Tag Archives: England

Books Acquired Recently: England Edition

I just returned from a wonderful nine-day trip to England. One of my favorite things about England is that almost every town, no matter how small, has at least one good bookshop. I thus spent much of my free time book hunting, mostly in secondhand bookshops, which is where I made some of my favorite finds. I bought eleven books, spending a total of £62.00.

Bryson, Bill. Notes from a Small Island: Journey Through Britain. 1995. London: Black Swan, 2015.

I’ve read very little travel writing, so when someone recommended this travelogue during my trip I decided to buy it because I’ve heard good things about Bryson’s writing, but haven’t read any of his work. I tore through the book in a day after I’d purchased it. Although it is now a bit dated, it is hilarious and still helpful.

Purchased at Blackwell’s in Oxford.

—. The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island. 2015. London: Black Swan, 2016.

After finishing Notes from a Small Island, I decided to buy the sequel.

Purchased at WHSmith in Gatwick Airport, London.

Carmichael, Stokely, and Charles V. Hamilton. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. 1967. Harmondsworth, UK: Pelican Books, 1969.

As I have written about before, I have a fetish for Penguin paperbacks, especially old ones. The Book Cupboard in Plymouth has a large selection of them, and I purchased three there: this book (which has a blue cover to signify that it is non-fiction), Christie’s (green cover to signify that it is crime fiction), and Simenon’s (the traditional orange cover).

Charlton, Bobby, with James Lawton. My Manchester United Years: The Autobiography. 2007. London: Headline Publishing, 2008.

Bobby Charlton is the greatest English footballer ever and one of the greatest Manchester United players ever, thus I was delighted to find a used copy of his autobiography in excellent condition. I read it during the trip and it is one of the best sports autobiographies I have ever read because it is insightful both about Charlton’s personal life and the sporting events he took part in.

Purchased at Skoob Books in London.

Christie, Agatha. Murder in the Mews and Other Stories. 1937. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1961.

I first read Christie’s work in elementary school when the school librarian gave me several of her books because he knew that I loved to read and wanted to encourage me to continue doing so. I haven’t read any of her books since I was a teenager, but when I saw this collection in a Penguin edition I decided to buy it. Its original price was two shillings and six pence. I paid three pounds for it.

Dahl, Tessa. Working for Love. 1988. London: Penguin Books, 1989.

I bought this book primarily because it is a Penguin paperback, but also because I was interested in seeing how Tessa Dahl’s writing matches up to her father Roald’s. I read it on the plane ride back to the U.S. and was unimpressed.

Purchased at Skoob Books in London.

Goddard, Simon. Ziggyology: A Brief History of Ziggy Stardust. London: Ebury Press, 2013.

I love David Bowie, and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is my favorite of his albums. I bought this book about his Ziggy character because I found it on sale new for only £3.00 as compared to the £9.99 cover price.

Purchased at The Works in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Hadley, Tessa. Bad Dreams and Other Stories. London: Jonathan Cape, 2017.

I have read and enjoyed some of Hadley’s stories in the New Yorker. I decided to purchase her newest collection because it is a signed copy.

Purchased at Blackwell’s in Oxford.

Palmer, Martin, Kwok Man Ho, and Joanne O’Brien. The Contemporary I Ching: A Completely New Translation of the Most Famous Oracle in the World. 1986. London: Rider & Company, 1989.

I have wanted to learn more about the I Ching since I first read Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, in which it plays a major role. I found this translation of it for a reasonable price and decided to buy it.

Purchased at The Speaking Tree in Glastonbury.

Rickards, Maurice. This is Ephemera: Collecting Printed Throwaways: Printed or Handwritten Items Produced for Short-Term Use and Generally for Disposal: A Delightful and Unique Introduction to a Fascinating Field. 1977. London: David & Charles, 1978.

I came across this intriguing little (63 pages) hardcover in the basement of a thriftshop. Its lengthy title says it all: it sounds like the nerdiest book ever, so of course I had to buy it, and I am legitimately excited to read it. It was first published in the U.S., and apparently was successful enough to justify publishing the British edition that I bought. The back cover blurb notes that Rickards “is founder and chairman of the Ephemera Society,” an organization that still exists in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Purchased at Julian House in Bath.

Simenon, Georges. Striptease. 1958. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1963.

