Spring Library Sale Haul

As has become a biannual tradition, I recently went to a used book sale that one of the local public libraries hosted. You know the kind: where nearly everything is $4 or less so you come away with an armful of books, blowing up your TBR in the process. Here’s what I got:

1: The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Having read and enjoyed another of Potok’s novels, My Name Is Asher Lev, I was eager to get my hands on this one. Similar to Asher Lev, this book is set in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish community. It concerns two boys who form a friendship, despite growing up in opposing religious sects.

2: Collected Poems: 1928-1985 by Stephen Spender

This was something of an impulse buy: I can’t remember if I’ve ever read a Stephen Spender poem, but I do remember hearing him be favorably compared to W. H. Auden and other poets that I like. So, why not?

3: Katherine Mansfield’s Selected Stories edited by Vincent O’Sullivan

A few of these books I bought because their authors were mentioned at some point by other authors that I like. In the case of Katherine Mansfield, she was highly spoken of by Ray Bradbury, and Seamus Heaney mentions her by name in his poem “Fosterage,” quoting the advice his mentor Michael McLaverty gave him: “‘Remember / Katherine Mansfield—I will tell / How the laundry basket squeaked … that note of exile.'” That Mansfield quotation apparently came from one of her letters, which I was able to find an excerpt of. She sounds interesting. So I want to read her stories.

4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

True, I already own a copy of Jane Eyre, and I have it on my e-reader (or could easily download it if I don’t). But this copy was printed in 1950, has a pretty green cover, and smells like a library.

5: The Necklace and Other Stories by Guy de Maupassant

For me, Guy de Maupassant was one of those blessed angels, an author you’re forced to read in school whose work you actually really enjoy. I read him from Project Gutenberg when I was in high school and after, but now I finally have a print copy of some of his work.

6: Selected Poetry and Prose of Coleridge edited by Donald A. Stauffer

I have a sort of prejudice against the first wave of Romantic poetry (and most of the second wave, to be honest), but Samuel Taylor Coleridge is the one righteous for whose sake the rest are spared. I didn’t own any books of Coleridge’s poetry before (only read him in anthologies), so I was glad to find this.

7: The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber

In case you don’t recognize him, James Thurber is the author of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “The Macbeth Murder Mystery,” both of which are adorable, so I thought I’d pick up this antique anthology of his work.

8: Time for the Stars by Robert Heinlein

My jacketless, 1956 hardcover edition of Time for the Stars

My edition is 61 years old and it (thankfully) does not have the same tacky sci-fi cover as the edition I linked to. Heinlein is considered one of the masters of twentieth century science fiction (along with guys like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, etc.) and I still haven’t read him, so, this will probably end up being my first Heinlein.

9: The Traitor and the Spy by James Thomas Flexner

A joint biography of Benedict Arnold and Major John André, the British official who helped Arnold betray the Continental army. There was a period in my teens when I was reading everything I could find about the Revolutionary War, and that fascination with colonial history never entirely went away, so I’m excited about this one.

10: Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

Once again, this author was recommended to me by another author: Ray Bradbury raved about this book in several lectures, interviews, and book introductions, saying that it inspired his own masterpiece The Martian Chronicles.

So, have you read any of these books? In any particular you’d like to see me review? Let me know in the comments.


Autumn Book Haul

It’s that time of year again: our local library’s semi-annual book sale just passed and as usual, I came away with a huge stack of books. Here’s a quick list of them: do let me know if you’ve read any of them and what you thought!

  • Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot – Eliot’s famous verse drama about the 1170 assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket of Canterbury.
  • World’s Fair by E. L. Doctorow – A semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story set in Depression-era New York. I’ve heard lots of good things about Doctorow, but I’ve never read him, so I’m looking forward to this.
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy – The story of a father and son trying to survive in post-apocalyptic America. I’ve heard very high praise for this book and for McCarthy, so I’m looking forward to this too (dark as it sounds).
  • John Keats: Selected Poetry and Letters edited by Richard Harter Fogle – A very old (1969) but very nice edition of Keats’s poems and letters (most of them to family members and John Hamilton Reynolds). Admittedly, part of this book is rendered redundant by my fifth purchase, which was . . .
  • The Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley – I was able to find almost no publication information about this book, not even so much as the editor’s name. It’s just a big green book of Keats (and Shelley).
  • Canaan and The Orchards of Syon by Geoffrey Hill – Two books of poetry from a poet who is famous for being hard to understand. Wish me luck.
  • Seventeenth Century Poetry edited by Hugh Kenner – In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I am a huge fan of the Metaphysical Poets, so I was excited to find this collection, which is brim-full of poems by Donne, Marvell, and Herbert, as well as poets I haven’t read before like Abraham Cowley and Thomas Traherne.
  • The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles (translated by Robert Fagles) – This is a collection of three plays by Sophocles: Antigone, Oedipus the King, and Oedipus at Colonus. I can see this being useful for future school/reading projects.
  • The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Shorter Fourth Edition edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy – I picked this up with just a quick glance at the table of contents, but when I got it home, I realized how much great stuff there is in here: besides staples like Shakespeare, Eliot, the Romantics, etc., there are dozens of poets unknown to me, as well a few unexpected selections, like Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather” and W. S. Gilbert’s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.” There’s even a poem from Li-Young Lee, one of my favorite contemporary poets. Plus, where my other big poetry anthologies are a little lacking in poems by Donne, this one more than gives him his due. 🙂

