Saturday, January 03, 2009


small winter library sales and their treasures

We headed out this morning to a local booksale, and came home with a carton and a tote bag full, for thirty bucks and change. I am retraining myself not to buy general stock willy-nilly, now that I no longer have lots of places to stash extra stock. So we were choosy, but as usual I ended up with a short stack of new things to read, among them Bernd Heinrich's nature book about Canada geese, The Geese of Beaver Bog, a darling little first edition of Noel Perrin's Amateur Sugar Maker, about the mysteries of maple syrup, a nautical book from 1931 about the fishing industry, Mariners of Brittany, by Peter F. Anson (I love a fine nautical book, and this one may stay in our home library because some of Ryan's ancestors were in fact mariners of Brittany), two frivolous picture books about England and France, and a 1950s translation of Love by Stendhal - one of those authors who has always fascinated me, yet this fascination is unfounded because I've barely read a word he wrote. Nevertheless, I own a copy of his diary, something else I think is his collected journalism, his biography of Rossini, and now this. I opened it up this afternoon and read the author's First Attempt at a Preface (yes, there is also a Second Attempt at a Preface), in which he defends his choice to write nonfiction pieces in the first person by saying:

"I may be charged with egotism for the form I have adopted. But a traveller is allowed to say, 'I embarked at New York for South America. I went up to Santa Fe de Bogota. Midges and mosquitoes bothered me on the journey, and for three days I could not open my right eye.'"

Stendhal says he is a traveler on a "...journey into the little-known regions of the human heart..." and these journeys have taught him little, if anything, and:

"If he should be thought proud enough to believe otherwise, let him say that an even greater pride would have stopped him publishing his heart and selling it to the public for six francs..."


"Since what goes by the name of success was out of the question, the author pleased himself and has published his thoughts exactly as they occurred to him."

Thank god. That sounds like something Montaigne would have said. Skimming around further in Stendhal, I see that chapter LX is entitled Concerning Fiascos. This is too good. Obviously I just found the next book I must read. That's how book-luck works, isn't it - if you regularly put yourself in the way of hundreds of books, the next ones to read always appear under your fingertips at the right times. Thus the autodidact continues her education.

I had my eye on that liitle sale! Alas, Dave was yearning for a day on snow shoes in the mountains, so I stayed home like a good little bookseller and opened my shop. Even had some customers!
Hey there Vicky - you didn't miss anything terrific, though we did have fun sitting in the car chatting with Gary before the sale. That's worth the whole trip, for me. Also, Jonathan Lethem was there again, briefly, and that was cool. Just a regular guy, at a library sale, buying a few books. Right?

I listed two books on Amazon yesterday after we came home and sorted things out, and sold one immediately. That's always nice. Hope business has been good at your place...
I love the convenience of staying warm and toasty inside and having used books come to me! I've been trading on for a few years now and every experience has been a great one. There are half-a-million books to choose from, and DVDs, too, but I prefer the books. They do a terrific job of matching up book traders and they run all the interference. The only cost is $4.49 per item received. The website is well worth a visit! I used to sell my used books on eBay and Amazon but this has been much easier and more satisfying. I think of it as the ultimate recycling project!
Thanks, Charlotte - I'll check out the site!

I love the convenience, too - actually being able to get a certain used or out-of-print book when you want it. Still, I do love those bookshops. Can't seem to stay out of them. Lord knows I've tried.
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