Thursday, June 26, 2014

Huge Haul Part 3: The Golden Girls

The last part of the haul! This part is dedicated to the Golden Girls. The oldies but the goodies. The dusty ones.... you get the drift.

I love buying vintage books. They often have so much history to tell. You never know what you come across when flipping through old, used books. I once found a letter a grandmother wrote to her granddaughter. Really cute. If the books are signed by the previous owner I love to look him up online and try and find out who he was. It's so interesting.

The first book in the oldies category is Avalon by Anya Seton. I had never heard of it before but it's seems interesting and I love the cover. The story is set in Anglo-Saxon England, Iceland and Greenland. I really like stories set in viking times so this should be a fun read. 

The next book I got was Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter. It's a story about a group of people sailing from Mexico to Europe. Apparently it's an allegory regarding Nazism and whatnot. This one might be a hit and miss for me, we'll see. 

Coming up next: another London book! This time it's a journal, Boswell's London Journal 1762-1763 to be exact. In this fine journal Boswell tells us, among other things, about when he contracts gonorrhea from his mistress Louisa. Charming read, I'm sure. He also meets Samuel Johnson (nothing to do with the gonorrhea, I hope) and later writes his biography.

I actually found that biography and bought it at the same place I got the Journal but not on the same trip there. Funny coincidence! The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell is one of those old, tiny cute books that have really thin paper and tiny letters. I will probably never read it but I just couldn't not get it! 

Another one of those tiny books is Plays and Players, Essays on the Theatre by Bernard Shaw. Basically just a collection of Shaw's theatre essays. Pretty self explanatory, really.

And now for a real classic. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I have seen the film and it's fantastic so I, naturally, have always wanted to read the book. It's supposed to be really good. The only problem I have is the copy I got is nothing special. But I figured if I liked it I would get a better copy later on. And it was so cheap! 

My first Wodehouse! I have always wanted to get into P.G.Wodehouse but never gotten around to it yet. But now I have a copy of Full Moon so I can get my Wodehouse on! I got this from the same guy that sold me The Passage (see previous post). Really cheap and in good condition, so yay! 

If you were living in Ireland in the late 1800's and early 1900's this next book would almost certainly be on your bookshelf. Knocknagow - or The Homes of Tipperary by Charles J. Kickham was one of the most popular books at that time. It was published in 1879 and you could almost safely say that everyone owned a copy. I love reading facts like these about books and I think this book will be really interesting.

Another biography made its way onto me shelves. The Animals Came in One By One by Buster Lloyd-Jones. Buster was apparently THE vet to go to in England and this autobiography tells of his work and life. It seems to be a really cute book.

Next up: a collection of crime stories. Best Stories of the Underworld was put together by Peter Cheyney. It's basically a collection of short crime stories (the underworld). I'm not heavy into crime stories but this looked cool.

I remember reading the next one in school and absolutely loved it (the only one in my class if I remember correctly) and the film was really great as well. It's Rebecca but Daphne du Maurier. I absolutely love this edition, it's just beautiful. 

And now, the last book. The pièce de résistance. The Works of Lewis Carroll. This thing is massive and contains not only stories but also games and puzzles. I have never read anything by Carroll so I can't wait to sink my teeth into this one!

Phew! That was long. This is the end of this haul but there will be more!
I really hope you liked it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Huge Haul Part 2: The Slightly Used But Still Kinda New Ones

Yes, that is the name for Part 2.
This post will be slightly longer than the first one. I got all of these books (except for one) from a second hand/antique book store I sometimes go to. I can't let my self go there too often because I go kinda crazy in there and I just don't have the space for all the books I could buy from there. First world problems, eh?

Anyway, on to the books.

The first book is a little water damaged but that has never stopped me buying a book. It is The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. I have never read anything by Iris Murdoch but I have known of her for years, ever since I saw a TV movie about her when I was very young (don't know why I still remember). So I'm excited to read this.

