Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Farm memoirs or farm novels, usually by women, are among the kinds of books I collect, as well as the back-t0-the-land genre. And always just when I thought I had them all...three more are found.
It's a tough time economically for used bookshops, too, and on a recent trip back to New Hampshire and returning through Ohio I went to too many bookshops doing my best to stimulate the economy. And alright, I admit it, I trolled a few antique malls in Medina and Holmes County, Ohio, too...but more about some good affordable antique finds in another blog. I can't resist a used bookshop (and I'm calling them so here because I think of a "bookshop" as something old and slightly rumply with a certain character–and a "bookstore" as an overlit book place you'd find in a mall or "big box" type megabookstore in the homogeneous suburbs).
A particular favorite back in New Hampshire is Old Number Six Book Depot owned by Ian and Helen Morison in Henniker as well as Books by the Lake, just up the road in Bradford. I've found a lot of Tasha Tudor books there, and other New England regional books and cookbooks, especially. [If there is a particular Tasha Tudor you are looking for it is worthwhile to call them.] Another is the used book section of The Toadstool, a fabulous independent bookshop (and yes, they still exist) in several locations in the Monadnock region where we lived. Of course, their new book section is always alluring, too.
Cookbooks–a woman can never have enough cookbooks! (No matter what her husband says...) Although that book on the Pennsylvania Dutch? A history for my husband (and I picked up loads of books for he and the children, too!).
There was a lovely book written in the 1970s called 84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff, about the actual correspondence between a woman in the United States and a very respectable bookshop owner in London. There is a certain romance about an old bookshop and as a student in London many years ago, I enjoyed browsing in shops there, too. [Here is a blog entry that I posted last September over at Cupcake Chronicles about "English Bookshops"] And who hasn't seen the movie Crossing Delancey, based on a play, from 1988 (with a great soundtrack by the Roches)? You will enjoy a romance between a woman who works in a New York bookshop in Greenwich Village and a pickle vendor who, after he cleans his hands of the pickle juice each night, smoothes them with vanilla. It is a lovely movie.
Janice Holt Giles, a Kentucky author, is hard to find in local bookshops so I was pleased to find an early edition of her second novel, Miss Willie, for only a few dollars back in New England. The Soujourner, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, is a later novel about a farmer and his estranged brother. Hal Borland wrote a lot of back-to-the-land books, like another favored author, Lois Bromfield.
Here in Kentucky, whenever I'm in Berea, I go to Robie & Robie Fine Books. College towns are often great places to find good used bookshops and Berea is no exception. The Casey County Library in Kentucky, and many other libraries across the country, have "Friends of the Library" groups that often maintain excellent used bookshops or have annual book sales.
I'm a Barbara Pym fan and discovered this biography by her friend and executor, Hazel Holt, that I had not read before. Jane Kenyon is a favorite poet and Red House, a memoir about an historic New England house in the same family since it was built, is a book I've been wanting to read since it came out.
The good thing about buying a used book is that you are recycling. The "bad" thing, I guess, is that the original author does not get a share of a resale–just like if an artist were to sell a painting for $1,000 and then it gets resold years later for $1 million. The artist gets none of that inflation. I've read that eBay sales are down or that vendors are increasingly dissatisfied. Maybe it is the economy but perhaps, also, people just missed getting out there and hunting for stuff in shops, picking it up and savoring it. There are some things that the computer will never quite replicate. In this era of Amazon "Kindle" I can not even imagine doing without a book, new or old, to linger over in a shop, to treasure in my hands and perhaps later on my bookshelves.
PS Maybe Amazon is hurting, too. On my splash page just now for publishing my blog, there was a usable $20 off at Amazon coupon. But don't worry, I'm not at all tempted. Well, maybe just a smidge...