Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Swap

I supposed I must've just needed an isolatory weekend on some level, so that's what I did. And on Saturday afternoon, I went to Vroman's (met a friend who wanted to get rid of some books, too), and went to a book swap hosted by Good Read's and Vroman's in Pasadena.

What a dangerous thing for uncluttering streamliners like myself. Ha. This is to get rid of the books you don't want, and get new ones. But, like one guy I talked to, I got as many at least as I turned in (myabe 1or 2 less, so that's a start). He told me when he went to the last one at Book Soup, he brought six books and left with 40. I have to say, it was kind of fun to see people in this much of a frenzy about books. I was one of the first people, and there weren't many people there, so I thought it would be kind of lame. Within 20 minutes, there were more books than you would know what to do with. There was a lot of crap, but also some things that I've wanted to read. And what's one person's trash is another's treasure, which is what was wonderful about this event. It was also fun to see such a large group of people just looking at books and looking to see what other people were holdling. It was slightly social, with people commenting on books they'd read and telling you if it was good; also fun with people pointing out "That's mine" or "I brought that one." It was fun, and I hear they're going to try to have one a few times a year.

So I got:

American Sucker, David Denby's memoir about losing money in the market crash, the dissolution of his marriage and his internet addiction. Denby can irritate me, but I thought I'd give it a try. And the guy I thought was attractive was the one who donated it. He said he liked it. This, though, not being a Jane Austen novel, did not lead anywhere. Except to more books.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, upon which the HBO series is based. Looks like it's a good one, and I'm interested in reading it.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young. This book looked to me like it could be annoying, so I never bought it or saw the film base on it. But hey, the price was right to try it out.

Working Stiff, by Grant Stoddard, subtitled "The Misadventures of an accidental sexpert." This was the friend's book, and he liked it. And so did somebody else who walked by, so I picked it up. Like you would a sexpert, I guess.

Cleopatra's Nose, Essays on the Unexpected by Daniel J. Boorstin, essays about American culture and institutions. Interesting. Also, written in '95, so we'll see if it has aged well, if at all. Love cultural essays--yay!

The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp. I had just seen her speak at USC on Tuesday (something else I wanted to write about), so this was fresh on my mind. I didn't get the book then, I guess so I could get the hardcover for free. Right place at right time.

Dishwasher, by Pete Jordan, a memoir about washing dishes in all 50 states. I've heard him on This American Life, so I've been intrigued, and now I get to read his book. I guess I love,too, that now he's a bicycle mechanic and writer in Amsterdam. How would someone like that not write an interesting book?

Lost, by Gregory Maguire. By the author of Wicked, it's his take on A Christmas Carol. I did like Wicked, a surprisingly dense read, so I'm looking forward to this. I haven't read any of his other stuff. And mint hardcover first edition, so we love that.

Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis. This is a book of stories, and it was a finalist for the National Book Award, so I figure it must be pretty good. The book is certainly covered with praise. I got it because of the Grace Paley quote, "Davis is the kind of writer about whom you say, 'Oh, at last!'" No small praise.

And then this wierd little book called "Bill Nye's Comic History of the U.S." illustrated by F. Opper. It's blue with red and white embossing, and looks like it was printed in the 40's or 50's, but the publishing information just says "Copyright 1894, by J. Lippincott and Company". I imagine it's a reprint, but it's bizarre. And the original was blue clothbound, like this. Maybe I just picked up a $35 original! And, once again, it's free.

So it looks like I'm in books for a while. Fun!


Elizabeth said...

Wow on the Lydia Davis. I haven't read her but just read about her and tried to download on the Kindle but it wasn't available. And the #1 Ladies Detective Agency is actually wonderful. I read a few after the first and grew tired of them, but he's a terrific writer and the main character has a kick-ass voice. Thanks for telling us about his -- I wish that I had been there. Maybe next year...

Criticlasm said...

I will definitely pass on the Lydia Davis to you once I'm done with it. And I'll let you know.

Elizabeth said...

I bought the complete collection of Lydia Davis that is just out, and have begun reading them. They're shocking -- and I love them. I can't believe that I've never heard of them and read, today, about her illustrious literary pedigree (in the Sunday LA Times). Other books: Matthew Fiennes' The Music Room (a memoir about growing up in an 800 year old English castle and an older, epileptic brother).

Criticlasm said...

oh--that sounds really good. Rehearsals for this play now weeknights, so with that and working my reading time is strictly limited. I'm thinking about suspending my TV and just taking that time to read--lol.