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.


The not-so-new “new acquisitions”…..

I just checked, the last ‘new acquisitions’ post I had put up was in May earlier this year. This will probably give the impression that I have been on ‘good behaviour’ and was contented with reading happily from my stacks of TBR on the shelves. This couldn’t be further from the truth than what the actual scenario is.

Truth is, I have been bad. I have been greedy and covetously acquiring more books than I could ever possibly finish reading in this lifetime. And yet I am not doing anything to stop the books from sneaking in. Why, I wonder? It is probably a disease. And I reckon it’s one that I can never be fully cured of. It could also be that I am probably a collector first, and only a reader second. Whatever the case may be, one cannot somehow also discount the fact that the books themselves are often too good to resist!

And so, without much resistance, these somehow found their way to my shelves (or floor, more likely).

Leave the Letters Till We’re Dead – this sixth and final volume of Virginia Woolf’s collected letters will be the starting point for my on-going long-term ‘mission’ to collect all the other volumes of her letters (& diaries). And just in case you might be interested to know, I have managed to track down the first volume (The Flight of the Mind) and it’s already winging it’s way here even as I am writing this. If only my reading was as efficient as my buying…

The Mitfords : Letters Between Six Sisters – Actually, I already have the hardcover copy of this in a different edition but when I found this paperback edition going at a really unbeatable price during a sale, I just couldn’t leave it behind. My reasoning was that it would be much more convenient & comfortable to read this tome in paperback rather than hardback. Right?

Anyway, moving on….

The Library At Night (by Alberto Manguel)
This has been sitting on my wishlist for a long time now. “Manguel, a guide of irrepressible enthusiasm, conducts a unique library tour that extends from his childhood bookshelves to the “complete” libraries of the Internet, from Ancient Egypt and Greece to the Arab world, from China and Rome to Google. He ponders the doomed library of Alexandria as well as the personal libraries of Charles Dickens, Jorge Luis Borges, and others. He recounts stories of people who have struggled against tyranny to preserve freedom of thought—the Polish librarian who smuggled books to safety as the Nazis began their destruction of Jewish libraries; the Afghani bookseller who kept his store open through decades of unrest. Oral “memory libraries” kept alive by prisoners, libraries of banned books, the imaginary library of Count Dracula, the library of books never written—Manguel illuminates the mysteries of libraries as no other writer could. With scores of wonderful images throughout, The Library at Night is a fascinating voyage through Manguel’s mind, memory, and vast knowledge of books and civilizations.” Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Virginia Woolf’s Women (by Vanessa Curtis)
“This is the first biography to concentrate exclusively on Woolf’s close and inspirational friendships with the key women in her life, including the caregivers of her Victorian childhood who instilled in her a lifelong battle between creativity and convention: her taciturn sister, Vanessa Bell; enigmatic artist Dora Carrington; complex writer Katherine Mansfield; aristocratic novelist Vita Sackville-West; and riotous, militant composer Ethel Smyth.” 
This should be an interesting one.

The Trials of Radclyffe Hall (by Diana Souhami)
I have been wanting to read The Well Of Loneliness (the book on the theme of ‘sexual inversion’ that caused Hall to be put on trial under the Obscene Publications Act, back in 1928) for some time now. This would pair nicely with the reading of that, I think. “….. Brilliantly written, this biography is a fresh and irreverent insight into the lives of one of the most alluring and eccentric women of this century.”

Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes (by Jude Morgan)
Got this at the same bargain books sales as The Mitfords. Have not heard of this title, nor read anything by the author prior to this. But the subject matter appealed to me (not to mention the price, as well) and so, I was game to try this. “From an obscure country parsonage came three extraordinary sisters, who defied the outward bleakness of their lives to create the most brilliant literary work of their time. Now, in an astonishingly daring novel by the acclaimed Jude Morgan, the genius of the haunted Brontës is revealed and the sisters are brought to full, resplendent life: Emily, who turned from the world to the greater temptations of the imagination; gentle Anne, who suffered the harshest perception of the stifling life forced upon her; and the brilliant, uncompromising, and tormented Charlotte, who longed for both love and independence, and learned their ultimate price.” Anyone here read this?

Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays on Art and Artists (by Robert Hughes)
This is yet another writer that I was unfamiliar with but again, I found the subject matter highly appealing (as with the bargain price since it was at the same book sales) so into the basket it went. And I don’t think I will regret it. “This collection brings together over 90 essays, many of which have already appeared in major journals. Hughes considers the Masters, 19th-century art and artists, the Modernist spirit, American and European painters, and contemporary artists in prose that is historically informative, understandable, witty, and often opinionated. Perhaps most interesting is Hughes’s introduction, a recognition and partial analysis of New York City’s decline as the center of the art world. This well-written, thought-provoking collection will appeal to most who find art and the art world important and entertaining.” I do love a good collection of essays, so here’s hoping that they are. 

Down The Garden Path (by Beverley Nichols)
Although I am not one who is into gardening, somehow in recent years I find myself having a growing fascination for books that have gardens in their theme. This is probably the result from reading the blogs of so many of you ‘garden loving’ bloggers out there. I have always been curious about Nichols’s books, having read many good reviews of them. And I always thought that the titles to his books are such delightful ones ….. Merry Hall, Laughter on The Stairs, Sunlight on the Lawn, etc… Don’t they just seem to have the word “JOY” printed all over them? Really looking forward to reading this. 🙂

The Claudine Novels (by Colette)
Colette’s Claudine novels are another item off my long list of ‘anticipated reads’. And to get this complete set for the price of one (plus it’s in the edition with the cover I like, unlike the ugly but newer and easier to get edition here) is really quite a good deal! “Among the most autobiographical of Colette’s works, these four novels are dominated by the child-woman Claudine, whose strength, humor, and zest for living make her seem almost a symbol for the life force.”

That’s the stack for now. And that’s just the ones that came before my trip to Amsterdam and Paris last month. I haven’t yet share my little bounty from abroad with you, have I? :p

I think it’s better to leave that for another day. Meantime, I will need to have some reshuffling work done to clear things up abit, and make room for a little *cough* shipment that is due to arrive anytime now.

Like I said, it’s incurable.