Two Months in Book Shopping; or How I Tried to be Moderate but Didn’t Entirely Succeed ….

I said at the end of April that I needed to slow down my bookish acquisitions, and I succeded for a while. So much so that I didn’t issue my usual month-end update at the end of May.

I bought just five books that month.


Three were the result of a single visit to the Oxfam Shop:

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder came home because I remembered Lisa writing very warmly about the author, and because when I opened it I was imediately smitten.

Storm Ahead by Monica Edwards was on the same shelf, it had a lovely cover, and so I picked it up to keep the other book company. I know that the author is much loved, I know my books is part of a series, and I hope that someone will be able to tell me if I can start in the middle.

The Piano on the Left Bank by T E Carhart caught my eye too, and I remembered that someone once told me that it was their favourite book set in Paris.

I went looking for two other books:

Moths by Ouida is on my Classics Club list and I’d planned to read an Open Library copy, but the quality of the scan was poor and so I went looking for a reasonably priced used copy. And I found one.

When I read The Young Pretenders by Edith Henrietta Fowler I knew that I would have to look for her other books, and when I spotted as signed copy of The Professor’s Children I couldn’t resist.

I was pleased with that month: I cherry-picked the books I saw on my travels and I bought home only the ones that I really, really wanted.

I backslid a little in May, partly because I still had my birthday book tokens and I decided to spend them before I forgot them. That was sensible, but I forgot to put my decisive head on and I spent rather more than I intended.



The British Library Crime Classics were heavily discounted, and so I picked four to join to the three I already own. I didn’t mean to start another collection, but I think I might have.

I read The Plantagents by Dan Jones on holiday, I wanted to follow that up with The Hollow Crown, so that one came home.

The book that I shouldn’t have picked up was Peking Picnic by Ann Bridge. I already have the book in a Virago edition but I picked up that Daunt Books edition and I should have put it down again. But I didn’t.

That was a lapse, but I have been reasonably restrained.

I bought just three books online.



I’ve been waiting for Honno to reprint Betsy Cadwaladyr: A Balaclava Nurse and I a delighted that I have a copy now.

“Elizabeth Davis – known in Wales as Betsy Cadwaladyr – was a ladies’ maid from Meirionnydd who travelled the world and gained fame as a nurse during the Crimean War. She was a dynamic character who broke free of the restrictions placed on women in Victorian times to lead a life of adventure. Journeying to many exotic parts of the globe, she came into contact with international events in the horrors of the field hospital at Balaclava, where she served under Florence Nightingale.”

Leadon Hill by Richmal Crompton has been on my list for a while and I noticed that it had fallen off the Greyladies list of books in print, so I looked to find a reasonably priced copy and when I did I snapped it up.

I was intrigued by The Shelf by Phyllis Rose when I read about the book and the project behind it.

“Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the real ground of literature, she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction.”

When Simon enthused about the book I checked the library  catalogue, and when I didn’t find the book I ordered a copy.

And that was very nearly it for the month.

I went to the Morrab Library summer fete this morning and I came away with three books.


Dark Quartet by Lynne Reid Banks – her novelisation of the Bronte story – is another book I remember being recommended.

I was delighted to find another book by Francis Brett Young I don’t have: The House Under Water looks very, very good.

And I looked at a whole line of books by Howard Spring and I couldn’t remember which ones I had. I picked out the ones that were nice editions, I looked at them closely, and the only one that I didn’t recognise was Winds of the Day. Sadly when I got home I discovered that I did have a copy, but the one I bought today is a much better copy.

I won’t be going anywhere else where there are books for sale before the end of the month.

And I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this ‘only buying books to build my personal library’ thing; and the ‘only buying books I really want to read’ thing.

Now, tell me how are you doing with book buying?

40 responses

  1. I read some of the Little House books as a child and Little House in the Big Woods is one I remember particularly enjoying. I’m glad you’re already smitten! The other books you’ve bought all sound interesting too – I’ve been meaning to read Dark Quartet for years but still haven’t got round to it.

    • I remember watching the television series as a child but I don’t think I ever came across the books. But better late than never. I’ve wanted to read ‘Dark Quartet’ too, and it’s been on my library list for a while, so it was lovely to spot that one.

  2. What lovely books, Jane. I think you’ve got very much the right idea about library building. I’m trying to be restrained myself but it doesn’t always work…

  3. I can completely relate. I have so many unread books, I’m really trying to reign it in. But the combination of a brilliant charity bookshop directly opposite my flat and buy-one-get-one-half-price at a well-known book chain means I have fallen spectacularly off the wagon this weekend! I love the British Library Crime Classics so I think you have spent your book tokens well. I look forward to the reviews!

    • I’m ‘lucky’ in that I don’t live near any of the well known bookshops, but I do have a very good independent bookshop and a range of charity shops nearby. I think we all fall off the wagon sometimes, and of course the booksellers of the world need our support.

