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7th June
written by Steph

Or rather, a funny thing happened while we were at the used bookstore, in that I exercised a ton of restraint and put a bunch of books back on the shelves.  I know some of you are looking at the picture of our bounty thinking, “That’s restraint?!?!” but I promise it’s true.  This was the first time where I just felt pretty uninspired by a lot of the books I inspected, and while I put a bunch of books in my cart, I didn’t feel like I HAD to have a lot of them, so I placed them back on the shelves before we cashed out. So, total damage this time was 15 books – ostensibly one of our lightest hauls ever from McKay’s, but I will say the books that I got were ones that I really did want.  I did trade in a bunch of books and Tony culled his cd pile, so all of these books were purchased on store credit and did not cost any cold hard cash monies.
O'Brien, McGrath, Stead, Adams, Stoker, and Saint Éxupery

O'Brien, McGrath, Stead, Adams, Stoker, and Saint Éxupery

  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien – This book had been circling round the periphery of my literary radar for a while, but all I knew was that it was about war and those aren’t generally the kinds of books I gravitate towards.  But then Sars wrote a really wonderful recommendation of it over at Tomato Nation, and I realized it was about the Vietnam War, and while that’s still not really my cup of tea, it is a topic that interests Tony.  So I flagged it for him at the store and he decided he’d like to give it a shot.  And if he likes it, I probably will too.
  • Asylum by Patrick McGrath – Jenny over at Shelf Love really loved this book (as did Teresa), and the dark premise of a woman falling in love with a patient in the asylum where her husband works interested me a good deal.  You know how I love a psychological thriller.  But it was really the praise of Jenny & Teresa that sealed the deal, and when I saw a copy of this, I nabbed it.
  • The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead – I admit, the title of this novel kind of creeps me out (though I don’t think it’s meant to have untoward implications), but it’s by an Australian author and I want to read more Aussie fiction, AND Jonathan Franzen wrote the cover blurb singing the book’s high praises and I love me some J. Franz.  I have no idea how this book got on my radar – I’ve certainly seen it at Borders a few times – but this is one I had been thinking of reading for a while.
  • The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams – Confession time: I have not read any Douglas Adams, and yes, that means I have not read any part of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  I might very well like it, but I also worry that with so many cult classics, there may be a critical period in which one must be exposed to said classic in order to love it unquestioningly… and I may have missed that window.  But I figured Tony would probably enjoy this given his penchant for sci-fi, and I guess I could read it as well and figure out if Adams is my kind of writer.
  • The Illustrated Dracula by Braham Stoker – I don’t know if I’ve blathered on about my passionate love affair with the Penguin Deluxe Classics (and Illustrated Classics), but ours is a fiery fervent love.  I adore the quirky covers - in general, Penguin’s aesthetic really appeals to me.  So when I found this lurking in the classics section I had to have it, even if it was $12 (and we already have a copy of Dracula).  Jae Lee (who is a big deal in the comic book world, apparently), does all of the awesome illustrations (on glossy paper!) that are scattered throughout the book; they are soooo gorgeous.   And hey, now we can put the old copy in our “To Sell” pile, which already brings me one book closer to a return trip! 😉
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Éxupery – Some of you with elephantine memories are probably thinking, “Hey!  They already bought a copy of that book on their last trip to the book store!  What gives?”  All I can say is that this was a beautiful children’s print of the book, and given that Tony really enjoyed his read through it, we thought it might be nice to get this copy and add it to our collection.  Yes, we now do have three unique copies of this book, but all of them are different and gorgeous in their own way, and at $2, the redundancy isn’t exactly breaking the bank.
  • Trumbo, Eugenides, Doyle, Dostoevsky

