Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bibliophilia Gone Awry

This morning I looked at the stack of unread books on my floor and said to myself: none of these are from the Penfield Library book sale. I have some from other libraries, but I have read everything from Penfield. Vile Bodies, A Handful of Dust, Anil's Ghost, The Rings of Saturn, The Robber Bride, The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories, Doctor Copernicus, Heart of Darkness, Brick Lane, The Westing Game, The Shipping News, Postcards, Ankle Deep,: read 'em all, judged 'em mercilessly, put 'em on the shelf. Of course there are plenty of unread books left, but they're from other libraries so they don't count. The Penfield books are the only ones that count because that's the only book sale I've ever been to at which the number of books has caused me actual stress.

However, it causes me more stress to have no books to read. Reading a book you happened upon by accident and paid fifty cents for is the best possible low-pressure reading experience. For example, when I realized that I wasn't too fond of The Robber Bride, I did not have to regret paying $7.99 for it. And when The Rings of Saturn was unexpectedly wonderful, I could congratulate myself on having had the terribly good sense to snap it up in spite of its uninspired cover.

The point is, I looked at my pile this morning and saw the lack of Penfield Library books and thought, well thank goodness it's been a whole year and it's time to go get more books! And so I did. But I restrained myself. See below: the remainder of last year's used-book jackpot in a row, versus this year's, in a stack.

Do you see that? Only eleven books. Totally manageable. And only a couple that are completely, utterly random - those ones are my weakness. Here is a brief list of the unnecessary books I've bought and the very good reasons I needed to own them:

1. Gregg Shorthand (1947): in case I ever need to decipher something!
2. The Mathematical Experience (1981): I used the woodcut on the cover as the basis for a research paper once!
3. SLEEP (1966): Good title!
4. What happens in Hamlet (1960): This is apparently book for people who said, at the end of Hamlet, "What just happened?" John Dover Wilson will now tell you! Because he's pretty sure he knows! It also has an inappropriately whimsical cover design.

I thought those were pretty odd, but they're nothing compared to what I acquired today, the crowning glory of this collection:
5. Victorian Shopping: Harrod's 1895 Catalogue. A Facsimile of the Harrod's Stores 1895 issue of the Price List: It is inherently comical. It is three inches deep. It looks like it's been used as a doorstop. It has a picture of a wig on the front. And the inside is simply delightful.

Look what you can get at Harrod's (in 1895)!

Baths and Bird Cages
Also seen here at the bottom of the left page: The Demon Beetle Trap. It is listed as "BEETLE TRAP, The Demon." This is a treasure trove, folks.


Sardine Boxes, Spoon Warmers, and Tea Pots

Ladies' Blouses (Shown here: styles "Marie" and "Edna")

If things continue to proceed like this, you can count on me writing a post someday in shorthand, telling you why you can't sleep, what happens in Hamlet, and where you can buy a spoon warmer. We here at Simon & Ivan share John Tesh's motto, "Intelligence for your life." It's just not the kind you expect, and it is all useless.

(No, I do not actually listen to John Tesh; no, I am not counting on liking The Corrections, which stands out like a sore thumb in that pile; and yes, of course I found out what spoon warmers were all about - you can find more information here. I think sardine boxes are self-explanatory, don't you?)

1 comment:

Ivan said...

DEMON BEETLE TRAP. I gots to get me one of those.