New books

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!


Filed under Books

8 responses to “New books

  1. I’ve just realised how little I know about Dr Johnson, which is disgraceful as I only live a 45 minute journey from where he was born and grew up. I need to read Boswell and then it sounds as though I need to get a copy of Sisman’s book as well. Thanks for alerting me to the fact that it’s there.


  2. Wow–that is an impressive list of bookstore visits! That’s great there are so many independents in the area–that really says a lot about those towns and you came away with a nice selection of books. I’ll be curious to hear what you think of the Patrick Hamilton. I wouldn’t mind reading more of his work as well and wonder how it varies from Slaves of Solitude. Aren’t you glad you came home last week and not this past weekend? Not sure if you were in the places that were hit with storms, but it sounds like they had some nasty weather!


  3. What a fabulous list of books! By coincidence, I’ve just ordered a copy of A S Byatt’s account of the friendship between Wordsworth and Coleridge. It will be most interesting to compare with the Sisman. And I really want to read Geoff Dyer – he’s been on my list for ages.


  4. Table Talk — Dr. Johnson is such an interesting figure! The Boswell biography is quite the undertaking, but it’s really great, and Sisman’s book is fun because it’s such a good story about how the biography got written.

    Danielle — I’ve been so out of the loop, that I’m not entirely sure if the bad weather hit my area or not. Anyway, I’m sure it was much cooler where I was, significantly further north than Connecticut. We lucked out with the weather up north. Yes, there really were some great stores, and I hope to visit them again some day.

    Litlove — Oh, I didn’t know Byatt wrote about Wordsworth and Coleridge — how interesting! I’ll have to get that book too and see how their accounts compare. Holmes says a lot about it too in his Coleridge biography.


  5. What fun bookstore visits! With such an abundance of marvelous books before you it always amazes me how selective you seem to be. Or maybe you just have more restraint than I do 😉 I am looking forward to what you think of the Chodron book.


  6. I honestly haven’t heard of any of your new books, but I’ll look forward to hearing about them when you have time to read them! It sounds like there are lots of wonderful shops up north!


  7. Stefanie — maybe I do show restraint, I don’t know, but if I didn’t, what a state my house would be in! I’m gazing at my TBR stacks, and restrain isn’t the word that comes to mind 🙂

    Debby — there really are wonderful shops in Maine and Vermont (well, you know about Vermont, right?).


  8. Isn’t it great to go on a driving vacation, as opposed to a flying one, and to be able to pick up as many books as you’d like without having to worry about getting them back home?


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