2006: Books 19-10

10.  The Unexpurgated Beaton: The Cecil Beaton Diaries as He Wrote Them, 1970-1980, Cecil Beaton; Hugo Vickers, ed.:

I bought this book on a whim, because the cover was pink and covered with interesting celebrities (Capote! Warhol! Dali! Oh my!), and because it promised to be “scathing, scandalous and compulsively readable!” And it kind of was. It was certainly compulsively readable, in the sense that I kept thinking that I was sort of bored by large chunks of the book, and yet I read the whole thing through. Spend two hours yesterday finishing it.

The book consists of the transcribed, (barely) annotated diary of Cecil Beaton from 1970 – 1980. Beaton was a famous photographer, set and costume designer (he designed the sets for My Fair Lady), writer, artist, etc. He was born to a (relatively) modest family in England, but by end of his life he hob-knobbed with the crème of society, up to and including the Royal family. He knew everyone – society – artists – royalty – everyone. And he wrote it all down, and some of it was just compulsively readable. He wrote wicked things about people, and incredibly moving things. I love gossip. I like reading about famous people. Some sections, such as the description of his sister's death, his version of the Duke of Windsor’s funeral, his stories of his travels to South America were extremely written and fascinating. I loved the stuff about the famous people - I was not particularly interesting in the stories relating to all his society friends, but otherwise, I generally enjoyed the book.

My complaint was that Hugo Vickers dropped the ball in his annotation. The book was littered with absolute unilluminating footnotes. He would refer to people's full name, and he would drop some line about some interesting relationship, or even worse, a scandal, and would not explain a thing. To truly enjoy the book you would need to know every single boring rich person who ever lived. It wouldn’t have killed the editor to give a little more, is what I am saying. I actually read another book by Vickers, a biography of Princess Alice of Greece (what can I say, sometime I like to read books that are well written but inherently trashy in subject matter), and it was pretty good. He didn’t assume that I knew every single royal family member – why should he assume I know all these rich fools (who are inherently less famous?)?

So, do you read any printed diaries? Are any of them great? Is it Pepys only, then downhill from there?

Date/Place Completed: 01/22/2006, Washington D.C. 

11.  Runaway, Alice Munro

I was given this book as a birthday gift from my aunt, and I had sort of forgotten I had it until recently. It’s hard to give gifts to a bookworm, but this was an excellent choice. I always enjoy Munro’s work when I run across it in the The New Yorker or wherever, but I don’t usually think to purchase her books or pick them up the library.

I first ran into Munro in high school. My English teacher gave us two stories two read - her “Open Window” and that story by Steven King that is the Hawthorne pastiche (“The Man in Black”, or something like that). The point was supposed to be how deep and meaningful and wonderful the Munro was and how shallow and crappy the King story was in comparison. My teacher had very definite ideas of what he thought was good and what was not.

I think that it was a bogus exercise – Munro and King are hardly out to do the same kind of work, and I think Stephen King can actually be a pretty great writer when he chooses, but that’s for another post about literary snobbery and the different reasons to read different things. Even though I look back at the experience with a somewhat sour taste in my mouth, I am grateful to my teacher for introducing me to the complex, textured, chewy stories of Alice Munro. For there no doubt (as the cover of Runaway trumpets) that she has “a strong claim to being the best fiction writer working in North America.” Her stories cover a slice of a life (usually a women’s life), but say so much in each story that you can unpick them forever. They read like mysteries to me – there is so much left unsaid, and you read the story trying to figure out what happened and what will happened and why it happened and what really went on. Munro is particularly apt, I think, at capturing both how one decision can alter a persons’ entire life, and how women (especially in the earlier part of this century) made decisions about their lives with almost no forethought at all, and paid for it, sometimes dearly.