The next book is the only book I didn't get from the second hand book store. It is The Passage by Justin Cronin and I got it from a guy in a book swap/selling Facebook group. I was so glad when I saw it on there because I bought the second book in The Passage series earlier this year without realizing it was a sequel. So annoying when that happens, isn't it? Anyway, I was just so glad I didn't need to order it online or anything. The only thing that I don't like is that it doesn't match the other book (The Twelve). Oh, well. I can live with it. Hopefully.....

I got two autobiographies (kinda). The first one is Paula by Isabel Allende. It is Allende's writings from when her daughter was in a coma. It will likely be a hard thing to read about but interesting.

The other one is A Life of Privilege, Mostly by Gardner Botsford. It is a WW2 related autobiography so I'm excited!

On to more fiction. I got a book called A Widow for One Year by John Irving. Never heard of it before and never read anything by Irving but it looked good and it was cheap. Don't really need any other reason to buy a book....

Now, this next one I'm really excited for. It is The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. It's an historic novel about the Salem witch trials. I have always been fascinated by this topic so this book should be right up my (Diagon) alley.

OK, I love silly things and when I saw this book I just felt giddy! The Fourth Bear is a second book in the Nursery Crimes series by Jasper Fforde (yes, Nursery Crimes). It's basically a crime novel about DCI Jack Spratt who is the head of the Berkshire Nursery Crime Division. The Nursery Crime Division handles cases involving nursery rhyme characters and other PDRs (persons of dubious reality). How fantastically silly does that sound? It just makes me chuckle.

The next book was definitely one of those "buy for the sake of buying" kind of things. Although I love London and everything to do with London I highly doubt I will ever read this book. It is The City of London Volume 1: A World of its Own 1815-1890. It looks a bit too political to be honest but whatever, It was real cheap and it has London in the title. Yes, that is all I need.

I have one more book for this post and it is another history books. British History by Rodney Castleden is a chronological dictionary of dates. So it basically lists everything (everything noteworthy, that is) that happened each month of each year from 8000 BC to 1991 (when the book was published). It will come in handy one day, I'm sure (I say that about most books to justify buying them).

That is it for part 2. Stay tuned for part 3, it will be a blast!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Huge Haul Part 1: The New Ones

Here is Part 1: The New Ones.

I don't have many new books in this haul, like I said in the previous post most of the books come from a second hand store. But I did go to a sale the University Book Shop was having a few weeks ago.

I got three books in the sale. The first one jumped at me and demanded to be bought. I mean, it's Michael Caine! I love biographies (auto or not) and this one seems like a winner.

The next book is really interesting (to me anyway). It is called Execution: A Guide to the Ultimate Penalty by Geoffrey Abbott. It is basically a book on all the different ways people have been executed through history. A charming read, I'm sure.

The last book I got in the sale is The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw, a book about a girl who is slowly turning into glass.  I had never heard of it before but it looked intriguing and the cover is beautiful.

The fourth book in this part is from the book fair I went to earlier in the spring. I got quite a few books there but this one is the only new one (all the others were second hand). It is the Icelandic translation of the book Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demrick. It tells of the lives of people in North Korea and seems really interesting. I have been interested in North Korea for a while now so I really have to get around reading this one.

All right, that is the end of part one. Part two should be up soon and it will be a lot longer than this one. So stay tuned!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Do you dogear?

To dogear or not to dogear, that is the question.Can you make this into a verb, to dogear, or am I just making this up? Not that is matters, everything was made up at some point!

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to talk about whether you make a dog ear in your books or if you use a bookmark. There are some serious debates about this and it can get heated.

I for one have always dogeared my books, mainly because I'm just too damn lazy to use a bookmark. I would love to be one of those persons who uses beautiful bookmarks and has hundreds of them in their collection, each telling a different story of how said person acquired it. But no. I'm just that type of a person who can't be bothered with bookmarks, so dog ear it is.

But who is to say that a bookmark is better than a dog ear? Yes, it might not be very good for the books, or the pages more like it (it's not like the books are going to fall apart or anything), but those little ears can tell a story just like the flashy bookmarks. They tell us someone has read the books and, depending on how far the ears reach, weather the reader liked the book enough to finish it or not. They are a sign of the book serving its purpose: to be read. With bookmarks you get nothing of that, the book is always a clean slate.

