I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.
― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons behind one’s lack of restraint when it comes to buying books? :p
At any rate, here are some of the reasons for my recent joy and pleasure. 🙂
Happy reading, dear fellow readers!
Wishing all of you a brand new year ahead, filled with all things wonderful.
Non-bibliophile (a.k.a NB friend) : So, how was your trip to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale over the weekend? How many books did you manage to get?
Bibliophile (a.k.a Me) : It was great! But uhm…. I don’t think you would want to know exactly how many books I bought. You’d be much too shocked.
NB friend : Come on, it’s not like I don’t you by now. Try me.
Me : Okay. Around seventy.
NB friend : 17?
Me : 70.
NB friend : Seventy??!!
(~~~~~~ radio silence ~~~~~~)
Me (after the awkward silence) : Told you it would shock you.
NB friend : I didn’t say anything.
Me : Yes, but your disapproving vibes are loud and clear enough. And now, you’ve kinda spoiled my fun.
NB friend : Well then, tell me if you can find one other rational person who would approve of this, and to think that it’s normal behaviour?
Me : But these were such good finds and for them to be priced at just RM6 & RM8 each (the equivalent of around £1.10 & £1.50), I’m sure other fellow bibliophiles would find it hard to resist too! Besides, I value being happy, more than being rational.
(~~~~~ another wave of silence ~~~~~~)
NB friend : I still think that it’s way over the top and you are overdoing it.
Me : And I still say, I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds this to be a joy beyond words (or rationale!) :p
…… or am I?
What say you, dear readers? Aye or Nay?
I have been busy, can you tell? And it’s definitely not all related to bookish bliss, unfortunately. How I wish it was, though! Trips to the annual year end Big Bad Wolf Book Sale provided the much needed respite in between the on-going mini crisis at work (brought on after my hard disk crashed sometime towards the end of November). Many months of data were lost as a result of that and to cut a long story short, much time and effort had to be put in to recover what was lost. Time that would otherwise have been well spent reading or bonding with my new books.
Anyway, enough with the gloom, let’s move on to the happier stuff, shall we?
Finding these lovelies to bring home were indeed the little sparks of joy that helped made these dreary days more bearable. Just looking at them is at times therapeutic enough, I find.
Especially if it’s something as beautiful to behold as Jane Mount’s My Ideal Bookshelf. It’s always fun to read about other book lovers’ choice of favourite books and why they matter to them the way they do. And it’s even better when these essays are accompanied by a visual display of beautifully illustrated book spines.
I found a fair few books on travelling (both the conventional and unconventional kind), ranging from those who attempt to travel on foot (in this day and age!) across Europe to Rome in Harry Bucknall’s Like A Tramp, Like A Pilgrim, to those who decide to take “a train journey to the soul of Britain” – Matthew Engel’s Eleven Minutes Late. Then there are those who would cycle all the way home to England from Siberia – Rob Lilwall’s Cycling Home from Siberia: 30,000 miles, 3 years, 1 bicycle, while another’s yearning for adventure would inspire him to take flight with flocks of snow geese, journeying through thousands of miles to arrive at the Arctic tundra – William Fiennes’ The Snow Geese.
“It was 1943, just before her eighteenth birthday, Noreen received her call-up papers, and was faced with either working in a munitions factory or joining the Wrens. A typically fashion-conscious young woman, even in wartime, Noreen opted for the Wrens – they had better hats. But when one of her interviewers realized she spoke fluent French, she was directed to a government building on Baker Street. It was SOE headquarters, where she was immediately recruited into F-Section, led by Colonel Maurice Buckmaster. From then until the end of the war, Noreen worked with Buckmaster and her fellow operatives to support the French Resistance fighting for the Allied cause. Sworn to secrecy, Noreen told no one that she spent her days meeting agents returning from behind enemy lines, acting as a decoy, passing on messages in tea rooms and picking up codes in crossword puzzles.”
This reminded me of the film The Imitation Game, which I really loved.
