No, don’t get excited, I am not giving up blogging. But I am finished, finally, with Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. They is much to enjoy about this epic tale of India told in an epic 1,471 pages. What’s my take on it? It really is a wonderful book, and for someone who wants a broad sweep of Indian historical fiction this is a good thing. But, like the amazing War and Peace, losing 500 pages would not have harmed this novel. I mainly cared about the story line of Lata finding a suitable boy to marry. After all that reading, I was NOT pleased with her outcome. Phooey.
As most of you know, I have been avoiding e-books for a billion reasons. Well, in the past three weeks or so I have read four, yes four, books on Kindle for iPad. Now before some of you start jumping up and down, just know that I am still not a fan and don’t plan on making it a habit. What happened is this, as I strove to finish the final books of my Century of Books, I really became impatient. One night around midnight I decided I was in no mood for my choice for 1939 (Katherine Anne Porter’s incredibly short Pale Horse, Pale Rider) so I needed something else from that year. Minutes later I decided it would be my first Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None. But what is a boy to do at midnight? Click, click, click, by 12:10 I was reading Agatha. Same thing happened with the three other titles I read on Kindle. Instant gratification.
I’ve already changed my RIP list
I seem to love modifying lists as much as I like making them. After about 15 minutes with the Mulisch on my RIP VIII list I tossed it aside. Was reaaallly not floating my boat. So I need find a book to replace it. That shouldn’t be too hard because…
I caved to peer pressure (a bookstore story)
John is out of town this week and I had been feeling the need to root around in piles of used books. I thought of driving out into the wilds of Maryland to have a fossick at the three locations of Wonder Books, however, I balanced that with the fact that I really don’t need to be buying any books at the moment. But then the day dawned all grey and cool and it began to feel quite bookish. But still, I wasn’t going to go. And then Amanda posted the following on Facebook: “I tried to resist, but I cannot do it. I have to go to the used bookstore. I need old book smell and green Virago spines.” Who could resist that? I couldn’t.
|With this cover, I won’t be reading it in public.|
So off I went. There are three locations of Wonder Books. Hagerstown, Frederick, and Gaithersburg. I decided to go to all three. I drove the 70 or so miles to the furthest (farthest?) one in H’town then work my way back toward DC. Wonderbooks is a place that essentially buys your books by the pound, except they don’t weigh them, they just take a look at your bag and say $3 cash or $5 trade. I was a little taken aback by this. Did they really not want to comb through my titles first to see what amazing things I was selling? And then I thought, who cares. Probably wouldn’t get much more if I did.
But then I went into the store and was reminded that their prices are really quite high despite that the condition of their stock isn’t exactly stellar and especially since they aren’t paying city rents, nor are they paying much of anything for their stock. In fact, I probably had 20 books in my bag that comes out to twenty-five cents per book. And that is on the trade price, it would be fifteen cents per book on the cash deal. So anyway I start to have a look around in their paperback section and was startled to see that all of their mass market paperbacks were $2.95 no matter what condition they were in.
But when you find something you want, what can you do? I discovered later that the H’town store is my favorite of the three locations. It seems to be the biggest and it has stock that seemed to have a different mojo then the other two stores. They have tons and tons and tons of old mass paperbacks. Thankfully they break those down by Lit, General Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Sci-Fi, etc. In the Lit section it really feels like they must get a ton of old student-owned copies. Not only did they have about 50 copies of Howards End, but they had lots of old, very cool, editions of it. Some reminding me of my college days 20 years ago and many more 30 to 50 years older than that. But then again, I wasn’t in the market for Howards End. I have two copies already.
So what was I looking for? These days it is pretty easy to find whatever book I want. Even obscure ones can be had from an Internet seller as long as I am willing to pay. I decided to be very focused. I wanted to look for more non-Lucia Bensons, more DE Stevenson, and maybe a book or two that might fill in the gap on my RIP VIII list.
Very long story short: One mass market paperback non-Lucia Benson, a few old green Penguins, Dr. Jekyll, and Dracula to help fill in the empty spot on the RIP list, and best of all, I managed to come up with one mass paperback DE Stevenson that I don’t own.
Compared to some other book-buying excursions this is a somewhat anemic result, but finding the one needle in the three-store haystack, the Stevenson, made the day a complete and total success.
New episode of The Readers is available
Thanks to everyone’s kind comments about my debut as Simon’s co-host on The Readers podcast. I am having so much fun doing it. Simon keeps me giggling pretty much the entire time. Our newest episode is out in which we discuss what it means to be a discerning reader and what our reading habits are. If you don’t subscribe on iTunes you can always follow this link and stream it from the website.