From first day to last day on my trip to Angleterre, I bought books. (Except for on the days while I was at the London Book Fair, surrounded and surrounded and towered over by books from the world over.)
on our Oxford day (a glorious one to be sure, perhaps the most glorious of all?)
Psychiatry To-Day, from just outside a used bookstore in a box of free books
*this one’s for my brother who will be studying psychiatry to-morrow. it’s one of those old charming books from the ’50s full of rubbish outdated information.
Once Upon a Time in the North (Philip Pullman), from Blackwell’s, the one with largest room full of books in the world
*since we were of course in Lyra’s Oxford, it was necessary to pick up this tale of when Iorek Byrnison and Lee Scoresby first met. there’s a hot air balloon paper game folded up nice in the back called “Peril at the Pole.” do let me know if you’d like to play.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll), from Alice’s Shop
*Lyra not being the only heroine hailing from Oxford, Claire and I popped into the shop dedicated to all things Alice where stereotypes of Japanese women’s interest in Alice were revealed to be enthusiastically true. It was a mecca. I don’t believe I’ve ever read the real and proper text of either Alice tale so picked up a two-in-one volume, with introductions by Will Self and Zadie Smith and illustrations by Mervyn Peake (who is not the original illustrator, mind you). On the plane home, I started reading Wonderland and it’s so very curious. Curiously compelling, as we say at ecw.
No books bought until Friday when I wandered around Claire’s neighbourhood of Bloomsbury popping into bookstores until I had to return home to unload my beauteous new things.
Moral Disorder (Margaret Atwood), from Lamb’s Bookstore on Lamb’s Conduit, round the corner from Claz
*Yes, I went to London and bought a Toronto author’s book and carted it back with me. Twas half off tho, as most if not all books in the shop were, so it was hard to resist. And now I am one step closer to that new year’s resolution from ages ago (errr, months ago), to read an Atwood. I failed on attempt one. This time I shall be victorious.
The Quantity Theory of Insanity (Will Self), from Lamb’s
*I have a certain tipping point when it comes to authors or books. If I am truly bombarded by the person’s name and have a peaked interest (you could talk to me all day about Danielle Steel and I won’t budge), then I cave and buy the book. So it goes with Will Self. I had not heard of him before London but during the fair (and in my Alice and on Claire’s bookshelf), Will was omnipresent. So when I saw him at the bookstore, half off, he was mine. The endorsement from Doris Lessing on the back sealed the deal. I’ll let ya know once I crack the spine.
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me (Roald Dahl), from Lamb’s
*This is my most favourite children’s book of all time. I have a large hardcover edition horribly dogeared from LOVE. My high-school yearbook quote was pulled from these pages (from memory, so i apologize for inaccuracies to the text):
we have tears in our eyes as we wave our goodbyes, we so loved being with you, we three. so do please now and then come and see us again, the giraffe and the pelly and me. all you do is to look at a page in this book cause that’s where we always will be. a book never ends when it’s full of your friends, the giraffe and the pelly and me.
The Victorian Chaise-Longue (Marghanita Laski), They Knew Mr. Knight (Dorothy Whipple), and Wise Virgins (Leonard Woolf), from Persephone Books, also on Lamb’s Conduit
*I first heard of Persephone Books, not surprisingly, from Kerry, who pickles this and that, and I certainly had to go and have a look. (“Persephone Books reprints forgotten classics by twentieth-century [mostly women] writers. Each one in our collection of seventy-eight books is intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written.”) The shop itself is teeny, with boxes and boxes everywhere. You climb over them to have a look at the shelves. All the books Persephone publishes are bound in grey but with an individual and always beautifully patterned endpaper. (Sort of hardish soft covers, with french flaps.) There were three women working in the shop/office and I must say it is my romanticized epitome of working in publishing. I shall have to return each time I’m in London. To pick up three more.
And so I was done. My luggage was packed. (I came with one piece and left with two.) I get to Heathrow in vair good time. Need to pick up a bottle of water for the plane. I should get that at W.H. Smith, shouldn’t I?
The Lady Elizabeth (Alison Weir), from W.H. Smith
*The deal was 2 books for 20 pounds. Appalling when I think of it now but then it seemed like quite the deal. This one was mainly so I could get the other one below. (Why didn’t I just buy one book for 12 pounds? Because I could spend 8 more and get another!) However, it’s all about the Tudors and our dear Queen Elizabeth the First, in a historical fiction way. I just might like it. And my mum might read it after.
Jordan: Pushed to the Limits (Katie Price), from W.H. Smith
*Katie Price a.k.a. Jordan is a glamour model turned author, tv personality, fitness video lady, etcetera, etcetera. (Oh she has a perfume too.) Claire and I had watched some of her reality show, Katie & Pete, and when I saw this, her third autobiography (she’s 29), I knew that it would be absolutely perfect for plane fodder. And it was. I sat down and read the whole thing. Read it walking to my gate. Read it during take-off. But then it was done. I shoulda found the other two. Next year.
When do you think I’ll stop being absolutely exhausted at 10 p.m. and then getting out of bed, after struggling to sleep in, at 6 a.m.?