Book tidying fantasy camp

Yesterday was not the first time I fantasized about organizing books.

After a visit to the truly astonishing Gemeentemuseum in The Hague (think Mondrian not Rembrandt) my friend was on a mission to buy toys for Koko, a cuddly cat he and his husband recently adopted.

If it wasn’t for Koko’s entertainment needs, I never would have stumbled across this bookstore.

While he was weighing the merits of low effort cat toys, I noticed a particularly full used bookstore across the street.

I didn’t even catch the name of the store. I was mesmerized by the mess within.

Given that I knew most, if not all, of the contents would be in Dutch, I first satisfied myself with taking a picture from outside the shop. Plus the aisles couldn’t even really be called aisles, I didn’t think I would even fit inside. But then, after witnessing the cat toy exploration for about a minute, I thought it might be worth it to cross back over to the bookstore.

The books in the small English section were double-shelved. Pretty much everything I took home with me was hidden behind the front row.

Turned out they did have some Engels books. And it turned out to be a bit of a treasure trove. Although it was extremely difficult to find a place on the floor for my size 12 feet to stand, and forget about bending over–I knocked one stack over trying to do that–I wedged myself in for a rather successful and short fossick. It was a smallish section but it yielded pretty good results.

The heel of my foot was up in the air because I had a hard time being able to place my whole foot on the floor. Essentially my feet had to be perpendicular to each other in order to have both feet on the ground.


I would truly love spending a week helping to organize a store like this. But with most of the books in a language I don’t know, I’m guessing that would be pretty unsatisfying. I did my bit to deplete the stock but I don’t think it was enough to allow for much in the way of tidying things up. My guess is a couple thousand books would have to be sold in order to really see the floor again.

From top to bottom:

  • An earlyish Monica Dickens I had never heard of.
  • A thriller from Paul Gallico. To date I have only read his cosy, sweet stuff.
  • Speaking of cosy, sweet Gallico, Flowers for Mrs. Harris is by far my favorite. I think I only have a paperback at home and this neat little hardcover was in really good shape.
  • I’m a big fan of these Faber editions of Durrell and these are two titles I have never stumbled across in the U.S.
  • I pretty much buy any old green cover Virago’s that I know (or think I know) I don’t own.
  • Pretty sure I don’t have these Bensons. I know I don’t have Final Edition, which appears to be his final memoir. I have quite a few of these Hogarth editions at home. Probably getting dangerously to becoming completest about them.

All in all, a good job for about 15 minutes in a store where only about 1% of the stock was in English.

17 thoughts on “Book tidying fantasy camp

    • Thomas October 31, 2017 / 8:34 am

      That is very good to know. As I say I buy them whenever I find them because 9 times out of 10 I enjoy them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Barbara Messenger October 25, 2017 / 4:11 am

    Thomas- I thought of you a few days ago when I was in Inverness, Scotland and entered the Leakey’s Bookshop. It is HUGE and books stacked up all over the place including near a wood burning stove near the checkout desk! Books were pretty well organized as to genre but it drove me crazy that the titles were not shelved alphabetically by author. The place was two storied attached to a circular (old-fashioned) staircase. You could spend hours in there and I bought two Margaret Yorke mysteries that I hardly ever see in the USA.


    • Thomas October 31, 2017 / 8:35 am

      That sounds like heaven to me as long as I have a place to put my feet and the owner doesn’t mind me moving things about a bit.


  2. travellinpenguin October 25, 2017 / 5:59 am

    I love Flowers for Mrs Harris. Have heard of some of the others but not read them.What a fun experience. 🐧🐧🐧


    • Thomas October 31, 2017 / 8:36 am

      I’m actually not a fan of most other Gallico I have read. But this one is a crime novel. Very curious to see how he handles that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Su October 25, 2017 / 7:13 am

    Of course of course of course you’ve been watching PBS’s The Durrells in Corfu, yes? If not, season 2 just started a couple weeks ago, but you’ve got to watch all of season 1 first. One of the best things PBS has ever done, in my opinion. It’s pure genius.


    • Thomas October 31, 2017 / 8:37 am

      I think I have seen about two episodes. It is brilliant. The odd thing is, until we started watching that I had never put it together that Gerald and Lawrence were related.


  4. Karen October 25, 2017 / 10:23 am

    cat toys vs. used book store….no contest! great fun & great finds!


    • Thomas October 31, 2017 / 8:37 am

      I so agree. Even dog toys for Lucy would bore me.


  5. Thinking Makes It So October 25, 2017 / 12:42 pm

    The shop looked and felt like it had sustained an attack. The owner sat happily amongst the piles, reading. He barely noticed we were there.
    Great independent pet store, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jeane October 25, 2017 / 4:00 pm

    Now that looks like my kind of place. How lovely that you found some books to bring home, well worth the search it seems. Is that Lawrence Durrell related to Gerald Durrell? I am slowly collecting the latter’s books- I love his writings on animals- and have often wondered if I’d enjoy his brothers’ work as well, though I bet it’s really different. (Yes I saw the PBS series, too).


    • Thomas October 31, 2017 / 8:40 am

      They are brothers I think, but as I mentioned above it is only recently I realized that. I feel Lawrence is very different than Gerald. More atmospheric and frankly less accessible. Having said that I am a big fan of his Alexandria Quartet. Four books telling the story from four different points of view. I am looking forward to rereading them to try and figure out what it’s actually all about.


  7. Grier October 25, 2017 / 11:02 pm

    I read the two Benson memoirs this year and thought they were sublime.


  8. Liz Dexter October 30, 2017 / 6:35 am

    Good work! I haven’t heard of that Monica Dickens, either!


    • Thomas October 31, 2017 / 8:41 am

      I like her earlier stuff better so I have high hopes.

      Liked by 1 person

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