Today I went on a fieldtrip to a second hand bookshop that I had never visited before. Getting there involved two different bus routes and a bit of a walk but it proved to be well worth the effort. The “literature” section was extraordinarily well stocked with pristine copies of many of the books on my wish list. Lots of them were old Penguin Classics editions for which I seem to have a weakness. Looking up at the shelves and seeing all those little penguins winking down at me gave me a positively buoyant feeling. I think that their effect on me was readily apparent to the owner as he immediately took himself off to another part of the shop having discerned that leaving me alone to browse for a while was in his best interests. Ultimately I came away with:
Anton Chekhov, A Life in Letters (the excerpts from his letters quoted in the introduction to his Selected Stories whetted my appetite for this one);
Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories (the A Curious Singularity discussion of “A Hunger Artist” has got me keen to read more of Kafka’s short fiction);
Dorothy Parker, Complete Stories (I own a couple of her collections of verse but none of her fiction and this struck me as an oversight when Bloglily recently mentioned her intention to read the stories); and,
Virginia Woolf, Flush (until today the only gap left in my collection of Woolf’s fiction, essays, and biography—and the first time I’ve ever come across this particular book on the shelf of any bookstore).
That final point about my Woolf collection requires me to back up a day, since as of yesterday morning I still had five of her books left to acquire before I could complete my Woolf reading project. But I poked my head into my local second hand bookshop yesterday afternoon to see if anything new had turned up, and there they were, four of the five on my “still to buy” list neatly lined up next to one another, marked with lower than usual prices for this particular shop: Night and Day, Between the Acts, The Complete Shorter Fiction, and Roger Fry. Clearly they were meant for me.
All in all, a fine couple of days of book shopping. Of course, my reason for investigating the far flung second hand bookshop today was to see if there were any George MacKay Brown books to be had. I came away empty-handed on that score so, as ever, the book quest continues...