Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Last Saturday morning after a nice breakfast at our favorite cafe, my wife and I went to the Malden Public Library book sale. I've been to library book sales in the past, but usually just bought any book I wanted, hardcover or paperback, good condition or bad. Not Saturday. My wife got a number of books herself, but I filled up two good sized bags with all books that I thought were good conditioned modern first editions. The past five days I've been beginning my catalogue of the books and trying to determine their value, if there is any. I think I found a number of great books and investigating their print number and edition has been more fun than I would have imagined. I'm learning a lot about the book collecting and book selling trade. Maybe tonight I'll get some more work done.

These are not all Very Fine condition, but they are Good to Fine. And they may not all be First Printings either, but a number of them are. That is why I have to continue my research. The adrenaline was rushing as I picked up all these great finds. May not be worth a fortune, but it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Here's my list...

Mark Helprin, A Soldier of the Great War, 1991 First US Edition
Robertson Davies, The Lyre of Orpheus, 1989 First US Edition
Anne Tyler, Breathing Lessons, 1988 First US Edition
Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist, 1985 First US Edition
Gore Vidal, Empire, 1987 First US Edition
Steven King, Misery, 1987 First US Edition
Steven King, Cujo, 1981 First US Edition (possible Book-of-the-Month Club)
Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds, 1977 First US Edition (but later printing)
Elmore Leonard, Freaky Deaky, 1988 First US Edition
Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty, 1990 First US Edition
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman, 1969 First US Edition
Margaret Atwood, Bodily Harm, 1982 First US Edition
Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride, 1993 First Canadian Edition
Peter Ackroyd, Chatterton, 1988 First US Edition
James Carroll, Prince of Peace, 1984 First US Edition
Sebastian Faulks, Charlotte Gray, 1999 First US Edition
Alan Furst, Blood of Victory, 2002 First US Edition
Jeffrey Lent, In the Fall, 2000 First US Edition
John Le Carre, The Russia House, 1989 First US Edition
Don Delillo, Libra, 1988 First US Edition
Don Delillo, Underworld, 1997 First US Edition
Pat Barker, The Ghost Road, 1996 First US Edition
E.L. Doctorow, Billy Bathgate, 1989 First US Edition
E.L. Doctorow, The Waterworks, 1994 First US Edition
T. Coraghessan Boyle, World's End, 1987 First US Edition
Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987 First US Edition (possible BOTM Club)
John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire, 1981 First US Edition
Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans, 2000 First US Edition
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Unconsoled, 1995 First US Edition
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go, 2005 First US Edition
Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale, 2006 First US Edition
Philip Roth, Sabbath's Theater, 1995 First US Edition
Arturo Perez-Reverte, Queen of the South, 2004 First US Edition
Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Nautical Chart, 2001 First US Edition
Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October, 1984 First US Edition (undetermined printing)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I started Birds of a Feather and I'm ready for another adventure with the ever ready Maisie Dobbs. There's one problem. A strange one, but not an important one. I don't know if I've read this book yet. The first few pages sound familiar, but the story is unfamiliar. I guess the truth will come out in a little while, probably during lunch or as I call it, my reading hour.

Last night, before House started and after we made an apple crisp, I finished Lawrence Block's Burglars Can't Be Choosers. It was my first Bernie Rhodenbarr book and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was much more fun than I thought it would be. I read it in about 2 1/2 hours and finished wanting more. This was the first in the series and I look forward to the development of the bookish burglar over the next 9 books in the series. Bernie is one of the more likable "criminal" protagonists I've ever read. He makes no excuses for his criminal activity and he puts up with the punishments that follow his burglaries when he is caught. A fatalistic bookish burglar. I hope my library is well stocked with Block's novels because these are going to be fast and fun. The Burglar in the Closet is up next.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I just saw this on Yahoo News:

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Castle Rock has picked up "Book of Shadows," an action-adventure pitch from Zoe Green.

The story follows a young man who must embark on the perilous journey of first love and face many trials of maturity while on the dangerous quest to close a mythical tome called "Book of Shadows" in order to restore balance to the world.

Castle Rock principal Rob Reiner will direct for the Warner Bros.-based studio. Reiner was in a general meeting with Green and told her of an idea on which he had been working. Green picked up on that and ran with it, fleshing it out.
I answered a meme the other day and one of the questions asked if I had ever "give up a book halfway in." How prescient. When I answered the question last week, I couldn't remember the last book I stopped reading. I do now. The Poe Shadow became tedious and boring. Two death blows to reading. I became uninterested in the search for the truth of Poe's death. And Quentin Clark, the protagonist was a weak character. He seemed to be misplacing his anger over his parents' death into finding out what really happened to Edgar Poe in the days leading up to his untimely death. Clark is searching for answers to death and since he couldn't find out what happened to his parents or why they had died, perhaps he could determine what happened to Poe. But 200 pages in and I'm giving up on his quest. I haven't picked up the book in a about four days and that tells me something.

