Sunday, October 6, 2013

Winnie the Pooh in Latin, a stack of Viragos, and other great finds!

In case anyone has any doubt at all, the place to be in Durham on these particularly fine weekends in October or April is the Durham public library book sale.  Not only do you support the fabulous local library, which offers a number of excellent public services including book readings for very small children, but you get to spend an hour happily browsing the covered outdoor shelves.  There is always, always a beautiful breeze, and I've never walked away without finding something wonderful.  For some reason, for two years now I've found multiple Viragos in the fall, and none in the spring.  Curious.

Today, I convinced my friend to go with me, so with her son (my godson) cheerfully reaching for books, we browsed the children's picture books and found a few really interesting and fun books that he can grow into.  Sadly, someone had bought the entire collection - four boxes' worth! - of board books on the first day of the sale.  Don't you get irritated when people are clearly going for profit instead of purchasing books they're eager to read?  Despite this disappointment, we still found some really great books for him.   Our favorite was a wonderfully colorful and quirky explanation of how snowflakes are made!

For my own part, I happily snatched up any green or black Viragos I could find, then carefully sorted through them.  My husband is relieved that I don't automatically buy any Viragos I find, but only the ones I'm really interested in reading.  So I bought half of the ones offered and set the rest back in an green-and-black eye-catching group so that some other reader might discover this wonderful publishing house.  I also found some Penguins, including an excellent old orange copy of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South.  The nice thing about going on the last day of the sale is that you buy books by the bag.  That always frees me to try a book I might not normally try - for example, I've never heard of Ellen Glasgow's Virginia before, but with such great explanatory buzzwords on the back cover as "coming-of-age novel," "sexual and racial politics," and "criticism of the Church, patriarchal society, and even feminism itself," I stuck it in my bag and am willing to give it a shot.

Rebecca West, Elizabeth von Arnim, George Eliot, Ellen Glasgow,
Margaret Kennedy, Henry Handel Richardson, Mrs Humphrey Ward, Willa Cather,
Winnie the Pooh in Latin!, Gustave Flaubert, and Elizabeth Gaskell
On the not-literature side, I'm most excited by finding this copy of Winnie the Pooh in Latin!  I spent all summer learning Latin and now I meet with my advisor once a week to practice translating.  Latin already is, and will remain hugely important to my research, since I'm a sacred music scholar.  It'll be fun to practice with such a delightful text - which is even illustrated!  And how awesome is that cover - Pooh bear as a gladiator!  Not pictured are Strunk's Source Readings (every musicologist should own a copy) and the famous The Madwoman in the Attic, which apparently kicked off feminist scholarship in Victorian literature.  It won't exactly be light reading, but should help deepen my enjoyment and understanding of these books I love.

Finally, I couldn't pass up old hardcover copies of I Capture the Castle and Parnassus on Wheels.  Yes, I already own them, but since I was already buying a bag of books anyway and had room, I figured that I could give them away.  And I was right!  The friend who came to the sale with me is interested, and I'm utterly delighted to share the joys of some of my favorite books of the past few years.

After spending the rest of the weekend at a theology conference, my brain was pretty thoroughly spent, and I can't think of a nicer way to have spent this lovely warm afternoon.  How have you spent your weekend?  Read anything great lately?


  1. Ohhh! Such a great day you had! I see some of my absolute favourites here (North and South, von Arnim, and Winnie Ille Pu!) and everything else looks wonderful! Enjoy your treasures, Samantha.

    1. Thanks, I hope to have the time to read some of these soon. I too am extremely fond of Elizabeth von Arnim - I read this one a year or two ago and have since recommended it to more people than I could count!

  2. I would be curious to read your assessment of Richardson's Maurice Guest. I found a beautiful old cloth-bound edition in dust jacket—being a pianist myself, and having loved her masterpiece The Getting of Wisdom, I felt obliged to buy it, but it sat on my shelf for about fifteen years before I finally read it! I know what you mean about hardcover copies. If I love a book, I like to own it in cloth because I know I'll be reading it again and again.

    1. That sounds like a gorgeous copy. Sometimes I think of books like art - if you know what's inside, you don't even have to open it up to look at it and interpret. And if you're lucky, the physical book itself is a beautiful piece of artwork in its own right!

      Maurice Guest looks really depressing, judging from the description on the back. I'm not sure that I'll like it much, if it really is, but like you I was entranced by the musical content. I've never heard of her before and am glad that someone else has! What is The Getting of Wisdom like?

  3. hey nice post meh, I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: Overeagerness Dating .
    keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.


  4. You've got a treat in store with Daniel Deronda - already my top book of 2013 when I finished it in the first few days of the year!