Archive | September 2011

Fun online browsing by historical era

I just found a fun site that lists descriptions of novels by time period and geographic location. So far I’ve only searched 18th century North America, which means I have lots more fun waiting for me, at least if the rest of the site is as promising; I already found at least nine books to check out!


I don’t even drink

but I bought a shot glass. It’s pink with a 1920s-sultry-lady silhouette and the words “prince charming is a jerk.” It was in a thrift store and whoever donated it left some dried whiskey in it. I’ve washed it and placed it on my bookshelf where, of course, it belongs. It shares space with romance novels and provides a reality check. And, like I told the lady at the store, if I ever get really depressed with that reality, I already have the glass for drinking.

How I Spent My Saturday Afternoon

I went to a garage sale – my first one! – that I hunted down on Craigslist and was supposed to have lots of nice, old books. There were some lovely old pieces of furniture and boxes of quite old books. Displayed on a folding table were the prettiest books, old book club copies from the fifties, sixties and seventies. If you remember my post about Dragonwyck, you know I love the cheesy-style of old dusk jackets, and looking at this book-covered table was like looking at a pastel-colored marshmallow variety pack.

Most were one dollar, though some were more. I chose one by Susan Howatch, whose work I haven’t read yet. It ended up being more than I’d expected, but still not a lot. I wanted it because I’d gotten another by her from about the same time and in a similar at the public library sale. I also got something by Taylor Caldwell (an author I’d heard of as a child reading a picture book on Atlantis – strange, huh?), Elizabeth Goudge (who I heard of from a writing friend), and Daphne du Maurier. Then, there were tons of obscure stuff. My criteria for buying was ‘Is it pretty?’ and ‘Does it seem interesting?’. One is called How to Make the Most of Wife which might be really funny or really infuriating: it’s dedicated to husbands who have wife problems, and it’s by a woman. I’ll risk it for a dollar on a book that, thankfully, wouldn’t get published today.

So, I spent my afternoon judging books by their covers. It’s more fun than its bad rep would make you think. I’d pay a dollar for a nice postcard, so why not get the chance of a good story with it? Plus, there are the fun author bios with all these unknown mid-century photos of men in horn-rimmed glasses and women in A-frame dresses, all with typewriters. What book person wouldn’t love that?

Lit fun! Scavenger hunts in the thrift store

Lately, I’ve been on the lookout when in thrift stores for literary-related knickknacks. I’ve found a cute frame with a Winnie the Pooh theme and a ceramic Beatrix Potter decoration. My dream is to have a big space I can fill like a library with lots of books, magazines and literary decorations. In the small space I have, I decorate. I’ve framed an old bookplate (signage for my library), put up a postcard of my old college library in the winter that my professor¬† sent my grade on, ripped an old photo of my hometown out of a frame and replaced it with a Betsy-Tacy neighborhood map, and done fun things like that.I have postcards of author homes and sketches and movie ads of novel adaptations.

Books, it seems, have a potential for providing fun even when one is not reading them. Even as a kid I used to cut pictures of book covers out of my Troll and Scholastic catalogs and paste them in a little scrapbook. How was it possible to enjoy that? And, yet, I did.

This weekend I found, but did not buy, two ceramic bowls with scenes from Charles Dickens’s Oliver and a Peter Rabbit coin bank. The strangest thing I found was a piece of wood engraved with two of my initials and and the word Ivanhoe. I’m trying to figure that one out.




Serendipity in a thrift store

Truly, I think thrift stores are probably often scenes of serendipitous moments for lots of people. I was on the very lovely and very fun site of the author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Lauren Willig, and found a recommended reading list for people who love Diana Gabaldon, Outlander author. Here’s a link to the list.

The short of it is that I wrote all the titles that interested me down and went to the store and didn’t find any of them. Then, a few days later, I went into a thrift store and, in a kind of cursory way, surveyed everything there with a quick walk-around. There were a bunch of books on a clothing rack, most lying flat but one standing up. It struck me because it was one of those pretty pink and purple romance covers which, face it, can be very appealing to some people (like me, I guess). Then, hazily the title began to be familiar and the author, too. Very strangely, without trying really, I had come upon a lovely hardback edition of Through a Glass Darkly by Karen Koen which I bought for less than the cost of a hot chocolate at Starbucks. Yay!

I wonder if the reading of the book will live up to its discovery.