The OF Blog: Mid-September Used Book Porn

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mid-September Used Book Porn



I just returned from my roughly monthly excursion to a Nashville used bookstore.  This time I traded in 22 books of my own (and 16 my mother wanted to get rid of) and acquired 17 books that I know I'll want to read (or in a few cases, re-read in nicer editions).  A few gilt-edged ones in this first picture.  I really enjoyed Thackeray's novel back in 1996 when I was a 22 year-old graduate student and I thought it'd be nice to have a hardcover edition of it.  Same goes for Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days.  Plutarch's Lives, however, I have yet to read in full, so maybe this will motivate me.  In addition, I haven't yet read Pynchon's Vineland and I am quite curious about Hernán Cortes' accounts of his campaigns.



Despite my distaste for some of the underlying prejudices, I have found myself reading some orientalist fantasies and for the first time, I have found a hardcover edition of the Burton translation of The Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night.  Also found a decently-priced hardcover edition of Mark Twain's The Gilded Age.  Thought the Carroll might make for a quick, lazy weekend read sometime, so I bought that.  The Gaiman collection is a replacement copy, while I've heard this James Morrow book mentioned in a few places, so why not?


It was fortuitous to find this hardcover edition of Aladair Gray's Poor Things.  Bought The Year of the Frog just based on the name alone; curious to see if this tale of life in 1980s Czechoslovakia will be worth the $1.50 in store credit I paid for it.  Looking forward to reading Angela Carter's Wise Children in the very near future.  Ann Radcliffe was one of the main Gothic writers of the late 18th/early 19th centuries, yet I had never gotten around to buying, much less reading, The Italian until now.  Bought Carlyle's Sartor Resartus in large part because Jorge Luis Borges cites this as the book that convinced him to become a writer.  Wanted to read more of Simmons' non-SF writings, so I picked up this paperback copy of his The Hollow Man.  And finally, I found for a really cheap price of $4 a complete Italian edition of Dante's The Divine Comedy, so I can continue to practice my nascent Italian with late medieval and Renaissance poets.

Which of these have you read?  Which do you most want to know more about?  Which would you even dare kill a rabid squirrel to read and/or own?

12 comments:

jason said...

Vineland is fantastic. I can imagine why people were disappointed when it first came out; they'd spent 17 years waiting for the next Gravity's Rainbow. That it is not. But within its modest confines, it's challenging, funny, scientifically apt, and deeply compassionate. And has one of the most astonishing metaphors (the famous "one man's life = eight bits" image, at the end of an early chapter) in all of Pynchon.

Larry said...

I've found that one key to enjoying Pynchon is realizing that he's not going to tell the same story twice, sometimes not even within the same book or even chapter! I just take the text for what it is and enjoy what follows.

Lagomorph Rex said...

I actually have a funny story about Vineland, I found it at goodwill with no dust jacket, so no cover blurb, long before I had ever heard of Pynchon.. and assumed based on its name.. that it was about Lief Erikson and his voyage to VINLAND.. who we had just learned about in school.

Boy did that make for a disappointed me. I still have it though, and I've always opened any book that I was unsure about and read the first few pages to find out what it's about..

jason said...

Lagomorph,

The book you want (the other "Vinland") might be... The Ice Shirt by William T. Vollmann. Do check it out, at least the first few pages. :)

Larry said...

Oddly enough, I have The Ice Shirt reserved for a future read.

brendanconnell said...

Not sure that is an unabridged edition of Plutarch's Parallel Lives. The Loeb edition is 11 volumes of about 500 pages each. It does of course include the Greek and many footnotes, but even so I'd think a plain English text would be about 3,000 pages.

I think it is well worth reading the Loeb edition though, as it might be the only one available in English that a lot of care was put into.

Lagomorph Rex said...

the Ice shirt seems to be a very odd book looking at its wikipedia entry.. whats this about segments set in the 80's and San Fransico hermaphradites?

Anonymous said...

Of the four or so Jonathan Carroll novels I've read, Sleeping in Flames was my favorite. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

I first visited your blog about a year ago, when I was googling reviews of Gene Wolfe novels (my current favorite writer), and have been reading it regularly since I read City of Saints and Madmen for the first time about a month or so ago (a damn near perfect book). I just wanted to say I've really enjoyed the blog, and am likely to continue reading you.

I also must confess a bit of envy at your reading pace (I've been averaging a couple books a week lately).

Dan

Chad Hull said...

Is Vanity Fair a Heritage Library edition? I'd be curious as to your thoughts on the Morrow.

Larry said...

It's an abridgment, unfortunately, but I thought I'd start with this and then if I liked it, I would get the full Plutarch set elsewhere.

Chad, it's a Franklin Library edition from the 1980s. Only $12 used. Not too bad.

jason said...

Lagomorph-

That's just Vollmann. The Vollmann universe often involves prostitutes and other personal remembrances, no matter the subject matter. One can bemoan his lack of discipline and editing, or one can just accept it for what it is-- imo mad, raving incredibly rendered genius, often full of the kind of beauty and excitement you find in dreams.

Aishwarya said...

Wise Children is my favourite of Carter's books, so I look forward to hearing what you think of it. I'm planning to read Poor Things in the near future - I bought it a couple of years ago and was recently reminded that I'd never read it.

 
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