This is also what can make me crazy about her work. I feel like, even though the tales are different, some of the themes are themes I have heard before. Like her literary twin, Margaret Atwood, that other Canadian writing star, she writes a lot of stories about sad women whose lives haven’t turned out right – they married the wrong man, or their husbands left them, or they never got married at all, and they are sad and incomplete because of it. There are a lot of stories about women in the 1950’s or 1960’s who got married because it was the thing to do, and paid the price. These tales are well crafted and have her customary insight into human behavior, but I am tired of such stories. I want to read about women whose problems are caused by their careers – or by outside circumstances – or because they purposefully made bad choices. Her protagonists are too often acted upon – not the prime actors in their own stories. Not all women are sad and miserable and held back, ladies. Maybe it’s a generational thing – maybe my generation of women does not understand what it was like – but while I enjoy, really enjoy these two writers, I find myself frustrated with their worldview – like, it’s not that bad to be a woman. And women are allowed to make planned choices about their own lives – not everyone just drifts into life without deciding upfront what they want. Some of us do have agency over our lives. I don’t think I am expressing this dissatisfaction that clearly – I did enjoy this book, particularly the stories “Tricks” and “Powers” – but something about it maddened me as well.

Do you agree? Have you experienced this? Is it being part of a different generation than these authors?

Date/Place Completed: 01/29/2006, Washington D.C.

12. The Odd Women, George Gissing 

The Odd Women is a novel of ideas, somewhat in the vein of Henry James, where not much happens, but what does is all psychologically fraught and full of meaning. Gissing, however, manages to make the philosophy into more of a page-turner than James does. It is about the idea of marriage and women’s roles, wrapped around the concept of the “odd woman,” that is the idea that around the turn of the century there were more women than men in Britain. Society freaked out about the what would become of these “odd” or “surplus” women. In fact, in college I wrote a lengthy research paper about this issue in the context of the aftermath of World War One (which was what led me to purchase the book in the first place). The Odd Women takes place in the 1890’s, and details the lives of a number of different women and how they addressed the issue of being concerned “surplus” and unwanted. The women range from Rhoda Nunn, a passionate crusader for women having useful purpose, to Monica Madden who marries for security and bitterly regrets it, to Virginia Madden, who lives pitifully sad and alone and secretly drinks.

There is a lot to chew on in this book, and it has a lot to say even today about what marriage should be like. The most interesting thing I found in it was the discussion of how important it is for marriage to be a meeting of the minds – a true pairing between men and women. Even though it ends up with Rhoda unable to marry the man who is here equal without compromising her principles, it still stands for the proposition that men and women will never have happiness and equality until women are equal to men. Perhaps Gissing comes at the issue from the self-centered position that men won’t be happy unless their women are good enough for them – but at least he embraces the notion that equality, and a true meeting of the minds is necessary for a marriage to work. And the book shows that women need to have purpose beyond men to be happy, which is a pretty radical notion for a book written in 1893. Some people seem to think its a radical notion for 2006.

I am still figuring out what I think about this book – honestly, it’s the kind of book you could write an English paper about – or a woman’s studies paper – or a history paper. It’s not all good (it ends with a typical Victorian ending of death for the “fallen” woman – who barely even tripped, let alone fell), but it takes women and men and marriage seriously. And there are certain many people today who think of marriage as a white knight, poofy dress romantic fantasy, and don’t pay attention to how marriage should be, and how women should value themselves whether or not they have a man. I like this book – it made me think, and it made me mad and baffled and I am glad I read it (even if it was in dribs and drabs on the elevator). Thanks George!

And, I get to pick a new commuting book now! So fun! GI-H, shelf here I come!

Date/Place Completed: 02/01/2006, Washington D.C. – on the D2!; 

13 . The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett

Oh boy! Am I hard-boiled now or what? This was a perfect book to pick as my new commuting book, because I had jury duty today, and what better company for a stressful day filled with annoying bureaucracy than Sam Spade and his tough-talking fast-thinking ways? I’m not sure whether I have read the book before, or whether I have just seen the movie, but either way I enjoyed it immensely.

The plot doesn’t make too much sense – lots of double crossing and shooting and such, and I didn’t really care much for Ms. Brigid O’Shaughnessy before it became clear that she was up to no good, nor did I believe that Spade had any sort of feelings for her at all, other than getting what was his. And I’m not really much for hard-boiled detectives anyway – I am more of a Poirot and Jane Marple kind of girl. But there is language – and even more so, insights into human character in this book that elevates it above the pulp it could be (and before you say anything, yeah, I know that this is not an original thought and that better critics than I have said this first!). The way Spade can see through the trickery of O’Shaughnessy is just so right - I can’t say I am dying to read more Hammett, but I enjoyed this greatly. And it made a dreadful day much more exciting than it might otherwise have been!

So, are you a hard-boiled fan? Do you love Spade, Marlow and their ilk? Can you read it and not think of Bogie??