Derek Tangye’s first volume of his Minack Chronicles, A Gull on the Roof: Tales from a Cornish Flower Farm has been on my wishlist ever since I knew of it, probably five or six years ago after my first visit to Cornwall, a place I have been longing to go back to ever since. So, until I get to do that, I will just have to ‘revisit’ Cornwall by living vicariously through Tangye’s tales.
I will probably save Elizabeth Jane Howard’s memoir Slipstreamfor until I have at least read the first volume of her Cazalet chronicles, which I have been meaning to.
And for something really unusual and one of a kind, Philip Connors’ Fire Season.
“For nearly a decade, Philip Connors has spent half of each year in a small room at the top of a tower, on top of a mountain, alone in millions of acres of remote American wilderness. His job: to look for wildfires.
Capturing the wonder and grandeur of this most unusual job and place, Fire Season evokes both the eerie pleasure of solitude and the majesty, might and beauty of untamed fire at its wildest.”
How enticing does that sound!
Sara Midda’s A Bowl of Olives “….. is a work of pure enchantment, celebrating food of the seasons, of family, of travel and memory.”
This is a gem to be savoured, no doubt. I was thrilled to chance upon this, having loved her art in In and Out of the Garden, which is just pure delight.
I was also very happy with the two C. S. Lewis that I found – The Great Divorce and Surprised By Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. Another interesting discovery was Marcia Moston’s Call of A Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife.“Moses never wanted to be a leader. Jonah ran away from his missions call. And when Marcia Moston’s husband came home with a call to foreign missions, she was sure God had the wrong number. His call conflicted with her own dreams, demanded credentials she didn’t have, and required courage she couldn’t seem to find. She promised to follow where God led, but she never thought the road would lead to a Mayan village on a Guatemalan mountainside.”
Erwin Raphael McManus’ The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art. “McManus demonstrates that we all carry within us the essence of an artist. We all need to create—to be a part of a process that brings to the worldt something beautiful, good, and true—in order to allow our souls to come to life. It’s not only the quality of the ingredients we use to build our lives that matters, but the care we bring to the process itself. Just as with baking artisan bread, it’s a process that’s crafted over time. And God is the master artisan of our lives.” This should be good too!
Essay collections are another favourite of mine, and I was glad to have managed to pick these up.
So, this is the sale where you pay for the box and get to stuff it with as many books as you wish, as long as the box can be closed and sealed, flat.
I have to say that I was quite impressed with my own packing skills (hahah!) considering the fact that I managed to squeeze all the above, and the ones below (plus a few thick hardcover volumes of food/ healthcare books that my mum wanted that are not in the photo), into one 32.5cm x 46cm x 20cm box.
The Willa Cather letters was an unexpected (but utterly delightful!) find. A lovely hardback volume, with a beautiful dust jacket. I have to confess that I have yet to read any of her works, but have read so many good things about her that I am determined to get acquainted soon.
The two pretty volumes of Gerald Durrells (A Zoo In My Luggage; The Aye-Aye and I) are the lesser known titles compared to his popular Corfu trilogy, with The Aye-Aye and I being Durrell’s final adventure.
What made me pick out Evan S. Connell’s Mr Bridge was mainly because I had spotted its Penguin Modern Classics spine, and rare is the occasion where I see one and don’t bring it home. Now I guess I’ll probably have to look out for Mrs Bridge, too. :p
Julian Barnes’ Through the Window: Seventeen Essays (and one short story) looks rather promising as well. “From the deceptiveness of Penelope Fitzgerald to the directness of Hemingway, from Kipling’s view of France to the French view of Kipling, from the many translations of Madame Bovary to the fabulations of Ford Madox Ford, from the National Treasure Status of George Orwell to the despair of Michel Houellebecq, Julian Barnes considers what fiction is, and what it can do. ”
Chris West’s fascinating A History of Britain in Thirty Six Postage Stamps sounds like my kind of history book. Although I was never a stamp collector (I was more into coin collecting back then), this looks to be an exquisite volume that holds much appeal. 🙂
Being the Francophile that I am, I was thrilled to discover Lorant Deutsch’s Metronome: A History of Paris from the Underground Up. “Metronome follows Loránt Deutsch, historian and lifelong Francophile, as he goes on a compelling journey through the ages, treating readers to Paris as they’ve never seen it before. Using twenty-one stops of the subway system as focal points―one per century―Deutsch shows, from the underground up, the unique, often violent, and always striking events that shaped one of the world’s most romanticized city. Readers will find out which streets are hiding incredible historical treasures in plain sight; peer into forgotten nooks and crannies of the City of Lights and learn what used to be there; and discover that, however deeply buried, something always remains.”
