Friday 18 March 2011

Deluges of Books

I've had so, so many books coming into my hands of late, that it seems awfully remiss of me not to mention them. There are probably too many for one post, but I'll get a start and see where we end up... and, as usual, you can tell me which ones you've read, or would like to read, etc. etc... Today let's cover the ones I bought in London and Oxford ages ago, the three that I bought today, and ones which have arrived from various lovely bloggers. Unbelievably, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Let's start off with books from friends:

Spinster by Sylvia Ashton-Warner

Not to be confused with Sylvia Townsend-Warner. This VMC was one I won from Teresa at Shelf Love during Virago Reading Week, and is one I've had an eye on for a while.

A Meaningful Life by L.J. Davis
Lovely Frances from Nonsuch Book offered NYRB Classics to British fans, and this wended its way from the US to my door.

Expiation by Elizabeth von Arnim
I've sadly still only read one E von A novel (though I hope some of you will be able to join me in reading The Caravaners at the end of the month) - Daphne very kindly gave me this one recently, so I have even more choice.

I feel like I've forgotten somebody who has sent me a book... so sorry if I have, but perhaps I'm just thinking about the two which are heading to me shortly... thanks in advance!

Today I was heading to the public library, which turned out not to have the book I wanted (I had to go and check because the online catalogue wasn't working) - on my way to use this wonderful public service, I used a wonderful private service, in the form of Arcadia - and came out clutching two old Penguins, each at £1.

Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge
This was given a hugely enthusiastic write-up by Rachel (Book Snob) during Virago Reading Week, and ever since I've felt oddly certain that I'd stumble across it at some point. As indeed I have...

The du Mauriers by Daphne du Maurier
Oh, well, why not?

And in the post, incredibly quickly, came Sylvia & David: the Townsend Warner/Garnett Letters. Two authors I love, corresponding - how could I resist? The Henrietta Garnett talk reminded me that I'd had my eye on this book during Project 24 last year, but now I could just go on and buy it.

Now for the London books, mostly from Notting Hill Book & Comic Exchange. I don't even remember when I bought these, but the photo is pretty old... A couple of these came from Oxford, actually, so not sure how they all ended up in the same photograph. Let's roll with it.

Since most of those covers aren't particularly forthcoming with title info, I'm going to have to have a hunt through LibraryThing, and see what I added when...

Home by Marilynne Robinson
It's no secret that I loved Gilead, and I'd handed over my monies at Blackwell's for this before I'd even finished Gilead.

Reality and Dreams by Muriel Spark
I do keep stocking my shelves with Sparks, don't I? This one sounds utterly delectable.

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
I should be ashamed of myself... "You've spent more than £10, Sir," said the lady at the counter, "so you can get this at a discount." And I did... Thomas' review ages ago is what sped me on, so blame him, ladies and gents. And what was it I spent that 'more than £10' on? .....

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh
I spent a birthday book token on this because, thinking about it, it was really rather silly that this wasn't already on my shelves, wasn't it?

Mr. Fortune's Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner
I read this a while ago - not as good as Lolly Willowes, but definitely interesting. And a cheap secondhand copy became mine.

The Dragon in Shallow Waters by Vita Sackville-West
Never heard of this... but I've been wanting to read more VSW.

Kindness in a Corner by T.F. Powys
Another one by an author I've liked (Mr. Weston's Good Wine) which I'm hoping to explore more. Book buying can expand exponentially like this, can't it?

The Street by Dorothy Baker
When I'm looking for Frank Baker in book shops, I've fairly often come across Dorothy (no relation). This was in a each-book-£1 basement, and it seemed as good a time as any to give Dorothy a whirl.

Dew on the Grass - Eiluned Lewis
I enjoyed the first few pages of this - seems like a sort of nostalgic view of childhood, with cosy adventuring a-plenty - and I thought I'd discovered a gem. Turns out a few other people in the blogosphere had discovered it first...


  1. I am SO EXCITED that you have Illyrian Spring. PLEASE don't let it be one of those books that sits there for years Simon. I'm giving you a stern look from behind my computer screen. That means you have to read it next. And then tell everyone how brilliant it is, please.

