Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Books, books, books, and more books
This is me, outside Piccadilly Circus, carrying a Hatchard's bag and a new tote bag. Hatchard's is London's oldest bookstore. Both bags are bulging with books; however, I just thought I was picking a few books up here and there.....
It was unpacking through all yesterday and again this morning, that I came to a realization: I am a bookaholic. I went to the city that is the center of fashion, I was even on Regent Street, on Piccadilly, in and around Hyde Park, and did I buy any clothing? Nope. Nada. Nothing. I bought books. I bought a lot of books. I bought more than even I knew, until this morning when the last bag was finally unpacked and I found more books stashed away at the bottom. Here, forthwith (having spent 3 weeks in England, I now talk like a person straight out of a novel!), is my list of books bought during my holidays:
- Cats' Miscellany - Lesley O'Mara
- Stolen Child - Keith Donohue
- A Residence At the Court of London - Richard Rush *second-hand bookshop *diary
- A Quiet Belief in Angels - R.J.Ellory
- The Butcher of Smithfield - Susanna Gregory
- The Hollow Crown - Miri Rubin *second-hand bookshop ** history
- The Suspicions of Mr Whicher - Kate Summerscale *history - DONE
- The Complete Pollysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby *essays - reading
- Not in the Flesh - Ruth Rendell
- The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
- Serious Concerns - Wendy Cope *poems
- The Fabric of Sin - Phil Rickman - DONE
- The Cup of the World - John Dickinson *second-hand bookshop
- Fingerprints - Colin Beavan *second-hand bookshop **non-fiction
- Women's Rites, Women's Mysteries - Ruth Barrett *non-fiction
- The Grandmother of Time - Zuzanna Budapest *non-fiction
- Good Food Magazine's 101 One Pot Dishes - BBC Books *non-fiction
- Case Histories - Kate Atkinson
- Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day - Winifred Watson (Persephone Books, thank you again Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, for bringing this publisher to our attention!)
- Poetry in the Making - Ted Hughes *non-fiction, poetry
- Tea and Coffee in the Age of Dr Johnson - ed Stephanie Pickford *non-fiction
- Mean Time - Carol Ann Duffy *poetry
- The Hawk in the Rain - Ted Hughes *poetry
- A Plague on Both Your Houses - Susanna Gregory
- A Novel in Year - Louise Doughty *essays on writing
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - A big shout out to all of you bloggers who mentioned this book in the months before Christmas, because otherwise I would have totally bypassed this book. It looks wonderful, about a group of book readers who correspond during Guernsey's occupation by the Germans in 1946. THANK YOU, MY GENTLE READERS!
- Un Lun Dun - China Mieville (it was out in paperback in England at least!)
- I Never Knew That About London - Christopher Winn. *Non-fiction. A historical guidebook to London. It's how I found out the history behind buildings in London. Who went where to church, who lived where, anything of note or of interest. Essential in my view. I wish I'd had this years ago! But then it wasn't out then...
- London's Strangest Tales - Tom Quinn *non-fiction. I've only peeked into it, but full of strange, quirky tales about eccentric people and laws. Again, essential for reading every night before exploring the streets of London the next day. Historical London especially comes alive, and if you are like me, and like to imagine what the streets and the city was like in times gone past, this book will help you imagine it.
- Beauty and the Beast - Max Eilenberg, illustrated by Angela Barrett. I had seen this book reviewed - I think on Endicott studios before it closed? somewhere online, and had been looking for this for quite some time. There, in the last bookstore I went into, on New Year's Eve, in a Borders off Charing Cross Road, I found it. It is hardcover, and the illustrations are gorgeous, moody and fantastical and full of wonder. I love it. It's a child's version with very grown-up drawings, and I wish I had had this growing up. It would easily have been my favourite book. I can hardly wait to read it to Holly-Anne, though I have to admit that I'll only be sharing it with her, I love it too much to give it away! It's a present for me!
So how many books was that? Er...30. I bought 30 books on my holidays!!! So in this new year of 2009, I proudly say that yes, I would rather buy books than almost anything else in the world!!!
To continue with the debate begun back in my post about what books to bring, to catch you up, here is what I did bring with me on Dec 15, on the airplane: Mistress of the Art of Death, and The Wood Wife. I did get a few pages of The Wood Wife read, but only 3 or 4. I just couldn't get into it. This period of not being able to settle down into it, or any other book I picked up, finally came home to me when I was in York on the weekend of Dec 19, and I was in the Borders bookshop, and I suddenly knew that I couldn't settle down because I had left Middlemarch half-read, and I desperately wanted to finish it! I looked around in the store for a cheap paperback copy, and they didn't have any. Only a hardcover version, which I wasn't going to bring back in my luggage! Then I found Phil Rickman's latest Merrily Watkins mystery in paperback, and I knew I could read it, and still hold where I was in Middlemarch in my mind. It's a trick I haven't used in ages, and one I learned long ago in university - how to stop reading at a point in a book and be able to pick it up some time later and finish it. It is a trick, because it involves many things for me, which includes thoroughly enjoying the book so I am immersed in it, and being able to contain the story in my head while I read something else. It just sits there in the background until I can get back to it. I can't do this with everything, and certainly if too much time goes by, I have to go back to the beginning and start over again. I think it is a trick that most of us who read, use, since so many of us have more than one book on the go! I am happy to say it worked this time, and Monday night, as soon as the kids were in bed, I read a few pages, and then more yesterday as I settled down into being back home. This means I will be able to continue with my updates!
The sad news is that I did not read much until after Christmas, so I did not complete any more books before the end of the year. I did finish The Fabric of Sin on Jan 1, so my husband said, why don't I add it to my 2008 totals? I said no, shaking my head. That would be cheating. I finished it today, so it counts for this year. So the good news is, it is Jan 7, and I have read two books already!!!
I will do book totals another day, I still have more putting away of things to do. I haven't written much about my trip yet because I am still getting pictures sorted and letting the trip settle in my mind. I will say that I love London, which I didn't quite know for certain until I realized that every time I was in the city I was taking deep breaths like I was breathing it in!
York, as always, was breathtaking for me. It is where I am most at home in the world. There is something about the view as I enter the city walls from the train station and see York Minster rising from the city centre, that makes me whisper 'home' to myself, every time I see it. The picture below was taken along the city walls (York still has its original city walls around most of the city). This is one of my favourite pictures so far:
So as soon as i get my favourite pictures chosen, I'll post some on here. For now, I hope you are enjoying some new books in this new year! And as soon as I can, I will be coming by to say hello and catch up on what you've been reading while I've been away, Gentle Reader....
It's good to be home!