Tag Archives: bookstores

Books Acquired Recently: Ithaca Book Sale Edition

Today I attended the Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library Book Sale in Ithaca, New York, for the first time. It is a huge semi-annual used book sale with ridiculously low prices (most of the books I bought–both hard- and softcover–were $0.25, and the mass market paperbacks [Amis, Knowles, and Zelazny] were $0.10, so eleven books for $2.30 plus tax). It was quite well attended by both adults and children, so much so that at times it was difficult to maneuver through the aisles, kind of like the Strand used to be before they renovated it about ten years ago.

My esoteric tastes combined with my already sizable library mean that used bookstores/used book sales are generally hit-or-miss experiences, so I was pleasantly surprised about how many books I found to buy. Some I bought because of the price, and some (the queer ones and some of the poetry) I would have happily paid much more for. I was also somewhat depressed thinking about all of the former owners of these books, wondering what happened to them to cause them to get rid of these books, and how a lot of them are probably dead. I also thought about what it would be like to be an author and to find one of your books for sale for such a low price. Both lines of thought are terrifying if you think about them too much.

Allison, Dorothy. Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1994.

I’ve encountered intriguing references to this collection of personal essays before, and was excited to find a copy of it.

Amis, Kingsley. One Fat Englishman. 1963. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1966.

How could I not buy a Penguin paperback with this title?

Berg, Stephen, and Robert Mezey, eds. Naked Poetry: Recent American Poetry in Open Forms. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969.

As I have written here before, I am obsessed with poetry anthologies. I have the sequel to this seminal (my gendered word choice is intentional: Denise Levertov and Sylvia Plath are the only women included) anthology, The New Naked Poetry, and was happy to find a first edition of its predecessor, albeit without a dust jacket.

Forest, Katherine V. Curious Wine. 1983. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press, 1993.

I was very happy to discover that the book sale had an entire section of lesbian fiction (though not a corresponding gay fiction section) marked as such. There was an entire shelf of Naiad Press (R.I.P.) editions and I was tempted to buy the whole thing but thought it was important to leave them for others who might also be interested because I know I wouldn’t have time to read them all before the next book sale in May. So maybe I’ll buy them then if they are still around. But I decided to pick up Forest’s classic that, as its back cover says, had over 100,00 copies in print at the time this tenth anniversary edition was published.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

I enjoy Goodwin’s interviews in Ken Burns’s Baseball documentary and thus decided to buy her memoir about the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn. In the documentary she identifies herself as now being a Red Sox fan, a switch which is a) justifiable because when a team abandons their city is perfectly acceptable for their fans to abandon them, and b) one that has paid dividends over the past 15 years. I wonder how she felt when the Dodgers and Red Sox met in the World Series two years ago, and how she feels about their matchup again this year?

Inés de la Cruz, Sor Juana. Selected Works. Trans. Edith Grossman. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014.

This book is in basically new condition, a complete steal!

Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. 1959. New York: Dell, 1961.

I thought to myself, “I’ve enjoyed the previous Knowles novels I’ve read, so of course I’ll pick up this pulp paperback (original price $0.50) that is in lovely condition.” Then I got home and realized I was thinking of John Fowles! So we’ll see what I think of Knowles.

Millet, Catherine. The Sexual Life of Catherine M. Trans. Adriana Hunter. New York: Grove Press, 2002.

I remember reading a review of this book when it first came out in English, and have encountered references to it here and there in the years since, so I was happy to find a copy of the hardcover in very good condition.

Schulman, Sarah. People in Trouble. 1990. New York: Plume, 1991.

Another find from the lesbian fiction section.

Strand, Mark, ed. The Contemporary American Poets: American Poetry Since 1940. New York: Meridian Books, 1969.

See my comments about being obsessed with poetry anthologies above. It’s always fascinating to see which poets have lasted and which ones have not.

Zelazny, Roger. Lord of Light. 1967. New York: Avon Books, 1969.

I’ve been wanting to broaden my reading of speculative fiction and found a copy of this Hugo Award-winning book in excellent condition. One of my favorite authors, Samuel R. Delany, speaks highly of Zelazny, so I am excited to encounter his work for the first time.

 

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Books Acquired Recently: Powell’s Edition

I recently visited Oregon for the first time, and as part of my trip made a pilgrimage to Powell’s City of Books. It is a majestic bookshop, the best I have ever been in. I had a limited amount of time there and thus did not have time to explore it fully, but still ended up buying four books, a t-shirt, and a magnet (“Fuck Your Wall”). I was specifically looking for Lorde’s and Hopkinson’s books, and the other two just grabbed me (Johnson’s because it is signed). I was impressed by how the store felt like a queer space–there were queer books displayed everywhere, not only in the LGBTQ section, which itself was impressive. The four books I acquired are all queer, and I only found one of them, Johnson’s, in this section. Lorde’s and Tolbert and Peterson’s were on endcaps; I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen queer literature highlighted so prominently before in a general bookstore.

Hopkinson, Nalo. Falling in Love with Hominids. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2015.

