Monday, January 14, 2013

New Viragos, and a book-buying ban

Oops.  Turns out there's a used bookstore about half a block away from the music department.  And they're one of those great stores that separates out classics from general fiction!  I'd say this will be problematic, but the truth is, I really enjoy used bookstores.  The occasional, judiciously-chosen afternoon there will probably be a great source of relaxation and recharging over the next few years of grad school.  Last week, I spent a wonderful hour or so browsing both sections, and then had to decide what to buy from a stack of ten or so books I'd pulled from the shelves.

The trouble with only reading books you actually own is that you feel greater incentive to purchase more books to expand your options.  I'm a little short on personal funds for the rest of the month due to my book-buying earlier in January, and I don't want to stress my husband by adding to my new bookshelf too quickly, so I limited myself to only two.  Sadly, I had to put both Anne and Charlotte Bronte back, as well as a couple other Viragos and a few other works of fiction.  I have a whole year before I need a new Bronte novel for next winter break, and if possible, I would like to find new Penguin editions so my whole set matches (rather than the old Penguin editions at this store...they were lovely and in great shape, but significantly smaller and shorter than my copies of Jane Eyre and Villette).

I was so incredibly excited to find these two, though!




















I've been meaning to read some of Delafield's other fiction ever since flying through her Provincial Lady diaries last spring.  I find her unique mix of humor and expose on the tragedy of women's situations and limited choices in the early 20th century to be utterly engaging and thoughtfully compelling.  And after recently finishing Kennedy's The Constant Nymph, an instant favorite, I looked into her other novels and particularly wanted to read The Ladies of Lyndon.  I decided that this tale of an upper-class family in Edwardian England would fill my hunger for more fiction along the lines of Downton Abbey.  I couldn't believe it was there, or that I spotted it - I was quickly scanning the shelves, mostly looking for green covers and, of course, this is one of the more easily-missed black American editions.  I saw it, calmly snatched it, and inwardly did a little dance.  Have you experienced this kind of book-buying serendipity?  It doesn't happen often for me!

I've also just ordered the 1400-page unabridged Signet edition of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.  I've loved this musical since I was a child.  I saw it on stage in London, and probably listened to my complete symphonic soundtrack about a million times growing up.  I would have been willing to state that it was the musical I knew best - and I'm a real musical theater junkie - but when I saw the film a few days ago, I was utterly blown away by the theological symbolism that I had never once picked up on.  I had no idea what this musical was really about.  Thus the film was an overwhelming and often tearful experience for me.  The friends we were with assured me that all that Christian imagery and allegory is present in the novel, so it's high time I read it.  And I prefer to own really huge, door-stopping novels rather than checking them out of a library, so I can take my time with them, unpressured by library deadlines.

But THAT IS IT!  I'm now on a self-imposed book-buying ban that will extend through the end of February (the same length as my read-only-books-I-own project), with the possible exception of my conference trip to Connecticut.  Checking out a used bookstore has become a staple of any travel of mine.  Here in Durham, the trick is going to be avoiding walking into bookstores for the next month and a half.  They're joyous places, but it's hard to walk out without claiming something wonderful for your very own.

6 comments:

  1. Oh, I think you'll really like The Way Things Are! It's one of my favorite non-Provincial-Lady Delafields. And I very much liked The Ladies of Lyndon, too, though aside from it and The Constant Nymph, I haven't had much luck liking Kennedy. If you haven't seen the film of Constant Nymph (Joan Fontaine and Charles Boyer), I highly recommend it. Fontaine is marvelous as Tessa. Have you read E. H. Young? Love her, especially William, Chatterton Square, and The Misses Mallett.

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    1. I'm so delighted to hear that you liked them - that makes me more sure that I will too! I'm not familiar with E.H. Young; in fact I've never heard of her before. I'll most definitely have to look her up now. Thanks!

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  2. I find that NOT going into bookshops is the only way to keep myself on my book buying ban! I know that I'd crumble if I stepped foot in one! I'm very interested to watch Les Misérables. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I've been hearing such good things about it - especially the music.

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    1. Do go and see Les Mis! It's a wonderful musical. As a music scholar, I expected to find it difficult not to constantly judge the quality of the singing, but I found the film so compelling in other ways that vocal quality mattered not to my experience (which is to say, some of the actors aren't trained singers, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment).

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  3. A used bookstore half a block away! How perfect! I've also banned myself from our local thrift store. I have a whole box of books I bought to give away for various occasions, so I can't buy anymore until I've whittled down the stack a bit. :-)

    P.S. And I agree that you just have to STAY OUT if you don't want to buy anything because there's no way to turn down a good find once you know about it!

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    1. We can help hold each other to our bans. :-)

      Do you mean that you have a whole box of books that you've laid aside as gifts? That's really wonderful! I wish I had more family members to whom I could give books. I don't think most of my immediate family reads much anymore. But books have given me so much enjoyment and thoughtful contemplation that I wish I were able to spread the love a bit.

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