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23rd December
written by Steph
This is what restraint looks like.  And true love!

This is what restraint looks like. And true love!

Books that is!  This latest haul is actually from last weekend, when Tony and I made a quick stop at McKay's (where else?).  This time the damage was relatively small, only setting us back $30, which really isn't too bad when you consider all of the loot we picked up (13 books total!)!  Of course I love the prices at McKay, but the other thing that I really appreciate about them is that they really have a wonderful and broad selection.  On the off chance they don't have a particular book I'm looking for on one trip, it's extremely unlikely they won't have it the next time round.  One reason why I think I would have a hard time transitioning to ebooks (even if the Kindle is indeed brilliant), is because I really am deeply attuned to the aesthetic qualities of each book I read - I do judge books by their covers, for one thing.  If I make it past that, and flip the book over and the back blurb intrigues, me, only then do I venture into the book proper.  And here it's critical that the paper be of relatively good stock, but even more important is that the fonts used are clean and not too heavy.  Have you ever picked up a book where the type is too thick and feels almost smudgy or blurred?  I hate that!  It generally makes for an unpleasant reading experience, and I wind up find poorly printed books more difficult to read, on both a perceptual and emotional level.  Really, reading is a very visceral experience for me!  Anyway, this tangent was merely to convey that at McKay's the constant influx of stock means that if I find a book I want but it's perhaps not an edition that is most desirable or evocative to me, then I generally don't feel bad about putting it back and waiting for another copy that does suit my fancy.  Their books are generally in like-new or lightly used condition, and they do seem to actually take into account the condition of the book when pricing it, which I appreciate.  I've actually begun to accrue a large collection of random book marks, from previous book owners who evidently didn't cashed in on a particular book that they left unfinished. In depth analysis and discussion of each column and individual books after the jump... Book Column OnePer usual, click photos to enlarge! The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster - I haven't read anything by Auster before, but I have always been intrigued by this trilogy of his as it apparently turns the detective genre on its ear.  Also, I covet the new Penguin Classics practically in their entirety, so just based on aesthetic principles alone, I felt I needed to buy this one. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak - Apart from Tolstoy, I'm essentially a Russian author virgin.  BUT, I really liked Tolstoy, and Doctor Zhivago is a classic, and this beautiful hardcover copy was only $1, so how could I pass it up?  With winter thickening, is there anything better to read than Russian literature? Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin - Speaking of winter, this book seems timely, right?  Seriously though, I realize that I purchased another Helprin tome the last time we plundered McKay's, which I have yet to get to, but this has always been the Helprin novel that intrigued me most, so, I snagged it.  Now if only the size weren't so daunting! Apologies for the shoddy camera work on this next picture.  The battery was low and I was rushed to try to get all these photos in time. Book Column 2Regeneration by Pat Barker - I have an iffy relationship with novels about war (some I love, some I feel are exploitive).  This is the first in a much lauded trilogy by a Canadian author, so I feel I ought to at least give it a shot. Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz - Full disclosure?  I thought thiswas the book that has recently been well-received on a lot of book blogs and is the basis for the current/upcoming movie starring Kate Winslet & Leonardo DiCaprio.  Only that book is actually called Revolutionary Road and is by a totally different author (though interestingly, this book that I purchased has already been adapted for the silver screen), and I suspect, about totally different stuff.  Oh well, despite the mistake on my part, this one still sounds interesting and I'll give it a whirl. The Last Family in England by Matt Haig - This one just caught my eye and was an impulse purchase.  It is narrated by the family dog, and received praise from Jeanette Winterston, which I thought seemed promising.  Then again, one of the two epigraphs at the start of the novel is attributed to David Beckham, so who knows if this will be brilliant or terrible.  I've since read that it is supposed to be devastatingly sad, so perhaps I'll save it for after the holidays. Blindness by José Saramago - I am apparently incapable of not buying Saramago novels, as this was one of two that we bought this time round and we already had one waiting for as at home.  But, come on!  This is probably one of his most famous ones, right?  And not just because a movie based on it came out recently... Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman - Another impulse buy.  I had picked up a short story collection by the same author, but I don't really like short stories, even though I found the collection intriguting.  So when I saw that Perlman had written a novel, I thought I should give that a try. Book Column 3The Theory of Clouds by Stéphane Audeguy - I read the first bit of this on Amazon a while back and found the prose quite beautiful and affecting, and put the book on my wish list.  We shall see in time if the rest of the novel stands up to quality of those first few pages... The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart - I've heard good things about Shteyngart, especially his most recent book Absurdistan.  But Absurdistan was more money than I wanted to pay, so I figured I would give his first novel a go instead. Waterland by Graham Swift - No idea what it's about, but I just felt compelled to pick it up (I know it's on the 1001 Books list) and the writing seemed strong.  I won't read this one until after I read Great Expectations, though. The Secret Of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay - I kind of think this book won't be as awesome as I would like, but it's about books and book sellers, and it wasn't that expensive, so I thought I'd buy it and read it, understanding that there's a high probability I may sell it back in the future.  But then again, maybe I'll love it!  I was tempted to buy it when it was on the Border's 3 for 2 table many months ago, but now I'm really glad I waited. The Double by José Saramago - The other Saramago book we bought this trip.  The cover was just way too cool to pass up, and the premise sounded really cool, too.  I admit it was weird to buy two novels buy a heretofore unknown author to either of us, but for a combined price of $3.50, we weren't really gambling at high stakes, were we? So, according to my Goodreads profile, I now have (at least) 92 books that need to be read.  Given that I have the next two weeks for vacation, I think I'd better start cracking!


  1. 12/23/2008

    That’s alot of books to be considered restraint 🙂 You have some good books in that pile though, particularly – Winter was an excellent read.

  2. 12/26/2008

    I can’t wait to hear how some of these are! The only one I’ve actually read is “Doctor Zhivago” (only for sentimental reasons, because Kalem and I watched the movie during our first date).

  3. 01/12/2009

    From this post it seems you might be interested in heading over to Arukiyomi for a copy of the new version of Arukiyomi’s 1001 books spreadsheet .

    Along with calculating how many books you need to read a year before you die, there’s all the 2008 edition books, all those removed from the 2006 edition, links to wikipedia , and and Google books.

  4. stephandtony

    If you saw the last post I wrote regarding the visit previous to the used bookstore, I think you would agree that this is me exercising restraint! 😉 I really am looking forward to each and every single book in the pile, and I know I will get to each one in turn. I am thinking of trying to polish off Great Expectations (purchased in last devastation of McKay’s) and perhaps Winter’s Tale (it seems timely!) over Christmas break… but, that might be a rather large reading order, so we shall see!

  5. 02/04/2009

    LOL! 92 books waiting to be read.. plus those you’ve just purchased too.. I guess that makes it over a hundred!

    Haven’t read any of these but intend to, both the Saramagos (as you know). 🙂

  6. 02/04/2009

    Sigh. I think my TBR count is something like 120 or something at this point. And that is only the books that I currently have in the apartment, never mind all the other books I want to read in this lifetime. 😉

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