Johnson, Chelsey. Stray City. New York: Custom House, 2018.

Lorde, Audre. The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. 1997. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000.

Tolbert, TC, and Trace Peterson, eds. Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. Callicoon, NY: Nightboat Books, 2013.

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Books Acquired Recently: Dove & Hudson Edition

Yesterday I made a trip to Dove & Hudson Old Books in Albany, one of my favorite bookstores and the best I’ve found in the state of New York other than the Strand. I only bought four books because I’ve been spending a lot on books lately, but there were a number of others that I also considered.

Espada, Martín. Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002. 2003. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.

I love Espada’s work and was happy to find this copy of his selected poems for only $5.00.

Hall, Donald. Seasons at Eagle Pond. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1987.

I enjoy Hall’s poetry and the bits of his prose that I have read. I’ve been thinking a lot about memoir lately and am usually thinking about place, so this book about his family farm jumped out at me.

Lethem, Jonathan. You Don’t Love Me Yet. 2007. New York: Vintage, 2008.

I enjoy Lethem’s fiction, but haven’t read any of it for a while, and haven’t read any of his shorter books. The blurb on this one caught my attention.

Sackville-West, Vita. Family History. 1932. London: Virago Press, 1986.

I was looking for another book when I came across this one for only $3.50, and decided to buy it because I am a sucker for old paperbacks.

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Books Acquired Recently

Addiss, Stephen. The Art of Haiku: Its History Through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters. Boston: Shambhala, 2012.

Yesterday I went to a poetry reading in Ithaca, New York, and stopped at two bookstores during the trip. I bought this book at The Bookery, a delightful, labyrinthine used bookshop.

Barnhart, Danielle, and Iris Mahan, ed. Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. New York: OR Books, 2018.

I also stopped at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, where I bought this new anthology and Brownstein’s memoir, which I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while since I love Portlandia. I kept seeing more and more books that I wanted to buy. It’s a dangerous place!

Brownstein, Carrie. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir. 2015. New York: Riverhead Books, 2016.

Carlson, Paula J., and Peter S. Hawkins, ed. Listening for God: Contemporary Literature and the Life of Faith. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1994.

My mother just retired and is working on downsizing. She just brought me some books from her library that I either had sentimental attachments to from childhood (Lewis’s, Moore’s, and Waybill’s) or thought sounded interesting. This one falls into the latter category. It’s a collection of fiction by a variety of authors dealing with finding God in the world.

Delany, Samuel R. The Atheist in the Attic Plus…. Oakland: PM Press, 2018.

I just recently discovered PM Press, a publisher of radical literature. Happily, they just published my favorite author’s latest book! It includes a novella and some essays. I bought it immediately from their website.

Lewis, C.S. A Grief Observed. 1961. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

Moore, Joy Hofacker. Ted Studebaker: A Man Who Loved Peace. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1987.

Why do you get a Herald Press children’s book written about you? Because you died while doing mission work, of course!

Waybill, Marjorie Ann. Chinese Eyes. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1974.

The inscription in this book says that my parents gave it to me for Christmas when I was three.

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Books Acquired Recently: Cincinnati Edition

This weekend I went to the Cincinnati Mennonite Arts Weekend for the first time. It was so much fun! Of course I bought some books. I also visited the Half Price Books near my hotel, where I purchased Roberts’, Brown’s, and Sohl’s texts.

Brown, Rita Mae. Poems. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1987.

I love Brown’s classic lesbian novel Rubyfruit Jungle, but am unfamiliar with her poetry. I got this copy of her early poems in excellent shape for only $5.48.

Lachman, Becca J.R. Other Acreage. Boston: Gold Wake Press, 2015.

Lachman was one of the featured speakers at the event, and I was able to have my copy of her book signed, something that is still always exciting!

Roberts, JR. Black Lesbians: An Annotated Bibliography. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press, 1981.

I bought this book simply for archiving purposes because I love old books. It’s in great shape and I got it for only $2.98. It is an excellent example of the hugely important preservation and recovery work undertaken by feminists and queers in the 1970s and early 1980s that got published by tiny independent presses because large publishers assumed (often incorrectly) that there was not a market for it.

Samatar, Del, and Sofia Samatar. Monster Portraits. Brookline, MA: Rose Metal Press, 2018.

I am friends with Sofia Samatar and hanging out with her was one of the highlights of my weekend. Her new book, which includes artwork by her brother that she then responds to in prose, is officially coming out later this month, but she had some copies with her for sale.

Sohl, Jerry. Night Slaves. Greenwich, CT: Gold Medal Books, 1965.

Half Price Books had a rack at the front of the store full of old pulp fiction paperbacks. I bought this one for $3.00 because it sounds kinky: the villain keeps the inhabitants of a planet hypnotized and the hero has to try to stop him.

Wideman, Johnny. This Will Lead to Dancing. Stouffville, ON: Theatre of the Beat, 2014.

—. To Aid Digestion: A Collection of Short Stories and Poems. Stouffville, ON: Theatre of the Beat, 2017.