Spring Library Sale

Our local library had its semi-annual book sale some weeks ago, and now finally, I’m here to blog the results! (And sorry there are no pictures. The camera’s not cooperating today.) On to the list:

Best Film Plays, 1943-44 edited by John Gassner and Dudley Nichols

A collection of ten classic screenplays, among them The More the Merrier and Casablanca, which just so happen to be two of my favorite films. It’s quite an old book too, printed in 1945.

Carry On, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

Because I haven’t read a Wodehouse book in over a year and that needs to change.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Recommended by more than one of my favorite bloggers as required reading for anyone who writes anything. Judging by some of their reviews, this one looks like it will be entertaining as well as informative.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Amazingly, I’ve survived this long without ever having read a word by Fitzgerald. Hopefully, that’s going to change soon too.

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

This, along with Gatsby, is one of those books that everyone seems to have read except for me. I avoided it for a while, thinking it might be too similar to a Western, but thanks to the many enthusiastic reviews I’ve read/watched from other bloggers, I finally decided to give it a try.

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

Yes, I do already own a copy of this book. But this copy is very old—the copyright page reads 1972—and in marvelous condition, so I bought it anyway.

On Writing by Stephen King

It occurred to me after buying this book that I had never even started to read a Stephen King book before, and therefore had no way to know what his advice on writing was worth, if anything. But, after asking around and checking a few blogs for reviews, I decided that it probably would have been worth the money even if I had spent more than 50¢ on it. 😉

Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane

The author’s name jumped out at me immediately: I recognized him as the dedicatee of Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Ministry of Fear.” Besides that, I knew nothing about this book when I picked it up except that it takes place in Northern Ireland. Irish literature and history is quickly becoming a fascination for me these days, so I thought this book would make a good addition to my already-enormous TBR pile.

Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Browning’s famous book of love poems for her husband Robert. I’ve read a dismally small amount of work from either of the Brownings, but between this and the book of Robert Browning’s poems that I bought at the last book sale, I should up to speed before long.

Have any of you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments.

Yet Another Book Haul

You know how this works: the local library holds a massive book sale, I come away with a whole mess of books, and then I blog about them. And you comment on them. Let’s go.

"Joan of Arc" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Image via Wikiart.
“Joan of Arc” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Image via Wikiart.

1: Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw

Owing to my long-standing fascination with Joan of Arc and Fariba’s excellent review of the play, I decided to pick this one up.

2: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages. The inside cover was scribbled on a little by its previous owner, but for 50¢, I really can’t complain.

3: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

A perfect follow-up to Hamlet, don’t you think?

4: The Oxford Book of English Verse

Suzannah Rowntree at Vintage Novels highly recommended this book so when I saw a not-too-beat-up copy of it on the “Poetry” table, I was excited. I was even more excited when I got home and found out that this particular version, edited by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, is out of print and extremely rare. For $2, I’d say that’s a steal. 😀

5: Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard

I picked up this one per Fariba’s recommendation as well. Having never read Kierkegaard, this looks like just the place to start.

"Faust" by Rembrandt. Image via Wikiart.
“Faust” by Rembrandt. Image via Wikiart.

6: Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

While trying to find out what is meant by a “Faustian deal,” I ended up reading about this play. I’ve been wanting to read some non-Shakespearean Elizabethan drama for a while and this seemed like the ticket.

7: Selected Poems by Robert Browning

I read “My Last Duchess” in high school and there ends my knowledge of Browning’s work. Let’s see how this goes!

8: Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe

I like to read the authors that made my favorite authors who they were. Wolfe is one such author, having been cited as a major influence by Ray Bradbury.

Gustave Flaubert
Flaubert channeling Napoleon. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

9: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Blame Karen Swallow Prior for this one: her enthusiastic praise of Madame Bovary made me curious.

10: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer

Widely considered the definitive history of Nazi Germany. I got all 1,245 pages of it for a dollar.

