Sunday, July 19, 2015

Moving To a New Blog

After a look ahead and major soul searching, I am shutting down The Cottage Bookseller and my quiet little book selling business.  I would rather be at my leisure and read the books I have collected over the years.  I am embarking on a new reading project and would love it if you would join me here:

My Reading Road Map

Thank you to everyone who visited here.  I apologize for the sporadic posts over the years.  You know how life can get in the way of best laid plans!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

In the Mail

Look what came in today's mail!  I am in the middle of an "all things M.F.K. Fisher" phase and just wanted to give you all a peek of my latest acquisition.  This is for my personal library and is a first edition, first printing.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

In 1977 I Bought a 3,000 Volume Library

I have always been a reader.  My mother used to tell people I was reading the encyclopedia when I was three years old.  I do not remember this, but I do remember always having something to read very close at hand.  My real life with books began when I read an ad in the Barstow, California Desert Dispatch classifieds, "3,000 vol. library, mostly history, biography, some fiction, $1,000", and it was like I woke up, became REALLY awake. There was no question in my mind.  I had to have those books.  How to find the money, where to put them, none of that mattered.  I was completely obsessed and so, of course, answered the ad.

The books belonged to our local city librarian, a very nice man.  He was getting married, to a librarian, and between them they had way too many books.  The books he was selling were on metal bookshelves and filled up an entire room in his apartment.  If I wanted them, I had to take them all.

Over the years he had put together a decent collection of history, biography, travel memoirs, and old journals of explorers and soldiers. There were map books, old travel guides, a lot of military history, and very little fiction.  The fiction was mostly old first editions, none in fine condition.  Many of the books were ex-library  with "Withdrawn" stamped inside the cover.  It was really too much to take in at first.  I did not know very much about anything I saw, but I still HAD TO HAVE the books.

My husband did not object.  He went to the bank with me to apply for a loan.  The loan officer was our friend and she knew how much I loved to read.  Together my husband and I cleared out one of our bedrooms to make space for the books.

When I paid the gentle man who was parting with his books, I asked him how he could sell them.  He said he did not want to, they were like his children, but he had no choice.  Over the years I have come to understand what he meant by "like his children". I have grown to love some of them also.

There are many tales in our family about the moving of the books.  After a few years we packed them up (I am guessing at least 80 to 100 boxes full) and moved them to Oregon in the middle of winter in a converted school bus.  They were moved four or five times after that before I started selling some of them to dealers.  It was when my husband's work took us BACK to California that I called Powell's Books in Portland.  Knowing what I know now, I would have done a better job of selecting the books I had on offer. Powell's bought several hundred books and paid me a fair sum.  But, I have always regretted "the ones that got away".  Like these:

And, many biographies and natural history books I would love to have back.

In California, I sold more books from the original library.  When we made our last move, BACK to Oregon, maybe one third of the original library remained.  I have always acquired more books, a few at a time, since buying the library.  English Literature, literary fiction in several genres, mystery books, and travel and food writing have filled in the gaps.

Now to the purpose of this blog - - I have not read many, many, many of the books I now own and I am determined to do so.  My "To Be Read" (TBR) stack is huge.  I have my own version of "Book A.D.D."  and need a way to focus my reading.

I hope you will join me on a journey through the stacks.  It will be a winding road, full of detours, and backtracking, but there will be so many wonderful things to see.  I promise!

I love comments, and would like to know what is in your TBR stack.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Long Time No See

Hello again.  I was surprised to see this blog still exists.  There was a plan, long ago, to move it to another blogging platform.  Life intervened and the blog went dormant.  Since my last post I have retired and am busy planning the next chapter for The Cottage Bookseller.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Book in the Mail

Today the mailbox divulged its secrets and voila!, a book I ordered from Amazon was inside.  I love days like this!  It's not a real exciting book except to someone like me who loves the written word.

OK, the picture is not the greatest, but there is enough information.

A Handbook to Literature is a "dictionary-style supplement for anyone's personal or professional library".  I was not really sure what to expect , not having ever seen this book before.  But, I know from now on, it will always be near at hand.  Why?  Well, because of entries like this, on page 185:

Exergue  Originally a small space on a coin, medal, or other such artifact.  The exergue is set apart for a minor inscription.  The term is also used for a set of epigraph-like quotations near the beginning of Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology (tr. 1976).

A real reader is bound to come across a word like exergue and think "what the heck is that?".   Not a problem now!  But, the greater use of this book is as a reference for terms used in the study of English Literature. 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Country Life

March 31, 1960     Country Life     Two Shillings & Sixpence

It has been quite some time since I looked at one of my old Country Life magazines.  They are getting quite fragile and I am not storing them properly, so getting dusty too.  One of my constant "vows" is to invest in proper storage for my books but it never seems to fit into the budget.  In any case, I have eight issues of Country Life ranging from this one, March 31, 1960 through August 4, 1960 (with many gaps since it was weekly, "on sale Thursday").  They were given to me by Tom, a friend's husband, in about 1977.  He salvaged them out of a dumpster on the old Marine base east of Barstow, California.  Knowing I liked old books and anything British, they were mine.  I have always been very grateful for this gift.