I had never heard of Theatre of the Beat, a Mennonite acting troupe, but they gave an amazing, moving performance of This Will Lead to Dancing on Saturday afternoon. Their work is focused on queer issues, and is thus immediately relevant to my scholarship on queer Mennonite literature.

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Books Acquired Recently: Holiday Edition

I received a number of books as gifts for the holidays, and also did a little bit of book shopping myself with some holiday cash.

Algarín, Miguel. Love is Hard Work: Memorias de Loisaida. New York: Scribner Poetry, 1997.

As I mention below discussing Márquez’s book, I am trying to broaden my knowledge of Puerto Rican literature. Algarín has played a major role making it visible in the U.S.

Falley, Megan. After the Witch Hunt. Long Beach, CA: Write Bloody Publishing, 2012.

—. Redhead and the Slaughter King. Austin, TX: Write Bloody Publishing, 2014.

I had never encountered Falley’s poetry before, but enjoyed reading After the Witch Hunt, her first collection, and I am now partway through Redhead and the Slaughter King.

Lopez, Donald S., Jr., ed. Buddhist Scriptures. London: Penguin Books, 2004.

I found this Penguin Classics anthology while browsing at Aaron’s Books and decided to buy it because I am interested in learning more about the Buddhist approach to life.

Machado, Carmen Maria. Her Body and Other Parties: Stories. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2017.

I have not heard of Machado before, but her biographical statement on the back cover notes that she lives “with her wife,” so I am very excited for the chance to encounter another queer Latinx writer.

Márquez, Roberto, ed. Puerto Rican Poetry: An Anthology from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007.

I still feel like I know hardly anything about Puerto Rican literature, and am therefore happy to have received this volume, which will help to remedy my lack of knowledge.

Rosenman, Mark, and Howie Karpin. Down on the Korner: Ralph Kiner and Kiner’s Korner. New York: Carrel Books, 2016.

I grew up watching Kiner’s Korner after Mets games on WWOR Channel 9 in the 1980s. My family did not have cable, so it was essential for a sports fanatic like myself to watch any sports-related content I could find. I am excited to read this book and relive some of those memories.

Rutherfurd, Edward. Sarum: The Novel of England. 1987. New York: Ballantine Books, 2005.

This novel covers English history from prehistoric times through the twentieth century, focusing on the area around Salisbury. I am about a quarter of the way through it and am enjoying it thus far.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Cat’s Cradle. 1963. New York: Dell, 1970.

Cat’s Cradle is one of my favorite Vonnegut novels. When I found a copy from the old Dell series of his books (a series that I have a number of) in good shape for only $5.00 at Aaron’s Books I snatched it up immediately.

Including these books, I acquired 160 books in 2017, and am ending the year with only 16 on my to-read shelf, so it has been a year full of reading!

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Books Acquired Recently: Toronto Edition

torontobooks

I was in Toronto this weekend for the first time since high school. As usual when I travel, I looked up some independent bookstores to visit. I made stops at Ben McNally Books and Type Books (the Queen Street store). Although Type was smaller, it had better selection. McNally was rather disappointing, frankly (and it drove me nuts that their sections are not labelled: sometimes I don’t want to browse, I want to go straight to the poetry section), though I did end up finding two books, Cohen’s and Ruthnum’s, there. I spent over $100.00 CDN at Type–and could have spent at least $50.00 more–whereas there wasn’t much else that caught my eye at McNally. But I’m glad I got the chance to visit both and to support two independent businesses.

Bowering, George. A Short Sad Book. 1977. Vancouver: New Star Books, 2017.

Cohen, Leonard. Beautiful Losers. 1966. Toronto: Emblem Editions, 2003.

After reading Nick Mount’s recent book on Canadian literature I made a list of authors whose work sounded like it would be worth checking out. My purchases of Bowering’s  and Cohen’s books were a result of said list. I must note that the Cohen cover is hideous and it almost made me not buy the book even though I was looking for it specifically. “Never judge a book by its cover,” yes, but that doesn’t mean that good cover design is not important. A book should be beautiful as an object as well as as a repository of ideas and stories.

Jones, Dylan. David Bowie: A Life. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2017.

I love Bowie, and this new oral history about him was too tempting to pass up. It is interesting to note that the book does not list a city of publication: I had to look up where Doubleday Canada is located to complete my citation of it. I have noticed this omission in several other recently-published books as well. I don’t know whether this is a coincidence or the beginning of a trend, but either way it bothers me. Place is important, and it is thus helpful to state a publisher’s geographical context even when it is a big corporate publisher as in this case.

Roffman, Karin. The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

I have been wanting to buy this book since it came out, but it felt like the kind of book I needed to buy from an independent bookstore rather than online or at Barnes & Noble. Going to Type was the first time I had been in such a store that had it in stock since its release.

Ruthnum, Naben. Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2017.

This slim volume was an impulse buy at the register, where it was temptingly displayed. Contra Cohen’s book, its cover sucked me in completely. I have been thinking about the relationship between food and literature lately as well as about postcolonial literature, so this book, which discusses all three, felt like a serendipitous find.

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