    Trumbo, Eugenides, Doyle, Dostoevsky

    Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo – I actually have no idea what this book is about.  I pointed it out to Tony because the logo of the printing company (Citadel Underground) cracked me up (I don’t know if you can see it in the picture, but it involves an eye in a pyramid)… And then he read the back cover and was actually interested in the book itself.  So I guess we’ll all have to wait for him to read it to find out what’s the what here.
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides – I read Middlesex earlier this year and enjoyed it enough that I thought I would like to read some more Eugenides one of these days.  This copy is the first one I’ve seen in a good long while that does not have a movie tie-in cover, which seemed a good enough reason to finally buy this one.  Also, the premise (all the girls in this one family commit suicide) is sufficiently interesting for me to give the book a shot.  I am interested to discover whether I will like it more or less than the Pulitzer winning Middlesex.
  • The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – My recent enjoyment of the Sherlock Holmes stories (or story, if we’re being nitpicky -  I’ve just read A Study in Scarlet thus far) has made me curious about Doyle’s other writings.  This is one of his more famous adventure stories and I’d like to see how he pulls of a non-mystery, non-Holmesian tale.  Plus, I’m pretty sure this involves dinosaurs, which are on my list of things with which I have a weird fascination.
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky – Want to read more Russian literature (read: non-Tolstoy… I mean, I like Tolstoy a good deal, but I figure it might be nice to become acquainted with some of the other Russian masters).  This was a really gorgeous hardbound, ribbon-bookmarked, Everyman’s Library copy… Miraculously, I did think to check the translators at the time and was happy to find it is the Pevear & Volkhonsky translation, which should be good (I really liked their translation of Anna Karenina).
  • Stace, Butler, Némirovsky, Tey

    Stace, Butler, Némirovsky, Tey

    Misfortune by Wesley Stace – I’ve seen this book before, but never really been interested in it (loosely, it’s a Victoriana-style story about a boy raised as a girl), but this copy has a cartoony cover that jumped out at me AND the blurbs were really hilarious and for whatever reason, this time I was hooked.  How could I resist a novel that contains all of the following: “full of orphans, decadence, flouncy skirts, greed, deception, amnesia, incest, murder, and all manner of meditation on sexual identity…”?  Clearly, I could not!
  • A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler – Are any of you familiar with this book?  I sure wasn’t, but apparently it won the Pulitzer in 1993.  It’s short stories focusing on the Vietnam War, and so this was clearly a Tony pick.
  • Suite Française by Irène Némirovski – Remember how I’ve been saying I don’t really care for literature about war?  So obviously this book, about WWII, must be a Tony pick?  Only it’s totally not as I have been coveting this book for a long time on the basis that everyone in the world loves it and says it has such wonderful writing.  Finally the price has been going down on it at McKay’s (this one was only $4), so I decided to go for it.  I am nothing if not a complicated reader.
  • The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey – Mystery novel by one of the great dames of British mysteries written during the Golden Era of the aforementioned genre.  It’s supposedly one of the most beloved mysteries and I am always on the lookout for great mystery authors, so this was a gimme.
  • *Bonus Book (not pictured… I forgot to put it in the stack but was too lazy to retake the picture once I had realized my omission)* Annals of the Former World by John McPhee – This won the Pulitzer in 1999… It was shelved in the Fiction section, but I’m pretty sure this won the Non-Fiction Pulitzer and it is about geology and the physical foundation of the United States… It was unclear to me what kind of fictitious tale could be told here, so it makes a lot more sense to find out this was non-fiction.  I actually have no interest in this whatsoever but Tony read several pages in rapt silence and was very excited by it, so hopefully he can let us all know about it in due course.
So there you have our relatively meager haul (I said relative!).  Not our most fruitful trip, but it’s not necessarily about quantity (even if past posts have emphasized that…). Have you read any of these books or do you have any of them on your TBR list?  Where would you start?


  1. 06/07/2009

    Looks lie you got a bunch of great stuff. I’m not big on war books but the things they carried is really, really good. It had such a different take on the narration, and the way it spoke to war as a collective and shared responsibility among the soldiers was really interesting.

  2. 06/07/2009

    I liked The Virgin Suicides, and I was impressed that it was Eugenides’ (is it ‘s or s’s?) debut novel. Looking forward to your reviews!

  3. WOW! I can’t imagine what a fruitful trip looks like! So many great books.
    I too loved Middlesex and have Virgin Suicides here waiting to be read.
    I’ve also heard great things about Daughter of Time. I look forward to hearing about them.

  4. Lu

    Oooh you have to read The Things They Carried, no matter what Tony thinks. Though I’m sure he’ll love love love it, because all you can do with that book is love love love it. I read it only 6 months ago and I want to read it again. Now. It’s so good. It was my first book review at my blog too, which means it will always hold a special place in my heart.

  5. 06/07/2009

    I’ve been wanting to read THE THINGS THEY CARRIED for years. I’ve also been wanting to read MISFORTUNE but it was pretty far down on the TBR list. That description you give makes it sound great! I look forward to hearing what you think of it.

  6. 06/07/2009

    I can’t wait for the reviews!