    Am intrigued by so many of these. And I'm jealous of your ability to buy books like a man on heat! I wish I didn't have to lug all of my stuff back on a plane in six months, otherwise I'd be unstoppable in New York!

  2. Wow! I loved Home by Marilynne Robinson and hope you do too :)
    I have been dying to get my hands on The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell.

    Happy Reading!

  3. That's quite a stack! The Du Maurier book looks interesting to me. And, of course, Home. It's high on my reading table stack. :)

  4. Coincidentally I bought the Du Maurier Penguin today as well. It looks fascinating.

  5. Simon - you lucky person! A Von Arnim that I haven't come across, and a Sackville West that hasn't passed my hands (neither VMCs, but still of interest). Would they be available for a borrow if I asked nicely?`

  6. Illyrian Spring is a wonderful read! Rachel sent it to me and I was scared to let it languish on my shelves, she is very persuasive in case you haven't noticed. So I second her plea not to leave it too long.

    I've held the Mr Maggot book in my hands twice and just can't seem to get past the title. Silly, I know.

  7. Very interesting selection you have there. Not available in South Africa I am afraid, we are a bit behind the times here.

  8. I'm another fan of Illyrian Spring. Please do put it near the top of your to-be-read pile.

  9. I love the sound of the Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh letters. I also want the Deborah Mitford and Patrick Leigh Fermor letters (not on your list, but it reminded me)

  10. The Hand That First Held Mine was in my top 10 for last year; hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  11. Mystica - thanks, and I'm sorry!

    Rachel - you should have seen me in the shop, snatching it as though someone might rugby-tackle me to the ground to stop me buying it... I am truly terrifying in my book buying now. Bought seven today.

    Misha - I'm sure I'll love Home; I really can't imagine not loving it, after the wodner of Gilead.

    Susan - Home, yes, soon, promise!

    Karyn - what a strange coincidence! I must confess it'll be a while before I get to the Du Mauriers, but I wanted it on the shelves...

    Verity - you're welcome to borrow the E von A, but I think the VSW might have gone home already... I'll have a hunt, and bring in one or both on Tues (if you want them now? Or would you rather wait - cos I have the Cromptons too!)

    Darlene - haha, she is a terror! And I agree, Mr. Fortune's Maggot is such a terrible title, I can't imagine which editor let it slide - however, the book is interesting.

    Simon - always odd to see your name appear! We are very blessed with the bookshops we have here. And I take full advantage of it...

    Ann - thanks for another vote in its favour! I've promised Rachel that I shan't wait too long to read it, and I don't dare disobey her...

    Joanne - I think Mitford/Waugh might be the next volume of letters I read - I always have letters or diaries on the go. Although I did buy the Fermor/Devonshire letters aeons ago, and have yet to start it... maybe that should be next.

    Bet - ooo, really? I enjoyed The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox a lot, but have yet to read any more.

  12. I'm happy to see Spinster in your collection now. I do hope you enjoy it more than I did.

    And I'm adding myself to the chorus of praise for Home. Such a good book, almost as amazing as Gilead!

  13. Von Armin: I thought you had read "Enchanted April."

  14. Teresa - fingers crossed with Spinster! And yes, I can't imagine *not* loving Home...

    Nancy - indeed, that is the solitary one that I have read!

  15. There is nothing like a book of letters to make me salivate and when I checked on the Sylvia Townsend Warner book here in the US, the cheapest I can find is $45 - yikes. Have you read 'Elements of Lavishness' - the letters between her and William Maxwell? What language - it sent me over the roof.

  16. Rebecca - I don't want to say how much I paid for the Garnett/Townsend Warner letters, but it wasn't far off that, I'm afraid! Eek... And I have Element of Lavishness on my shelves, unread... couldn't resist, with those authors. Will definitely read before too long...

  17. I was wondering — am really interested to know, actually, after seeing all the books you've bought — do you keep count of your books? And do you know how many you have?

    Definitely a well-mixed collection :)

  18. I do, Ruby! On LibraryThing here -

  19. I went for the Garnett/Townsend Warner letters - due here is a week or so.


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