I’m broke. You’ve heard it before.
I’m buying books. You’ve heard it before.
I’m the only person I know who can go broke by cutting back on book-buying.
I don’t see as many new books accumulating in the living room, and I think we’ve brought fewer into the house this year, but that could be because I’m double-stacking them in the mouldy back room.
The number of books in our house is scandalous. We’ve been cataloguing them, and we at least now know what we have and where it is. We have bookcases on the porch and even in the kitchen. I’d love to build a book “annex,” but we need a new roof. And my husband, who is hooked on his Nook tablet, urges me to buy “e” and to forget about acquiring more REAL books.
Maybe we could just buy a toolshed.
This year I’ve saved some money by dispensing with Amazon Prime, the $75-a-year “free” two-day shipping service. I’m not boycotting Amazon: despite its colossal bad press (and no one does PR worse than Jeff Bezos and His People), the Amazon website is better than anyone else’s. But I’m convinced that Amazon Prime encourages impulse-buying. Did I really need Betty Rose Nagle’s translation of Ovid’s Fasti? Well, as a matter of fact I did. And how about those books by Peter Handke? Yes.
“Did you know you have a biography of by Frederick the Great by Nancy Mitford?” my husband asked.
“Yes.” I wondered where that was.
I have plenty of books, but love increasing the number of choices in perpetuum. And buying at “live” used bookstores is the best way for me to cut back on spending, because I have to deal with what’s there, not what I’m specifically looking for. If you look on the sale tables, you’ll often find delights. I recently bought eight books for $8. Of course I had to pay in quarters. It’s pathetic.
Here are the books I bought.
1. The Southwest Corner by Mildred Walker. I love Walker’s novels about the West, especially The Curlew’s Cry. This one is set in Vermont, though. Here’s a bit from the book jacket: “It took Marcia Elder a week to write the ad for the Rutland (Vt.) Time, not because she wasn’t articulate–she could always speak to the point–but because it was a hard decision to make. She liked living alone in the big three-story house on Ryder Hill which dated from 1802…but this had been the longest winter she could remember.”
2. Mr. Golightly’s Holiday by Salley Vickers. I read a couple of Vicker’s novels last year and wanted to read more. From the jacket: “Many years ago, Mr. Golightly wrote a work of dramatic fiction that became an international best seller. Now his reputation is on the decline, and he finds himself out of touch with the modern world.”
3. After the Death of Don Juan by Sylvia Townsend Warner. Lolly Willowes is one of my favorite books, but I had never heard of this one. From the book jacket: “In the seventh decade of the eighteenth century Don Juan disappears. Has he been snatched by demons in retribution for the mortal wounding of Dona Ana’s father, or has he fled to pursue his notorious ways elsewhere?”
4. Soap Behind the Ears by Cornelia Otis Skinner. I’ve been chortling over the actress’s 1940s humor pieces. From the book jacket: “Have you ever tried to learn to speak Russian? To keep warm in a duck blind? To reduce your rear? To master the intricacies of adult bicycling?…This latest collection of philosophy and absurdity from Cornelia Otis Skinner is as neat and subtle as you please.”
5. Paradise Postponed by John Mortimer. I love his comical Rumple books. From the book jacket: “Why does Simeon Simcox, th CND-marching Rector of Rapstone Fanner, leave his fortune not to his two sons but to an odious Tory Minister?”
(What the…? The CND-marching? I guess if I read it I’ll understand.)
6. Mourners Below by James Purdy. I’ve heard of James Purdy, though I don’t think he’s read much anymore. From the jacket: “At the age of seventeen, Duane Bledsoe lives in obsessive isolation with his bluff stoical father, their clucking and comfortable housekeeper–and the ghosts of his brothers, killed in the war.”
7. Dickens: A Biography by Fred Kaplan. It’s a biography. Of Dickens.
8. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani. I admired the heart-wrenching movie years ago. From the jacket: “In as dense and as charged a world as that of Marcel Proust, Gieorgio Bassani tells the story of a tentative, hesitant love between two adolescents, set against the background of Fascist Italy and the ducal town of Ferrara, with its fascinating Jewish community.”
These should keep me busy for a while.