Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The rain is coming down in buckets

And the rain is also coming down into buckets. Buckets standing in the hallway at home. Buckets under the section of wall coming out from the large window in the lightwell in the ceiling. Needless to say I do not keep any books or other objects of value in the hallway. We've notified our landlords many times about this natural phenomenon, to no avail. Water near books makes me deeply unhappy. Water near my books. Luckily today Ryan has the day off, and he's checking in at home from time to time to make sure none of the other rooms are exhibiting signs of leaks.

Despite the torrential rain we set out this morning to visit my good pal Gary, one of the remaining true old-time bookmen in this state. He lives twenty minutes south of Bangor and although he does have a sign in his yard saying he's a bookseller, someone driving by would never suspect that he has twenty thousand books in the ell on his farmhouse. Nice books, too - good solid old hardcovers. I bought (among other things) a compact OED from him, with the magnifying glass and slipcase. I thought the price said thirty dollars. He said, when I asked him if that really was the price, "Oh no, that's three hundred dollars, but you can have it for thirty." (He was kidding, it really was thirty.) I also picked up a very nice four-volume set of the Memoirs of William Hickey 1749-1809 (Knopf 1921). Given my penchant for reading published diaries, I'm thinking I will eat this up. It begins thusly:

"Returning from a very busy and laborious life, in India, to comparatively absolute idleness, in England, and having fixed my abode in a country village, with a very limited society, I there experienced the truth of an observation I had frequently heard, - viz. that want of employment is one of the greatest miseries that can be attached to a mind not altogether inactive." (p.ix)

I love flowing comfortable English sentences such as these; they lull me into a happy bookish stupor and I imagine that the "limited society" he encountered was Austen-esque. His memoirs apparently cover his early years in London, his life in India, a long trip to China, and various, shall we say, amorous escapades throughout his life. I will attempt to disregard the rain falling at home, and distract myself by starting to read this evening.

Sarah, you wrote "someone driving by would never suspect that he has twenty thousand books in the ell on his farmhouse." Are there guides that give this information for book hunters in your part of Maine? Does your friend get tourist trade?

I am curious knowing that in borderland NY State I depend on brochures (available in the used bookstores) to guide me on to the next book venue.
The Maine Antiquarian Booksellers' Association does publish an annual guide with a state map. Guides are available at Maine Tourism rest stops on the interstate and at all members' shops. Both Gary and I are members and so are in the guide (though I have an open shop and Gary is open by appointment or chance). I agree, good state guides are invaluable. There's a great guide for the used booksellers of Atlantic Canada, too, though my copy is now a few years old.

Bookhunter Press also publishes regional guides (in actual book form, vs. brochure) to the used bookshops of the entire U.S. - one for New England, the Middle Atlantic states, the South, etc. If you book hunt far from home, these guides are extremely useful.

Thanks for commenting - I've been reading your own blog with interest.
Sarah, it's raining here too and I have a leak in the ceiling of the shop and a new landlord who can't be found - but then if I did find him, he would want his rent anyway.
Thank the lord I don't have rain coming in at the shop. My heart goes out to you, Jonathan.

I'm kind of afraid that if the landlord does attempt to seal up the leak at home, the water will still come in, but will re-route to another room. The book-room, to be specific, right off said leaky hallway. It's sixty degrees today here. Maine, mid-November. It should be thirty and snowing by now.
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