Next up for my commuting book, continuing on in the same vein The Constant Gardener! Fun, fun!

Date/Place Completed: 02/06/2006, in jury duty, in the Moultrie Courthouse, Washington D.C.; Modern Library Project

Book Slump!

I know I have been quiet for the past week, but the fact is, I have fallen into a book slump. It’s not that I haven’t been reading, but I can’t seem to finish anything. Right now I am in the middle of: The Constant Gardiner by John Le Carré, Snow by Orham Pamuk, The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery Volume One by the obvious, and The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr. Not to mention my usual book slump fare of The Week, Entertainment Weekly, The Atlantic Monthly and back issues of The New York Review of Books. And it isn’t that these books aren’t interesting – they are (although, to be honest, I am finding Snow a little slow going) – but I just can’t get any traction. The Constant Gardiner is particularly good, and I am prompted to read more Le Carré, and soon, but it is my commuting book, and I not (not yet anyway) desperate to grab it out and make it my general read book. But I am almost there, because I hate book slumps.

What else is going on in the world of books? I went to a snooty used bookstore in Georgetown this weekend. Not the awesome kind, where you can get five books for ten dollars, or the ridiculous kind where they sell, like, George Washington's autobiography signed by the entire Continental Congress, but the kind where they sell a lot of early editions of moderately famous books for about thirty-five dollars a pop. Example – book club editions of say, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or The Handmaiden’s Tale. I’m not knocking it – I am certainly not above buying a hardcover copy of a book I love – but I don’t have the same sense of the hunt as I do in the other kind of used bookstore. Probably because I can only buy one or two books at a pop, and not, say, ten. But the cheaper bookstore, the one run by the little fabulous old Bryn Mawr alumnae*, was closed because of snow, and so, the snooty store it was.

But, just because its more expensive, it doesn't mean I’m going home without anything. I bought the Modern Library version of Ulysses. This was a pretty good find, because my dad and my sister and I have become obsessed with the Modern Library series lately. We love them, and buy them whenever we can and keep them all together on one shelf where they look beautiful. My dad’s rule is that he will pay no more than $3 per volume (he favors book sales and yard sales). I generally agree, but will make an exception if it is a book I would have bought anyways. Ulysses fits the bill. First of all, it’s the pretty new Modern Library with Joyce’s picture and everything. Secondly, I am going to read that book, by hook or by crook, and amazingly this new hardcover copy is smaller and easier to read than the bulky paperback copy I already have. So this is a good addition to my library.

And that’s about it in the world of books. I’m going to sign off and get some actual reading done and bust out of that book slump.

*That is in NO way a slam. These little old ladies rock.

14. The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 1, 1889-1910 edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston:

These are, as the title indicates, the first printed and edited volume of L.M. Montgomery's journals. I had wanted to read them for sometime, but the book is out of print, not available at my local library, and even hard to find used on-line. Found it, finally, at Powell's (where else?). It was a hard read, at times, but a satisfying one. It was exciting to see what parts of Anne, Emily, Valancy, and even dim old Pat came from Maud (as she called herself - never Lucy), and to read passages from her journal that made it to her books, such as Anne's description of her perfect wedding, which Maud thought of for herself first.* From a historical point of view, it was interesting to learn about the life of a young girl and woman growing up in the turn-of-century Eastern Canada. One thing that surprised me, for example, is how much interaction the opposite sex had with each other, alone and unsupervised. Not that anything untoward was going on (well, except for the whole Hermann Leard thing), but one imagines the post-Victorians being so repressed, and that was not necessarily the case. So, that was interesting.

But it was so, so sad to track her life from her excited and joyous teenage years to her sad depressed adulthood. I am not saying her life was always miserable - she obviously had great professional success, and I am willing to believe that she turned to her journal as an outlet for things she couldn't say to anyone else, especially since she didn't write that often later on. That is to say, that it reflected the absolute worse parts of her life. Nevertheless, it is clear that she became stuck taking care of her cold heartless grandmother, and that life, to some extent slipped her by. A girl who turned down many marriage proposals, and clearly enjoyed flirting and men, ended up in a marriage of convenience to save herself from being lonely. A woman who craved companionship and beauty lived basically alone in her cold house with her cold grandmother for years. She felt things deeply, suffered from depression and, what's worse, knew that she was living the wrong life for her. It's a tragedy, pure and simple. To think that we who have so loved her books benefited from her misery (in that, she had nothing else to turn to but the printed page) makes almost makes me guilty. On the other hand, at least she had that - and if she suffered, she has brought many of us joy.

