Sunday 20 May 2012

The Times piece (photographed)

I wrote yesterday's very quick post on my phone at Charleston, of all places, without actually having a copy of The Times myself at that point.  More on Monk's House and Charleston soon - but today I thought I'd pop up photos of my quotation in The Times for those of you who don't get copies.  I was so excited to be asked to contribute!

This is what was printed (I'd like to point out that, when I wrote it, it didn't end on a preposition!):

Simon Thomas, a postgraduate student at the University of Oxford and author of the Stuck-in-a-Book blog at, says: “For the unrepentant bibliophile, being in a charity shop is like being a kid in a sweetshop — except you don’t have to get a parent’s permission to buy far more than is good for you.
“I am always willing to brave mountains of Danielle Steels and Dan Browns, not to mention entirely arbitrary shelving systems, in the hopes of finding something special. It was in a charity shop shelved entirely by colour that I found an amusing 1950 novel by Mary Essex, Tea Is So Intoxicating. It cost me 10p, but the cheapest I have ever seen it online is £70.
“It is not only stumbling across scarce books that has been rewarding. I daresay there are plenty of copies out there of The Love-Child by Edith Olivier [a 1927 novel, reprinted in the 1980s by Virago], but I probably wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t found it by chance in the basement of a dingy charity shop. That serendipitous purchase ended up helping to determine the topic of the doctorate I am currently studying for.”


  1. Look at you Simon! What an honour! And I quite agree with everything you said! :)

    1. I know! I was so pleased to be asked - especially since my brother and father swear by the Times. I don't read a newspaper at all, myself, but I did buy this one, of course!

  2. I am so glad you posted this. After your brother put this out on facebook I spent quite a bit of today trying to work out how I could access the article without subscribing to The Times.

    1. Aw, aren't you nice! Their firewall does annoy me, but I suppose they have their reasons.

  3. I love the idea of a shop where the books are arranged by jacket colour. I wonder if they were aiming to attract customers who were primarily looking for books to fit in with an interior design concept rather than on the basis of their contents?

    1. Well it looked pretty! But I can't imagine going to a shop, hoping to find a red book (for example)...

  4. well done on times mention a real honour ,all the best stu

  5. Simon, you remind me of the character in the following poem:

    THE BOOK HUNTER Frank Sherman

    A cup of coffee, eggs, and rolls
    Sustain him on his morning strolls:
    Unconscious of the passers-by,
    He trudges on with downcast eye;
    He wears a queer old hat and coat,
    Suggestive of a style remote;
    His manner is preoccupied,--
    A shambling gait, from side to side.
    For him the sleek, bright-windowed shop
    Is all in vain, -- he does not stop.

    His thoughts are fixed on dusty shelves
    Where musty volumes hide themselves,--
    Rare prints of poetry and prose,
    And quaintly lettered folios,--
    Perchance a parchment manuscript,
    In some forgotten corner slipped,
    Or monk-illumined missal bound
    In vellum with brass clasps around;
    These are the pictured things that throng
    His mind the while he walks along.

    A dingy street, a cellar dim,
    With book-lined walls, suffices him.
    The dust is white upon his sleeves;
    He turns the yellow, dog-eared leaves
    With just the same religious look
    That priests give to the Holy Book.
    He does not heed the stifling air
    If so he find a treasure there.

    He knows rare books, like precious wines,
    Are hidden where the sun ne’er shines;
    For him delicious flavors dwell
    In books as in old Muscatel;
    He finds in features of the type
    A clue to prove the grape was ripe.
    And when he leaves this dismal place,
    Behold, a smile lights up his face!
    Upon his cheeks a genial glow,--
    Within his hand Boccaccio,
    A first edition worn with age,

  6. Well done Simon - and I agree with all you say - rummaging in the charity shop for jewels is such fun!

    1. Isn't it just! Although sadly they seem to throw out their old and tatty stuff - just the sort of thing I'm looking out for!

    2. Exactly so! Our newest one, a Sue Ryder, opened a couple of weeks ago and it's half full of *new* stuff! What are they thinking of?!

  7. Nicely done - and thanks to Michelle Ann for the poem.

  8. In "The Thunderer"!!! Wowsa!!! :)

  9. Terrific! I too love searching for those special books, even if they are only special to me!


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