Monday 8 September 2008

Bookbarn Spoils

There is a place of wonderment in Somerset, it is called The Bookbarn. We stumbled across it by accident about four years ago, just saw a sign saying 'Used Books This Way' and, naturally, went that way... wow. The biggest secondhand bookshop in England, a barn filled with literally millions of books. Literally millions.

They've since gone a little techy (see the website) and large amounts of them are now on a database, and only accessible physically to staff - but there
are still hundreds of thousands which you can browse. And that's what we did today. I always feel a little panicky when I leave the Bookbarn, because there is never enough time to look at all the books, obviously. What gems could I be walking away from? I tend to take some letters of the alphabet, and look at those shelves (fiction is loosely alphabetical, but not within the letter, e.g. all the authors beginning with 'A' are together, but not organised within 'A'). Today I looked through C, P and B. Dad covered the plays, with my reading list for British Drama Post-1945, and I tried to gather up some Literature and Empire books... and got distracted, of course.

Well, here they are. Astute readers will spot quite a lot o
f overlap with yesterday's list.

Under Western Eyes - Joseph Conrad; not on the list, but should be handy

Youth and ot
her stories - Joseph Conrad; 'other stories' happens to include a little tale called Heart of Darkness

In The South
Seas - R.L. Stevenson; any Stevenson fans able to tell me whether this corresponds to the Stevenson South Sea books on the list from yesterday's post? We assumed it did.

Screens Against the Sky - Elleke Boehmer; not on the list, but Elleke Boehmer is the tutor for the course, so might prove interesting

Untouchable - Mulk Raj Anand; another one on the list...

The House of Dolls - Barbara Comyns; this is where I *might* just have wandered from the readi
ng list... having loved some Comyns last year, and very much liked some others, I felt I needed to stock up

Sisters by a River - Barbara Comyns; did someone mentioned Barbara Comyns?

Bloomsbury Pie - Regina Marler; now we're back on Masters territory - this was recommended when I asked for a good guide to the Bloomsbury Group, and looks fascinating

Kim - Rudyard Kipling; only read a couple of shor
t stories by Kipling, and Kim has always been at the back of my mind...

Our Country's Good - Timberlake Werternbaker
Arcadia - Tom Stoppard
A Taste of Honey - Delaney
All building towards my British Drama Post-1945 module, which I'll share more about in due course. Won't be until January that I actually start it.

The Familiar Faces - David Garnett, non-fiction work by the author of Lady Into Fox (see 50 Books... on the left) this will, again, hopefully provide more Bloomsbury background.

All in all, a good day's searching - and we got to see The Carbon Copy!


  1. > I always feel a little panicky when I leave the Bookbarn, because there is never enough time to look at all the books, obviously...

    Oh, I know that feeling!! I do, I do.
    Your post reminds me that we visited a similar book barn on one of out three-day jaunts up into New Hampshire and Vermont, going from one used book store to another. This one is just outside Heniker. We have wanted to return to this barn - and should do it soon. With both of us being retired, there's no other schedule to follow but our own. I've been told about something similar in Maine but we've not been there - not sure exactly where it's located.

  2. I always leave there with a crick in my neck from standing sideways looking down at the bottom shelves. Planning a trip the week after next with an old friend who's coming down from Herefordshire to stay. She's never been, so it will be a treat to see her discover it. I was about to take something from one of the crates near the desk last time, but was firmly told they were for the internet! Still, with paperbacks upstairs all £1 each and a separate section for Viragos (green covers) I'm like a child let loose in a sweetshop whenever I'm there.
    Just wish they'd get a proper coffee machine!

  3. Oh, WHY did I forget that they had a Virago section!!

    We were there strictly on a books-for-the-reading-list hunt, so while I felt I could pick up other authors if I came across them by accident, I had to stick to the shelves which might bear Masters reading list fruit...

  4. Oh, I love that Sheelagh Delany play - love the Dora Byran / Rita Tusshingham film too. Great selection.

  5. Oh, Bloomsbury Pie, and the Garnett book please! I'll be eagerly awaiting your reviews.

  6. The Bookbarn sounds amazing!! I am so jealous:) The nearest bookshop here consists of one small room with about five bookcases - and that about sums it up. Anyhow, just wanted to mention that Under Western Eyes is my favorite Conrad book. I took a course for my MA that was devoted to Conrad (didn't know the class would be all about Conrad until the first class when the Professor declared himself a huge Conrad fan and that we would be studying Conrad all term. I was not too happy since I had read Heart of Darkness before and considered it to be racist, misogynist and just utterly awful. Taking that class totally changed my perspective on Conrad and now I actually appreciate his work. So, I really do hope you enjoy Under Western Eyes.) Cheers!

  7. I costumed Our Country's Good last year--I love that play so much.

  8. Do they have any books on Chess? :-)


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