Since we’ve been on holidays, my husband and I have been to a bookstore every. single. day. This is a booklover’s kind of wonderful. (And actually, it’s been escalating to twice and even three times a day!)
I have tried to moderate my purchases somewhat, as I’ve still got to fly home with all this stuff…
So here’s my first issue of Friday Finds, inspired by a thought on one of our rare trips to the beach instead of the bookstore: I would rather be a book bunny than a beach bunny.
So my first purchase on this trip was a new condensed one volume edition of Thoreau’s Journal, published by NYRB Classics. I want to read Walden at some point and love reading other people’s journals, as well as nature writing.
Next I picked up The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon, partly because I’ve been hearing more about it online and also because I was thinking about investigating it before. The first few paragraphs about the beauties of each season are delightful! But reading further reminds me how much it is about a culture very different from my own (medieval Japan) and I feel a bit in over my head…
I also picked up a second copy of Emile Zola’s The Kill because I suddenly decided to join in on the Classics Circuit tour of Zola and didn’t have my copy with me… If anyone would be interested in acquiring this once I write my review of it on April 23, I would be happy to mail it to you!
A few days later, my husband and I came across a little used bookstore near a beach, with a lot of old paperbacks and a few interesting finds. Like a cheap non-movie tie-in edition of Cheri and The Last of Cheri by Colette! I’ve been interested in reading this French love story with a twist (about an older woman with a younger man) for a while.
I was also able to pick up What I saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell in hardcover for just under $5. It’s a noir-ish 1940s teen coming of age story set in Florida and just won the National Book Award. I thought it would be good Florida beach reading, since sometimes a book with a local setting works well on holidays, but I just kept reading Mrs. Dalloway once we got to the beach. I am excited to read this eventually though.
Finally, yesterday evening as I was browsing in the Jane Austen area at a Borders bookstore (I already own all of her novels, but you know, I just like to look at all the other editions!), I saw something that made me catch my breath, even though I knew it couldn’t quite be true: it looked like a new Jane Austen novel I hadn’t read or even heard of it! Entitled Catharine (And Other Writings), it is actually a new (? to me!) collection of Austen’s early stories. I had heard of them, but never paid them much attention. But: they are HILARIOUS. Perhaps that is not surprising, but still. I was laughing very loudly over them this morning, reading sentences out to my husband in between giggles. It also contains some of her letters, so I will be reading this with pleasure for a long time to come. It also inspires me to finally read her early unfinished novels The Watsons and Lady Susan and possibly a biography as well. So there is more Austen for me after all!
I also found With Violets (by Elizabeth Robards) the same evening, a novel about an imagined affair between Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet and the ‘dawn of Impressionism’, as the book cover states. I was so excited to find this book, I love 1860s Paris (and have thought about writing a book set there actually), I’ve studied Manet and love his paintings, especially one of his paintings of Berthe Morisot in which she is all in black, holding a bouquet of violets. I began reading this as soon as I got home last night. The problem is… it’s full of editing problems, with past and present tenses constantly interchanged. Not only that, but I felt it was very light on the history and much too heavy on the romance (that art historians don’t think ever happened). Perhaps my expectations were high because I already know something about the time period (it’s also when Zola’s novels are set and if you want to learn more about Second Empire Paris, he was actually there and even had his portrait painted by Manet and writes about the time period beautifully), but it took historical figures I admire and gave them completely infantile thoughts and dialogue. I don’t know if I can finish it, but it has left me with a itch to learn more about Berthe Morisot!
I have more than one full week left in Florida, let’s see how many more books I end up with…! 🙂