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19th November
written by Steph

More books... but this time with a fancy new book bag to keep them company!

More books... but this time with a fancy new book bag to keep them company!

While Tony works away diligently on our post recapping our momentous trip to NY (after all, given how bustling and busy the city is, how can a trip there be anything but momentous?), I thought I’d share some of the books that have lately made their way into our household, almost as if it were of their own volition.  Honestly, that’s the only reasoning I can come up with for why books keep showing up in our apartment: it’s because they want to be here.  A good chunk of these came from me doing the shelves at BookPage at the beginning of the month, but as you can tell from the jaunty book bag gussying up our coffee table, some of them are purchases from The Strand in NYC.  Because again, how could I go to NY and not visit the last surviving establishment from Book Row and traipse about their 18 miles of books?  Even with aching feet (the new Steve Madden boots helped, but we still did A LOT of walking), such a proposition is pretty much my idea of heaven!
  • Snagged from BookPage

    Snagged from BookPage

    The Bell Jar
    by Sylvia Plath – BookPage got several copies of the super cute Olive editions released by Harper Perennial, and I just couldn’t resist grabbing a set for myself.  Even if I already do have a copy of The Bell Jar (given to me by my favorite highschool English teacher), this one is way cuter… and I have been meaning to do a re-read.
  • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser – If not for the cute edition, I probably wouldn’t have picked this up at all.  Y’all know that non-fic isn’t so much my deal, but also we don’t really eat much (any?) fast food at all.  Still, now that I have it, I guess I’ll have to carve out some time for this one.
  • The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon – same deal as the Plath in that we already own a copy, but this one is cuter, so while I’ve never read any Pynchon, I figure I might as well hedge my bets and make the experience as pleasurable as possible by reading this pretty version.
  • Generation A by Douglas Coupland – I reviewed this for the November issue of BookPage and LOVED IT so I called dibs on the hardcover copy should it get sent to us there.  And it did, and I spent a good time gently stroking the cover and cooing to it, after which point even if they hadn’t been intending to give it to me, they probably would have because I doubt anyone wanted it after that.  Have you read this one yet?  What is taking you so long?  It’s SO GOOD.
  • The spoils from a giveaway and several ARCs

    The spoils from a giveaway and several ARCs

    Say You’re One of Them
    by Uwem Akpan – This was actually courtesy of Frances over at Nonsuch Book, who gave away three copies a few weeks ago.  I have not had a lot of luck with short story collections, but if Oprah says it’s good then clearly I have to read it, right?  JUST KIDDING!  Oprah be damned (gasp!), but I really want to give this one a shot because I read my first piece of African fiction earlier this year and it blew my mind and ripped my heart to shreds, and I realized that I have been overlooking this continent for entirely far too long when it comes to my literary globetrotting, and maybe I shouldn’t do that any more.  And now I have a new book from an African author, so now I won’t!  Yay!
  • Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben Winters – Back to BookPage review copies… Despite the success of these monster mash-ups, I still haven’t even read my copy of P&P&Z that’s been languishing on our shelves for a while, in part because if I feel like reading Jane Austen, then I will just read the original, you know?  And I’m not sure that these will really be my cup of tea, but I like to collect Austen-related paraphernalia, so I figured I might as well take this one home rather than just chucking it in the trash.  I may come to regret this… we shall see…
  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis – Remember how EVERY TIME I come home with books I disclaim the short story collections seeing as how I never have good luck? (For those with short-term memory issues, see above) Yet, I always have at least one short story collection, and here is another… It’s a pretty bare-bones review copy, but I’ve heard tell that Davis is an amazing short-story writer, and maybe this time I will agree.  My brief perusal through this massive tome suggests that I will be amused.  But how will I hold it?!?  It’s huge!
  • Lying with the Dead by Michael Mewshaw – So, this came into our house a few weeks ago (seriously, what is happening to November?) and now I kind of don’t really remember anything about it… The writing on the first page was very strong, and it’s about a dysfunctional family… That’s about all I have for you.  Hopefully this will prove to be more memorable once I actually read it.
  • Hummingbirds by Joshua Gaylord – I flipped through this one when we were choosing books to cover for the October (?) issue of BookPage, and I thought it looked interesting.  It seems like a few others are reading this or have copies around the book blogging world, so I suspect we’ll be hearing quite a bit about it in the following weeks.
  • NYC purchases... you can tell they're kind of uppity... ;)