This cover's top line is A CLOSE SEASON FOR ENGLAND'S DEER?  The article describes the conflict between conservationists who want to save England's wild deer population and farmers and foresters who want the deer gone from fields and forests at any cost.  Some things never change.  The "Close Season" refers to a moratorium on hunting for a certain length of time.

The picture of an idyllic country village with curving street, thatch roofed cottages, and a man walking down the middle of the street was taken in Dunsford, Devon.  The caption is "Cob and Thatch:  Dunsford, Devon".  The picture was taken by Kenneth Scowen.

Inside, the first 24 pages are taken up in advertisments for country property (with pictures).  Here is an example:

Wickham 3 miles, Portsmouth 10 miles
Rural situation with open views across farmland


INSERT PICTURE HERE (of a lovely three story manor house with outbuildings)

Fully modernised but retaining many original period features.

3 reception rooms.
5 bedrooms, dressing room,
3 bathrooms, arranged in suites.
Staff bedroom and excellent playroom.



Range of loose boxes, etc.  Main water and electricity.  Walled gardens, with pool, excellent kitchen garden.

Agents:  CURTIS & HENSON, London

Today's exchange rate for the Great Britain Pound is $1.5914 USD to one GBP, so this little property would have cost about $15,500 in 1960.  Seems unbelievable now, doesn't it?

There are hundreds of ads like the above, followed by a page of "classified ads" for auctions, more property, businesses for sale, flats for sale, rentals, property wanted, furniture movers, mortgages, and real estate agents, surveyors, and valuers.  Then, there are several pages of ads for antique dealers with pictures of some of their wares.  For example, John Sparks LTD. at 128 Mount Street, W.1 in London is selling a Chinese biscuit libation cup, decorated in Famille Verte enamels, K'ang Hsi Period:  A.D. 1662-1722.  Height:  2 inches, Length:  4 inches.

Fiinally, the magazine proper begins with a full-page portrait of "HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN WITH PRINCE ANDREW.  This photograph was taken at Buckingham Palace when the Prince, born on February 19, was nearly four weeks old."  The Prince is wearing a little dress and looks like a little old man, as they do at that age.  The Queen is looking very young and lovely with perfectly coifed hair, pearl earrings, a four-strand pearl necklace, and plain black dress.  The portrait was taken by Cecil Beaton.

Following the portrait, are 52 more pages comprised of vignettes about country life, pictures of horse drawn farm wagons, articles on deer, boxing legends, foxes, the March flower garden, art, furniture, miniature portraits, the far flung countryside with Roman ruins, birds, horses, an in-depth tour of a grand estate (with pictures), a lioness in the family, the threatened smallholders of the Forest of Dean, an article on Georgian dessert glasses, an in-depth tour of a connoisseur's cottage (shorter article than the grand estate but also including pictures), a picture of "Jimmy Barnes, gardener of a fine old garden near Christchurch, Hampshire, photographed over 60 years ago" (making it in the late 1800's), a picture of a Siamese cat retrieving a rabbit's paw off the fireplace mantel, an ad for Piccadilly cigarettes, pictures of old foot rests for sufferers of the gout, an article about the Ford Galaxie (with a picture of a station wagon), a crossword puzzle, updates on sales of property, confusion over egg prices, an ad for tuxedos, a book review by Howard Spring of "Recluse in an Essex Wood" (nothing wrong with being a recluse!), an article about dressing a debutante (with pictures of young women in formal wear, suits, and summer frocks) followed by a full page ad for mink stoles and jackets, ending with small picture ads and classified ads as magazines still do.

Country Life magazine is perfect for whiling away a rainy afternoon.  Think I will set this one aside for this coming weekend!

Signing off now, to go dream of that $15,500 country estate.  Good night.




Herbs in Provence

While visiting Provence years ago, we stopped in to say hello to Kathy, proprietor of a lavender and herb shop in the little village where we were staying. She is a friend of my sister's, who at the time was a lavender grower here in the US. Kathy busied herself filling containers with various herb mixtures as we visited. Then, she bundled up the containers, two grocery sacks full, and said "for you and for your sister!". The most wonderful mixes of herbs. I had to explain it all to customs when we entered the U.S. but it was definitely worth it! Kathy's mixes were all herbs, no spices. Here are a few mixes I have gleaned over the years from cookery articles.

Fines herbs - Mixture of parsley, chervil, chives, and tarragon. Most commonly used for flavoring omelettes and for grilled fish and chicken.

Epices composees - Mixture of spices and herbs used for flavoring. Thyme, bay leaves, basil, sage, a little coriander, and mace. Ingredients, perfectly dried, are pounded together and sieved. Add to this mixture a third of their weight in finely ground pepper.

Epices quatre or fines - White pepper, allspice, mace, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, dried sage, marjoram, rosemary. Pound and sieve.

Herbes de Provence - Rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram, basil, fennel, mint. Sometimes lavender.

An old world custom is to have your own secret herb blend on hand at all times. It is the "house" blend. I like this idea and will try to remember to gather herbs next summer when the leaves are at their most flavorful (just before bloom) and experiment with my own "house" blend.