Christmas gift too – a padded sleeve to protect your book when you are carrying it around in your bag. I love mine and it has already accompanied me around the city on various buses as well as on my holiday to Devon. A simple but useful idea. How did I manage without one so long?

So, how is your shopping bag for books? Bought anything good recently?

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A little something for the weekend.

You might have seen me mentioning the Second Shelf on my September in review post the other day. So now my copy of their first ever quarterly has arrived and I thought I would share a few little tit-bits with you.

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It’s a lovely, quality publication, bringing together women’s writing and rare, collectable books. Featured in this quarterly are publishing houses I had never heard of – and writers completely new to me – names like Dawn Powell, Mary Butts and Miriam Tlali, (they sound wonderful) alongside names I am very familiar with, Sylvia Plath, Barbara Comyns, Katherine Mansfield and Jeanette Winterson among them. I am always excited to find out about writers I might want to read, even if their books really are as rare as hens’ teeth. It makes second hand book shopping more and more of a treasure hunt.

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I love what Second Shelf are doing, inspiring readers to start their own precious collections of wonderful books by women. Now what could be better? Of course, I do own lots and lots of books by women, but a few more can’t hurt – can it?

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Now, not everyone can afford to collect these rare books, many of them are well outside my price range – but it is nice to dream. The images are gorgeous, and there are several more affordable volumes too I have been seriously tempted by. There is something about an old book with a bit of history that is special I think. I am not even that bothered about owning true first editions, a few of my Agatha Christie ‘firsts’ are actually book club editions, but I still love them.

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I was excited to discover that the very author I was reading (and have now finished – review to come) Tove Ditlevsen was also featured. Early Spring, a memoir that I was reading the day my Second Shelf quarterly arrived seems to be a rather hard to find book even in paperback.

I can see my Second Shelf quarterly becoming a must have – such a fabulous resource to return to time and again, and the pictures – I will never tire of looking at them.

I hope I have whetted your appetites – those of you are able to support Second Shelf by subscribing I’m sure you won’t regret it. The website will be up and running soon, in the meantime if there were things you wanted to buy you can email them.

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Tales from the tbr

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It’s been a while since I did one of these posts – but there are some books that have come into the house – so I thought I would share them with you.

I spent a lovely five days in the Isle of Wight towards the end of August, one day half way through my visit I spent a pleasant morning mooching around Ryde – tea was drunk before a quick look at a couple of charity shop bookshelves. I was drawn to a shelf of vintage hardbacks and walked away with these:

The Greater Darkness (1963) – David Rubin
Another Woman’s House (1947) – M. G Eberhart
The Flight of the Falcon (1965) – Daphne du Maurier

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I suppose I have taken a bit of a risk with those first two – as I know absolutely nothing about either the books or their authors, but they do look really good, and Daphne is always a safe bet. All three probably on the back burner until after A Century of Books is finished.

The week before I went back to work, I met up with a friend for a catch up – we met at Waterstone’s and so the inevitable happened. Two more I can’t read for ACOB and I really, really want to read them, I shall have to see if I can squeeze them in.

Warlight (2018) by Michael Ondaatje
The Librarian (2018) Salley Vickers

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My sister went to Astley Book Farm with a friend – and I gave her a short list of things to look for (short because I shouldn’t really be acquiring more books, should I?). She found Plagued by the Nightingale (1931) by Kay Boyle.

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On Saturday I met up with some friends from the Librarything Virago group when they visited Birmingham, and I was given a lovely green edition of Olivia (1949) by Olivia (aka Dorothy Strachey). I did have something else put aside for 1949 of ACOB which I still have to read – but perhaps I could read this instead – it’s much shorter than the other book.

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I received a publicity email from Handheld press the other day. They kindly sent me a pdf of Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner which they are bringing out at Hallowe’en. I won’t be reading the pdf just now I just don’t have the time (ACOB!) – and I have already read most of the stories in this collection when I read The Selected Stories of Sylvia Townsend Warner. If you are looking for something whimsical and a bit different this Hallowe’en – then you could do worse than invest in this little volume. Some of you probably already know Sylvia Townsend Warner is one of my favourite writers.

A Century of Books update: I have completed 72 – very nearly 73 – so 100 by the end of December is looking quite possible. What will be hard is sticking to the prescribed books and not veering away, I can’t stray too far off the path if I am going to do it.

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On Saturday, I went down to London with Liz to meet other Librarything/blogging friends for a little catch up and book buying fest. If there is one thing my little old house doesn’t need its books – but while book shops exist – I buy books.

I like a train journey, plenty of time for Liz and I to chat and read – it was lovely. I was reading an old green Virago Death Comes For the Archbishop – by Willa Cather which I have now finished – wonderful! Liz was reading A Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller.

On arrival in London we headed straight for Charing Cross Road, where Liz and I met Karen, Luci and Claire and enjoyed a marvellous lunch at Gaby’s a falafel place where I would definitely eat again.

There was time for a good old chat too at lunch, and as we marched purposefully between bookshops. Luci had gifted us all books – she always arrives with a bagful ready to find new homes, I snapped up a beautifully pristine green Virago called None Turn Back by Storm Jameson. It is the third in the trilogy which began with Company Parade – which I read a while ago – just need the second volume now.

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We happily rooted through the shelves at Any Amount of Books and Henry Pordes on Charing Cross Road, two simply wonderful shops where I have found glorious treasures in the past. On Saturday, I bought one book in each.

Saraband by Eliot Bliss I found in Any Amount of Books, another greenie – which I didn’t know anything about but it is in superb condition, and looks really good. It is apparently similar to Frost in May – no bad thing. It is a coming of age story about a young girl who lives with her grandmother, develops a close friendship with her cousin Tim, and is sent to a convent school.

