I was fortunate enough recently to spend a few days away from home staying near Cheltenham. The holiday had no purpose other than as a break so I indulged myself in some sightseeing and also in visiting as many charity shops as possible in the local towns. The end result of this is that I brought home 24 new to me books for a very reasonable sum. I am not sure how much I paid for them but some were £2 or £3 each and some as low as 50p each or three for £1. I certainly spent no more than £50 in total and probably less.
You are never sure at all what will turn up in a charity shop and because prices are considerably lower than you will find elsewhere you can try books that you might not be sure about. If it turns out to be a mistake then you regard the purchase as a donation to the charity concerned and re-donate them. On many occasions I have enjoyed a new find so much that I have then gone on to buy that author’s other titles as new books.
I also have to make sure that I don’t buy a book I already own, especially if it is already waiting to be read. On reviewing my to-be-read books the other day I noticed two copies of the same title and I don’t want to do that too often, if at all. I had my Kindle ready to check that I didn’t own them electronically but other than that I am just depending on my memory. I understand that there are apps which can scan and memorise your books so you can check for this sort of thing and I may have to invest in one.
24 new books will take a time to read, especially as I already have a whole bookcase full of books to be read, but I am very pleased by my haul and amused by the variety of books I bought.
A few are books new to me by authors I already read. Toby’s Room by Pat Barker looks like it is similar to her Regeneration trilogy of which I have read and enjoyed the first two volumes. The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the start of a new series by Jim Butcher whose Harry Dresden series is a particular favourite. The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin looks interesting – I have previously only read one book of his (Nora Webster) which I thought was very interesting so I am giving this one a go based on past experience. Ibid: A Life looks like another quirky read from Mark Dunn – I adored his Ella Minnow Pea which is a great read for all people who love to play with words. I hope this one is as good. Exit the Actress is by Priya Parmar. I have recently read her novel Vanessa and her Sister and have bought this one based on how much I enjoyed that story.
Some books are in genres I read but are by authors I don’t know a lot about or haven’t read at all. These include three Regency romances, one contemporary romance, a space opera and a cosy crime. If I enjoy these then I will read more by those authors and probably buy them new or seek them out some other way.
Three books I have heard recommended somewhere, possibly on a podcast or in a list of recommendations on a website, and so I have bought them to see if I like them. I will take a chance on an unfamiliar book which has been recommended this way if I see it going very cheaply. These are The Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Five met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris and So the Wind won’t Blow it All Away by Richard Brautigan. I really don’t know very much about any of these.
The final selection of books are memoirs and history. They just took my fancy as this is a genre I read a lot of and I enjoy. They cover a wide variety of subjects including : building a utopian colony in Brazil (I suspect it doesn’t end well as these things never do); Medieval society and gender roles (already know that this is more complex than popular culture would have you believe); empire building in Ethiopia in the nineteenth century (not a subject I know anything about at all but I probably should); a childhood in South Africa; a life of a pre-Raphaelite model (I know about her only peripherally as I have read books about the painters); the first crusade (if I enjoy this I can find books about the rest of the crusades); the life and family of the Duke of Wellington (I went to Waterloo last year and have a residual interest); the Bin Laden family (I really don’t know anything much about them other than headlines); and a history of India through the lives of a number of people.
It will be quite some time before I get around to these but they are occupying a shelf in my spare room and waiting until their turn. Some great reading to come – I hope !
Keep reading !