Book Finds!

The main branch of my city library is huge. It has several floors of library books, a cafe on the bottom floor and theaters for plays and films. It also has a stellar used book department with clean books in great shape in all the various categories. But its claim to fame, in my opinion, is the ‘Vintage Books’ section. Donated mostly from estate sales, there are amazing finds here. There might be a first edition of something, but mainly they are just old books or classics in hardcover or well-known books in their time, 1900-1950, that I have heard of but never read.

Yesterday, I had an exceptionally fruitful excursion that cost me only $5.75!



The Year of Magical Thinking
, Joan Didion
I have read very little by Didion, but this title always intrigued me: struggling through grief and heartbreak after the deaths of a husband and daughter.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
I was so happy to find a good copy of this. Molly Guptill Manning wrote about this book in her excellent, When Books Went to War. One of the ways publishers supported the war effort was to publish classic books in thin, small editions that could fit in a back pocket. Soldiers wrote to Betty Smith saying this book made them think of their hometowns.

The Paris Sketch Book, William Thackeray
Holy cow, folks…complete with illustrations by the author. I would love to know about the person in whose collection this was.


How to Astonish the French–An English Family in the Tuileries.

, Edith Wharton
An important work of Wharton’s; it is an honest look at a young woman’s sexual awakening.


The Seven Story Mountain, Thomas Merton
One of my reading interests is religion and spirituality. I especially enjoy reading books about spiritual journeys and faith struggles. Regardless of the particular religion or spiritual path, I can relate and feel kinship.


Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harold Bloom, Ed.
Now that I have read several major works by Hawthorne, I was interested in this critical analysis of his work.


The Bostonians, Henry James
Oh, this reminds me of college literary courses! And it’s been that long since I read it. It was published in magazine installments before it came out in book form a few years before Edward Bellamy’s, Looking Backward (set in Boston), which I just reviewed, so the title caught my eye.


The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emmuska Orczy
Confession: I am a product of Saturday morning Looney Tunes and like many kids of that generation, my first exposure to classic literature and classical music was from those cartoons (and Ed Sullivan, but that is a post for another day)! Elmer Fudd is forever seared in my mind as he sings The Ride of the Valkyries and I can still see Daffy Duck sword fighting as The Scarlet Pumpernickel. Alas, it is time I read the actual classic.


Colonial Folkways, Charles M. Andrews
This slim volume was written in 1919 and describes daily life in colonial America. The subject interests me and I enjoy seeing how historians through the decades view their subject.


The Telltale Heart and other Writings, Edgar Allan Poe
I don’t have any works by Poe at the moment and wanted something for any ‘Scary October’ readathons.


The Winter of our Discontent, John Steinbeck
If I say I have never read a Steinbeck, can I still say I am a reader?; that I love old books? And yes, I have yet to read The Grapes of Wrath. I think I need a ‘California readathon’ 🙂


My sister is delivering to me a new bookcase this weekend. When she first offered it I was sure there would be a lot of empty space…

18 thoughts on “Book Finds!

  1. Oo, which do you think you’ll start with? I didn’t know about the book war effort; I’ve got the link open to read later.

    Regarding the bookcase, it’s too easy to think ‘lots of space!’


  2. I’ve meant to read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn for some time now.
    For scary October-I go for Sheridan Le Fanu. Criminally forgotten for the likes of Poe and Stoker and James (who was a Le Fanu fan) he remains a favourite of mine.


      • You’re welcome 🙂
        I’ve yet to read his novels, of which Uncle Silas is one. Of his short stories, the ones that immediately come to mind are Green Tea, Schalken the Painter, and The Child That Went With The Fairies.
        My favourite remains Carmilla, the novella about the vampire which was written before Stoker’s Dracula. This character was the inspiration for the Ingrid Pitt character in the Hammer movie The Vampire Lovers, among others. There is also a novella called Spalatro. The first half is the confession of a notorious highwayman, but of more interest is the second half which features a strange character that served as a forerunner for Le Fanu’s Carmilla, which was written later.
        If you want to read Carmilla, it is in the collection In A Glass Darkly, along with Green Tea.


  3. Wow! Some haul! I envy you the Thackeray – looks fabulous. And Poe is perfect for this time of year. I haven’t heard of that Steinbeck – I’m only a little ahead of you on him, having read Of Mice and Men at school many years ago and The Grapes of Wrath for the first time a few months ago. And I still get angry every time I think of it, so I guess that’s a recommendation. I’m trying to work myself up to reading more of his stuff…


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