11: A Historical Atlas of Judaism by Ian Barnes and Josephine Bacon

This one might be a dud, I’m afraid. Since bringing the book home, I’ve read some reviews of it that claim it’s inaccurate in places. Good thing I only spent a few dollars on it. 🙂

12: The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy

This too might be a biased waste of money, but at $2, I couldn’t pass it up. If nothing else, it would make an admirable doorstop. 😉

While not technically a book, I also bought a 2008 copy of Life magazine about Audrey Hepburn.

Has anyone out there read any of these? What did you think? Any you would like to read? Let me know in the comments.

Library Sale, Part II

I love book hauls, especially ones where I come away with eleven books, all in admirable condition, for a combined total of $13.00. God bless the Jefferson Parish Public Library.

On to the list!

1: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
In Cold Blood








I quite nearly had a heart attack when I saw this book on the antique books table because, as you can see, its cover matches the first edition exactly. Inspecting the first few pages, I found that this book was copyrighted in 1965–same as the first edition. And the price tag read $1.00! “The librarians must not know what they have!” I thought. Handing the book to my sister, I frantically pecked away at my phone’s keyboard to find out what other marks distinguish a first edition In Cold Blood. Sadly, this book is not a first edition, but it is an early printing, which still excites me. For one dollar, I really couldn’t turn it down (despite the fact that I may or may not be able to stomach the plot).

2: You Can’t Take It with You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman

This book, upon which one of my favorite films is based, was printed in 1937 and also cost a dollar. Why not?

3: A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt

Fariba from Exploring Classics made this play sound fascinating in the review of it she posted last August. I’m afraid I know very little about Henry VIII’s reign, and even less about Sir Thomas More, but I look forward to learning more about both.

4: The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk and E. B. White

I’ve heard wonderful things about this book, but I’ve never read it. For one dollar, I figured I couldn’t afford not to buy it.

5: Night by Elie Wiesel

I kept promising myself I was going to read this book one day. It looks like that day is nigh upon us.

6: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Given my recently-acquired interest in science fiction and dystopian fiction, this book seems right up my alley. I’m still not quite sure what the book is about, but there will be plenty of time to find out when I read it. And even if I hate this book, I’m only out fifty cents.

7: The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Suzannah Rowntree of the blog Vintage Novels recommended that I follow up Shakespeare’s Richard III with this mid-century mystery novel about a detective attempting to exonerate King Richard for the murders of his nephews. I had never heard of this book before Suzannah mentioned it, so I certainly didn’t expect to find it at a secondhand book sale, amid the glut of James Patterson, John Grisham, and other current crime fiction. Lo and behold!

8: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

And please excuse the shoddy photos I took with my flashless phone camera.
And please excuse the shoddy photos I took with my flashless phone camera.










I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while–I even downloaded the public domain e-book–but I still prefer having an actual book in my hand. And this one is so pretty.

9: The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket (or Daniel Handler, if you prefer)

I only know Snicket by reputation, not by having read his books, but that reputation was enough to make me want to walk into this book almost completely blind.

10: Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally

This was my most expensive book, at a whopping $2.50! The World War II/Holocaust eras are another part of history that I want to learn more about, so it made sense to buy this one as well.

11: English Poetry, Volume III: Tennyson to Whitman edited by Charles W. Eliot

It’s not a proper book haul without a poetry book. I was intrigued by Tennyson, but when I looked down the table of contents and found that this book also contains some of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry, I was sold.

I also wanted to buy Brave New World and The Great Gatsby, but they were both more damaged than I was willing to put up with, even for a dollar. Maybe someday, though, I’ll finally read these.

P.S. My sister also scored a copy of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Avonlea that was printed in 1909! Don’t think I’m not a little jealous.

Library Sale!

Today was a grand, glorious day! I spent most of the afternoon at a book sale one of the main libraries in town was holding. Six books for fifteen dollars, and considering I recently spent thirty-five dollars on three books at Barnes and Noble, I’d say I cleaned up.

Now for the list:

1: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My brother asked why I bought this book since I’ve already seen the movie twice and know how it ends, but I’ve always been able to enjoy a book even after having the movie spoil the ending for me. I’ve read the first few pages so far, and already, I’m hooked! Might I say, Aibileen is much more interesting in the book than she was in the movie.

2: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

It’s high time I read this book, and, because I loath the thought of reading such a long book on my Kindle app, I wanted a print version. In hindsight, I really should have inspected the book closer before I bought it: whoever used it before me apparently felt the need to smother the book in notes and highlighter marks, then end nearly every chapter with a chapter summary. Here’s some of the damage. Beware: it’s gruesome:



CAM00064Excuse me? You don’t write in a book and then give it away for someone else to use! That’s like walking into a movie theater so you can talk over the movie! Some people . . . Continue reading “Library Sale!”