My next purchase came a couple of doors up at Henry Pordes.
The Orchid House by Phyllis Shand Allfrey. It is a novel set in the decline of the colonial era on a Caribbean Island.

We made a quick stop at the Oxfam bookshop – where I have found things in the past – but didn’t buy anything (shocking I know) Luci donated the rest of the books she had brought to give away. We hurried on to the London Review Bookshop, where I treated myself to a new hardback.

2016-11-20_20-00-28The World Gone Mad – the diaries of Astrid Lindgren 1939 – 1945. I think I have a strange fascination with war diaries and memoirs, and still have the Persephone edition of Mollie Panter Downes London War Notes to read.

We reached the Persephone shop just as it was getting dark, and perhaps Lamb’s Conduit Street is seen at its most atmospheric at such times. I bought six Persephone books, four as gifts so I can’t show a photograph of those – though two are for Liz’s Christmas present and one for her birthday in January – she has been instructed to forget.

The two I bought just for myself were:

Every Good Deed and other Stories by Dorothy Whipple – a new Whipple, I could not buy it – and I can’t wait to read it, I might save it for the Christmas holidays.
Long Live Great Bardfield; the autobiography of Tirzah Garwood, who I had to confess to knowing nothing about but it does look excellent.

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It was a lovely day, rounded off by half an hour in a pub close to the Persephone shop – they didn’t have a machine to make my tea – so I had mulled wine- and my goodness it was nice. Liz and I then walked back to Euston where we caught our train home, having thoroughly enjoyed our busy, bookish day.

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I wonder what is the collective noun for a large group of Virago collectors on a mission?

 

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Yesterday I went to London to meet up with some members of the Librarything Virago group – and to buy some books. We all know I have no need of more books – but what’s need ever had to do with it?

I took my friend Meg along with me – as I am hopeless at finding my way around London, luckily Meg is a book lover too, and so she fitted right in. Several members of the group I had met a few times before, including Simon from stuckinabook whose blog I am sure you all read, and it was great meeting up with them again. But it was even more exciting to meet up with people who I feel I know really well already but hadn’t met before, including Karen from Kaggsy’sbookishramblings, and Laura who many of you will remember used to blog at Laura’s Musings – and is over from Philadelphia for a week. There were a couple of other Librarything members who know Laura from other LT groups and so we made a pretty large group when we gathered in the café of Foyles yesterday morning.
foylesI resisted temptation in Foyles only my second ever visit there – I had a lovely cup of tea instead – I was saving my brand new book shopping for the Persephone shop at the end of the day. Oh but isn’t Foyles a wonderful shop? I wish it was here in Birmingham – though I might have to sell the house.

 

20140322_124850From Foyles 12 excited Librarythingers made our way down Charing Cross road to Henry Pordes and Any Amount of books – two shops I have been to before and had been looking forward to – I bought four books there. Two Willa Cather books, Death Comes for the Archbishop and The Professor’s House – for my continuing Cather kick, a beautiful VMC designer edition of Frenchman’s Creek, which I will read on my birthday as Daphne and I are birthday buddies, and The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West. henreypordes]

 

 

While in Any Amount of books we were joined by Luci – who always brings a bagful of lovely books with her to share out. Yesterday was no exception at lunchtime Luci’s books got passed around and I think most of them found new homes. anyamountbooks

 

 

pancakeWe then went for lunch – and a welcome sit down – we all wanted to examine our purchases too I think. Lunch was at My Old Dutch in Holborn. A Dutch pancake house – beautiful paper thin pancakes with a massive range of fillings spread on top – like a pizza – I had seafood – it was divine. Luci’s books got passed around as we waited for the food and I acquired three and happily pressed some on Meg. So thank you Luci for Dangerous Calm an edition of short stories I don’t have by my favourite woman writer, The Tortoise and the Hare and The Rehearsal.

After lunch we headed for the Oxfam bookshop in Bloomsbury – what a great shop it is – and I bought two lovely books, Jigsaw; an unsentimental education by Sybille Bedford, and The Village by Marghanita Laski, a lovely Persephone edition, with its bookmark! I have The Village already in a 1950’s hardback edition, but I had wanted the Persephone edition to go with it – it’s a fantastic book. We then headed to the London Review Bookshop – not a shop I have ever been to before – it is a beautiful shop and there were a lot of gorgeous temptations laid out before us. However I found a chair and sat down and resisted temptation as the books were all brand new full price – and I was conscious of having spent a little already. london review bookshop

persephoneshop1Then it was Persephone time. I just love that shop, three people had had to leave by this time so there were ten of us and we did rather fill the space of that lovely shop. I bought three (one of which is a birthday gift from Liz – though my birthday isn’t till May – does that mean I have to give it to her to wrap?) Bricks and Mortar, Tea with Mr Rochester and Tell it to a Stranger – the latter two short stories, I find I adore Persephone short stories. Those Persephone purchases brings my Persephone collection to 72 (I had been saying all day it was about 60 – seems I miscalculated) 11 of them unread on my tbr.persephoneshop2

While some people rushed off to catch trains etc. – six of us went across the road for a very welcome cup of tea. It was then time to head back to Euston for our train home, we decided to walk, and a lovely walk it was too, a bit cold and breezy but lovely bright blue skies above. Though as we crossed the road in front of Euston station just after 5 O’clock there came an almighty rumble of thunder – and we headed inside, probably just in time. I sat back on the train with a contented sigh, I was tired but it had been a lovely day filled with wonderful people, bookish loveliness and one amazing pancake.

 

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