Thursday, February 16, 2017
A Little Book Haul
Do you ever find yourself in the situation where you have a decent number of unread books on your shelves, books that you are thrilled to own and cannot wait to read, yet you cannot resist the siren call of the bookshop? No? Well, this happens to me all. the. time. And it's not as though my shelf space is infinite at home either. I have an Ikea Kallax wall shelf, and although its square shape is not ideal for holding books, it actually can contain a large amount of them. Since I have a not-small collection of books, all of my cubes are double-stacked. It's not the most photogenic of configurations, but it works.
But back to my poor self-restraint. If I'm in the area, I can hardly resist stopping in to my favorite, local bookstore The Midtown Scholar. They not only have a huge selection in their physical store, but they also maintain a warehouse of even more titles that you can order online and have shipped anywhere, or locals can have books delivered right to the store for easy pickup. That's what I did. I have been scouring library book sales and other booksellers for a copy of Tony Kushner's full play Angels in America for a long time, but so far had only acquired "Part 2 - Perestroika". Low and behold, The Midtown Scholar had the full script for less than $5! An author I've discovered, thanks to Persephone Books and Virago Modern Classics republishing her, is Mollie Panter-Downes. I own all of her books from those two presses, but The Midtown Scholar had another of her works, At the Pines, so I couldn't not pick that up. I felt so pleased with myself for finding these two gems, and didn't mind the fact that I'd have to squeeze them in on my shelves.
I maintain my library digitally, via the site LibraryThing, and they offer a monthly program where their members can sign up to receive an advanced reader copy of a forthcoming book for free, in exchange for an honest review. Because the books come in very haphazardly, depending on the distance of shipping and the publisher, I ended up receiving three of them within a few days of each other. Like One of the Family is a republished collection of short fiction pieces, by Alice Childress, written as a series of conversations between Marge and her friend Mildred, who is a black domestic worker. They were first published sequentially in a Harlem newspaper called Freedom, and discuss overt and micro aggressions against black women. Tell Me How This Ends Well, by David Samuel Levinson, is a near-future road trip adventure with three siblings of the Jacobson family returning home to confront their abusive father and reconcile their past. I'm currently reading Like One of the Family and finding it really interesting - perhaps an influence on Claudia Rankine? One of the benefits of ARCs is that, after I finish them, I pass them along to readerly friends who might enjoy them, so they don't take up permanent residence on my shelves.
One shelf that I'm never upset about squeezing more books onto is my Persephone Books shelf. I love ordering directly from the publisher, and happily support them and their mission. However, because they're located in London, shipping requires trans-Atlantic postage, so it can be quite cost prohibitive. I know that Three Lives & Company carries Persephone Books, but there's no online ordering available. Since I don't live in NYC, that doesn't work for me. What does work for me is Strand Books, which often has secondhand copies of Persephone books available. I tend to check their site frequently, and I snagged copies of The Wise Virgins by Leonard Woolf, The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, and To Bed with Grand Music by Marghanita Laski. My Persephone shelf is looking very happy indeed.
The last book that I've added to my shelves is my February pick from Book of the Month Club. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee, is a family saga of four generations of a Korean family who immigrate to Japan. I'm familiar with pachinko, which is a type of Japanese pinball game, so I'm intrigued to see how it is interwoven into the story. As with most "family saga" books, this one is a bit of a chunker; it would be lovely to tuck into Pachinko for an entire weekend, and savor each and every of its 500 pages. This big book will take a bit of finagling to fit onto my shelves, but it'll be much worth it.
So that's it for this book haul. I'm grateful to have space to keep bookshelves and books, and I'm thankful for the books that I have. Have you brought any new or new-to-you books to roost on your shelves recently, or are you on a book buying ban? I'd love to hear all about it.