Tuesday 24 April 2018

Foxing With A Problem

Giuseppe Crespi, 1725

Mmm, books ... My little vice. It's a very common problem so nice to know I have company with my weakness. My special interest: Old Books. Sub-category: Reprints by Small Publishers such as Pushkin Press and Persephone Press (with their delicious little catalogue), and of course The Folio Society. The complication: Lack of Space. And no limitless $$. Like the Wardrobe Situation, each new arrival must, theoretically, be matched by the sad departure of another. We do live in a closed system, after all, so hard choices must be made.

Solution #1: The obvious, of course, is a library membership.

While my heart does beat fast at all the shelved possibilities (even in spite of the turning over of local libraries to catch-all community centres, meaning a lot less books and Old Books giving way to Current Bestsellers), my preference is always for Ownership.

Solution #2 : Stay Out of second-hand bookshops and Stay Off Abebooks and his kith and kin.

Hahahaha ... never happening in a Month of Sundays. Recognising the utter futility of this so-called Solution, I offer up a proviso, viz., only buy an Old Book that's on My List.

My List is actually many lists of books I would Like To Read (and therefore own), Old & New, and indeed some lists are so old that the New books on them can only now be found in my restricted premises. They creep down pages of little notebooks and scraps of paper that litter my world. They are found in handbags (just in case!), in bedside cabinets and in other storage receptacles around the traps. A lot of time has been spent trying to rationalise and transpose the lists over the years, as the notebooks become shabby and the endless desire to have an alphabetical resource eludes me; time that could be well spent in the act of reading. I know ...

Thus, it is only on a very rare occasion that I might both have an intelligible and navigable list on me and find a love-match when I'm caught in the act of illicitly browsing. In fact, I can remember precisely the last occasion: finding Fitzroy Maclean's Eastern Approaches in our local second-hand bookshop only a mere few weeks after putting it onto the current list living in my handbag, and a nice 1951 reprint it is too ... more than two years ago!

I will allow one exception to this self-imposed embargo on purchasing more Old Books and it is a pleasure all of its own; I subscribe to Slightly Foxed.

The Latest Edition

If you've never heard of this quarterly journal, published for many years out of a lovely London bookshop but now essentially a small publishing house, do investigate. It's a literary journal with a twist; the books reviewed are typically Old Books, unfashionable books, forgotten books or books rarely reviewed by newspapers and the Big Names in bookselling, but just beloved by the reviewer, who will write so lovingly about their Special Interest that you cannot help but be swept up by their enthusiasm.

When each luscious little edition arrives in the post, all other reading is suspended and this becomes the Bedtime Read. Invariably, every second review is flagged for entry into My List, or on occasion is one I may have read so gets flagged for Rereading. While my book-purchasing vice is somewhat mollified by reading about the books I may like to read one of these days, My List is ever growing.


  1. I have piles of BOOKS TO READ!
    I think that is a GOOD THING as one day we will get to them!

  2. Welcome Contessa!

    Yes, they're everywhere here, too. Stockpiling is one of the keys to Good Housekeeping!

    Thank you for stopping by!

  3. I'm just getting over a barren patch of non reading ( blogging filled that gap too much)

    1. Hello John and Welcome!

      I had a tricky patch last year when all book reading had to be suspended and the reading of the blogs of others filled that void (and when I was grateful to have found your Welsh idyll) ... perhaps there's a Closed System for blog time, too, where for every hour of writing someone has to give over an hour to read? I feel like I'm getting back into the swing but the backlog is a bit alarming!

      Thank you for popping over!


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