Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some blogging highlights 2009 part 3

The next post up for my blogging highlights is a bit odd in that the interesting idea it starts is also abandoned. It is nonetheless interesting for that. Kristen at We Be Reading decided to start a re-reading challenge as so many of her followers seemed to read their books only once. Unfortunately this was confirmed by the fact that so few people participated in her challenge that she decided to abandon it.

I am a firm believer in re-reading. I would be. As a student and a teacher I spent a great part of my life reading a re-reading and re-reading again the same volumes, and I never tire of a good novel, how ever often I do this. As a bookseller of course I like people re-reading old favourites as it means they are often buying out of print books!
If you wonder what you would get out of re-reading then have a read of Kristen's posts on the subject and if you're interested then follow We Be Reading as she says that she will try again with the challenge in the spring when people might have more time. For further inspiration there is a good re-reading review on Shelf Love here.

My own favourite re-read is Middlemarch by George Eliot. I read it once every three years or so. It is about time I started it again. Comfort reads are often good re-reads such as old children's favourite (the Jill books, or Follyfoot, Honor Arundel's Emma books all spring to mind).
Do you have a favourite re-read?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some blogging highlights 2009 part 2

333 Short Stories You Must Read Before You Die is part of a great project on the blog Ready When You are CB. He is attempting to find the 1001 short stories to read before you die. Clearly lists of this sort are never definitive but the process of compiling the list is certainly a fun one to watch. He started this project with a list of just over 200 short stories and has got up to 333 with readers' suggestions. There are some great stories mentioned covering the expected such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" along side the less well know such as Graham Greene, "The Destructors", Shirley Jackson, "One Ordinary Day with Peanuts", Noel Coward, "Me and the Girls".

The compiling of this list is another great use of the blogging medium and a great boost for the little sister of the more glamorous novel.

The book illustrating this post is The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and other stories from the stock of A Book for All Reasons, their ref 35850.

Some blogging highlights 2009

I thought as the year was drawing to a close that I would highlight some of the best posts that I have read on book blogs during 2009. First up is the wonderful dovegreyreader scribbles. DGR's deceptively chatty and modest style lightly covers a wealthy of literary knowledge and critical acumen. Her blog is read by every type of reader from the already dedicated literary type to those taking their first steps on the library pathways. DGR came up with a piece of blogging genius on Bloomsday this year. Ulysses by James Joyce is both admired and feared. It is extremely hard to finish Ulysses even for a reader with a literary background; for the lay reader more accustomed to joy-reading with Jane Austen or Dickens it can be a bit of shock. DGR's invitation to take all who cared to join her on an assault on "Mount Ulysses" was a brilliant and creative use of the blogging medium. So the intrepid team began in June at Base Camp preparing to read a section per month and convene on the 16th of each month to discuss progress. The aim was to complete the novel together by Bloomsday 2010.

It remains of course to be seen how many of DGR's readers will make it with her to the end of the novel. To start such a project in a public forum is a brave piece of blogging. DGR's words and manner might be gentle and designed not to frighten the general reader, but her critical skills are no less sharp and her literary standards no less high for all her colloquial tone.

More on my blog posts of 2009 tomorrow.

The book illustrating this post is a Folio Society edition of Ulysses Illustrated by Mimmo Paladino. Priced at £45, from the stock of Stella and Rose's Books their reference 809959.

You can view more books by and about James Joyce here

Monday, December 21, 2009

Book of the Week

Elia Dresses, Illustrated by Walter Crane.

Published: Cassell & Company Ltd., 1901
Edition: First Edition
Binding: Hardback

1st edition, Pictorial paper boards, cream cloth spine. Beautiful colour illustrations surrounding text throughout, printed on one side of the paper only. Unpaginated. 11.25 x 8.5"., Book condition VG, Spine and covers slightly rubbed. Corners worn. Name plate to front pastedown. Light foxing to endpaper and prelims. Contents clean. A nice copy.

