Friday, March 27, 2009

Book sale books

You can tell a lot about a person by the books they read. Today we went to buy books at the giant book sale which a local group holds every year, raising money which is put to good use in the community. The bargains are real and I always come away with a big bag full, but I can't buy everything - as much as I might like to- and I do have to make choices. The ones I picked out say something about me and my interests at the moment, so I thought I might list them, with a few comments, for the pitifully few readers of this blog.

The first section I was able to get to through the throngs of eager buyers was the spiritual life section. This is always of interest to me, even more so as I age, it seems. I always wish however, that I had thought to write down a few authors in particular that I value, as there is a wide range always in the quality of books offered and I often feel that those which are really worth reading don't get given away for resale. In the past I have picked up books which appeared interesting but which turned out to be patent nonsense disguised as spiritual guidance or inspiration. Nevertheless I was fortunate this time to spot a book by G.K Chesterton, Heretics/Orthodoxy in a nice hardcover copy ( 2000 reprint edition) which looked almost new. Actually this volume is two books in one as it combines his book Heretics, with his response to critics who said it only told one side of the story. A pretty good buy for $4 .

I turned then to the paperback fiction table which had cleared enough to let me browse there. I was going to be very picky here as I already have quite a few fiction books at home which I haven't got around to reading. I am less interested than I was in fiction as lately non-fiction or biography appeals more to me. But one title intrigued me- Cathedral of the Black Madonna by Jean Markale. I thought it was a mystery at first as the sub-title was The Druids and the Mysteries of Chartres. Perhaps the book sale organisers made the same mistake as it really should have been on the non-fiction table. It is a book, in modern soft cover, about the famous and beautiful French Cathedral - its history, its construction, and its images of the virgin including the "Black Madonna". This combination of history, mystery and religiosity was irresistable. Another $4.

I'm not sure where I found The Overloaded Ark by Gerald Durrell. There usually is a nature section but I think it was again in the paperback fiction section. I love Gerald Durrell's books and so does my daughter and we already have most of his work. But I didn't recognise this one. It is an old Penguin paperback edition with yellowing pages but for $2 I figured worth picking up. Now that my daughter is thousands of kms away we will have to fight over these books anyway so a second copy will not go amiss. I've already started reading it and I am again charmed by Durrell's vivid descriptions of both scenery and animals, and the deft humour he peppers his narrative with. Oh, to write like Gerald Durrell.

At the Biography table, miracle of miracles, I found Merton, A Biography, by Monica Furlong. I had just been thinking about her the other day and said to myself " I really should find one of her books to read", and here one was as if in answer to an unspoken prayer. Furlong was one of the best religious writers in the UK and a fervant activist in the Church of England. And had I had a choice of only one of her books, the biography of Merton would probably have been my pick. A nice hard copy edition with slip cover for another $4

It pays one to go round the sale room several times, wending your way past the other browsers, so on one of my circuits I found myself back again at the paperback fiction section, and here I picked up Joanna Trollope's Brother and Sister for $3. She is an author who I enjoy and I had not read this one. Friends of mine, just the other evening, were praising The Choir which was a BBC mini-series based on one of her books. I wish I could have also found that book but I hope to get a hold of a dvd copy of the series to watch somehow.

So, for a grand total of $17 I have a wealth of good reading which should keep me busy for a few months at least.
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)