    NYC purchases... you can tell they're kind of uppity... 😉

    Love and Freindship and Other Early Works
    by Jane Austen – Here beginneth the NYC purchases. And no, that isn’t a typo on my part – that’s really how Jane A spelled “friendship”!  She was a teenager, so I suppose some leeway is necessary. I own a beautiful Folio Society collection of Jane Austen’s complete works, but I wasn’t sure if I had any of her earlier stuff.  Turns out the collection does include some of her unfinished and early works, but this collection also includes some of her letters, which I’m really looking forward to and which I do not own in any form, so I’m giving this purchase a pass.  Normally I don’t go in for letters and the like, BUT while in NY, my friend and I went to see the Jane Austen exhibit at the Morgan library (more on that later, but in brief: pretty awesome) and they had some of Austen’s original letters written to her sister Cassandra, and what can I say but that they were hilarious!  It’s comforting to know that even when I exhaust her novels (I’m still holding off on reading Mansfield Park and Persuasion so that I still have some undiscovered Austen to look forward to…) I will have her letters to look forward to.  Less comforting?  The fact I had to buy this at a Barnes & Noble because The Strand had NO JANE AUSTEN.  I will leave you with the enormity of walking into a bookstore (one with 18 miles of books no less) and have it be devoid of Austen…
  • The Inimitable Jeeves; The World of Jeeves; Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse – Ever since I read my first Jeeves & Wooster novel earlier this year, I’ve been clamoring for more!  Alas, the books are notoriously hard to find at our used bookstore here, and when I do come across them, they tend to be quite pricey.  Enter The Strand to end my literary woes.  The two slim titles were just $4.95 a piece (new!), and Tony found the fat volume in the used section for not much more.  I know I’ll be dipping into one of these pretty soon.
  • The Normal School, Issue 2, Vol. 1 – This was perhaps my favorite find at the strand; a marked down copy of a heretofore unknown (to me, at least) literary journal.  For whatever reason, I’ve never jumped on the literary magazine bandwagon, but that may soon change.  At $4, I figured I’d give this one a shot.  The aesthetics of the journal itself are just gorgeous (the paper is lovely, and the art and illustrations are also really beautiful), and the various short stories I’ve quickly skimmed within immediately grabbed my attention, so I think I’m in for some good reading.  And maybe a new obsession!
So, there you have our most recent bounty; of course, with all those fabulous books, clearly I needed a new bag to tote them all around.  Clearly no ordinary bag would do, so once more The Strand came to the rescue with an appropriately book-themed bag! Do any of our current treasures look particularly good to you?


  1. I won a copy of Generation A last week and it arrived yesterday. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on The Crying of Lot 49 as I couldn’t get into it. I might try it again one day, but I think it needs a lot of attention.

    Great selection of books!

  2. 11/19/2009

    What a great stack of books you have to look forward to! I have The Bell Jar, Fast Food Nation, and Say You’re One of Them on my shelves at home just waiting to be read (maybe in the near future)

  3. 11/19/2009

    I got Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters too, but now am wondering why! However if you’re reading it, it might be fun to compare!

  4. Eva

    What a fun bag! And I’d never pick Steve Madden if I was going to be walking a lot, lol. I really enjoyed Fast Food Nation, but I was already a confirmed non-fast foodie vegetarian. 😉 I am strenuously anti polluting Jane Austen with crap, lol, so I’d never read those. So jealous of all that Wodehouse! And that’s the end of my comment, hehe.

  5. 11/19/2009

    @ Jackie: I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Gen A – I just can’t say enough good stuff about that one! As for Crying of Lot 49, I haven’t actually read any Pynchon, but Tony read it a while back (his review is in the archives) and thought it was ok, but not anything earthshattering.
    @ Kathleen: I’ll definitely be tackling the Wodehouse before anything else in this haul, I think, but from there I have no idea! Not a bad problem to have, really!
    @ rhapsody: Yeah, I’m not sure about this mash-up at all… I got P&P&Z as a gift, and I figured I’d just continue with the collection, provided I’m not the one shelling out money on it, I suppose! Not sure when I’ll get to it, as it’s definitely not high on my priorities.
    @ Eva: I actually have some really comfortable Steve Maddens (one pair of boots I bought on a different trip, and some flats), and these boots were actually really comfy too – I think it was just the amount of walking we did! I’ve heard mixed things about the Austen mash-ups and while I tend to be a purist, the idea doesn’t both me so much because it does seem rather tongue-in-cheek. That said, I haven’t read anything of this kind yet and it’s not really a top priority, but I do think it’s a fun thing to have on the shelf! 😉

  6. The bag and the Olive editions are so cute! I have read the Plath and Pynchon (I studied the latter and remember it being fairy easy to read). Of course you know that I also have a copy of Say You’re One of Them – I’m looking forward to sharing our impressions of those, especially as neither of us is a huge fan of short stories (I’m not completely averse but I do struggle at times to fully engage).

  7. Kay

    I read The Bell Jar in January and loved it for a variety of reasons, but when I asked about it to friends, it seemed to be either love or hate. I can see why it’s not for everyone, but I’m very curious to hear what your thoughts will be on it!

  8. 11/20/2009

    @ Kay: I actually have already read The Bell Jar, though it’s been probably about 10 years since I last read it, so I can’t speak very specifically about it. I do remember liking it though, so I think it will be interesting to see how I respond to it now!
    @ Amy: I saw a whole slew of bags on The Strand website prior to visiting, so I knew to keep my eyes peeled for them, but this one was a surprise to me too. It was between this one and ones with little birds, but in the end, I decided I liked the unabashed “bookishness” of this one more.