At least it had this bookish passage. "It seemed as I read that God was dead to me, Quentin. Yes, it's that other world that I worry about for you-that world of books and bookmen who invade the minds that read them. That imaginary world. No, this is where you belong. These are your class, serious and sober people. Your society. Your father said that the idler and the melancholy man shall ever wander together in a moral desert."

If that is true that let us wander.

Now reading:
Lawrence Block Burglars Can't be Choosers

Friday, October 17, 2008

I read an article yesterday in the TLS about a new book about the role of religion in Dostoevsky's work titled Dostoevsky: Language, faith and fiction. Author and biogragpher, Rowan Williams, wrote that Prince Myshkin, from the Idiot, was a "‘good’ person who cannot avoid doing harm”. I had always read Myshkin as an innocent figure, Christ-like in his forgiving nature, that remains too good to be true. I had never thought of him as simply a 'good man who cannot avoid doing harm.' I wonder if I had read Myshkin as innocent and near perfect because I thought I was supposed to. Reading Williams quote makes me rethink my perception of one of my favorite literary characters. If I'm willing to rethink my strong opinion based on a single quote, I can only imagine what would happen if I read Williams's book on Dosty. It may be time to read my first critical work on Dostoevsky.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What was the last book you bought? Two Kerouac books from eBay. A 1976 First Edition Paperback VISIONS OF GERARD and a 1966 First Edition Paperback SATORI IN PARIS.

Name a book you have read MORE than once. On the Road, Moby Dick and Gilead. Three of my favorite novels. I hope I keep having the motivation to reread them year after year. They're my bibles.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it? On the Road changed my life. Kerouac was from Lowell, MA, only a half hour from where I grew up and to read a novel like that and know that someone that I could have grown up with (or my grandparents could have) could write the way he did, made me look at literature differently. Literature wasn't only for 19th Century Russians anymore.

How do you choose a book? e.g. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?I used to read Beat Generation writers. Then I found out who influenced them and I began reading Thomas Wolfe, Dostoevsky and Spengler. Now I search the blogs and take recommendations from bloggers and writers whose opinions I respect. But a good cover design always makes me pick up the book and at least consider it.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction? Fiction, but non-fiction has always had an important place for me. I find the stories of non-fiction more fascinating than anything someone could create. But it's in fiction where language shines and the truths not told in history emerge. Shelby Foote, David McCullough and Bruce Catton make history come alive and read like brilliant novels. They have the gift of genius.

What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot? No matter what I'm reading, the writing is most important. The writing keeps me reading, a good plot only makes it better.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book). Most lovable character? John Ames from Gilead. And then I'd say Myshkin from The Idiot.And actually, anything with E.B. White in his own essays.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment? A Gentle Madness by Nicholas Basbanes, Raymond Chandler's letters and non-fiction and One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson.

What was the last book you read, and when was it? Just finished People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks 5 days ago. Almost finished with Ross MacDonald's The Name is Archer.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in? Of course. I can't remember the last one I stopped reading, but the day I realized that no one was grading my reading habits, I began to enjoy reading even more than I had before. If I don't like a book, I quit. No questions asked.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BookMooch is taking over my life. But since I've been using brown paper bags to wrap the books, at least it's not killing me financially. I sent out 9 books last week and 6 yesterday. I still have 17 books to send out this week and next. I started with 58 books in my inventory and once these 17 books are out the door, I'll only have 23 remaining. In three short weeks I'll have said good-bye to a number of my close and personal friends (and a few of my wife's.) I rearranged our bookshelves so BookMooch books would be housed on the bottom shelves and removed accorrdingly and the shelves are looking bare. We have a few books coming in this week, The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud, The Angel of Darkness, The Passion of Artemisia, and The Kalahari Typing School for Men.

I also have two Kerouac novels coming in from eBay. A 1966 first edition paperback of Satori in Paris and a 1976 edition of Visions of Gerard. So the bottom shelves won't be bare too long as we'll be introducing some more friends to the family in the next few days.

I deleted yesterday's post, by accident, on my quick review of People of the Book. I'll try and get another one up tonight. I didn't like that post anyway. I shall do better.

