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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.