  7. 06/07/2009

    Yay for another haul! I would totally get another Little Prince, too! My Brothers Karamazov is the exact same edition. Isn’t it lovely? A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain has been on my radar for over 10 years now, but have never picked it up (I should, but maybe I’ll wait for your review?). I really love your McKay’s trips.. as you already know. Lol.

  8. 06/07/2009

    @ Nicole – Thanks for taking the time to comment here! Based on your comment (and many others here), it sounds like “The Things They Carried” is a book I’m going to have to read rather than simply leaving Tony to it!
    @ charley – I would write Eugenides’s, but I think most Americans would go with Eugenides’… but I think that strictly speaking the first is correct! I haven’t even seen the movie of The Virgin Suicides, so I’m really intrigued by this one.
    @ Jackie – Ha! Just troll through the “Shopping” archives and you will see how out of control my book buying can get! 😉 I think I will like The Virgin Suicides, and am really excited about The Daughter of Time… I just finished a book this morning and I have no idea what I should choose!
    @ Lu – Well, that was certainly a ringing endorsement! There are few books I read that I immediately wish to read again right away (I kind of felt that way about Joshua Ferris’s “Then We Came to the End”… I’ve been fighting the desire to read it again ever since I put it down!), so now my interest really is piqued! Sounds like “The Things They Carried” really is a special book.
    @ J.S. Peyton: Misfortune has been on my radar for a while, but as I said, it never really pinged it in a salient way. But that blurb? Totally sold me on it! I’ve been glancing over at it every so often wondering if it might have to be my next read!
    @ Chavonne: Don’t worry! Once I get around to reading these, I’ll certainly post about them!
    @ claire: Certain special books really do warrant multiple copies, I think, and The Little Prince definitely counts as a special book! Have you read your Brothers Karamazov yet? It really is gorgeous… I think I might have to start collecting Everyman editions. My Marquez’s are also Everymans… Once one of us gets to A Good Scent, you can expect a review which may help tip you in one direction or the other!

  9. 06/07/2009

    I hope you do enjoy Asylum. I read it in just over a day–it was so absorbing!

    The Things They Carried has some great writing and is definitely worth reading. My book club read it a few years ago. And I loved Daughter of Time, which is the only Tey I’ve read and a pretty unconventional mystery. (It’s as much history as mystery, but very interesting.)

  10. 06/07/2009

    I have a copy of Suite Française. Haven’t read it yet, but it still sounds really interesting.

  11. 06/08/2009

    @ Teresa: I hope I enjoy Asylum, too! 😉 It’s not very long, so if it’s as good as you say, I could easily see reading it in a day or two. I think Tony’s next book might very well be The Things They Carried, because everyone seems to love it! I have to admit, I’m really intrigued now myself. I’ve read the brief synopsis of Daughter of Time, and I was a bit surprised because it does seem pretty unconventional with respect to the genre, but there must be a reason so many people love it and I’m excited to find out!
    @ Christina: Suite Française does sound really interesting. I’ll look forward to your review when you get around to it!

  12. 06/08/2009

    I absolutely love O’Brien’s The Things They Carried – one of my all-time favorite books so I will be curious to see what you think. And I also recently acquired Robert Olen Butler’s A Good Scent from a STrange Mountain so we’ll be reading that in tandem perhaps!

  13. 06/08/2009

    Excellent, another one for The Things They Carried! Not sure when I’ll get to A Good Scent (remember, my war fiction diet is quite light!), but I’ll certainly look forward to your thoughts on it!

  14. 06/08/2009

    Steph, yes I’ve read Karamazov. I really liked it, even though he rambles. I’ve a few other Everymans and they are quite luxurious and I love them but I happen to love the hardcover Modern Library even more (the type and the paper). Btw, my copy was also used but in mint condition still. 🙂

  15. 06/08/2009

    I don’t think I’ve seen the Modern Library editions… I’ll have to do some online sleuthing! 😉 And I’m looking forward to Brothers Karamazov (rambling and all!).

  16. Kay

    The Little Prince is definitely a books that’s worth having many copies of! It is a magical one, I’ve read it many times already, since I was a kid.

    I have both The Virgins Suicide and Middlesex on my TBR list. And I read Dostoevsky and I love his writing everytime. I haven’t read this one though (also on my TBR list).

