When One Bookstore Door Closes, Another Doesn’t Usually Open

This is excruciating. I am sure many of you can relate.

An incredible used bookstore nearby is closing its doors. I have been buying books there since I moved to Huntington Beach in 2009, because they have a wide and deep classics section. I remember I was shocked to see a copy of The Blithedale Romance sitting on the shelf when I thought, ‘no one will actually have this sitting on their shelf.’ Or Sarah Orne Jewett’s, The Country of the Pointed Firs. I bought my first Virago there (The Matriarch) as well as many of the books for the Reading New England Challenge of last year. I imagined buying my books there forever.

This is the kind of place where, though the shelves are bulging and recently bought books are still in boxes on the floor, the owner knows her stock. When you request a title she goes immediately to the section or reaches inside one of the boxes and pulls out the book. Yes, it IS like magic!

Like so many businesses, the bookshop owners are powerless over rises in rent and though the store does a brisk business, the new rate is higher than what makes sense. This is such a loss for any community.

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Will I find out why you write such depressing books?

My last purchase included the 1940 second edition of the 1935 two-volume set of The Esoteric Tradition by de Purucker in pristine condition, which I am thrilled to have. I also found R.W.B. Lewis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Edith Wharton and my first Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere. I was a bit overwhelmed as I walked through the familiar aisles…

 

 

 

 

 

My last book haul:

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A non-science fiction H.G. Wells and a Medieval female coroner. How intriguing!

Bon voyage, Camelot Books. Like your namesake your story will remain forever in my heart!

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!

 

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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.

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


Summer
, 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…