Saturday, 2 January 2010

The Bookbarn

Yes, Project 24 has begun (as I intend to call it) - I'll keep you updated throughout the year with the twenty-four books which find their way into my home, that'll be something to look forward to, won't it - but on the 29th December Our Vicar's Wife and I took a trip to the wondrous Bookbarn. It's the biggest secondhand bookshop (nay, barn) in the country, and happens to be a mere thirty-one miles from our house in Chiselborough. So, I went out on a high, buying a pile of books so tall and so unstable that it prompted comment from more than one bystander.

As with my recent Hay-on-Wye haul, I bought lots of Ivy Compton-Burnett novels:
- More Women Than Men
- The Last and the First
- Elders and Betters
- Men & Wives
I've stocked up on so many ICBs now that I doubt I'll have finished them in a decade's time... but still three or four more to look out for!

Most of the rest of these are novels which I've heard talked about in books like A Very Great Profession, or from people who like Persephone books, or Virago Modern Classics... the Yahoo Group dovegreybooks would simply describe them as 'doveish', but if you liked any of my Top Books of 2009, then you'll probably be interested...

- A Wreath of Roses - Elizabeth Taylor (I came away from Nicola Beauman's biography of ET very keen to read this one)
- An Autumn Sowing - EF Benson (a recommendation from Elaine at Random Jottings)
-The Match Maker - Stella Gibbons (of Cold Comfort Farm fame)
- A Child in the Theatre - Rachel Ferguson (of Brontes Went To Woolworths fame)
- Anne Severn and the Fieldings - May Sinclair
- Mary Olivier: A Life - May Sinclair (since I loved Life and Death of Harriett Frean, I'm intrigued to read more)
- Staying with Relations - Rose Macaulay
- Grand Hotel - Vicki Baum
- High Table - Joanna Cannan
- Guard Your Daughters - Diana Tutton (where have I heard of this? Hands up if you're guilty!)
- Red Pottage - Mary Cholmondeley (I've heard this called one of the best Virago Modern Classics, if memory serves...)
- The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence (read this in 2007, really enjoyed it, and finally stumbled across a cheap copy. I also bought the film a couple of months ago, and still haven't watched it.)

- The Silent Traveller in Oxford - Chiang Yee (one of the men working in the Bookbarn somehow found out that I am at Oxford, and so recommended this - it's a travel diary with beautiful Chinese illustrations. Usually I don't like travel literature, because I don't have a visual mind, but I know all the places he's going already!)

That's it! (Well, I also bought a book as a gift, which will be flying across the blogosphere soon) Phew. 17 books which, as Mum pointed out, is the equivalent of eight and half months-worth of my book-buying in 2010. That's quite a sobering thought.

But let's ignore that, eh, and I'll just revel in that lovely pile of books. Comments, of course, both welcome and solicited. Green-eyed venom optional.


  1. oh what a super spree. I wish I had been to somewhere like this before my self imposed ban started am so unimpressed with myself,I did a last shop but alas though some delights nothing like this haul. I must give E.F.Benson a go this year I really must!

  2. Another "dream" post! Every time I visit your blog I find myself jotting down more authors to go look for. I have Susan HIll's HEIOTL on order -- it is not being released in the US so it won't get counted in my December "haul," but between all my Christmas gatherings and post-Christmas shopping, I ended up with 24 new titles in my TBR pile. I'm going to try to enforce serious limits on myself this year, though. We'll see how that goes. I have yet to acquire any Persephones, so those are going to be my greatest temptations. (Sticking to my age wouldn't help me so much, but I like your plan. :) )

    Happy Reading in 2010!
    Susan in TX

  3. I would be green-eyed if I hadn't picked up two old green Viragos for a pound yesterday :-) I love to hear about people's finds.

  4. You'll see from today's post that I decided not to officially join Project 24. But I'm with you to encourage for January at least.

  5. I've just acquired The stone angel so am pleased to see your endorsement.

  6. I always love your posts; you read the kind of books that I like. I also like the look of the Yee Chiang book. I love travel writing particularly of the early 20th Century. This book is already at the top of my wish list.

  7. Gosh - what a fabulous haul! I clearly don't have the self-discipline to formally join in with Project 24 (bought my first book of 2010 on New Year's Day...) but I am looking forward to seeing what makes your cut this year. I would estimate that 25-30 books entered my house as a result of Christmas/late December splurge so in theory I should be set up for a while but in practice...

  8. The Bookbarn sounds like one of those glorious places that would have me unbuckling my seatbelt before the car came to a full stop! How lucky you are.

  9. Oh oh oh. Speechless and green with envy.

    That Oxford travel book looks absolutely lovely. The cover pic alone must be worth the price.

  10. Should you like the Chiang Yee, I have The Silent Traveller in London which you could borrow. It was bought when you were about 4 months old, from Skoobs in Holborn - I wonder if it's still there...


  11. The picture you used from The Silent Traveller in Oxford was on a Bodleian Christmas card this year! Lge

  12. Oh I have had an acute attack of the green-eyed monster after reading this post - a wonderful haul!

  13. Oh, you British with your immense book barns and towns! I am so jealous! Look at those lovely Viragos! Good luck with the 24 project Simon! I look forward to seeing what makes the cut.

  14. Simon, was this the Bookbarn at Hallatrow? If so, I used to love that place so much! It's one of my closest bookshops at home. :-) But I went earlier this year, and they're putting the emphasis firmly on their internet selling arm now - they were clearing out as many of the other books as they could and the selection had shrunk to a tenth of what there used to be. (Having said that, much of what was left was £1 per fiction paperback.) I just wanted to warn you in case you went back!

  15. It is indeed, Sarah - I've been many times and, like you, have mourned the gradual shrinking of the books available on the open shelves. I went again earlier this year, and saw it as you described - but spent most of my time in the unsorted £1 section, trying to find bargains! I suppose books being £1 each makes up for the collection shrinking, but I did use to love the days when it was all in the old warehouse and you could spend an entire day just looking at authors with surnames A-B...


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