Boxes of delight! (Part 1)

I have been so overwhelmed by the amount of treasures that came home with me from this year’s Big Bad Wolf Box Sale that it has taken me forever to get this post up on the blog, simply because I just didn’t know where to begin in sharing the richness of this loot! 😀

There are so many good finds in there that I am more than excited to show and tell. So, without further ado, here there are:

 

I found quite a few gems in the nature/ animals section!

I remember having read some good things about the Beatrix Potter biography some time back and was very happy that I also managed to get my hands on a Peter Rabbit box set to bring home with me. As I have never been properly acquainted with Potter and her creations before, they would do well to complement the biography, I think.

Finding a copy of Durrell’s The Corfu Trilogy and The Whispering Land also brought much cheer to the box. 🙂 I recall finding two other of his works at last year’s box sale and they were also in the same edition as the one found this time, so that makes it even better.

I have never heard of The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues & Signs by Tristan Gooley but this winner of the 2015 BBC Countryfile Magazine Country Book of the Year looks very promising indeed.

Kathleen Jamie’s Sightlines: A Conversation with The Natural World. Unlike the Gooley, I’ve heard much about this one and they are mainly good things, so into the box it went, together with Mister Owita’s Guide To Gardening (by Carol Wall), The Urban Bestiary: Encountering The Everyday Wild (by Lyanda Lynn Haupt) and Over Vales and Hills: The Illustrated Poetry of the Natural World.

A beautiful volume containing an anthology of 100 best loved poems with timeless vintage photographs of landscapes and natural scenes.

Another beautiful find was the Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library.

Natural Histories allows readers a privileged glimpse of these seldom-seen, fully illustrated scientific works. Forty essays from the museum’s top experts in a variety of disciplines enhance each rare tome’s unique qualities and scientific contribution, and three to four illustrations accompany each one. This beautiful book will fascinate natural science and art lovers alike.”

 

The beauty of natural science revealed.

 

Just as beautiful without the dust jacket.

As usual, the loot also included a fair few tomes on one of my favourite genres: travel writing.

I was especially happy with the Geert Mak (I actually gave a small squeal of delight, I think!) when I saw the solitary volume among the stacks on the table. In America: Travels with John Steinbeck has been on my wishlist ever since I knew of it. I love Mak’s writing and am currently making slow but steady progress with his In Europe: Travels through the Twentieth Century.

Bill Barich’s Long Way Home: On The Trail of Steinbeck’s America is another take on the same route & subject matter. It will be interesting to see how these two narratives go together in recounting Steinbeck’s travels.

Gary Kamiya’s Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco, “…. is a one-of-a-kind book for a one-of-a-kind city. It’s a love song in 49 chapters to an extraordinary place, taking 49 different sites around the city as points of entry and inspiration-from a seedy intersection in the Tenderloin to the soaring sea cliffs at Lands End. Encompassing the city’s Spanish missionary past, a gold rush, a couple of earthquakes, the Beats, the hippies, and the dot-com boom, this book is at once a rambling walking tour, a natural and human history, and a celebration of place itself-a guide to loving any place more faithfully and fully.”
Next to New York, San Francisco (& Seattle) are the cities I would love most to have the chance to visit in the US, someday. Am expecting good things from this one!

The Other Side of The Tiber: Reflections on Time in Italy by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi.
“Beginning her story with a hitchhiking trip to Rome when she was a student in England, she illuminates a passionate, creative, and vocal people who are often confined to stereotypes. Earthquakes and volcanoes; a hundred-year-old man; Siena as a walled city; Keats in Rome; the refugee camp of Manduria; the Slow Food movement; realism in Caravaggio; the concept of good and evil; Mary the Madonna as a subject―from these varied angles, Wilde-Menozzi traces a society skeptical about competition and tolerant of contradiction. Bringing them together in the present, she suggests the compensations of the Italians’ long view of time.” Another one that sounds rather promising.

Howard Norman’s My Famous Evening: Nova Scotia Sojourns, Diaries and Preoccupations, is a book of “selective memories”, combining stories, folklore, memoir, nature, poetry, and expository prose, in its goal to portray the emotional dimensions of the writer’s experience.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic travelogue, Travels with A Donkey in the Cervennes, was picked mainly for its slim size which is a very handy feature to look out for in a box sale. They make for great gap-fillers (no offense to Mr Stevenson, I hope!) :p

I found an unexpected piece of gem in London: A Literary Anthology, a lovely British Library Publishing edition that features “…… a wide-ranging collection of poems and scenes from novels that stretch from the 15th century to the present day. They range from Daniel Defoe hymning “the greatest, the finest, the richest city in the world” to Rudyard Kipling declaring impatiently, “I am sick of London town;” from William Makepeace Thackeray moving among “the very greatest circles of the London fashion” to Charles Dickens venturing into an “infernal gulf.” Experience London for the first time with Lord Byron’s Don Juan, and James Berry in his Caribbean gear “beginning in the city.” Plunge into the multi-racial whirlpool described in William Wordsworth’s Prelude, Hanif Kureishi’s The Black Album, and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. See the ever-changing city through the eyes of Tobias Smollett, John Galsworthy, and Angela Carter. From well-known texts to others that are less familiar, here is London brought to life through the words of many of the greatest writers in the English language.”
There is much to be savoured from this one, no doubt! 🙂

Two lovely volumes of illustrated histories of the cat and of man’s best friend.

