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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Holiday Booty


Holiday Booty

One of the things I most enjoy while on holidays (sad obsessive that I am) is the opportunity to visit second hand bookshops / charity shops that are new to me. What purpose this serves given the fact that I have already got at least a decades worth of unread books I don't know but I guess it's a sort of addiction. Perhaps one of these days I'm going to suddenly find the time and energy to start reading at a hugely accelerated pace...

I spent a week and a half in South Kerry, staying in Caherdaniel and Ballinskelligs. The weather was fabulous and the ocean temperature was over twenty degrees, which was frankly a little perturbing when you are used to the sudden intake of breath usually caused by the rather lower temperature of the seawater. However it is a perturbation I am more than willing to suffer on a regular, ongoing basis.

Anyway my time spent in Kerry was not a disappointment and I would have bought more books had there been more time to spend in the bookshops and more space in the car for books. As it was the absence of both of these kept my wildest impulses under control. Breaking new ground for this blog, here is some  travel writing centred on the hunt for second hand books.

Picked up Penguins
A picturesque bookshop in Knightsbridge on Valentia Island attached to a really good restaurant was one of the highlights although we only had time for tea and cakes in the restaurant. The books are imported from the US and I was particularly happy to find a copy of Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose, about which I have read very effusive reports. If this bookshop was on my doorstep I fear my book buying 'issue' would be even worse.

A Sunday market at the cafe on Ballinskelligs beach had another bookseller from Valentia who told me he does most of his selling online. He heartily recommended the two books I bought, Darkmans by Nicola Barker and The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker. He was knowledgable and interesting to talk to but I can't find the card which I took so he will have to remain anonymous.

In Kenmare I briefly visited another cafe/bookshop combo, this time a vegetarian cafe and bookshop run as a co-op. The Bookstop Cafe is somewhere I'll be visiting if I make it to Kenmare again. The food looked good (and the online reviews concur) and the selection of books looked like it would have thrown up more interesting discoveries.  My very brief visit turned up a nice Penguin copy of The Mulatta & Mr Fly by Guatemalan Nobel Prizewinner Miguel Angel Asturias.

In Cahersiveen I came across a small shop totally jam-packed with books which I could quite happily have spent a day in. It would have taken some time to work out how to reach many of the books and it was quite puzzling how many of the books resisted the pull of gravity. I uploaded all the photos by mistake but, taking it as a happy mistake have decided to leave them here as a kind of photo essay, not that the photos are much good. The use of every last square inch and in particular the tottering shelves made of cardboard crates suggest a way of keeping overheads low which seems ever more important as bookshop after bookshop disappears. They also seem to have scrimped a little on the design and execution of their signage and are calling on divine assistance as well.

It is also just a few doors down from a very well stocked charity shop. If only it was a little closer...

Love that sign. Caught my eye from distance.

The window ledge.

Showing up the vanity and extravagance of my Ikea bookshelves. While people throw away the makings of bookshelves every day!









Low overheads but high overhead.

That call for divine aid.

Maybe Padre Pio will help us out two books in the one place?


Here is the rest of my holiday booty, by the way. Fifteen books in total. Not too out of control. Given the temptations...








10 comments:

  1. though we hardly buy actual books anymore, that looks like a lot of fun

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  2. "Low overheads but high overhead." Classic, Séamus!

    I'm actually about to embark on what I hope will be a severe book buying slowdown because I recently figured out that if I were to read just one book a month from my current TBR, I'd have more than enough unread books to get me to the age of 75. Christ, I'm old. Christ, I have a lot of unread books. I mean, hopefully I'll read more than one TBR book a month, but the geriatric reader thing sort of puts things in a morbid perspective, no? Anyway, hopefully yet more of my favorite bloggers will consider more book buying posts like this so I can live vicariously while trying to cut down on my book purchases.

    Stegner's Angle of Repose is a pick-up I'd envy, the Pérez-Reverte was a fun enough thriller when I was brushing up on my Spanish several years ago, but I hate-hate-hated those Orhan Pamuk and Sigrid Undset titles you picked up--hope you have better luck with them than I did!

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    1. I think that The Mulatta and Mr Fly looks like your kind of book, Richard? Although in Spanish, I guess.

      At least you were able to at least guess the number of unread books you have. At the rate of a book a month I'd be at least 150 and maybe a lot more before I read all my unread books. I keep thinking I can go back to reading 200 books a year like I did in my youth but I don't think there's much chance of that! Even if I had the time I'd keep dozing off. Age.

      Eventually I may have to open my own second hand bookshop.

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  3. Looks like the most complicated game if jenga going.
    Flanders panel is a fun read

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    1. Two recommendations for The Flanders Panel, then. Might pick that up soon. The shelving was pretty hairy looking. Pulling down the books from high above certainly seemed to carry a certain risk.

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  4. Hi Seamus, The Dunamaise Theatre has a charity bookshelf thing going at the moment where you can take a book home with you if you donate two euro to the charity box. I forget what the charity is for. I have been in there every day for the last two weeks (Summer camp for little Suzi Quatro) and have come home most days with one or two books, mostly hardback, all in very good condition. I have got a lot of stuff I like (Beatles coffee table books which cost a fortune when they came out) and stuff I would normally never even dream of picking up (Roy Keane's biographry) as if I don't like it when I get home I can always return it and try and shake my two euro back out of the box (not recommended)
    You should give it a look, all the books are donated obviously by people who are biliophiles. The coffee there is quite good too but a little too strong for me.

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    1. Already discovered (at child's end of year concert). Got a book by Jim Dodge who's Stone Junction I really liked. Someday I may even find time to read it.
      Coffee I've been off recently in my attempt at clean living. It seems I can give up everything other than buying books.

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  5. loving the old penguins always a joy to find ones you like ,all the best stu

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    1. Thanks Stu. I keep thinking of putting them all together. I must have a few hundred by now. But I don't want to be tempted to buy books just because they are Penguins. I'm bad enough as it is.

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  6. I also love spending time in used book shops. The time can indeed go by so very fast.

    Looks to be a great haul of books for you.

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