I’ve read one of Simenon’s novels, Dirty Snow, before, and enjoyed it. It was an easy decision to purchase this Penguin edition of another one of his books.

 

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Books Acquired Recently

My book-buying habit continues unabated despite my stuffed “To Read” shelf. Here is what has come in recently.

Kafer, Alison. Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2013.

I have been studying the intersection between queer theory and disability studies recently for a paper that I am writing, and came across a citation of this book, which looks interesting because of its efforts to be intersectional.

Mulvany, Nancy C. Indexing Books. 2nd. ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005.

I bought this book as a resource for a bibliography that I am currently working on. I must say that it is a very handsome book–a colorful yet not garish cover, sturdy hardback, thick creamy pages–which pleases me since books about books should be beautiful to match their subject matter.

Munson, Peggy. Origami Striptease. San Francisco: Suspect Thoughts Press, 2006.

I encountered a citation for this novel in some of my aforementioned research on disability studies and found a copy for a good price, so decided to buy it. I read it last week and enjoyed it overall. It’s worth checking out because it is one of the very few depictions of a disabled person’s sex life out there. My guess is that twenty or thirty years from now it will be viewed as a classic work.

Perryman, Mark, ed. 1966 and Not All That. London: Repeater Books, 2016.

This is a collection of essays about England’s 1966 World Cup triumph, the only major soccer trophy the English men have ever won despite England being the sport’s birthplace. From the time I was just a fledgling soccer fan twenty years ago I have had a sense of the 1966 team being swathed in myth and glory. (Which, I think, says something about how influential English soccer culture has been for American soccer culture. This is one of the few areas where the U.S. could still be considered a postcolonial context.) As a result, I have been thoroughly enjoying and consuming as much of the fiftieth anniversary celebration and retrospective as I can, thus it was an instant decision to buy the book when I read a review of it a few weeks ago.

Stafford, William. Down in My Heart. 1947. Swarthmore: Bench Press, 1985.

The Tramontane Cafe in Utica is currently have a book sale of some of Roger Smith’s books, who was a regular at the Cafe and at the Utica Poets Society, which meets there (he died a few months ago). I picked up this memoir by William Stafford about his time as a conscientious objector to military service during World War II because I have a general interest in CO experiences since many Mennonites were also COs.  Stafford is a kind of celebrity among Mennonites because of his pacifism, but I am unfamiliar with much of his work, thus I look forward to learning more about him from this book.

All of the books except for Stafford’s were acquired via amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

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Books Acquired Recently: Mostly Vacation Edition

I have acquired sixteen books over the past two weeks, most as a result from visiting various bookshops during my recent vacation to England and Scotland, which was an amazing trip! The rundown of these books is below, with the books separated into sections based on where they were bought. The sections are listed in chronological order.

Hatchard’s, London, England

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Hatchard’s is the oldest bookshop in London, having opened in 1797. It was walking distance from my hotel and it was an awe-inspiring experience to be in a space that has been used for the same purpose for over 200 years.

Clare, John. Major Works. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

I have been looking for a selection of Clare’s works since reading about his escape from a lunatic asylum in a book on psychogeography about a year ago. This volume has a large selection of his poetry as well as some of his prose, which is what I am most interested in.

Kureishi, Hanif. Something to Tell You. 2008. London: Faber, 2009.

Kureishi is one of my favorite British authors and thus I thought it would be appropriate to buy one of his books while I was in England.

Topping & Company, Bath, England

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This was a fantastic bookstore, my favorite on the trip. Bath is a lovely little city.

Bashō, Matsuo. The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches. Tr. Nobuyuki Yuasa. London: Penguin, 1966.

I really enjoy Bashō’s haiku, thus when I discovered this slender volume on the shelf I thought it presented a good opportunity to read some of his prose. I also like the idea of buying a book about travelling whilst travelling.

Lee, Hermione. Biography: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009.

I am considering doing some scholarship on memoir and thought this little book would be helpful for understanding some of the theoretical issues surrounding the genre.

Peter Bell Books, Edinburgh, Scotland

One of the things that impressed me about Edinburgh was its large number of bookshops–I discovered seven of them just wandering about a half-mile radius from my hotel. All but one of these (Blackwell’s below) were independent stores, tiny holes-in-the-wall. This included Peter Bell Books. Its website (linked to above: “We have been bookselling in Edinburgh since 1980, and are reliable and professional in our business dealings.”) is a good digital manifestation of the shop itself.