Stock number: 731900.

£ 120.00 ( approx. $US 196.39 )

From the stock of Stella & Rose's Books.

You can view other books by or about Walter Crane here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Books as Art and Art as Books

Ibooknet member Marijana Dworski, specialist in out-of-print books on the Balkans and Russia, and Clare Keil, furniture and exhibition designer have combined their talents to present books as pictures for your wall in their new visionary project BOOKS4LOOKS.

"The wonderfully innovative graphic design of the 20th century, from the Russian Avant-Garde to the Festival of Britain, too often remains hidden in bookcases and on shelves." says Marijana. "The classic book-cover designs from the 1920s to 1960s are so striking, they are works of art in themselves, but as we love books too, we didn't want to just remove the covers and frame pieces of books. I've had books displayed on the mantelpiece, on window-sills for years, but until Clare put her thinking cap on, I just couldn't get my books on the wall". She adds.

Delighting in the bright bold colours of a series of large format children's books, the pastels and browns of a 'Modernista' Scheherazade, Eric Gill's distinctive black and white engravings and the now iconic oranges and greens of the Penguin paperback Clare and Marijana set about finding a solution for framing books as display items, whilst making sure that they remained intact and, ultimately, readable.

"We hope that the exhibition will inspire people to take a look at books from another perspective; as a beautiful object in itself, a quirky piece of retro, a statement of taste or just part of the d├ęcor. says Clare. "I've got these glorious 1960s cookbooks on my wall" although she admits that she doesn't actually get them down as they're in Welsh.

Offering a variety of display opportunities, some books are framed conventionally, whilst others can be easily removed from their frames and read. No book was harmed in the mounting of this exhibition!

Supplying both domestic and contract interiors as well as libraries and museums, Clare and Marijana will customise designs and source books or can supply from their current stock.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2010 Longlist

One hundred and fifty-eight novels, from twenty-four publishers have been submitted for the 50th Romantic Novel of the Year Award, presented by the Romantic Novelists' Association. Eleven of the books were penned by male authors, a record number of men.

RNA Chair Katie Fforde said it was an impressive array of wonderful titles for the Association's golden anniversary year. 'There is really something for everyone and each one a gem,' she said.

A shortlist of six titles (to be announced on February 11th) will be selected and sent to the final judges.

This year's judges are Sharon Gurney, Senior Book Buyer at Sainsbury's, responsible for buying titles for both chart and range. She says romantic fiction is incredibly important to Sainsubury's "I'm delighted to be part of this judging panel and I'd really like to see the award acknowledged not just in the world of publishing but also by retailers and ultimately the consumer."

The author of two non-fiction titles, Alyson Rudd was a financial reporter before becoming a sports reporter, and ran The Times Book Club. She is pleased to be to reading novels that will take her mind off football for a few hours. 'I am looking forward to reading some of the very best romantic novels that will, hopefully, tug at my heart strings and offer a few surprises,' she said.

The third judge is Moira Briggs, from the literary website Vulpes Libris, who says there are few things quite as adept at lifting the spirits as a well-crafted romance. 'Although being asked to choose the best of the best is a bit daunting, I'm delighted to play a small part in raising the profile of a genre that comes in for far more than its fair share of slings and arrows.'

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, March 16th 2010 at the Award Luncheon at the Royal Garden Hotel, in Kensington.

