The problem I have with book shops is that I can never buy just one book. If I go in and actually look at the shelves, rather than just marvel at the spine-filled glory of the place, I inevitably come out with 3, maybe 4.
Here are today’s pickings. Bought at the second hand book store, across the road from the hospital, in the 30 minutes between my coffee and the start of my shift.
Here are the justifications (not that I am ever too rigid about justifying book purchases, but people do keep challenging such (expected) actions).
1. Light in August: The conversation I had been having over my coffee was about which William Faulkner book I ought to read after I have finished A Farewell to Arms. This from a young North American who happened to mention he had a favourite Hemingway a few weeks ago. I had to pick my jaw up off the table and haul my book loving ego out of the dark recesses it hides in while I am trying to think about other things – like science – and take this stream of recommendations while I have the chance.
2. The Time of the Hero: I did a subject on hispanic narrative of the 20th Century while I was on exchange in Salamanca, Spain, many years ago. The professor was a lovely old lady with a bun and a thick accent, further marred by, I suspect, some damage from a stroke. She was obsessed with Llosa. And I know this because it became one of the key words I used to locate myself in her class with my improving, but non-native, spanish. When she mentioned Llosa, I could be confident that nothing would be critically relevant to the book we were supposed to be talking about for at least the next 10 minutes. Oddly, despite referring to him in every class and comparing almost every narrative to his (Fuentes, Marquez, Arlt etc), she didn’t set any of his works. Struggling as I was to read all the other texts in Spanish (why Kate, why?), I didn’t investigate further. It’s not every day you see a Llosa book in a shop, at least in this country. I will finally know what all the fuss was about! I feel a little as if I have found Captain Ahab’s whale. There were actually several to choose from. One at a time.
3. Sophie’s World: Have started but never finished reading it. Always intended to. This hardback edition was unusual and I know enough about it to know I want it in hardback. Borrowing the mass-produced paperback with the foil cover that is floating around my parents’ house somewhere will never do.
4. Sixteen Self Sketches: Difficult to tell from the photo, but this is by George Bernard Shaw and published in 1949. Who doesn’t want to hear what he has to say about himself? I won’t give too much away but the last entry confirmed the fact that I could not leave it behind…
“Whether the result is readable or not I am in doubt, for at my age (over 90) I cannot be sure that my sayings and writings are not the senile drivellings of a garrulous and too old man. However, enough of it was written years ago to embolden me to let it take its chance, such as it is. I will not even say Hail and Farewell; for I have still enough kick left to make fresh outbursts possible.”
A job well done you say? I think so too.