Monday, 8 December 2008

Blogger Book Boost

Blogger Book Boost

Yesterday I had to be bodily dragged from one of my favorite little independent bookstores, the Red Lion Bookshop in Burford. Although we were already leaving the store with a hefty bag of goodies, I spied a new Anne Fadiman on one of those irresistible tables near the door. Every book-truffling nerve in my body went on alert. I gave Sigmund the begging puppy dog eyes, but he responded with a firm NO and frogmarched me out the door. It is a truth well acknowledged by my family: I am a book lover (addict). I have a bit of a habit, and sometimes it gets out of control.

I don't buy expensive shoes or handbags, but I do buy lots and lots of books. Although I may show restraint and frugality in some areas, if I go into a bookstore then it is a certainty that I will be leaving with something. Or several somethings.

It is not unsurprising, then, that I regard Christmas as a particularly good opportunity to give and to get . . . books. We always have lots of tell-tale blocky packages under the tree. Even though my children are both avid readers, there is a particular facial expression which could be described as, "This is a book, right?"

Last week, I gave this lovely book of nonsense rhyme to a little boy that I tutor. He is an enthusiastic listener, but a reluctant reader of books. He handled the package a bit, and then said: "This is a book, right?"

Then he asked me if I could get him a toy instead. Sigh.
Unlike most toys, though, books will be enjoyed over and over again. They don't break, and they don't need batteries.

Unlike my little friend, I am always happy to be given a book. Since I am pretty sure that Sigmund hasn't started his Christmas shopping yet, I have taken the time to make up a little list.

A Book that I really, really want: Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri

Big Important Books of the Year:

Foodie Books:

A Book that Sigmund would like to borrow: The Rest is Noise, Max Ross

A Book that my Father would like to borrow: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski

A Book for Christmas Travellers: Dear American Airlines, Jonathan Miles

A Memoir that interests me: Somewhere Towards the End, Diana Athill

A Book for the Teachers amongst us: Ms. Hempel Chronicles, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

A Book for those who need some alone-time: The Other, David Guterson

Books (I've already ordered) from fellow Bloggers:

The Entire Contents of the Bookstore: I would also be happy to have absolutely ANYTHING from the Persephone catalog. Many thanks to Elizabeth for telling me about this treasure-trove.

Presents from Persephone!

Sarah, from the Sarah Laurence blog, had the great idea of doing a Blogger Book Boost this year. In her own boost for books, she noted that the publishing industry is suffering at the moment and that the "little people" (new authors and independent bookstores) are finding it particularly difficult.

I LOVE independent bookstores . . . and I really put my money where my mouth is, too. Here is a short list of favorites that I have visited (and in some cases, revisited) this year:

River Oaks Bookstore, Houston, Texas

Books for Cooks, London

Persephone Books, London

Daunt Books, London

Red Lion Bookshop, Burford, England

The White Horse Bookshop, Marlborough, England

The Country Bookseller, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

Although I do use Amazon for convenience and BookPeople for their cheap prices, there is nothing that replaces a good browse -- and a discovery! -- in a unique bookstore.

Just a Plane Ride Away posted her book list yesterday, and I'm now wild to read A Writer's Paris -- just to name one title. Sigmund only has 12 more shopping days, because we are flying away on December 19th and I'm going to need some good beach books.

Any ideas?


The Grandpa said...

My better half S also can't go neear a bookstore without buying, it seems, more books than she can carry. Problem is, she also buys expensive shoes. Not so much handbags.

Sarah Laurence said...

Bee, I should be working on my own novel, but I couldn’t resist the double temptation.

What a fabulous list! A Mercy is on my wish to read list. I’m reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle now and really enjoying it. I will be ordering Elizabeth’s book for my daughter and should check out Barrie’s book too.

I love that you listed independent bookstores too. I love Blackwell’s in Oxford as well.

Just like you, I’m a binge book buyer. I can’t leave a bookstore empty handed even though I’m not much of a shopper.

I’m visiting JAPRA and then starting work, really!

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've heard of any of these books but they sound wonderful. And I'm all for supporting independent book-stores (or any book store come to that). Here in Cape Town the Book Lounge is well worth supporting.

Oh, and happy beach reading to you and Sigmund.

Anonymous said...