The complete longlist of twenty novels(in alphabetical order of author):

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison, Alma Books
Passion by Louise Bagshawe, Headline Review
Beachcombing by Maggie Dana, Pan Macmillan
Fairytale of New York by Miranda Dickinson, Avon (Harper Collins)
Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon, Hodder & Stoughton
A Single to Rome by Sarah Duncan, Headline Review
A Mother's Hope by Katie Flynn, Arrow (Random House)
A Glimpse at Happiness by Jean Fullerton, Orion
10 Reasons Not to Fall in Love by Linda Green, Headline Review
Marriage and Other Games by Veronica Henry, Orion
The Glass Painter's Daughter by Rachel Hore, Simon & Schuster
It's the Little Things by Erica James, Orion
I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk, Harper
The Heart of the Night Judith Lennox Headline Review
The Italian Matchmaker by Santa Montefiore, Hodder & Stoughton
The Summer House by Mary Nichols, Allison & Busby
One Thing Led to Another by Katy Regan, Harper
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks, Little Brown (Sphere)
Last Christmas by Julia Williams, Avon (Harper Collins)
The Hidden Dance by Susan Wooldridge, Allison & Busby

You can view more romance fiction here.

With thanks to Camden Lock Books for flagging this up!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jane Austen's First Publisher

Jane Austen's First Publisher? Patrick Byrne Of Dublin by Margaret Rogers of Hessay Books

In January 1789 James Austen, Jane's undergraduate elder brother, started a weekly literary magazine 'The Loiterer'. It ran until March 1790, with the essays and short stories being written by James, his brother Henry, and college friends.

A humorous fake letter appeared in issue IX of Saturday, March 28, 1789. In it 'Sophia Sentiment', complains that the last issue of 'The Loiterer', written by her brother Henry, is dull and contains no subjects which could be of interest to young ladies.


I write this to inform you that you are very much out of my good graces, and that, if you do not amend your manners, I shall soon drop your acquaintance. You must know, Sir, I am a great reader, and, not to mention some hundred volumes of novels and plays, have, in the two last summers, actually got through all the entertaining papers of our most celebrated periodical writers, from the Tatler and Spectator to the Microcosm and the Olla Podrida. Indeed I love a periodical work beyond any thing, especially those in which one meets with a great many stories, and where the papers are not too long. I assure you my heart beat with joy when I heard of your publication, which I immediately sent for and have taken in ever since.

I am sorry, however, to say it, but really, Sir, I think it is the stupidest work of the kind I ever saw: not but that some of the papers are well written; but then your subjects are so badly chosen, that they never interest one. Only conceive, in eight papers, not one sentimental story about love and honour, and all that. - Not one Eastern Tale full of Bashas and Hermits, Pyramids and Mosques - no, not even an allegory or dream have yet made their appearance in the Loiterer. Why, my dear Sir - what do you think we care about in the way in which Oxford-men spend there (sic) time and money - we who have enough to do to spend our own. For my part, I never, but once, was at Oxford in my life, and I am sure I never wish to go there again - They dragged me through so many dismal chapels, dusty libraries, and greasy halls, that it gave me the vapours for two days afterwards. As for your last paper, indeed the story was good enough, but there was no love, and no lady in it, at least no young lady; and I wonder how you could be guilty of such an omission, especially when it could have been so easily avoided. Instead of retiring to Yorkshire, he might have fled into France, and there, you know, you might have made him fall in love with a French Paysanne, who might have turned out to be some great person. Or you might have let him set fire to a convent, and carry off a nun, whom he might afterwards have converted, or any thing of that kind, just to have created a little bustle, and made the story more interesting.

In short, you have never yet dedicated any one number to the amusement of our sex, and have taken no more notice of us, than if you thought, like the Turks, we had no souls. From all which I do conclude, that you are neither more nor less than some old fellow of a college, who never saw any thing of the world beyond the limits of the university, and never conversed with a female, except your bed-maker and laundress. I therefore give you this advice, which you will follow as you value our favour, or your own reputation -- Let us hear no more of your Oxford Journals, your Homelys and Cockney: but send them about their business, and get a new set of correspondents, from among the young of both sexes, but particularly ours; and let us see some nice affecting stories, relating the misfortunes of two lovers, who died suddenly, just as they were going to church. Let the lover be killed in a duel, or lost at sea, or you may make him shoot himself, just as you please; and as for his mistress, she will of course go mad; or if you will, you may kill the lady, and let the lover run mad; only remember, whatever you do, that your hero and heroine must possess a great deal of feeling, and have very pretty names. If you think fit to comply with this my injunction, you may expect to hear from me again, and perhaps I may even give you a little assistance; - but if not - may your work be condemned to the pastry-cook's shop, and you may always continue a bachelor, and be plagued with a maiden sister to keep house for you.

