Saturday, 19 June 2010

Amazing Haul

I seem to be obtaining more books than I am actually reading, but I am sure that one of my antisocial, book-gorging periods is coming up when I shall be reading books one-straight-after-the-other whilst cooking, eating, walking and peeing and, although it will do my relationship no favours, it will surely bring things up to speed.

I went to my local charity shop today and bought three classic books and a great LP for SEVENTY PENCE. I wouldn't be that bothered if I dropped that paltry amount down a drain and yet I get all this great stuff:

I know that a lot of bloggers were bored to tears by A S Byatt's The Children's Book but, although I agree that her research was far to copiously apparent, I did really enjoy the story and thought that it was a very deserving Booker nominee. Possession is the novel that she is best known for and so I look forward to lots more great storytelling and, I hope, a little less extensive historical exposition.

I have not yet read Zadie Smith but have heard many great things about White Teeth and even if it turns out to be rubbish (which I am certain it won't) it only cost 20 flippin' pence.

I adored The House of the Spirits and enjoyed the first two books in Isabelle Allende's trilogy for children, The City of Beasts and Kingdom of the Golden Dragon. I also love the cover design for this book.

Now here is a question. I lost my mind a little today when I saw all the great stuff but I usually do not like to buy books from still living authors second hand as it seems to me to be the same as downloading music illegally or pirating DVDs. Someone, whose work you respect, is being done out of money. I know that authors get some royalties from library loans but they surely get nothing for second hand sales of their books. What are your views on this?

There are previous posts declaring my deep, abiding love for the fantastic series Homicide: Life On The Streets and the source material, Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets by eventual The Wire creator David Simon, was eventually returned to the library.

At 650-odd pages, this is a lot of murder-based reading but I have already begun and it is as gripping as the show.  A journalistic record of David Simon's year of shadowing the homicide unit of the Baltimore Police Department, it details the exact processes followed by over-time hungry detectives who view a dead body as a tool in the day to day grind of solving crimes. It is not a noble calling, just a necessary, pain in the arse job.

"For each body, he gives what he can afford to give and no more. He carefully measures out the required amount of energy and emotion, closes the file and moves on to the next call. And even after years of calls and bodies and crime scenes and interrogations, a good detective still answers the phone with the stubborn, unyielding belief that if he does his job, the truth is always knowable.

A homicide detective endures."

Fans of the show will recognize the gallows humour, squadroom banter and some aspects of the fictional characters who were based upon real life detectives. Cases from the show also appear as they actually were investigated. The grim subject matter is off set by humour, sensitive writing and Simon's respect for humanity.

I had heard nothing of Zeitoun by Dave Eggers but I spotted it in a new fiction display in the library when looking for Homicide and snapped it up, believing it to be a graphic novel. Instead, it is an unillustrated novel about a resident of New Orleans who canoed down flooded streets in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, "feeding trapped dogs and rescuing survivors as New Orleans becomes a disaster zone." I am expecting something very bitter-sweet but will not be perusing any reviews before reading as I want to come to it fresh.

I have never read Rebecca. It has become one of those books of which I know quotes, characters and the plot but have never actually read. I realised this about Wuthering Heights last year and put that situation right and so it is now the turn of this classic.

And the LP? Get Happy by Elvis Costello and the Attractions including 'I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down' 'New Amsterdam' and 'High Fidelity'. For 10 pence. 10 pence!


  1. Lovely haul!! I absolutely love Eggers and am looking forward to reading Zeitoun soon. I always recommend What is the What. Snap it up if you ever see it on sale!

    I also loved The House of the Spirits, but not so much Daughter of Fortune. They're the only ones I've read by her. But I do want to read Portrait in Sepia, as it continues the family saga begun by the other two.

    Liked Possession, too, but not exactly a favourite. Still, enough to make me want to read The Children's Book still, despite all the negative reviews. Good to know you liked it (at least someone did). :D

    White Teeth is on the TBR, and.. I should really really read Rebecca already.. Enjoy your books!! You did great! :D

  2. Oh thank you, I am proud!

    I have only read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and a few stories of Eggers but really enjoyed them. I also loved the film he wrote with his wife, Away We Go, so can't wait to read more.

    The Children's Book is great, you just need to have a lot of time to spend on it. You learn an awful lot too, as you get a complete history of the period!

  3. I recently asked on twitter if authors hated the idea that I buy most of books from charity shops and one author did respond - she said she didn't care that her book was bought from a charity shop, as it's more likely that if you read the book and liked it you might then go on to buy her next book. For her, it was more about finding a readership than making money. And I'm not sure you have to worry that Zadie Smith, AS Byatt or Isabel Allende are hurting much from the loss of your purchases :) They're pretty well-established authors! And like the twitter-author (who is a debut author) said, at least the book is being read.

  4. Thank you Clover, you have eased my guilty mind!

  5. Looks like we'll all be reading Rebecca at the same time!

  6. I'm glad that I shall have company and that I am not the only one to have shirked this classic for so long...