I miss Blue Willow in Houston for a nice, cosy, haven to thumb through books. Here I make do with the school library and depend on folks to bring books back form the US if they have any space in their suitcase. So that means paperbacks only.Have my Literary Ladies here tomorrow for our book review. So I am trying to think of some tasty nibbles to accompany 1000 Splendid Suns. Hope you find a few good reads for your Xmas beach hols.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Oh Bee, we are such kindred spirits.

I can't count the times I've spent my entire budget of shopping time in the bookstore instead of out crossing things off my shopping list.

Finding a wonderful book store is much like meeting someone for the first time and feeling like they are a long lost friend. It just feels right, comfortable, warm and inviting.

You know who and I spent many a day in our "found" used book store.

Those packages you've wrapped are beautiful. You are rapidly losing your "I'm not crafty" cred.


Anne said...

A redesign! I love the print/paper up top.

I am also someone who has a hard time visiting a bookstore and not leaving with at least one book--preferably several. My very favorite bookstore is the Seminary Co-Op at the University of Chicago. *swoon* It's in the basement of the Chicago Theological Seminary, and it was a regular haunt of mine back in my UofC days. It is stuffy, cramped, and rather labyrinthine, and I love it dearly.

Bee said...

Grandpa - Luckily for you, handbags are the real budget killer! I like to think that book-buying is one of the better vices.

Sarah - Oh, I left off Blackwell's! I hope you have a productive day of work -- in between book boosting.

Pete - If I ever get to Cape Town, that's one place I will visit then. Thanks for dropping in!

Bon Bon -- Good going that you already have a book group. More than two years in England and I still don't have one . . .
My mom's book group tend to do themed nibbles. It is sort of fun and also a lot of pressure!

BSR - One of my fantasies is having my own bookstore someday . . . just that sort of place that you describe.

Actually, I didn't wrap those presents! They come wrapped that way -- AND they have beautiful bookmarks that tell about the author and the novel. (Having said that, I am pretty good at gift-wrapping. Does that actually count as "crafty?")

Anne - I'm so happy to find you here! I really miss you when you get so busy at work. I bet there are lots of great bookstores in Chicago . . .

Thanks for the positive feedback on the header. It is the wallpaper in my study, actually.

CashmereLibrarian said...

I'm adding Unaccustomed Earth to MY list--thanks for the idea! FIRST I have to get through the new PD James, but BEFORE THAT I have to finish the biography of Madame de Stael!

I've asked for mainly Art books for Xmas: LA Modern by Tim Street-Porter, Santa Barbara Living by Diana Dorrans Saeks, Marie Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles by Christian Duvernois, and Chanel Collections and Creations by Daniele Bott. For my sons, I'm thinking Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh for my youngest (18), and Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers for my oldest (22).

I highly recommend A Writer's Paris. I keep it by my bedside, for inspiration. Someday I just might get there!

Anne said...

I do apologize for not being more present here and in my corner of the intertubes! I will try to put something up this week (maybe a long-overdue Thanksgiving roundup), but failing that, by the end of next week things should lighten up considerably. Between presenting a poster next Monday and writing a paper--my first to-be-published one--work is a little overwhelming at present. I can't wait to finish up my various pressing tasks so that I can catch up on on blogging and bake some Christmas goodies!

TBM said...

Dearest Bee, I am saving this post! what a wonderful selection. I ordered Elizabeth's book and am getting Barrie's book as well. This is so fun. And you're right, book buying is a bit of a habit. I told myself that I wouldn't buy a lot of books here (untold numbers of boxes back home), but "I cannot live without books." Speaking of Thomas Jefferson, have you ever been to Monticello and seen his library with his bookcases that turn into bookboxes? What a clever man!

Elizabeth said...

You are so very kind!
I really will write my list this evening.
I hope you get everything on your list plus a few surprises that delight.
I think I'm going to write about Persephone books.
Dept. of envy: My very first job - summer of 1968 was at Blackwell's in Oxford. (Antiquarian Dept) 2 doors from my little house on Ship Street.
Lots of sermons(that no one ever bought) in half-calf and quarto and vellum and all sorts of things I can't remember exactly except it was all rather fun. I was meant to catalogue them but was more interested in my private life.........Hmmm

tina said...

Hi there Bee! You have a lovely blog and all good recommendations for books. I think you may have a ton of books to read on your way to the beach and have a super great time!

Tess Kincaid said...

I spend far too much on books! And sometimes just because it has a beautiful cover like those gorgeous vintage Christmas books in your opening photo. I enjoyed reading through your list.

Bee said...

