We saw fewer book scouts than usual.
We didn’t have to stand in line.
We came home with two boxes of books.
Some of the most exciting finds at the sale are:
Stephen Dixon’s Interstate, a finalist for the National Book Award in 1995. He is a two-time National Book Award finalist, a Pen/Faulkner Award finalist, and has won three O. Henry Awards, two NEA Fellowships, a Pushcart Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, and he taught for 26 years in the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. (We have an autographed copy of 14 Stories, but, hm, no autograph in this.)
Agatha Christie’s Murder by the Box: a boxed set of They Came to Baghdad, The Golden Ball and Other Stories, The Boomerang Clue, and The Murder at Hazelmoor.
Ivy Compton-Burnett’s The Present and the Past. According to the book jacekt: “…her addicts, for that is what one can safely call Miss Compton-Burnett’s admirers, need have no fear; this novel is as trim and tidy as a hand grenade.”
Rex Warner’s The Young Caesar. A historical novel by the classicist and translator who also wrote The Aerodrome, one of my favorite science fiction books.
Muriel Spark’s Territorial Rights. No idea if I’ve read this one or not. It was only $1.
Zola’s Germinal. We have a copy somewhere, but this appears never to have been read, so if I want to reread it…. (only $2).
Lillian Smith’s Strange Fruit. The cover says: “The once-banned, and best-selling novel about an illicit love affair and race relations in 1920s Georgia.”
A FEW WORDS ABOUT BOOK GROUPS. A few days ago I compiled some information about online book groups. There is an impressive variety, ranging from classics groups to small-press groups to Janet Evanovich groups to groups that specialize in quirky out-of-print books.
Now in real life book groups are different. If you want to read a book that you want to read you have to run the group.
I’m joking, but I’m also telling the truth.
That’s because we read BOOK GROUP BOOKS. You know what these are. They are books with book group guides in the back. I don’t understand the obsession with book group guides, but in the last 10 years I’ve seen a shift. People who run book groups depend on the questions in the guides. The guide questions are simple, the kind of questions you ask yourself anyway, so I don’t see the point.
It is likely that your book group has read one or more of the following: Half Broke Horses, The Help, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Bel Canto, Julie Ostsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic, The Half Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Ape House
Most are good or goodish, I see at least three prize winners, but there are a lot of other new books out there. Where are Mo Yan (the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature announced yesterday), Zadie Smith’s NW, anything by Stephen Dixon–you get the picture.
I don’t say much at book groups. I inveighed against The Secret Life of Bees, and it turned out it was the best book everybody else ever read.
And really, you go because the women are quite nice, not because it’s important to dislike The Secret Life of Bees.
I’ve been in some great book groups that, unfortunately, broke up after about 10 years.
We need face-to-face book groups because the people are nice. But on the internet we find groups that discuss books we want to read.