Spark, Muriel. The Bachelors. 1960. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963.

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I was hoping to buy an old British Penguin paperback because I love their design, and this book fit the bill. I love the little notice on the back cover letting buyers know that it “is not for sale in the U.S.A.” I paid £4.00 for it, more than its original price of three pounds and six shillings (it’s so old that they were still using shillings!).

Blackwell’s, Edinburgh, Scotland

It made me happy that all of Edinburgh’s small bookshops are able to coexist with this larger chain shop.

London, Jack. The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009.

The shop was having a two-for-one sale on Oxford World’s Classics, so this is the book that I got for free.

Zola, Émile. The Ladies’ Paradise. 1883. Tr. Brian Nelson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

I have never read any of Zola’s work despite his importance to the genre of the novel. I recently read a bit about this particular book and thought its portrayal of urbanization and gender sounded interesting, so I decided to buy it.

Oxfam, York, England

Butler, Bryon. The Official Illustrated History of the FA Cup. London: Headline, 1996.

There was an Oxfam used bookshop just down the street from Yorkminster Cathedral, which is one of the sites I visited during the trip. I found this coffee table book and decided to buy it because Manchester United were playing in the FA Cup final later in the day and I thought buying it would bring them luck, and it did! It cost £3.45.

WHSmith, Gatwick Airport, London, England

Ferguson, Alex, with Michael Moritz. Leading. 2015. London: Hodder, 2016.

Despite all of the other better bookshops on the trip it was still impossible to resist a quick walk-through of the airport bookstore, and I ended up purchasing this book because it was half-price.

The Strand, New York City

On the morning after arriving back in the U.S. I stopped at the Strand, my favorite bookstore, before taking the train back to Utica.

DeLillo, Don. Zero K. New York: Scribner, 2016.

I am incredibly excited to read DeLillo’s new novel because he is one of my favorite authors. I exclaimed with delight when I saw it on one of the front tables.

Heti, Sheila. How Should a Person Be? 2012. New York: Picador, 2013.

I love Women in Clothes, the book that Heti co-edited about women’s experiences with clothing, but have never read any of her writing itself. A stack of How Should a Person Be? was on a table labelled “The Future of Fiction” and I decided it was time to check it out.

Mukherjee, Neel. The Lives of Others. 2014. New York: Norton, 2015.

I read Mukherjee’s first novel, A Life Apart, in England and loved it. I decided that I will teach it in one of my courses this coming fall, and thus that it would be helpful to read The Lives of Others sometime this summer to give me more context for his work.

Nelson, Maggie. The Argonauts. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2015.

I read a review of this book in the New Yorker a few months back and it sounded fascinating for three reasons: it deals with queer issues, it blends genres, and, as noted above, I am thinking about doing some scholarship on the memoir genre and thought it would be helpful to read this book since it is all the rage. Nelson has also published a book about one of my favorite poets, Frank O’Hara, that sounds interesting, so she seems like a fascinating person.

Amazon.com

The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010.

I am currently working on a bibliography that I plan to submit to a journal that uses Chicago Style, which I am not familiar with, so I decided to buy this book to help with the project. I am also seriously considering switching to Chicago Style as my primary style because I am not fond of the new version of MLA style (note that I am still using the older version of MLA style to format the entries for the books in this post).

Darling, Ron, with Daniel Paisner. Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life. New York: St. Martin’s, 2016.

Like many Mets fans I am obsessed with the 1986 team and will buy any book associated with them. This book promises to offer a fascinating perspective on the team. Many people forget that Darling started game 7 (and did not pitch well, leaving trailing 3-0) because Sid Fernandez ended up being the pitching hero and there are all of the iconic images of Jesse Orosco throwing his glove into the air after the final out. Even though the Mets scored eight runs, everyone talks about how the pitching was what won the Mets the game, and I look forward to reading Darling’s analysis of why this is the case.

The last of the sixteen books is

Pashley, Jennifer. The Scamp. Portland: Tin House, 2015.

Pashley gave a reading with several other authors in Utica last night that was quite enjoyable. I have her two excellent short story collections and decided to buy her recent novel in part because I like her writing and in part because it is important to support local authors and independent presses.

 

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Books Acquired Recently: More Canadian Mennonites Edition

D’anna, Lynnette. fool’s bells. Toronto: Insomniac, 1999.