I like to think of it like the wrinkles on our faces (or the future wrinkles, I'm not that old yet!); each wrinkle is a sign of laughter, sadness, stress, anger or something else that has happened to us in our lives. The dog ears are the book's wrinkles and the bookmark is the botox. OK, this is probably taking it too far....

Don't get me wrong, I don't dog ear all the books I read. If I'm reading a very expensive or a big glossy book I tend to use some kind of a marker other than an ear, also if I'm reading a borrowed book (it's not my choice whether another people's book gets an ear or not). But in general I dogear.

What about you? Comment and tell me, I would love to hear a different take on this.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Is It Just Me? - Book Chatter

First things first. Miranda Hart, will you be my best friend? Please? Pretty please? Comment and let me know!

OK, now that my desperate plea for a BFF-ship with Miranda is out of the way I will move on to the next best thing: her book. Is It Just Me? she asks. Well, Miranda, no it is not. While I was reading this book, lying in bed with my cat on my chest (yes, chest, she does that and looks at me while I read. Occasionally she sneezes, spraying all over me. Is that just my cat or is it common? I really should ask the vet.....anyway) I felt as I was reading about me, or a slightly more exaggerated version of me.

The book is, in sort, an autobiography but not the typical kind. This is Miranda's journey through all the different social situation "normal" people (aka people who are not as awesome (sucking up, here, Miranda, are you reading this??) as Miranda) find easy to deal with. Miranda on the other hand manages to make these seemingly easy things quite difficult to deal with. Each chapter is about one thing like music, office life, holidays, Christmas and her relationship with her dog, with a special appearance of 18 year old Miranda who is not very happy with the life the current Miranda is leading.

But all jokes aside, this book is pretty amazing. When I picked it up at Heathrow last summer I was expecting a lighthearted read, which it is for the most parts. But when I finished reading it it dawned on me: I just read the best self help book I could possibly ever read. Now, wasn't that a surprise? My dear friend Miranda (there, I said it), a self help guru. Amazing!

When all is said and done, this little gold nugget of a book makes you really feel like everything will be OK and it is OK to be your self. You don't have to listen to a band you hate to be cool or study something you secretly loathe just because you are trying to be someone else (18 year old Miranda, I'm looking at you). You don't have to be the prettiest girl or the fittest boy to be happy or have a crazy active social life. It's perfectly alright to be the Plain Jane (what ever that is) and sit at home on Friday night watching bad TV (in fact, that is awesome!). As long as YOU are happy what does it matter what other people think?

God, I'm getting emotional writing this! Which goes to show how great this book is, doesn't it? I think it says a lot about a book when it makes you laugh all the way through but manages in the end to secretly hug you and say: "Everything will be alright and you are awesome just the way you are."

Thank you, my dear chum Miranda, for writing this book. (What a great word that is, chum....).

I highly recommend you read this, it should be on the curriculum in every school!

My chummy being awesome

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Perils of a Bath Reader

I know I'm not the only one who reads in the bath. I can't take a bath without having something to read. The first time I read in the bath, I can't believe I still remember, I was about 11 or 12 and it was that week's Donald Duck comic. I was subscribed to it for a few years and waited for it every Tuesday.  Ah, to be young again.

Anyway. The bath. After Donald Duck there was Seventeen magazine and then books. At first I was scared of dropping them in the water but if I remember correctly that has only happened once over the years (what a tragic day that must have been, I seem to have blocked out what unfortunate book got that untimely demise). Pretty good considering the amount of baths I take!

But reading in the bath can be a difficult task. Most of the time the books I read are paperbacks so it's not that hard to hold them over the water. But the other day I decided to re-read The Book Thief before seeing the film. Man, that was tough! My edition of The Book Thief is in Icelandic, 500 pages, hardcover and heavy as a brick.

Trying to hold that brick high enough so it wouldn't touch the water was a nightmare. I only got through a couple of pages before I could feel my muscles (because I have real good muscles..... ahem) starting to turn into jelly. The next day those awesome muscles of mine were still aching.