    I was hoping to include my thoughts on the Morgan library in Tony’s recap post of our NY trip, but I may just write about it in its own separate post – it’s not as though Austen can’t stand on her own two feet!
    @ Patti: Thanks for commenting! From what I’ve seen from paging quickly through Hummingbirds, it certainly seems biting and engaging, so I’m very much looking forward to it. I hope that when I get a chance to read and review it, you’ll take the time to come back and see what I thought! Also, thank you for bringing your daughter to my attention – I’m always looking for strong mystery writers, so I may have to check some of her stuff out!

  9. Amy

    Love that bag…I never noticed it when I’m there. I’ll have to pay more attention the next time. Great books, especially the NY purchases lol especially love the PG Wodehouse.

    I haven’t been to the Jane Austen Exhibit at the Morgan Library yet so I cannot wait to hear what you have to say about it. I can’t wait to go either! Next wekk (I hope!)

  10. 11/20/2009

    Try HUMMINGBIRDS. My son-in-law wrote it and he’s brilliant. His wife, Megan Abbott, is a pretty fair writer, too. I love going to the Strand, especially the basement.

  11. 11/20/2009

    So many of them look awesome! Would love to read the Sylvia Plath and Pynchon and the new Oprah book (just to see what the fuss is about). Enjoy your new bag too, how fun!

  12. 11/22/2009

    Of all of these, I’ve only read “The Bell Jar” and “Fast Food Nation” (so good, by the way). Can’t wait for your reviews!

  13. 11/22/2009

    All Wodehouse all the time! Cannot ever go wrong there and for some reason, the holidays are my favorite time to re-visit his works. I am planning a Wodehouse giveaway for a twelve days of Christmas that I am sooo excited about too. Happy reading!

  14. 11/22/2009

    @ Rebecca: Normally an Oprah pick has little to no effect on my book selections, but this one I’m interested in because I am trying to branch out and sample more African authors. And I guess I do have to thank Oprah for bringing this one to my attention, because if it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have realized that it existed!
    @ Chavonne: It’s nice to hear that so many people have enjoyed Fast Food Nation – I guess it’s all for the best that I picked it, even if was for the design! You know that I don’t read much non-fiction, as I read so much on a day-to-day basis for school, but maybe this will prove to be one of those exceptions to my rule.
    @ Frances: You can bet that I’ll be entering your Wodehouse giveaway! Since I’m so new to this author, I haven’t really had an opportunity to revisit him, but I’m certainly looking forward to discovering more of his works. They are so light and playful that I could see the holidays being a good time to enjoy his writing, though I can’t imagine that there’s ever a bad time for Wodehouse!

  15. so, so, so happy you got to the strand!!! 🙂 no trip to the city would be complete without a visit.

    i was in the city on saturday–a blogging pal and i met for brunch and then went to pearl river mart and nyc cake. fun!

    looking forward to tony’s recap!!!

  16. 11/23/2009

    What a fab trip to The Strand! Lucky!!I’m so jealous 🙂 I love the books you picked up – they are just such great reads! I can’t wait to read your reviews of them. I am a huge Wodehouse fan!!

  17. 11/23/2009

    I just got a copy of Say You’re One of Them and I am thinking about reading it before the holidays. I also just finished Hummmingbirds and thought it was really well written. I am wondering what you will think of the ending, and I will be more than curious to read your review. Lots of other great books there and so envious that you got to go to The Strand. I really want to visit that store!

  18. 11/24/2009

    @ nat: I only remembered The Strand the night before we left, and was in a frenzy to get all the info down in time. And oh, what a wonderful bookstore it was! I loved how cavernous yet cozy it was, and while McKay’s is awesome and cheaper, I loved all the character and history The Strand had. I saw several people fill baskets with books while we were there, and if I am ever a New Yorker, I would not be surprised to find myself doing the same! All in all, a pretty amazing trip (though we barely made a dent in the total list of things to see and do while in the city, but we’re just using that as justification to plan another trip! 😉 ).
    @ Nadia: I’m so excited about the Wodehouse jackpot we stumbled upon! I’ve been in a bit of reading slump of late, and I’m hoping he’s able to wrench me from its grasp!
    @ zibilee: The Strand is a place that makes a true book lover’s heart soar; truly a magnificent and wondrous place (though I was bummed to find they had no Jane Austen). I’m really looking forward to Hummingbirds and while I don’t really plan these things, I think it’s near the top of my TBR pile… looking forward to your review!

  19. 11/24/2009

    What a GREAT STRAND Book bag. I got one when I was there last year, but yours is superior!!!

  20. 11/25/2009

    @ diane: There were so many bags to choose from that it was definitely a hard choice! But I loved the whimsy that this one had (the back side of it has a different graphic, showing various fictional books the man found at The Strand), so decided to make it mine!

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