Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another weekend, another book sale

It's awf'lly bad luck on Diana,

Her ponies have swallowed their bits;

She's fished down their throats with a spanner

And frightened them all into fits.

Hunter Trials by John Betjeman; The Poetry of Horses, ed. William Cole

Friday night, I got a jump on the weekend and went book shopping at a charity sale held in the back of beyond. I came out, lugging 3 bags of ancient, stinking, flaking reading material and roughly $25 lighter, to find an enormous thunderhead looming. Cursing, I ran to the car and spent the next hour cautiously driving around the storm. This journey was made all the more interesting because I was not 100% sure where I was. I lucked out and managed to never be where the storm was raging at any given time, though I did drive through a few places where it had just drowned the roads and/or knocked down the trees.

But I made it back, as did the loot. They're a mixed bag; more amazing nonfiction selections (somebody must have contributed a lifetime library of racing books) and some tantalizing reeking-but-must-have fiction, and few elderly cookbooks. Which are another minor failing. I don't really cook, but I do like cookbooks.

Horse Fiction
Who, Sir? Me, Sir? by K.M. Peyton (which I've just re-read today and sigh)*
The Poetry Of Horses ed. William Cole*
The Valley Of The Ponies by Jean Slaughter Doty* one of her harder to locate books
Races To The Swift ed by Fairfax Downey - short racing stories

Horse Non-fiction
Horse Crazy by Bronwyn Llewellyn - a collection of essay about women and horses
The Equestrian Woman by Ann Martin - bios of women in different horse sports
The Boy Who Talks To Horses by Ivy Jackson Banks
Mark Phillips by by Angela Rippon
Olympic Vet by Joseph C. O'Dea - looks to be a very interesting read covering half the 20th century in equine sport
Women Of The Year by Jacqueline Duke (about racing fillies)
Women In Racing by John & Julia McEvoy
Forward Motion by Holly Menino

Ordinary Jack by Helen Cresswell (which I promptly read, having always wanted to read this first of the Bagthorpe saga, which is not simple to locate in the US, and finally, finally finding out about Grandma's party and how it came to burn out the dining room)*

Stranger On The Bay
by Adrien Stoutenburg - some sort of mystery for teens, looks promisingly old

Hors d'Oeuvre and Canapes by James Beard - which has this little DO from a guide to the cocktail party: DO know how many are coming and do know that they are congenial. Remember the Montagues and the Capulets and judge accordingly.

Big Mutt by John Reese- extremely battered dog book.

Wild Animal Man by Damoo Dhotre - a companion of sorts to the circus book I reviewed here one, Circus Doctor.

The Lost Pet Chronicles by Kat Albrecht

Betty Crocker's Guide To Easy Entertaining - oh, how I love this 1959 book; my old copy was in tatters, and this one is perfect. I've never actually cooked from it, the appeal lies in the sense it conveys of a world of serene, universally understood manners: A reasonable hour to leave after dinner is 11, or slightly earlier on a weekday. The good guest, asked for such an affair as tea from 5 to o7, does not linger after the later hour unless specifically invited to do so. Having all but dropped from exhaustion after hosting parties where guests simply refused to leave, I read these pages with a sense of hungry yearning.

Cooking With Soup: A Campbell Cookbook - Again, I will probably never cook from it but it was unthinkable to leave it behind, as I had family who worked for Campbell Soup when it still had factories in NJ, and I went to school in Camden, alongside the big, old buildings where the company originated. This sort of reasoning is why books are running amok in my house.

* These books are, unfortunately, stinkers. A local library is a sick building, one of those monolithic 1960s structures which appear to have been built either to prove that America too could produce Stalinist architecture or to withstand a direct nuclear blast. Concrete from head to toe, it hunkers into the ground, the only natural light coming from a small set of front doors which open not directly into the library but into a tunnel-like entryway, and a smattering of narrow horizontal windows set so high in the walls that they meet the roof. Which has deep eaves. The kicker is that this love song to damp was built in a low-lying area, so it's a mold's paradise. And the poor books smell of it. I've never met books which smelled worse. The fun part is this nightmare library is finally being replaced, and the librarians have been busy getting rid of old books. First they sold them at their own book sales - where I lost my head and bought 2 bags of them, which I clung to grimly for 2 months before admitting it was a lost cause and dumping them - and then, in the way used books circulate through an area, they've begun traveling in ever-increasing circles radiating out from their origins. This latest sale is the furthest I've found them, and I knew they were there the moment I walked in.


AC said...

Oh, moldy books! So sad and frustrating. Are you going to make an exception for these, or dispose of them after reading? Putting them in a sealed container with a large amount of baking soda can reduce some of the mold odor.

I found a whole stash of Elizabeth Goudge novels for free one time, and I ended up having to throw them out. Same thing with a bag full of mid-century spy thrillers by Helen MacInnes. ( I'm really into early to mid-century genre fiction right now). Unfortunately I've got fairly serious mold allergies verging on asthma, so I have to draw the line sometimes.

I've never read Valley of the Ponies (at first I thought you were talking about Yesterday's Horses). I just ordered it through my library system, and discovered along the way that they have a pretty good number of Patsey Gray books as well. Yay!

Jane Badger said...

There's nothing like that acrid reek of mouldy book. I don't know where you are in America (it sounds like somewhere wet) but I am told that if you leave books out in the sun for days on end it sorts out the stink. Doesn't work in England, I can tell you for a fact, so I presume you need a higher ambient temp than we manage here.

It's good to read of a new library being built. Is it the same size as the old, or has the local authority seized the opportunity to downsize?

Sarah said...

I am mulling over the box-in-a-box and kitty litter trick, which I've always been too lazy to try.

The town is currently fighting about size, cost and whether or not to scrap the whole idea and keep Stalin's Book Repository. Originally, they intended to build a bigger, better, spiffier library. There were delays when the planning stage immediately shot over budget and the whole thing got stalled between angry budgeters and distraught planners, and then, well, the economy disemboweled itself. Much as I love books and libraries, I'm a little more sympathetic to the taxpayers than to the librarians on this one. And apart from the frightening economic situation, I've grown skeptical of library "needs." There has been a lot of library expansion locally in the past few years, and I've noticed that it rarely seems to be that the new additions are book-related; they tend to be computer labs, meeting rooms, office space, etc.

Christina Wilsdon said...

Moldy or not, what a fun adventure--and great loot! Our library system has two big sales a year, and I used to go regularly--am hoping to attend them again someday, which would symbolize the end of austerity budgeting for our household as well as tacit permission to stuff the house with even more books.

That series with Grandma and a fire sounds intriguing. I will have to look that up.