So I promised I’d write about the new books I bought on my travels. I didn’t do much reading while we were gone — Hobgoblin and I seem to have trouble sitting still while away from home — but I did collect some good things. We visited two bookstores in Portland, although there were others we didn’t have time for or that were closed while we were there. The first one was Longfellow books, which calls itself a “fiercely independent bookstore.” In addition to its other admirable traits, Portland seems to be especially devoted to its local, independent shops. So I was glad to support them by buying The Great Fire of London by Jacques Roubaud, an experimental French novel, and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, a book about Buddhism both Stefanie and Litlove have recently reviewed.
We also visited Cunningham Books, which is a used and rare bookshop. We were running out of time and so I didn’t get to look through the store thoroughly, but I did find a copy of Adam Sisman’s The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge. I really enjoyed Sisman’s earlier book Boswell’s Presumptuous Task about the writing of Boswell’s Life of Johnson, so I’m looking forward to this one. I like how he writes biography that isn’t straightforward biography; instead, he chooses some angle of his subjects to focus on and tells something about their lives that way.
We also visited two bookshops in or near Bar Harbor, one of which was a used bookshop specializing in mysteries. I didn’t find anything there, but it was great to look through. And then I stopped at Sherman’s bookstore at least twice, once with Bob and Emily, and once when two sisters who hiked the Appalachian Trail barefoot were doing a book signing. So of course we had to get their book and ask them to sign it. It’s called Barefoot Sisters: Southbound, and it looks really impressive, both the book and their accomplishment.
And finally, we visited Northshire Bookstore, a really fabulous bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont. It’s pretty big and has a fabulous selection; we spent a good amount of time browsing, but there were still sections I didn’t make it to. I decided to come home with Patrick’s Hamilton’s Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, which I just discovered is a trilogy of interconnected novels centering on a London pub. After reading Slaves of Solitude, I became an avid Hamilton fan. I also bought Geoff Dyer’s The Ongoing Moment, a book about photography that I picked up not so much because I’m interested in photography, but because I like Dyer’s writing a lot (Out of Sheer Rage and Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It are both great) and also William Gass’s A Temple of Texts, a collection of his writing on literature.
And now I’d better get on with the actual reading!