But what can I do? I'm sure as hell not stopping my bath-reading habits. Maybe I should join a gym and work on my guns? Knowing me I will probably just buy a reading tray!

An armchair, a bookshelf and a bathtub, my dream! Design by Malin Lundmark called Library Bath. How cool is that?

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling - Book Chatter

Crime novels. Not something I normally read. I'm just never that interested in them, maybe because so many TV shows are crime related and I don't want my books to be saturated in crime as well. But last year a book came out by one Robert "J.K. Rowling" Galbraith and, of course, I had to read it. I mean, it's J.K. Rowling for god's sake! I had read The Casual Vacancy and quite enjoyed it. This second post-Harry Potter book is a lot lighter read than The Casual Vacancy and, to my surprise as it is a crime novel, I really loved it.

The best thing about this book is the main character, Cormoran Strike, a one legged, ex army man who works as a private detective in London.  He is just a fantastic character, so human and real. I know I shouldn't compare The Cuckoo's Calling to the Harry Potter series but I just have to say this one thing. While I was reading the book I imagined Strike as a mix of Hagrid, Sirius and Mad-Eye Moody. The largeness and hairiness of Hagrid, Sirius' devil may care personality and Mad-Eye's professional choice and... well, the missing a leg thing. I hope I'm not the only one who sees this. Or maybe I'm just too far gone in my Harry Potter love.

The other main character is Robin, Strike's temporary secretary. God I can't believe I'm doing this again, but she kind of reminds me of Hermione. She's reliable, smart and  determined to do her best. She really makes the story of what it is and the chemistry between Strike and Robin is great.

The case Strike and Robin are investigating is about a supermodel who falls to her death from her apartment window. Because I'm not a seasoned crime novel reader I really can't say whether this is a good plot or not but I enjoyed it. But in my opinion the case is so not what drew me in. My favorite thing about this book are the two characters and I loved the scenes they had together.

Over all, The Cuckoo's Calling is a great book with great characters and I cannot wait for the next book. Yes, thankfully, Robert Galbraith will write again and what I have heard the second book is already finished and will be released later this year.

The verdict:

J. K. Rowling's second array into the world of adult books gets three stars from me. Great book, totally worth the read and re-read.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Song of Ice and Fire - Book Chatter

I finally finished A Dance With Dragons, the fifth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin and let me tell you... WOW! It took me about six months to get through all the books (man, they are long!) and I can't help feeling a little sad not being able to return to Westeros for I don't know how long.

I will not go into detail about the plot of the books in the series because I'm pretty sure most of you already know what they are about, whether through the books or the TV series. Instead I'm just going to write about the series in general and why they captivated me so much.

George R. R. Martin is a genius, pure and simple. He has managed to create a world so intricate and so vast that you forget it's a fictional world you are reading about, forget these characters did not exist and forget dragons have never existed. That is the magic of Martin, he makes you forget in the best possible way.

The character number is large, and will probably grow with the next two books. It's hard to keep track of them all and remember the story of each of them. But they all have something that draws you in. Whether you hate them or love them, you want to know them.  Personally I liked the chapters concerning the Wall the most and the King's Landing ones the least, but I still liked that part. You can always find something to like in every story.

If I had to pick a favorite character I would pick Arya. I love how gutsy she is but is still a child, even though she doesn't admit it. The decisions she makes are often the decisions a child would make thinking it's a grown up decision. I'm crossing my fingers and praying for more Arya in the next book!

But in reality, I like all of the characters in one way or another. Each chapter is dedicated to one character and the style changes slightly with each character so you really get a feel for them.Some fantastic writing there.

And now I wait, along with millions of you, for the next book. Hurry up George! (But don't rush it either!)

The verdict:

A Song of Ice and Fire has everything I want in books. Amazing writing, an incredibly detailed universe (so detailed I never get the feeling it's a made up world), all the characters have something that draws you in, whether you hate them or love them, and there are dragons and zombie like things. It just doesn't get better, does it?