Now reading:
The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl
A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas A. Basbanes

On deck:
I'll have to go to the TBR pile

Listening to:
Weei Sports Radio

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I've been thinking about getting an eBook reader. My investigation into the Kindle and Sony's reader (there's a new version that just rolled out for $399) seems to lead more toward the Kindle than the Sony, but even at $359, it's a little expensive. Does anyone have one? I'd take any advice my fellow bloggers and readers can give.
"Never once did her father open the door for Reuben to the glory that swirled in the dark ink. Her own mind was incandescent with it. Any tiny letter was a poem, a prayer, a gateway to the splendor of God. And every letter its own road, its own special mystery." (Ruti from People of the Book)

When I wanted to go to graduate school for journalism, an undergrad professor of mine said that he didn't know if I was cut out for journalism because I didn't bleed ink. He said that most reporters bleed newspaper ink. They write for the high school paper (I did not,) they write for the college paper (I did not,) they intern at a newspaper (I did not,) and they're always interested in the news (I was not.) It didn't stop me from going to graduate school for journalism and my life would not have been the same if I didn't go to Emerson College and roam bars and bookstores of Tremont and Boylston streets. Maybe my professor was right. After I graduated, I only lasted one year as a journalist. But he was wrong in one significant way. I do bleed ink. Just not newspaper ink. Like Ruti in People of the Book, I'm mesmerized by the ink of a book. Each word, the skill and craft that goes into the setting of the type; the depth of meaning each letter and word carry. Since I was a kid, I was spellbound by the art and mystery of the written word. And yes, I could have figured all this out without spending $45,000 on a graduate degree I don't use, but I never would have met my wife.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I'm reading Geraldine Brooks's People of the Book. I had read so many rave reviews this past year, that I knew I had to finally read it. Though the story is interesting and it's written well, through the first 150 pages, I can't determine what sets it apart from similar books. Maybe I 'misremember' the reviews, but I thought they said this book belonged in the top of the class. I don't see it yet. Michael Gruber sits atop this sub-genre (literature/art based mysteries) in my estimation. Gruber's The Forgery of Venus and Book of Air and Shadows are two of the best written and entertaining along with Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind. I'm going to finish People of the Book over the next couple of days and I hope I'm surprised along the way. Maybe the novel is like a train and it's finally getting up to full steam. In that case, I'll make sure I enjoy the ride.

Now reading:
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Name is Archer by Ross MacDonald

On deck:
The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt

Listening to:
Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio

Friday, October 03, 2008

I've been having a reoccurring dream recently. Nothing scary, just odd. Due to my compulsive mystery reading, I've been having dreams of a book I would like to write or see written. The premise is old, but the characters could be interesting. There are a lot of characters and series based on the Holmes and Watson sleuthing team. Mine involves Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg with Ginsberg in the Watson role. It would be Ginsberg's role to keep Kerouac on the straight and narrow as they search the side streets, alleyways and bars of Greenwich Village in the 1950s. Kerouac would keep on getting distracted, speaking in French, getting pulled into parties and staying out all night with women. And instead of cocaine being his drug of choice, Benzedrine keeps him going as the he slides in and out of bars and consciousness. Ginsberg's neurosis would make him an expert at picking up small clues and understanding all the minutiae of an investigation.

Herbert Huncke could be their "go to" informant on the streets, Burroughs the elder investigator/writer/historian who they visit in his old, comfortable parlor with the fireplace burning a small piece of wood and Lucien Carr would be the journalist that pounds the pavement and always has the scoop. The burgeoning grime and noveau art of The Village would be the quintessential backdrop for a modern take on the Victorian crime novel.

I don't know if it would be a comedy or be more serious, but I'm interested in the premise. I'm sure it will make for some interesting sleeping this weekend.

Reading now:
People of the Bookby Geraldine Brooks

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I know I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm coming back to the blogging world. I've been slowly reading the usual suspects again and now I've gotten the itch.

I joined BookMooch today. I posted about 40 books and already I've had 14 mooch requests. I'll send out 9 tomorrow, but I have to put off the other 5 until next week.

Books going out: Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer, The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco, Maynard & Jennica by Rudolph Delson, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by Jose Saramago, The Happy Isles of Oceania by Paul Theroux, Huge Dreams by Michael McClure, The Joy of Coffee by Corby Kummer, Paul Revere's Ride by David Hacket Fischer and Henry Adams and the Making of America by Garry Wills.

Books coming in: The Raymond Chandler Papers

I already know that BookMooch is going to be addictive. Damn you internet and intelligent people!@#$% Stop coming up with new ideas that keep me away from reading and doing constructive things with my life.