Your's, as you behave,

In the 'The Book Collector' in Summer 1966, Sir Zachary Cope first proposed that this letter was written by the 13 year old Jane and this theory (discussed in The Report of the Jane Austen Society of 1966) is now generally accepted. The letter is lively, witty and inventive, and typical of Jane's style.

If Jane really was 'Sophia Sentiment', it may be that her first ever appearance in printed book form was at the hands of a Dublin 'pirate'.

When weekly publication ceased, James Austen had published the bound-up remaining sheets of 'The Loiterer' in Oxford but in 1792 an edition was printed in book form by P. Byrne and W. Jones of Dublin. It seems unlikely that James Austen would have agreed to publish such a modest looking edition, so this was almost certainly an unauthorised 'pirate' edition, intended only for sale in Ireland.

At that time, the lead publisher, Patrick Byrne, was around 50 years of age and the biggest publisher in Dublin with over 150 titles to his credit. As a Catholic, his business was hampered by discrimination, and he became involved in work for parliamentary reform and Catholic emancipation.

His subsequent career was dramatic. In 1793 his house and shop, weakened by a neighbouring fire, suddenly collapsed into rubble, which may be why this little book is so rare. He was forced into a long court battle with his insurer to receive any compensation and in 1798, almost as soon as his business had recovered, he was accused of involvement in a plot against King George III instigated by Edward Fitzgerald.

He was arrested, accused of high treason and consigned to Newgate gaol, where he became ill. It was only in June 1800 that his petitions for release were finally successful and later that year he left Ireland for ever, for Philadelphia, which had been one of the main centres of the American Revolution. He ran a successful printing business there until his death in 1814, in the middle of the Anglo-American War.

Patrick Byrne's dramatic life seems a long way from the serene and orderly existence of Miss Austen of Chawton Cottage but it seems that Jane Austen's first appearance in book form may have been at the hands of a 'treasonous rebel'.

Ibooknet sellers stock many books on Jane Austen: you can view her works, as well as books about Jane Austen including literary criticism and biography.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book of the Week

Published: Strato, Oadby, Leicester, ND,

Paperback, unpaginated [48pp], coloured ills. throughout,
stapled coloured pictorial paper wrappers, magazine format about 10 x 7 inches, in the Classics Illustrated series, No. 129 (HRN 129), cover price 1/3, text in English, printed in Republic of Ireland, a little rubbed at extrems., small nick fore-edge upper wrapper and light creasing to wrappers, slight rusting to staples, pages lightly tanned, very good.

Stock number: 38837.
£ 18.00 ( approx. $US 29.46 )

From the stock of A Book for all Reasons.

You can view more books on the American West here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Collector as Artist: Lady Eccles and Oscar Wilde

British Library Lecture

The Collector as Artist: Lady Eccles and Oscar Wilde.

by John Stokes, Emeritus Professor of Modern British Literature in the Department of English at King's College London

Venue: Monday 11 January 2010 at 18.00 at the British Library Conference Centre 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB.

Taking Lady Eccles' magnificent donation of almost 2,000 items relating to Oscar Wilde and his circle to the British Library as its example, the talk will explore the ways in which the creativity of the collector can, in turn, inspire the imagination of the scholar.

Mary, Viscountess Eccles (1912 - 2003) collected an outstanding wealth of material relating to Wilde including manuscripts (correspondence, works, etc.) printed books (amongst them a number of presentation copies and books from Wilde's own library) and a wide range of ephemera which was bequeathed to the British Library.

The collection which is now available through the Library's online catalogues.

