Monday, August 19, 2013

Back from Michigan, bearing books

I'm back!  After being in a car for the last two days, I'm a bit sore and exhausted today, but eager to seize this last week before classes start to tackle a whole host of projects that need accomplishing (including replying to a few comments and updating this blog).  My trip up to Michigan was so lovely that I didn't once pull out the camera, so I don't have any photos to share.  You'll have to take my word for it that the scenery was stunning, that my week with family was delightful, and that my recital went well.

With two days' car travel each way, plus snatches of reading time at the in-laws' house and various coffee shops, I got a lot of reading done on this trip: I finished eight books, mostly children's lit, and am in the middle of two more - reviews to come tomorrow!  I also investigated two book stores, and came home with a few treasures.  It's amazing how you can get a feel for a place through its used books.  My impression of this small town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula is one of relative isolation and age, without being disconnected from culture at large and without being unliterary.  By this, I mean that the main used book store was comfortably well-stocked, particularly with books on local places and local hobbies, and the fiction section included a lot of classics (almost entirely by men) but practically none of the popular editions we book bloggers like so much (no Penguins, and only one Oxford classic).

Just as I'd given up on finding any Viragos, I actually did find one, and then an old (vintage?) hardcover edition of what is apparently one of Rebecca West's best novels.  For only $5 for the pair, I happily forewent a chai latte for the day and came home with a few new books.  These two novellas by Mrs. Oliphant are apparently the start of her Chronicles of Carlingford, tales of a provincial Victorian society which is evidently similar to Trollope's Barsetshire or Gaskell's Cranford.  I would have bought it for The Rector alone; I'm addicted to anything detailing conflict between high and low church traditions, perhaps because so much of my own research focuses on this (supposed) binary.

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