Oh-la-la - wasn't that a Montgomerian cadence there too? Flowery and sad, and all. Anyway, it seems that her young life was like Anne (an orphan who overcame her unhappiness through her love of beauty), and her later life like Emily or Valancy, but without the happy escape from misery. Poor thing! I'd like to read her other journals, for sure, but I think I'll wait until I come up on them in a used bookstore or what have you - I am disinclined to actively seek out such sadness.

On a petty note, it took me forever to finish this book, because the hardcover copy I had was so annoying to read. It wouldn't lay flat, and it was heavy and I was always having to hold my wrists at odd angles to keep it open. I didn't want to crack the spine, since it was so hard to find the book, so I could only read a bit before I got so annoyed that I put it down and grabbed something else!

*That would be to slip into the forest at the early dawn, meet the one you love and be married, with no prying eyes or meaningless ceremony.

Date/Place Completed: 02/13/2006, at home, Washington D.C.

15.  Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren’t Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn’t Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out. Edited by Ted Thompson

So, in case the goofy title didn’t clue you in, this is a McSweeney’s book, the one I bought at 826 Valencia (along with my awesome eyepatch). It’s an odd little collection of whimsical stories by a whole bunch of authors, including Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s a a weird little book, in that many of the stories read like children’s tales, but they are also sort of grim and dark. But then, so are fairy tales, so why not, I guess.

Anyway, it is a fast read, but a fun one. My favorite was the story about Grimble, whose parents went to Peru and left him to figure out his fate. I also liked the story about the real monster, the one about the town the size of a field and Neil Gaiman’s story about (what else) the sun god. Not the greatest lit-er-a-ture, but I enjoyed it, and its all for a great cause – they have two stores one in San Francisco (the pirate store) and one in Brooklyn (the superhero store) which are fronts for a tutoring/writing operation! So, what are you waiting for – go buy it! Or go to McSweeneys and find out how you can help!

Date/Place Completed: 02/15/2006, at home, Washington D.C.

16.  Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? The Carter Family & Their Legacy in American Music, Mark Zwonitzer with Charles Hirshberg

Or, 2006 Oscar book-blogging, part one. I bought this book right after I saw Walk the Line (which is an awesome, awesome movie – go see it). I was in Barnes & Noble, and this caught my eye – a New York Times Notable Book and a National Book Critics Circle Finalist that just happened to be about the Carter family at the exact moment when I had the songs of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash running through my head. Serendipity, no?

I am glad for it, because this was a great book. I have been drifting along, reading four or five books at once, and this was the first book in a while that really caught my attention and I found un-put-downable. It is a biography of the Original Carter Family – Sarah, Maybelle and A.P., and their stardom early years of country music, and then goes on to tell some of the story of Maybelle’s children’s successes – Anita, Helen and June. And, obviously, as part of that story, it touches on Johnny Cash’s tale as well. Not to mention touching the big names in country music – Minnie Pearl, Jimmie Rogers, Chet Atkins and in folk – Joan Baez, Bob Dylan. But beyond one family’s story, this book touches on so much more – it encapsulates a large chunk of popular culture from the twenties through the seventies. Even if you don’t like bluegrass/folk/country, it effectively describes a chunk of American history – what it was like to live in rural America in the Depression, and going forward. It is also a great human story, as explains the personal relationships of the various players – AP and Sarah’s divorce, Maybelle and June’s saving of Johnny Cash. Explanatory without being exploitative, it is a great story about a way of life that has largely disappeared. And if you can read this book without being impressed by the Carter family and their way of life and musical skills and (as corny as it sounds) family values, I’d be shocked. If you saw the movie, and wanted to know more about, you couldn’t do better than Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone.

Date/Place Completed: 02/24/2006, at home, Washington D.C.

17. The Constant Gardener, John Le Carré

Or, 2006 Oscar book-blogging, part two. This was a fun book. I read it after I had already seen the movie, and I still found it suspenseful enough that I had to pull it from being my commuting book, and spend an hour on my couch Sunday morning frantically finishing it. Since I already knew what happened, I have to give much credit to Le Carré's ability to spin a plot. It is also very well written, particularly for a popular, mass-market thriller (I’m looking at you, Da Vinci Code). It was a nice post-Cold War twist on a spy story, and it touched on the extremely important issue of the way the first world treats the third world, and I am told, by The New York Review of Books, that the situation in Africa is even worse than the book would leave you to believe, which is absolutely horrifying.