John Stokes and Dr Mark Turner, also of King's College, are now editing Wilde's journalism for the Oxford English Texts edition of the Complete Works.

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.

Attendance is free, but please register your name with Teresa Harrington at the British Library teresa.harrington@bl.uk

The book illustrating this post is:

Oscar Wilde
Fairy Tales
Published: London, The Bodley Head, 1978
Edition: Reprint
Binding: Hardback

8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" Tall. Bound in quarter tan morocco, with a red title label. Illustr.: Mozley, Charles. Book Condition: Near Fine. Binding: 1/4 Morocco
Stock number: 35548.
£ 95.00 ( approx. $US 151.91 )

From the stock of Stephen Foster

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book of the Week

Dutch Dresses - Anon
Published: Netherlands, van Rijkom Bros, 1900

Edition: First Edition
Binding: Hardcover

Clean hardback tightly bound in red cloth with pictorial decoration, cloth has minor rubbing at corners, no inscriptions. Contains 12 hand tinted postcards which open concertina style, cloth webbing is sound. No date, but stylistically late Victorian; 1880-1900 at a guess, Very Good

Stock number: 23087.
£ 45.00 ( approx. $US 71.96 )

From the stock of Aucott & Thomas.

You can view other books on the history of clothes here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Peakirk Books at Norwich Book Fair

Peakirk Books, who specialise in children's literature, are exhibiting stock at the PBFA Book Fair at Norwich on Saturday 5th December.


Venue: Blackfriars Hall, The Plains, Norwich NR3 1AU
Map click here
Venue Tel: 01603 628477
Car Parking: Local car parks
Disabled facilities: Full facilities for the disabled
Fair Manager: Des Doy, Topsail Books
Type of Fair: General antiquarian and secondhand books with often maps and prints
Times: 10.00-4.30
Admission: £1

Peakirk Books attend several fairs a year. You can see their list of forthcomming fairs here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Gift Cards

As lots of friends and relatives can be difficult to buy a gift for, gift vouchers and gift cards are very useful. An number of ibooknet sellers offer gift cards on their own websites, available to purchase online and in a wide variety of denominations. They can be spent online on the dealer's website and most dealers ship books to most countries. Here are a few dealers who sell gift cards, with a brief outline of the dealer's specialism, so you can select the card most likely to delight your recipient.

Bagot Books carries a general stock with an emphasis on UK travel/topography/history.

Jane Badger Books carries a wide range of pony books: everything from Ruby Ferguson to the Pullein-Thompsons, with many interesting detours between.

C L Hawley carries literary criticism and literary biography including books on Jane Austen, the Brontes, Mrs Gaskell, Sylvia Plath, William Morris, the thirties poets etc., plus a general academic stock, and books on Yorkshire and Lancashire including dialect poetry.

Peakirk Books carries children's books.

Stephen Foster carries rare books and fine bindings.

Amwell Book Company carries modern art, architecture and photography and has a shop in Central London. You can read more about their shop here.

East Riding Books carries books on all aspects of music.

Marchhouse Books carries Children's and illustrated books plus a very small general stock.

The pictured book is The Thames to the Solent By Canal and Sea by J. B. Dashwood and is from the stock of Bagot Books

N.B. individual dealers have their own terms and conditions so do read the individual websites properly and email the dealer if you are unsure.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book of the Week

TWO MERRY MARINERS by John Brymer and illustrated by Stewart Orr
Published: Blackie & Son Ltd., 1902
Edition: First Edition
Binding: Hardback

1st, Large oblong format. Red cloth spine. Colour pictorial boards. Colour plates. Story in verse., Book condition VG-, Covers edge worn with slight loss of surface paper to corners. Spine bumped and slightly grubby. Inscription in ink to half-title page. Some light fingering and foxing but contents generally clean. A nice copy.

Stock number: 736486.
From: Stella & Rose's Books
£ 120.00 ( approx. $US 191.89 )

You can view more children's picture books here.
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