Yesterday was a lovely day, the kind of day that does a lot to pull one out of the winter blues, even if it means spending a little more time than is ideal in temperatures in the teens. Hobgoblin and I spent the day in New Haven with some friends, visiting the Beinecke library and then browsing through bookshops. It was the first time I’d visited the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and it turned out to be a lovely place to go — it’s a modern building with marble panels that let the light shine through so it feels light even though there aren’t many windows. There are special exhibits open to the public that wrap around the outer edge of the building with the middle part taken up by stacks and stacks of very old books. This middle section is behind glass, so you get a view of some of the shelves.
The main exhibit yesterday was about alchemy, so we saw old textbooks on the subject, some of them complete with charts and models and pictures of very early chemistry labs. I particularly liked seeing books where the reader had taken notes in the margins (writing in books is a good thing! People in the future will be interested in your marginal notations, maybe!). My favorite comment was something like this: “There is neither worth nor merit to be found in this chapter.” Ouch. There is also a Gutenburg Bible on display, which was marvelous to look at.
After staring at old books for a while, we went off to find old-but-not-quite-so-old books at the Book Trader Cafe, and after a couple hours there (it’s not a huge store, but the selection is great), we spent another hour or so at Atticus Bookstore. I had a grand time looking through the books and an even better time talking about them, but I was remarkably restrained and bought only two books. When I came across Janet Malcolm’s Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey I knew I would be bringing it home, given my developing Janet Malcolm obsession and Zhiv’s intriguing post on the subject. I also couldn’t say no to the eighteenth-century novel Nature and Art by Elizabeth Inchbald. I’ve read her novel A Simple Story and found it a very interesting treatment of mother/daughter relationships and problems with women’s education, and I’m looking forward to reading another of hers.
It was so cold yesterday, I really couldn’t help but have a couple lattes to help keep me warm, and those two large chocolate chip cookies I ate went so well with my coffee I couldn’t resist. And what’s wrong with a little indulgence now and then, right?
12 responses to “A lovely day”
That does sound like a wonderful day! Now I’m craving cookies too. 🙂
Indulgence is an essential part of surviving January, I think! That does sound like a lovely day and I will be very interested to hear what you think of the Janet Malcolm book. I think she’s fab, too.
What a lovely bookish day!
A little synchronicity~ Stefanie (So Many Book) mentioned H.J. Jackson’s Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books recently so it was fun to know that books with annotations made the exhibit. And I put Janet Malcolm’s Reading Chekov on my list just the other day after reading Nick Hornby’s comments in Polysyllabic Spree.
You have just described such a perfect-sounding day. I’m adding Janet Malcolm to my reading list for this year, since both you and Zhiv have mentioned her.
That DOES sound like a lovely day! It’s been years and years since I went to the Beinecke, and I’d love an exhibit on alchemy. Oh, and so glad to hear all that silly writing I do in margins of books might one day be of interest to someone else…
How nice to come home and find you’ve discovered my little surprise! I’ve been lurking around for a bit, but have been so limited in time I rarely comment anywhere. Perhaps I can remedy that in the future.
I’m glad you enjoyed the description ~ I certainly have enjoyed your writing, your links and your books. Here’s to a wonderful New Year with plenty of time for all the things we want to do!
What a marvelous day you had! The library sounds amazing. I think lattes and chocolate chip cookies are just fine to indulge in while book shopping!
Sounds like a lovely day!
I love when folks draw in little pointy finger/hands. (I’ve only seen it in early modern texts.)
One of my favorites is a law book for JPs; it’s obvious from the notes that the owner was mostly dealing with inheritance and land lease issues. Fascinating stuff!
I love going to exhibits–and bookish ones are even better. How cool to read marginalia that someone wrote years and years ago–it makes you wonder about the reader! I have Janet Malcolm’s book on Sylvia Plath on my desk right now at work (waiting for a chance to squeeze it in)–after reading yours and Litlove’s posts about her I really need to give the book a try. And I think there is something about the cold–your body is expending more energy trying to keep warm, so therefore you really do need those calories from lattes and chocolate chip cookies! 🙂 At least that’s what I tell myself…
Thank you again for a wonderful day! It was a perfect way to spend a cold January day, and I really appreciate all of your book recommendations. My cabinet of shame is so full now, I can’t fit one more book! The Book Mooch list is growing ever longer too. 🙂
You make a good point about writing in books. I don’t know if I can ever bring myself to do that with my own, but perhaps I will be more open-minded for those who do.
Thanks for the lovely reminder of New Haven. I’ve spent time at the Beinecke library and Atticus bookstore…also have fond memories of Claire’s Corner Copia down the street and our season tickets to the Yale Rep!
Eva — it’s impossible not to crave them, especially in the middle of January!
Litlove — I now have two Malcolm books on my shelves — I’m looking forward to them both! And yes, indulgence does help a long, cold January along, doesn’t it?
Jenclair — oh, I forgot Hornby talks about Malcolm — interesting. And the marginalia book sounds fascinating! I noticed Stefanie’s mention of it too. I’ll have to add it to the TBR list.
Verbivore — I’m so glad Zhiv posted on her — he had such interesting background on who she is. I’m very much looking forward to your thoughts on her.
Emily — yes, scribble away! The Beinecke was so fun. Now I’ll have to think of an excuse to research something that requires I use their reading room …
Shoreacres — a wonderful New Year to you too, and thanks once again!
Stefanie — that’s right — book shopping requires fortification, doesn’t it? 🙂
Bardiac — yes, fascinating. It’s one of the few ways of telling what readers thought, and so valuable. I like those pointy fingers — perhaps I should start using them!
Danielle — I think you’re right about expending more energy in the cold. Certainly cold weather bike rides feel SO much harder than warm weather ones. I like your reasoning! And the Plath book is such a good read.
Debby — I understand not wanting to write in books — I don’t mind doing it, but it does feel a little bit like a violation. I love your phrase cabinet of shame. I’ve got my own shelves of shame — and they are overflowing onto the floor!
JoAnn — I don’t spend enough time there. We live only an hour away, so it’s an easy day trip. Claire’s Corner Copia sounds interesting!