But – in the end I left the book a little unsatisfied, and here is why. Even though this is quite a good book, I honestly thought the film was better. This is the rare situation where a good book is made into a better movie. The book is a decent thriller, but the movie told an important and moving story, and did it in a much more credible way. It streamlined the plot, uncomplicated the cover-up, and as good as the writing is, the acting was better. Tessa and Justin seemed realer when played by Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes than on the page. I don’t know – the movie made me cry for Tessa and for Justin and for Africa, and the book just made me tear through the pages, and shake my head cynically. It’s a surreal reading experience for this book lover to keep thinking of the film. Oh well.

That having been said, I quite enjoyed my first Le Carré, and look forward to reading The Quest for Karla saga sometime in the near future!

Have you ever (perish the thought!) like a movie more than the book? Do tell, so I can feel less alone!

Date/Place Completed: 02/26/2006, at home, Washington D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Commuting Book

18. An Unofficial Rose, Iris Murdoch

I don't know where I got this book - I must have purchased it in a used bookstore/book sale binge, under the idea that I had never read any Murdoch before and now was the time to start. I started reading it as part of my weird commuting book program, and I am certainly glad that I did, since it was a great read. An Unofficial Rose is subtitled "The Complicated, Funny, Sad Romance of Many People Lost in a Garden," and honestly, that is exactly what its about. It concerns a family and close friends of Hugh Peronett and the love complications that every single one of them - from newly widowed Hugh to twelve year-old Miranda - find themselves in over the course of a few months. It is an interesting book because on the surface, it seems slight and about nothing much at all - not much different from the sort of middle-brow romance novel written by a Maeve Binchy or a Rosamund Pilcher - which surprised me, given what I had heard about Murdoch. But the more I read and thought about the book, the more it stuck with me and the more impressed with it I became.

An Unofficial Rose is a both mediation/exploration on the nature of love and a satire on how foolish being in love makes everyone. It is reminiscent (and probably an intentional play on) of those Shakespearian comedies (like, say, As You Like It) where everyone is running around in the woods falling in love with each other, and being star crossed and scheming and falling in and out of love. The reference to being lost in a garden, and the themes of being in the garden and Randall Peronett's rose-growing business are certainly not-unintentional, and throw back both to Shakespeare and to the nature of being English itself. And it is also a darkly funny book - in the way that every character in it is a fool about love and suffers the consequences of that, and ends up no better than they started out, despite their romantic adventures

But what impressed me the most about the story is how Murdoch was able to write a true and accurate portrait of the feelings that you feel when you are falling in love. Not what its like to be in love, real sensible grown-up love, but the rather the ridiculous emotionality of falling in love and trying to figure out whether the person you are interested in is interested in you and how you become simultaneously muddled, and scheming, and hyperaware and filled with clarity. Murdoch captures precisely the how life becomes so much more emotional and fraught and complicated at those times. And not in a silly, Sex in the City/chick-lit sort of way, but with a clear, cold real novelist's eye. What I mean is, at first I was absolutely maddened by many of the characters, and their inabilities to make decision and move forward, and stop being lost in love's garden. But then it struck me that this is what falling in love is like - and I remembered being in college and mooning over my then ex-boyfriend (now darling husband), and how miserable I was, and how I suffered. And how I had this sixth sense of where he was and what he was doing (or thought I did) - and how hyper-aware I was of every emotion. And now that I am a happy old married lady (three years in September!) who is happy and in love, but no longer strung up by love, I think back on that time as being absolutely ridiculous, and want to go back and shake some sense into myself, and tell me not to be so dramatic, and that actually being in real love is nothing like that at all - and thank God for it. I commend Murdoch for being able to recreate that exact sensation for her characters. The book absolutely has made me think in the way that literature is supposed to, and I will read more Murdoch.

On an unrelated note when I opened my copy I found Mrs. Karen Larsen's business card, addressed 1-86 & 87, Dongbingoo-dong Yongsan-ku, Seoul, Korea. In English on one side and (presumably) in Korean on the other. This is one of the better items on my "mysterious things you have found in books" list, and brings me great joy.

