14 books in 34 minutes

I was hoping they shipped but ended up having to put all 14 books into my overnight carry-on bag.
I was hoping they shipped but ended up having to put all 14 books into my overnight carry-on bag.

Over Memorial Day weekend I was back in the Twin Cities for a whirlwind trip of seeing old friends, doing a bit of ancestry research, some great classical music, and three or four trips to Dairy Queen. My uncle and aunt live a stone’s throw from a Half Price Books. I didn’t think I was going to pop in this time but then a friend of mine who works there let me know HPB was having a 20% off sale that weekend. How could I say no to that? So, on my way to meeting some friends for lunch I had just enough time to pop in and pick up a few things.

With only 30 minutes to browse (which turned into 34) I only got through about the letter L. By that point I started to really just skim and then had to have a really adult moment and walk away from the rest of the alphabet. Probably a good thing given that I already had 14 books in my basket.

The Plato Papers – Peter Ackroyd
I think this one is the biggest gamble of the bunch. In addition to thinking that Ackroyd is not my cup of tea (don’t know why) this one takes place in the year 3700. I am quite intrigued. 

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
I’ve seen the 1990s film, but never read the book. How could I pass up this retro-vintage edition?

This photo makes the book look huge. It's mass market size.
This photo makes the book look huge. It’s mass market size.

A Kind of Anger – Eric Ambler
I’ve read a library copy and I just finished the audiobook so why do I need a copy? I’m not sure, but it is a cool old copy that was fairly inexpensive.

The Brimming Cup – Dorothy Canfield
After reading and loving the Persephone-published novel The Home-Maker I have picked up some old copies of Canfield novels hoping I would like them half as much. I tried reading The Deepening Stream but found it tedious and did not finish it. It kind of put me off Canfield but the fact that Virago reissued this title makes me think it would be a good one for giving her another chance.

The Sea House – Esther Freud
It had the word village on the jacket flap and a cosy looking cover. Total roll of the dice.

Cute cover. Fingers crossed.
Cute cover. Fingers crossed.

Innocent Summer – Frances Frost
Vermont in the summer, pretty cover, lovely illustrations. This could fall into the buying it just because it’s pretty camp. Fingers crossed.

The Matchmaker – Stella Gibbons
Everyone loves Cold Comfort Farm. I don’t. I haven’t been able to finish the book and I don’t like the film. Despite the farm inspired cover of this lovely Vintage edition, I’m hoping it doesn’t include an untidy farm that needs tidying so that it is so damn untidy. (Can you see why CCF didn’t work for me?)
& Sons – David Gilbert
I remember when this one was all over the blogosphere, but I didn’t remember anything about it to the point where I picked it up, decided to get it, discussed it in a Tweet, and yet still didn’t make the connection that this was that book until I just sat down to write this blog post.

The Comedians – Graham Greene
The Lawless Roads – Graham Greene
Travels with My Aunt – Graham Greene
I’ve already read TWMA but given my recent interest in Greene I decided I need to own a copy. The other two I haven’t read and don’t really know anything about either of them.

Lucy is keeping us safe from book-marauding squirrels.
Lucy is keeping us safe from book-marauding squirrels.

The Diary of a Nobody – George and Weedon Grosssmith
I try to stay away from the Folio Society editions–I don’t like the slip cases for one thing–but the illustration of the lamp on the book spine got me to take it off the shelf. It appears to be a London-y tale written in diary format. I’m just hoping it isn’t too madcap.
In Our Time – Ernest Hemingway
I’ve never even heard of this one. In general I like Hemingway. Might have also been influenced by this old Scribner Library edition.

Free Air – Sinclair Lewis
I’ve read a lot of Lewis, but I had never even heard of this one. It was published the year before his breakthrough hit and seminal work Main Street.


23 thoughts on “14 books in 34 minutes

  1. Robert Zimmermann May 26, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    I’m a big Hemingway fan, so you chose a good one. I can’t speak for the collection itself, but only for his stories in general. When I first read them, it was in a complete collection and at random. I’ve been slowly working my way through the collections chronologically over the years. Haven’t made it to In Our Time Yet.

    And you have me intrigued on the The Plato Papers. Mainly because you said it’s set in 3700, haha.

    Hope the rest turn out to be good choices. I’ve gotten SO many (too many, if that’s a thing) books this weekend. Hoping there aren’t too many duds in there.