Cashmere - And you reminded me that I wanted that Madame de Stael! What a fascinating woman.

You didn't mention your husband. What does he like to read?

Anne - Congrats on first published paper! That's very exciting. I know that you have scant free time, but I do love it when you can visit.

I look forward to hearing about your Christmas goodies. I feel a "candy" post coming on. Must discuss traditions in the candy line.

JAPRA - I did go to Monticello years ago. (For some reason, it's the dumbwaiter that sticks in my mind.) I must go again. Of course, Jefferson liked to read about IDEAS. I just like interesting characters, fine prose, and a cracking storyline.

Elizabeth - What a divine first job! Surrounded with vellum, and with plenty of time to moon (one presumes) about our torrid personal life. I'm looking forward to your Persephone post.

Tina - Of course "beach books" call for special and specific criteria. Some of these won't do at all. I need a new list! (Thanks for visiting me!)

Willow - Those lovely books are actually a photograph of a Xmas card! I found it yesterday at the Red Lion Bookshop. They belong to the Bodleian Library collection.

Thanks for visiting me now that you are a blog-star. ;)

Anonymous said...

I have so many books that when we bought our house, we had to have an 18' x 8' garden office built to absorb the bulk.

David's Bookshop in Letchworth Garden City is a dangerous place. They sell both new and second hand books and once over the threshold my bank balance slides towards the red.

I'm re-reading Iris Murdoch's 'The Flight From the Enchanter' and 'Under the Net' and loving both, if it's any help.

Anonymous said...


May I just ask a blog favour. this is not on subject. I have two friends who are travelling through Texas for a couple of weeks over the holidays. Other than the obvious sites, The Alamo etc can anyone recommend good places to go in Houston and Austin specifically, they love food and know their wine but also love to travel about as well, both are really bright and have great humour.

On books, I have a buckets of them, my son's wish list consists of books books books and even my daughter has taken to reading ... of all things for a 23 year old ... the newspapers !


a) Will we do the Booker of all Bookers again ?
b) I'm on to the pumpkin fear not dear friend, I'll report back after the 17th.

BTW, being a person with limited depth I admit to a love of handbags, shoes, and books :)

Bee said...

Debski - Ok, sending out a Texas Shout-Out for Houston and Austin suggestions! (I will think on this and send you an email.)

Well, Midnight's Children won the Booker of Bookers . . . and I'm going to have to make it my New Year's resolution to read that one. BSR has been struggling manfully with it. Anne, any luck?

Or do you mean let's have a go with this year's shortlist and winner? I'm intrigued by A Northern Clemency. Have you started Sea of Poppies yet?

Bee said...

Dick - Is there a David of David's? Of course now I immediately want to visit that bookshop . . . even though I have no idea where Letchworth Garden City might be located.
I'm intrigued by your book shed. Does it have shelves, or is everything in boxes? Are you one of those people who knows where everything is, or is it a pick-and-mix?

I must read more Murdoch, but I'm going to try to read more new authors in the new year.

Alyson | New England Living said...

I love the antidotes you used to show your love of books! You are brilliant! I feel the same compulsion for books. I describe myself as a bookie, rather than a foodie. Though, I must admit, a bookie already has an undesirable definition. My husband gets it, even if no one else does. :)

Thanks for the list! I'm always looking for great reads. Just last week I was driving down a main road I've travelled on many, many times when I suddenly noticed an independent bookstore. I had never seen it before, but no doubt, it's always been there. Now, I'm dying to find a moment to myself to run down and take a look.

A beach read? Oh, pray tell, where are you going?

Bee said...

In England everyone would know what a bookie is! (chuckle) It is a shame that there isn't a "foodie" equivalent word for book-lover, though. When I was a child, we were called "bookworms" -- but that word always has a bit of a "four-eyes," geeky connotation.

Let me know if you check out your new independent bookstore . . .

As for beach reading: My parents are taking us to the Bahamas for Xmas.

Alyson | New England Living said...

You lucky girl! Oh, and I just read "An Innocent, a Broad" by Ann Leary in one sitting last night. It's an easy read, so it would be great for the beach. It's a memoir of how she was in the UK on holiday (well, her husband Denis Leary was doing some gigs) and ended up going into premature labor. Her short time in England, turned into half a year. I'll be interviewing Ann for my blog next month since she is a New Englander and lives only a few towns away from me.

Bee said...

Alyson - What a good title for a book! It's such a clever play on words. I look forward to your review; you are really branching out!

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