Tuesday, June 4, 2013

On the waterfront yet lured by books

Not surprisingly, I resonated to the entire roundup of "signs you're addicted to books" from Buzzfeed. Like my father before me, I have been sternly admonished by my partner to get rid of an equal number of books before bringing any more into the house. Not only is haunting used bookstores one of my top pastimes, but I work for Daedalus and need to obtain books from them with which to blog. Right?? What's a girl to do? Last weekend I travelled to the idyllic town of Mathews, VA, right on the Chesapeake Bay. Knowing me to be a rabid bibliophile, my kind hostess kept dropping hints about the book sale the library had every Saturday in a house behind it.
No, no, no, I repeatedly demurred. I'll just keep strolling on the shore, observing waterfowl, sipping wine, and taking the occasional outdoor shower. But at last the group wore me down and we journeyed to said book sale. Well, I couldn't believe my eyes. Shepherded by an elderly angel, this "book sale" was organized like a real bookstore, with the quality hardbacks and paperbacks all arranged by category as well as being alphabetized. The kicker was that they were almost all $1!! Not to mention the back room, where the contents were purported to be 50 or 25 cents. Besides that, the literary quality of the offerings was stupefying! This place was no intellectual backwater, for sure. I had warned my companions, but they truly had no idea of my addiction. I went into book superhero mode, picking and stacking and gloating. Do you know that feeling where time stands still and you're in the zone? I used to get it at the Vassar Book Sale in DC, an annual madhouse where I got some of my all-time favorites. After who knows how long, my friends tried to pry me away—and I was still ensconced in the fiction. My reminding them of prior warnings not to let me near the sale did not mollify them. So I had to take my accumulated treasures (one enormous shopping bag's worth) and split.
Upon returning home, I was met by a long-suffering sigh at the sight of it, but I don't care. I got great stuff (including a first edition of William Maxwell's The Chateau and the new Ruth Rendell), and there's always a nook or cranny somewhere!
Note: the graphics above are by Celine Loup, the dear daughter of cherished friends. Her website has many more outstanding illustrations for various publications, and you can support her burgeoning career by purchasing modestly priced prints of these or other graphics (Lady Murasaki is calling to me) from her shop.

18 comments:

  1. Buzzfeed missed a couple: You've figured out how to do common chores with only one hand and occasional eye contact (pic of girl stirring overboiling pot while reading).
    Also, you prefer books in which the previous owner has left discreet annotations (there used to be a chap who wrote "sans valeur" in the books of the public library--it was a challenge to find something good about the book!)

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    1. Oh, JP, so you too were given The Ultimatum! ("One more book and..")
      If you interrupt a reader in her reading, she will have the drowned look of a swimmer raising her head above water, or of a sleeper rudely awakened from a dream.

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    2. Absolutely! This calls for an illustration...

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  2. haha I love the Buzzfeed list, my favorite line is from Stephen Colbert "When I read books it's to escape. It's so I don't have to talk to people."

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  3. Wilhelm Thaddeus Fink The FirstJune 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    We certainly understand the "zone." There's nothing quite like it! I've only experienced it twice - - @ Powell's during a sidewalk sale and @ The Book Thing in Baltimore. Booknerds are the only true hunters:)

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    1. After regretting owning so many books upon moving to Baltimore, The Book Thing being only a block away has made the situation SO much worse.

      p.s. - is there a Wilhelm II?

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  4. I can relate big time. I have no more room.

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  5. I just finished reading Joe Queenan's book about reading, One for the Books (2012), which discusses many of these same issues. (It was the 119th book I've read in 2013, which perhaps means I should admit I have the addiction.) I agree with Queenan that first editions and audiobooks are of no interest to me, disagree with him on his dislike of libraries, his disgust with e-readers, and his refusal (most of the time) to take book recommendations from anyone.

    p.s. Only made it to the Vassar Book Sale in D.C. once; last year I happened to be along the VT/NH border when the 51st annual Five Colleges Book Sale took place. Where I tried to control myself...

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    1. Imagine that--a book about reading books! Reminds me of a painting by Vermeer of a painter painting...

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    2. You are good at keeping lists I noticed (from this comment and from your previous one about all the vocab words you assimilated in the past year). A good role model for us all!
      The Five Colleges one is new to me ... a good thing I guess it's so far away.

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    3. I've read a lot of books about reading books (and probably could assemble a list, but it would take a while). Right after posting that comment above I noticed another good one on a nearby shelf: Books (2010), by Larry McMurtry. David Denby's Great Books (1996) and Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed My Life (1998) also come to mind.

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  6. RPS raises an interesting issue: Are e-readers a-) the only way I could read 119 books per year without the floor collapsing under me or b-) an anathema akin to instant breakfast?

    I have a couple of e-books but find reading off a screen bothersome. What do the addicts of the Glean think?

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    1. I tried reading a book on the i-pod. i must admit i did not read any instructions (of course it didn't come with any), but I was driven mad when trying to read in bed--every time I turned or made any kind of movement, the screen would whip around to a different angle. It was M.C. Escher-land. Out with the new; in with the old!

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    2. I am not a huge advocate of using e-readers and iDevices to read things, but just to let you know. On your iPod, you should be able to double-tap the home button, which brings up the "apps currently running" at the bottom of your screen. If you swipe that little row of apps currently running to the right (navigate to the row to the left of the one on which you started), there is a button with an icon that looks like an almost complete circle with an arrow at one end. That is your screen orientation lock. Tap the icon so that there is a small padlock symbol inside the icon.

      Twist, tilt, and turn your iPod to your heart's content!! No wibble-wobble!

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    3. THANKS for the tutorial! I wish you did housecalls, because man do I have issues w/ my phone!

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    4. I have yet to buy an e-reader, although when I am around folks reading on them, I do tend to get a little bit jealous. That said, I have a few e-books on my laptop (and by few, I mean more than I could fit into a carry-on so I can have a ridiculous plane reading selection). Therefore, I get the appeal of having many, many books in a smaller space than one book.

      I have heard some whispers about the possibilities of used e-book selling/re-selling, which is interesting...

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  7. As there are no bookstores in my neighborhood, the decision to stop the public libraries' used book sales came as a hard blow. The sales, which took place in an airless room in the back of the branch, offered buys for $1 and less, proceeds to fund the library. But Bloomberg stopped all this.
    Reading in bed usually ends for me with the plop of the book slipping from my grasp to the floor. So buying an e-reader is a hazardous proposal.

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    1. I busted my lip while readin on my kindle in bed....so yes...it can be dangerous!! :D

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