    • Thomas May 31, 2015 / 1:54 pm

      I didn’t even realize they were short stories. That fits in with The Readers episode we just recorded this morning. I think I want to read The Plato Papers soon before I lose he buzz I had when I bought it.


  2. heavenali May 27, 2015 / 7:34 am

    I haven’t heard of The Matchmaker – going to look it up now.


    • Thomas May 31, 2015 / 1:55 pm

      Not being a fan of CCF, I never even bothered to look what else she may have written.


  3. kaggsysbookishramblings May 27, 2015 / 8:52 am

    Lovely finds – well done! I read Diary of a Nobody decades ago and thought it was a hoot (it’s a satirical book, a diary kept by a lowly clerk) – your edition looks lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

      • kaggsysbookishramblings May 31, 2015 / 2:05 pm

        Definitely! :)


  4. Geoff W May 27, 2015 / 9:12 am

    I’ve never heard of it either, but I love that cover of Diary of a Nobody! And definitely enjoy Little Women, I remember thoroughly loving all three when I read them. Plus it’s a gorgeous vintage edition!


    • Thomas May 31, 2015 / 1:56 pm

      I just hope I can forget about Winona Ryder when I read it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Geoff W May 31, 2015 / 2:24 pm

        Bwhaahaahaa. I honestly don’t even think I thought about her while I read it, but maybe I did and have since blocked that out too.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. lakesidemusing May 27, 2015 / 11:10 am

    Impressive, Thomas! Even better than 9 books in 35 minutes.. my first trip to Strand Books in NYC.


    • Thomas May 31, 2015 / 1:57 pm

      I am usually too overwhelmed in the Strand to come out with more than one or two.


  6. Nadia May 27, 2015 / 11:18 am

    Love that you were able to find so many great books in such a short space of time. Hemingway, Greene, and Alcott – love it! I’ve heard great things about The Diary of a Nobody. Enjoy your new lovelies!


    • Thomas May 31, 2015 / 1:57 pm

      Do you think Hemingway, Greene, and Alcott would enjoy having dinner together? Something tells me no.


  7. nerdybookgirl May 27, 2015 / 1:52 pm

    I am suddenly possessed with a need to go used book shopping. You have some marvelous finds. Let me know what you think of the Ackroyd. He is an author I’ve read a few times, but we don’t quite click. I keep thinking I will really like him and end up feeling sort of “meh.”


    • Thomas May 31, 2015 / 1:59 pm

      I feel like that is how I would feel about Ackroyd. I can’t even tell you what else he is written. Whatever it is, it made me shy away from him.


  8. Jacquie May 27, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    I just looked up Innocent Summer on Amazon and it is over $26. They have two copies. I’m going to check out the Sinclair Lewis. I’ve read a lot of his work, but not this one. Sounds like you had a good 34 minutes at HPB


  9. Susan in TX May 28, 2015 / 9:43 am

    Quite the collection, and will be interested to see how you get on with the “gambles” that you found. I did a similar thing a few weeks back at an HPB clearance sale – nothing was over $2, so I felt great freedom to experiment with a few I’d never heard of based solely on the blurb…I don’t even do that at the library(!), so we’ll see how it goes. Happy reading to you.


    • Thomas May 31, 2015 / 2:00 pm

      A $2 clearance at HPB could lead to real problems. Might need to get the floor joists reinforced.


  10. quinn May 29, 2015 / 1:38 pm

    Oh Simon…I’m so envious….what a haul at HPB…I have had only slight luck at ours, a few gems but not several in one trip. I usually envy a blogger in TX (Susan perhaps) who has a very good HPB near her. Love book porn, thank u.
    Definitely would buy that cover w/ lamppost and sweet ‘Little Women’ copy (though would prob never read) and the Sea House cover would end up in my hands.
    Also the Vintage covers are ending up in my library, and I know it’s probably cause of their clean spine design, triggering my Europa jones, which was triggered by me total obsession w/ nyrb covers….
    thank u, thank u.


    • Thomas May 31, 2015 / 2:02 pm

      The one problem I have with those lovely, fun Vintage editions is that the paper quality is not good. Very pulpy and rough to the touch. NYRB on the other hand uses gorgeous paper.


  11. Alice June 1, 2015 / 3:50 am

    What a lovely haul! I hope you enjoy Little Women, it is a wonderful book.


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