I was also very happy to bring home the pile of Home and Living coffee table books in the second photo, as these books are usually out of my budget (even during their normal sale), so if ever there was a good time to grab them, it’s during the box sale. And grab them, I did!
All in all, each book in the box had averaged out to just around 1 USD (or less) each. Now, that’s quite a hard bargain to beat, wouldn’t you say? As the sale is still on till the end of this week, I am planning to make another trip or two, and hopefully come back with more goodies to share. Until then…. happy reading, everyone! 🙂
The world’s biggest book sale (a.k.a The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale) begins today! But before I had even made my first trip to the sale, books have already started rolling in fast and furious! (wouldn’t it be nice if the same can be said for money! :p)
Yes, all these came from another unexpected book sale that took place just one week earlier (at even lower prices!) than The Big Bad Wolf one. Although selections were not as extensive, but I’m sure you can see that I had no complaints (nor any trouble in finding some pretty good stuff to come away with!)
Yes, life is good….. at least in the bookish side of things, it is.
Will talk more about these lovelies again soon. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with one bad wolf to go to.
I was surprised to have been the recipient of a fellow blogger’s nomination for the Liebster Award over the last weekend (and have since been squirming in my seat trying to get myself out of the task!) :p
As you would all have probably noticed, I have been steadily and progressively turning into a lazier and lazier blogger by the day, in recent months. I have not been putting up any posts that required much thinking or writing, simply because I don’t seem to find the time and energy to do so lately. And whatever little time and energy that I do seem to have, I always think I should put it to better use, probably for reading rather than for trying to wring out something worthy of a post that probably makes no difference to anyone reading it anyway. Sort of.
That is not to say that I don’t value this blog anymore. I do still love the fact that there is this little space out here that I can call my own. I guess I just need to remind myself of the reason for doing this in the first place. It was meant for pleasure, not duty. I just need to make sure it stays that way. 🙂
And so, back to the Liebster Award thingy, while I was tempted to just decline the nomination and go back into hibernation mode, I really did not relish the idea of being a complete spoilsport, either. So, after the initial struggle of getting into the right frame of mind to take on the task, I decided to (partially) play along. That is, I will participate in the first half of the award, which involves providing 11 facts about myself, and to answering the 11 questions set by Anna, my nominator from ink stains on a reader’s blog (which by the way, is a great place to spend time in, and one I am enjoying very much). However, I’m afraid I won’t be passing on the award to the next 11 nominees, as I do not wish to impose the obligation on anyone. (That is just a nice way of saying that I am actually much too lazy to come up with a set of 11 questions and bloggers to pass them onto!) :p
Anyway, here goes.
The 11 facts about myself:
1. I prefer spending time in the company of books more than with people.
2. Can be considered as an anti-social introvert.
3. Love animals.
4. But am ill at ease with babies and kids.
5. Have a phobia of walking through automatic sliding glass doors (I suffered a nasty concussion once when one of those glass doors closed in on me while I was walking out of a Toy R Us store when I was 7 or 8 yrs old).
6. Cannot stand the smell of perfume or strong fragrances, as they give me headaches and eye sores. Have resorted to holding my breath every time I need to walk through a departmental store where these are found.
7. I feel more comfortable communicating in the written form than in the verbal form, usually.
8. Biggest travel blunder ever : missed getting onto the bus from London to Nottingham 3 TIMES on the same day, during my first trip abroad with friends. (We ended up taking the bus to Manchester instead, after having missed the last bus for the day. Yes, it was shamefully unbelievable.)