D’anna is the pen name of Lynnette Dueck, a Canadian writer of Mennonite origin. A friend who knows that I am interested in the intersection between sexuality and literature recommended D’anna/Dueck’s work to me; apparently it is quite explicit, which is a rarity in Mennonite literature. I may end up writing about it as a result. I’ve ordered a bunch of her books from amazon.com’s network of booksellers, and this is the first one to arrive (i.e., get ready for several more Books Acquired Recently entries on her work in the near future!).

Jacobsen, Annie, with Jane Finlay-Young and Di Brandt. Watermelon Syrup. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier UP, 2007.

I acquired this novel because Brandt, one of my favorite poets, is listed as one of the authors, and I would love to read some fiction by her. As it turns out, she did not actually write any of the book. Jacobsen wrote it, but died before she could revise and publish it, so per her directions Finlay-Young revised it and had Brandt act as a consultant on the Mennonite issues in the book because Jacobsen had Mennonite ancestry and the novel includes several Mennonite characters. It looks interesting, but for different reasons than I first anticipated. I ordered it via amazon.com from Better World Books‘s United Kingdom branch; it was originally owned by a library in Chelsea.

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Two Portrayals of Soccer Fandom

I am currently reading John King’s 1996 novel The Football Factory about soccer fan culture and its causes in 1980s/early-1990s England. I also just read Sarah Lyall’s recent New York Times article about attending English soccer matches, which I found via one of my favorite soccer websites, When Saturday Comes.

The contrast between the two pieces is striking. It is clear to any serious follower of the English game that Lyall’s piece is written by a rank outsider (which is, admittedly, in part the point, as she assumes that most of her readers will also be outsiders), and thus contains some major flaws. Aside from a smattering of factual errors (e.g., that the famous meat pies served at matches are traditionally filled with chicken rather than red meat, usually beef), there is no attempt to actually understand the culture. Instead, the article highlights its idiosyncrasies in order to demean them and the culture as a whole. It is an example of disgustingly U.S.-centric reporting.

The article is flawed in its depiction of sports fandom in general, not just soccer fandom. The usual elitist attitude toward sports that is shared by way too many otherwise rational intellectuals (i.e., the sentiment “Why waste time caring about sports? It’s just a game.” In contrast, the reason I love When Saturday Comes is that it shows that a love of sports and a life of the mind can coexist.) is present throughout the piece. For example, Lyall is puzzled by the fact that English fans often seem miserable when watching their team, but this is the case with the majority of serious fans of any sport, including Americans. It is difficult to watch a team that you desperately care about for a multitude of reasons (not just whether they win or lose) play even if they are often successful (like my beloved Manchester United) and you expect them to win. Once you understand the nuances of a sport, it is difficult not to focus on the flaws inherent in the way it is played. That doesn’t mean that the glorious moments of beauty and triumph aren’t enjoyable, but that the knowledge that they are rare leads to a sort of resigned pessimism.

Unlike the article, The Football Factory endeavors to show how soccer fandom fits within its broader societal context. The book is especially trenchant in its portrayal of how the Thatcher government’s policies destroyed the working and middle classes, and how responses to this calamity manifested themselves in soccer fandom. The novel does not celebrate troubling elements of fandom such as hooliganism, but it does offer a genuine attempt to understand them. Lyall’s article fails in this regard. It views fandom in a vacuum instead of considering how issues of class, race, and gender intersect with it.

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Books Acquired Recently: English Soccer Novels Edition

King, John. The Football Factory Trilogy: The Football Factory, Headhunters, England Away. London: Vintage, 2000.

Sampson, Kevin. Awaydays. London: Cape, 1998.

I recently ordered these two books used from English bookshops via amazon.com. Sampson’s book is autographed, which is a nifty bonus, especially considering that I only paid $0.02 for it (both books originally retailed for £9.99).

Virtually no fiction about soccer is published in the United States (I remember reading one or two children’s novels on the subject as a kid), but I recently read Graham Parker’s interview of Sampson on grantland.com and decided that his work sounded exciting. When looking online for his book, I came across King’s as well. The only novel I’ve ever read that is even nominally about soccer is B.S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates, so I am looking forward to reading further in the field. I love English soccer, and these two books will be an enjoyable way of feeding my craving for it during the summer offseason.

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