The Spirit of the Dog and The Elegance of the Cat are two lavishly illustrated volumes that is bound to be treasured by dog lovers and cat lovers alike. Beautiful photography by the award-winning photographer Astrid Harrisson makes these two a real pleasure to behold.

And now, on to the fiction stack…..

 

I get excited just looking at these pretty spines. What pleasures await! 😀

First up, the recent Penguin reprints of William Trevor’s backlist. I just love the black and white photos used on these covers. I find the effect to be so very evocative and appealing. Just like an invitation to step into another world, another time…..

 

 

Can’t wait to dive in!

As opposed to the beautiful set of Trevors, the copy of Willa Cather’s The Bohemian Girl that I managed to bring home from the sale, has to be one of the ugliest edition I have ever come across! :p  If it was not Cather’s name that was on the cover, I would never have picked it up. Yes, I am a shallow reader who tends to judge a book by its cover, sorry!

Colette’s The Last of Cheri was another one that was picked for its handy size and purpose.

Rose Macaulay’s The Towers of Trebizond has been on my wishlist for some years now, so spotting it at the sale was a joy. And it was in very pretty edition too. 🙂

Angela Thirkell’s recent VMC reprints are another set of titles that have been on my wishlist in the last couple of years. I just love the cover designs on all their covers! Pomfret Towers is the first one I have managed to get my hands on, and I am sure it won’t be the last.

Also managed to add two lovely editions of Gabriel Garcia Marquez into the box, and I am especially in love with the cover for his One Hundred Years of Solitude. Hope it’s as good as it looks!

 

Yet another fabulous find, James Joyce’s Dubliners in the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition. Am so glad it was this that turned up, and not Ulysses! :p

Last but not least, the Centennial Edition of Steinbeck’s masterpiece East of Eden. This had to come home with me even if it had meant the disposing of some other books in the box to make room for it, and ignoring the fact that I already have a perfectly fine copy of it in the Penguin Modern Classics edition!

Blame it on those French flaps and deckle-edged pages.

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Of Love and Loss….

But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they are strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky.
That’s how you’ll end up, Mr Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.

Truman Capote, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1958)

If a feral cat can be considered a wild thing, then I guess I have not quite heeded to Ms Holly Golightly’s word of advice.

Even if the wild thing was tamed and domesticated along the way.
Even if it didn’t run back into the woods, or tree, or sky on its own accord but was wrongfully taken away.
It still has the same effect.
You still end up looking at the sky.

If anyone has been wondering about the silence on this blog for the past three and a half months, it was because I had spent the better half of that time looking for my lost cat. It was lost because an intolerant neighbour had found the neighbourhood cats to be a nuisance and decided to set a trap to remove some of them. I didn’t realize until it was too late that mine had fallen prey to his trap. When I did manage to find out the location where he had released my cat (a good 15km away), I tried going over to search daily after work and on weekends, but sadly to no avail.

I was drained of all energy, both physically and emotionally. Letting go was hard. I still had hopes of being able to bring her back home again. And just when I thought I was slowly coming out of it, I was hit by an even bigger loss.

My grandma.

It was unexpected. And she was recovering so well too from her fall last November, when she had undergone surgery for a fractured neck of femur. Although she had to be placed in a nursing home for rehabilitation and care since then, she had been steadily regaining her strength and was starting to walk again with some assistance. I have been going over to the home to visit her daily and she was one of residents there who was making the most promising progress. I really thought she would be able to go home one day.

But then she caught a flu virus, a cough that wouldn’t go away. And it became a lung infection. Which turned into septic shock. And she was gone.

Grandma would have turn 90, come this July 1st.

I miss her.

I just recently finished reading Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s and while I did find it to be mostly enjoyable and good, it was really the ending that made its mark on me. The closing lines to the novella are now going to remain as one of my favourite & most satisfying endings to a book that I have ever read.

But the address, if it ever existed, never was sent, which made me sad, there was so much I wanted to write her: that I’d sold two stories, had read where the Trawlers were countersuing for divorce, was moving out of the brownstone because it was haunted. But mostly, I had wanted to tell her about her cat.
I had kept my promise; I had found him. It took weeks of after-work roaming through Harlem streets, and there were many false alarms — flashes of tiger-striped fur that, upon inspection, were not him. But one day, one cold sunshiny Sunday winter afternoon, it was.
Flanked by potted plants and framed by clean lace curtains, he was seated in the window of a warm-looking room: I wondered what his name was, for I was certain he had one now, certain he’d arrived somewhere he belonged. African hut or whatever, I hope Holly has, too.

I wish my kitty too, has found a safe and warm place to call home, now.

I know grandma is.

kittygrandma & me

Disruption

source

As I am still away on holiday (and having failed to have pre-prepared the Friday Feature post beforehand), I am sorry to inform that there won’t be any Friday Feature post until my return.

In the meantime, here’s hoping that everyone is busy enjoying getting some good uninterrupted reading done, wherever you are!

And that the cats are all behaving well. :p

Paris in Pictures (#5)

 There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even – the French air clears up the brain and does good – a world of good.

 Vincent van Gogh

The view from the balcony of the B&B I stayed at. It was for this view that I convinced my travelling companions to pack up from the centre of Paris and move to this B&B located at the northwestern suburbs.
The view wasn’t the only good thing about the B&B. The owner was great too, and even packed his home-made muffins for us to take along for our day out.
And then, there’s also the cats.
This is Lulu. Isn’t she a beauty?
And this is Mona. I think she must have been helping herself to the muffins, too.
Incidentally, this was also the only other Mona I met in Paris during the trip. And this is obviously not the smiling one. :p