9. Favourite ice cream flavour: green tea.
10. Favourite beverage: avocado milk shake.
11. I am unable to roll my tongue and pronounce the letter ‘R’ with the ‘rrrr…..’. :p
And here are the answers to Anna’s questions:
1. Name a piece of literature you consider the best you’ve read so far?
I don’t know if Sarah Water’s Fingersmith can be considered as the best literature I’ve read so far, but it certainly was one of my best reading experiences. (By the way, have you read this, Anna?)
And although I have yet to finish (listening to) Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, it has already doubtless left me impressed enough to know that its place is among the best (along with my two other favourites: Vita Sackville-West’s All Passion Spent, and Isak Dinesen’s Babette’s Feast.)
2. What are the characteristics of your dream home library?
Spacious yet cosy, evokes a warm yet airy feeling. Filled with all manners of books and bookish mementos that are of interest to me. Must have comfortable seating arrangements. Preferably with windows looking out to the sea or mountains.
Something like this, perhaps?
3. What are your favorite places for buying books?
The annual Big Bad Wolf Books Sales held over here in recent years where I have managed to get many a great haul like this, this and this. There are also a few smaller scale clearance sales held every now and then which makes for some rather enjoyable hunting grounds too. I do enjoy going online to look for specific titles and getting them from online sellers such as Awesome Books and Better World Books, as well.
4. Should philosophy be taught from elementary school?
Since I never studied philosophy myself, I wouldn’t really know the breadth and scope of it to say how much of it should be taught at what age/ stage. However, if philosophy is essentially the art of thinking, then I supposed it wouldn’t really harm anyone to be taught how to think at an earlier age? Maybe they could get started off by reading Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World 🙂
5. What does it mean to be wise? / What is wisdom?
“How can men be wise? The only way to begin is by reverence for God. For growth in wisdom comes from obeying his laws.”
(Psalm 110:10, The Living Bible)
Or to put it in The New Living Translation version: Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.
6. Which literary character feels like a real person to you (as a long known friend, an acquaintance maybe)? Is there any?
Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, maybe. At least she seems like a good one to have for a ‘bosom buddy’. 😉
7. Quote one of the passages (from any book of your choice, of course) you had to stop by to reread, to note down or ponder upon?
These things – the straw, the ivy frond, the spider- had had the house all to themselves for many days. They had paid no rent, yet they had made free with the floor, the window, and the walls, during a light and volatile existence. That was the kind of companionship that Lady Slane wanted; she had had enough of bustle, and of competition, and of on set of ambitions writhing to circumvent another. She wanted to merge with the things that drifted into an empty house, though unlike the spider she would weave no webs. She would be content to stir with the breeze and grow green in the light of the sun, and to drift down the passage of years, until death pushed her gently out and shut the door behind her. She wanted nothing but passivity while these outward things worked their will upon her.
(Vita Sackville-West, All Passion Spent)
8. Best movie based on a book?
I can think of 3 favourites, so let’s make that ‘Best 3 movies based on a book’, shall we?
That will be (in no particular order): Stardust, Forrest Gump & Misery.
Of the three, I have only read (or rather listened to the audiobook for Stardust). I wasn’t even aware that Forrest Gump was based on a book until recently. And I really think I have no need for reading Stephen King’s Misery because I don’t believe it can be better than the movie.
9. What is the thing that fascinates you the most?
The condition of the human heart.
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.”
(Jeremiah 17:9, The Message – Bible)
10. Suppose you live in several houses. Is there a book you would want to have in every one of them?
The Bible, I suppose.
And I guess I will be carrying my tablet with me to each of the different houses I go to. That way, I can at least have my virtual library with me in all the houses. 🙂
11. Would you accept the invitation to the Mad Hatter Tea Party?
No, being the anti-social introvert that I am, I do try to avoid parties at all cost.
(Phew… that wasn’t so bad after all, I guess!) 😉