  4. I need to ban myself from requesting galleys and looking at the free ebooks on Amazon! My poor Kindle is bursting and it is so easy to forget about non-physical books. I hope you enjoy your new books…even if some of them were slightly naughty purchases 🙂

  5. I have finally found the Crime Classics, but I’ve only bought three so far. I did hear yesterday that more are being released this year, so that could change! I am happy to see the Little House on the top of your first stack, and to hear that you were immediately smitten 🙂 I am now wrestling with the urge to order Betsy Cadwaladyr: A Balaclava Nurse. And I see new-to-me authors to explore – which could be bad for *my* resolutions 🙂

  6. I completely understand the effort that goes into restraining oneself…I myself restrained from book buying for 3 months before I gave up this month and splurged and splurged ….I think we need bookoholics anonymous! 🙂

  7. Lovely haul. I particularly like the look of the British Library Crime Classics – they are beautifully produced. Well, I’ve just (re-)started another round of #TBR20, so I’ll have to leave the credit card at home for a few months.

  8. I do like the British Library collection and hope they can be liked at least as much as Persephone Greys….

    I think I’ve only picked up one new book and that’s the The Long Utopia which is the last Terry Pratchett non-Discworld.

    A lot of books left the house yesterday for my bookcrossing friends, and there’s another pile to go out next month. I’ve not picked up any galleys recently, I’ve stopped trawling the free kindle books and have even started reading some backlists! I might have a control on this (for a while!)

    • Now that is wonderfully restrained. I’m sending more books out of the house to charity shops than are coming in, but I still don’t have enough space or enough reading hours for the books I have in hand.

  9. Just as well (or badly depending on mood) as you Jane! However, I did sell over 30 books in my garage sale yesterday and have 8 bags of unsold ones ready to go to the charity shop – I now have room for more piles of new acquisitions!

  10. The books are trickling in here. I do try to stick to books I want to read immediately and can’t get at the library (Good Daughters by Mary Hocking, My Grandmothers and I by Diana Holman-Hunt) or books I want in more permanent editions (To Kill a Mockingbird, Cranford). I think I have things under control, but we’ll see if the piles start towering too high.

  11. I love the design of the British Crime Classics – I got some on NG, but it’s not the same as having the beautiful books…they’re very tempting. I’ve been quite restrained, mainly as there’s not been much I’ve seen to pique my interest. I do pop into Mary’s Meals charity shop (50p a paperback; £1 a hardback) and have got a few great books from there – and it’s for a great cause, so it wouldn’t be right to say no…!

    • As a former charity finance officer I have to applaud you! I can go for long stretches without finding anything I want, but there are times when I seem to stumble across collections of books donated by people whose tastes are very much like mine.

  12. Now you know we don’t expect you to be moderate, Fleur, in book buying, instead, we look to you to tempt us towards profligacy!

    Piano on the Left Bank is wonderful. Simply wonderful! I read in years and years ago from a library loan, and still recall the pleasure. That Lynne Reid Banks looks tempting, I only remember The L Shaped Room, and I think, a sequel, but i must go forage in foraging places for Dark Quartet

      • Bookish cluttered houses are the best in the world! I’m sure, whether you throw moderation to the winds or search your existing shelves, you will help me to increase my own level of clutter tremendously

  13. I adore Monica Edwards and read them over and over. As for starting in the middle, I’m not sure; that’s what I did when I was ten … just whatever was in the library, but then we used to start watching films halfway through at the cinema and stay until we got back to the starting point!
    Anyway Monica Edwards got better as she went on so maybe starting at the beginning of the Romney Marsh series isn’t the best idea and if I haven’t thoroughly muddled you I hope you enjoy Storm Ahead and if you like it Girls Gone By are re-publishing pretty well all of the .

    • I’m trying to resist Girls Gone By, because I know there are so any books I’d want to buy, but I probably will have to look if I enjoy ‘Storm Ahead’ – used copies of such books are rare finds.

      I shouldn’t be too picky about series order – you’ve reminded me that I read many series books as a child without worrying about such things.

  14. All lovely books and mainly ones I would have chosen – I’m jealous of your FBY in that lovely edition with the pears on the front! I’ve been quite restrained this month as far as i can work out, although the TBR hasn’t gone down much as I’ve been reading quite a lot on Kindle.

    • There must have been a good number of FBY fans in Cornwall back in the day because I’ve had excellent luck finding them. It really is time I read another,

      I’m trying to focus on my ‘real books’ but the I still keep a Kindle book on the go for lunch-breaks and evenings when Briar wants to sit in the park for a while.

  15. Having just seriously culled my shelves there is gong to be no more book buying in the foreseeable future for me. I’m glad to see you have a copy of ‘The Piano Shop on the Left Bank’ though. I heard it serialised on the radio and then got hold of a copy. I really enjoyed it and it certainly made me think about the sound quality of a piano in a very different way.

  16. Yay for The Shelf! I think a lot of people bought it a while ago, but I haven’t seen any other reviews yet, so I do hope I see one from you 😉

    I also bought a few British Library Crime Classics the other day, and got some review copies, so I have lots and lots of them waiting to be read. And I just read Quick Curtain, which was really excellent, so I’m hoping Alan Melville will become a new favourite.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: