Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A brief report of bookish things

While I often crave and seek out the solace of a bookstore, I rarely find it, particularly since generally only big-box bookstores are within a comfortable walkable radius when that urge overcomes me — I leave them feeling unsatisfied and angsty; so I have over the years learned to subdue the urge, and my intuition is now better honed to knowing the right time and place for achieving bookstore zen.

(The fact that the bookstores closest to home are predominantly French has been a blessing in disguise. One shop has a tiny section of English books, but I feel they've been selected with care and individualized to my literary taste (Am I the only anglophone in the neighbourhood? Have they been tracking my buying patterns? Or do all the anglophones in the neighbourhood actually share my preferences in reading material? If so, where are they?). Another shop has no English section per se; English books are shelved alongside French, alphabetical by author within genre. This store has more tables than shelves though, the stacks having no discernible order; it's a treasure hunt.)

I browsed bookshops this morning, successfully — I came home with heavy bags (well, mostly owing to War and Peace, which foolishly I carried with me to read on the metro), but with a lightness in my step and in my soul.

I went looking for one great underappreciated author in particular, but found works by others instead. I brought home Christopher Morley's Parnassus on Wheels (a 1955 edition in excellent condition with very funny "preliminary footnotage") and Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin (remaindered, cheap). (Also, Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist, which appeals to my left brain.) Also found: Rebecca West's The Thinking Reed, not purchased, but of which I read the first chapter in-store; it leaves me with a niggling sensation — I must return for it.

(I am loving great underappreciated authors. I plan to update the list to include all the suggestions left in the comments. Handy sidebar link coming soon!)

Sighted, on some book, the title of which I've conveniently forgotten, a blurb from Neil Gaiman stating that the author's "command of language borders on scary." Maybe I paraphrase a little, just a little, but really, Gaiman's command of language borders on scary.


sfp said...

I ordered a used copy of The Thinking Reed last week. I hope it comes soon.

Stefanie said...

A fun day! Achieving bookstore zen is very important and requires just the right combination of elements, and when it happens, bliss!

Michele said...

Any day becomes somewhat magical when moments are spent in a bookstore.

There is only big-box stores near me, and therefore, I am willing to go out of my way to spend time in a small bookstore.

This past weekend I purchased a novel by Milan Kundera. Although he is not underappreciated, he has not been appreciated enough by me, an so, my purchase was an attempt to change that.

Do you know I love your bookish posts? Of course you do. However, I did wish to repeat it. Thank you for the literary inspiration.

patricia said...

Hmmm. Even when inside a big-box bookstore, I can still experience book zen, because in the end, I am surround by, well...books. But the independents are definitely better for achieving a higher quality zen experience, for sure.

I loved Morley's 'Haunted Bookshop'. Haven't read 'Parnasus on Wheels'; you'll have to tell me what it's like. And last week I bought Lionel Shriver's 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' as a discount book, too! I bought it for my mom, as a thank you for helping me out babysitting my brother's twins. Perhaps that's an odd choice of book to purchase for one's mother?

I'd love to know what you think of Shriver's book, too.

And the next time you're in Toronto, don't forget to check out our newest independent bookstore 'Type'. That is the ultimate in bookstore zen.

Tim said...

Liz (correctly) claims that if I'm in a bad mood, all she has to do is take me to a bookstore. Though I agree with you, if I go to B&N or Borders, I wind up leaving in a foul mood. It's the small and used bookstores that work best for me.

callie said...

I, too, am loving great under appreciated authors. I'm filling up by library holds queue like never before. Thank you for leading and reminding of all the good stuff out there we often overlook!

Ella said...

I think you will like the Morley. It's light but in the best possible way.

Mark Alan Stamaty is the GUA I am trying to find. "Oh yes," said our librarian, "he's BRILLIANT, my grandkids LOVE 'Small In The Saddle', the pictures are BRILLIANT, etc" but unfortunately his books are not in the collection.

MaryB said...

The Thinking Reed is one of my favorites! Do go back for it sometime.

I love Rebecca West. My only problem is that she writes so beautifully that you don't want to miss a single sentence - slows down the reading process somewhat.

Isabella said...

Susan: Was thinking of you when I saw it. Though, on Mary's word, I may not bother waiting for your verdict now.