Date/Place Completed: 03/06/06, Washington, during my lunch break

Categories: Fiction; Commuting Book

19.  Thud, Terry Pratchett

I will try to refrain from asking you all, yet again, why you are not yet reading Terry Pratchett (if indeed, you are not). Whoops, too late. Thud is the latest Discworld novel, focusing, as most of the more recent books have, on Sam Vimes, the Commander of the Watch in the city of Ankh-Morph, and the troubles that ensue when the ethnic tensions arise between the local Trolls and Dwarfs, who had been generally in peace, despite traditions of enmity between the two groups. Basically, a group of fundamentalist "deep-down" trolls have arrived in town, preaching about the old ways, and trouble has ensued. Before you roll your eyes at the words Dwarves and Trolls, understand that while these books are set in a fantasy setting, they have little or nothing to do with traditional fantasy fiction. The Discworld books began as satires on classic sword and fairy fantasy novels, and have evolved, over time, to become novels that take on some of the most interesting issues of our times, under the guise of satiric fantasy. Such as, in this case, ethnic prejudice, religious fundamentalism, and the importance of law and justice over revenge. And, the love a father has for his son, gender relations on the police force, the necessity of politics and compromise, and the pretty-woman/jerk syndrome. All these important ideas under the covers of a totally enjoyable page turner - not a heavy novel of ideas. What I am saying is, Terry Pratchett is awesome.

I enjoyed Thud immensely. As always, I found the climax of the thing a teeny bit hard to follow - I don't know if that's because I read the books a wee bit too quickly, or if Pratchett gets so wrapped up in his own ideas and confusing situations that he misses the thread a little bit. I always know what happens at the end, but I have a little bit of a hard time following in the thick of things. Other than that, I loved it - I particularly loved Vimes determination to be home at six every night to read to Young Sam - I got a lump in my throat about it (which may say as much about my own biological clock, no?), and I want a copy of Where's My Cow? for my very own.

You really should be ready the Discworld novels. The only hitch is that the more you read the better they are, and the more you get out of them, so the first one might put you a little bit in medias res, and it might take a couple before you are completely up to speed. But it's worth it for page-turning crowd-pleasing fiction that also has something important to say.

Date/Place Completed: 03/09/06, Washington, sitting on my couch last night until the last page was done (and wanting more to follow!

Buying Books! (3/12/06)

We went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania this weekend to meet up with our dear, dear friends, and do some catching-up/sightseeing. We had a lovely time together (if an eventful one, due to some circumstances beyond our control), but beyond the marvelous company, one of the highlights was all the antique shops/used bookstores, and I did some fabulous BOOK-BUYING! So, here is my haul:

The Sweet Cheat Gone, Marcel Proust – To finish up my collection of the The Remembrance of Things Past, and a Modern Library Edition to boot!

Green Mansions, W. H. Hudson – I know nothing about this book – I never ever heard of it, but it was an illustrated Modern Library, and it cost $1, so I needed it.

Mistress Pat, L.M. Montgomery – A cool old copy, even if (as I have mentioned) I think Pat needs to snap out of it, get out of Silver Bush and marry Jingle!

The Golden Road, L.M. Montgomery – Another fabulous old hardcover copy – I’m always looking for her books in old/original editions.

I Saw Esau, Iona & Peter Opie, with illustrations with Maurice Sendack – A fabulous hardcover collection of children’s schoolyard rhymes, illustrated by the master.

The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimoore Cooper – This was an absolute necessity, because it was an older hardcover version with the fabulous N. C. Wyeth illustrations, and I needed those pictures. It is just gorgeous.

The Curse of the Blue Figurine, John Bellairs – A cool paperback copy – Edward Gorey cover an all. I loved these books growing up – so mysterious and creepy, and I had to start collecting them.

The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull, John Bellairs – Ditto. Love them!

The Boomerang Clue, Agatha Christie – Another paperback, one of the few Christies I don’t already own.

Monstrous Regiment, Terry Pratchett – A great Pratchett that I didn’t own already, yay!

Walden and Other Writings, Henry David Thoreau - This one was Jon's, but who doesn't need some Walden?

So, a pretty good haul, no? The whole thing was under $50, and I got some pretty cool early editions, and I was pretty darn satisfied. Thanks, Amish country

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017