  17. 06/09/2009

    Yes, every copy we have of The Little Prince feels special in its own way. One of them I received as a gift, and it’s very dear to my heart.
    I haven’t read any Dostoevsky yet, but I have it set in my mind that enjoy the Russians, so I think I will like him! 😉

  18. Lu

    You asked what book by De Lint you should start with. I haven’t read them all, or even a lot of them! I’m not sure what real De Lint fans will tell you, but I fell in love with him almost instantly after reading three books. I can’t remember which order I read them in, but I read one and went to the store and bought everything they had by De Lint the next day.

    Dreams Underfoot (Short stories, set in Newford)
    The Onion Girl (also set in Newford)
    Waifs & Strays (YA Stories)

    I’ve also read:
    Yarrow (Okay, not amazing, but still interesting)
    The Mystery of Grace

  19. Lu

    *real hardcore completist De Lint fans… I might be one one day, I just haven’t gotten quite that far haha 🙂

  20. 06/10/2009

    The first part of this post cracked me up 😀 I always feel so proud of myself when I put books BACK on the shelf!!

    I really enjoyed The Virgin Suicides when I read it (years ago now, in high school), but it’s very different to Middlesex. I’ve never been able to get into Middlesex – it was just too much of a departure for me. Will be interested to see what you think!

  21. 06/10/2009

    I noticed The Things They Carried; O’Brien –one of my all time favorites. the audio version was amazing. ENJOY!

  22. 06/10/2009

    @ megan: It really is a big accomplishment for me to put something back, rather than bring it home! This trip was definitely an anomaly.
    I thought Middlesex was good but not really the best book ever (did it deserve the Pulitzer? Probably not, in my opinion.). I did like the writing and felt that Eugenides could tell a good tale – for a long book, I never felt that Middlesex seemed long – so I’d like to see what I think of The Virgin Suicides. I’ll be sure to post when I do read it!
    @ Lu: Thanks for the recs – I forget where I read about DeLint on the internet, so any tips are great. I’ve only seen his books at the used bookstore once, and the one I found was noted to be the second in a series so I put it back. I’ll keep an eye out for the titles you mention.
    @ Diane: Thanks for commenting! Everyone seems to be into the O’Brien, so I will definitely be checking it out sooner rather than later!

  23. 06/11/2009

    I’ve been meaning to read The things they carried, so will be interested to hear about it.

    Tey is a wonderful mystery writer, so I’m glad to see her in your haul, and I’d be suprised if you don’t laugh at Douglas Adams.

    The Brothers Karamazov, The Virgin Suicides and The Man Who Loved Children are all incredible reads that give much food for thought. The later isn’t set in Australia though- it’s based on Stead’s life growing up in Sydney but her American publisher supposedly insisted she change the setting to Washington and Baltimore.

  24. 06/11/2009

    I’m excited to read my first Tey. The story does sound quite unusual, but I can’t wait to see what all the fuss is about.

    I was surprised to hear that The Man Who Loved Children was an Australian novel (by which I mean written by an Aussie), because I had never had that impression. Even if it is set in America (which I do find a bit disappointing), I look forward to reading it! (Do you know if she changed the setting for all of her publishers, U.S. and otherwise?)

  25. 06/11/2009

    That’s a restraint?! It’s a lovely pile of books anyway but you’ve lost nothing to lose. I’ve got Asylum and The little prince on my pile as well, waiting to be savored. The pavear/Voloronsky translation of The Brothers Karamoazov is one of my preferred editions, although mine is the trade paperback. Will you tackle it this summer?

  26. 06/11/2009

    @ Matt: Compared to my other hauls, yes, this is restraint! I would like to try some Dostoevsky soon – we also have Crime & Punishment, so I have to figure out which one I’d like to tackle first. Also, I may wait until we’re done with the 2666 read-along, simply because I am finding that giving myself a small weekly goal for longer books and reading them alongside other books that are smaller and more manageable is really motivating for me.

  27. 06/12/2009

    You got some great stuff there! I have A Daughter of Time, Misfortune, Suite Française, and The Brothers Karamazov. I really want to get my hands on The Virgin Suicides(I saw the movie and thought it was very interesting, and I just know the book will be even better) and Asylum. I would probably start with Misfortune, it seems like a really fun book and one I’ve been meaning to read for ages.

  28. 06/12/2009

    I am thinking Misfortune might be a good honeymoon read, because I feel it will be funny, engaging, and well-suited to reading on the beach… I’m really looking forward to Daughter of Time, and The Virgin Suicides as well. I think Suite Française seems like more of a Fall/Winter book, and potentially so does Karamazov… still, lots of good reading ahead!

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