Friday, May 21, 2010

the good used bookstore

I went to the old neighborhood (Midwood/Kings Highway) to see the podiatrist, who took the stitches out of my heel, and pronounced me pretty much OK, I need to wash the cut with soap and water and use Neosporin and a bandaid, and see him again in two weeks. I can walk on it, but with some care.

Afterward, Barry and I got a bite to eat in a diner on Coney Island Avenue, and I realized I was just a half block from one of my favorite used book stores ever. Right now, I don't know of one that could beat it except The Strand. But this one, which is simply called Here's A Bookstore, is probably the closest bookstore to where I live (excluding Judaica stores), and has a pretty wide and deep variety for a smallish store. They have a lot of Judaica themselves, as well as other occult and new age book; a nice section of books about New York; classic and contemporary novels; mysteries, horror, romance, sci-fi and true crime; art, crafts, science, movies; plays and poetry; business and history; pets. What's more, you can find an awful lot of first editions there, though almost always without dustcovers (or possibly tattered dustcovers for books from the 60s on), and sometimes in rough shape. On my last trip there, I bought a first edition of a book called The House That Shadows Built by Will Irwin, a history of the movies written in 1928! No dust cover, and the top of the spine a little chewed, but otherwise in lovely shape for $7.50. I've also bought a couple of good books about Coney Island there, and a few about the space program (I'm a bit of a nut about the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo era of space flight).

This is what I got today:
Bag of Bones by Stephen King, paperback. I thought I hadn't read this but now I think maybe I did.
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. because I enjoyed the movie. Trade paperback.
And Never Let Her Go by Ann Rule, hardcover. I have a terrible sweet tooth for true crime, and Ann Rule is hands-down the best.
I Me Mine by George Harrison, hardcover. I've never read it.
A Wolf at the Table by Augustin Burroughs, hardcover. I haven't read this, but it's another memoir by a great memoirist.
Sapphira and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather, hardcover, first edition (1940, no dust cover, mid-spine a little chewed).
The first edition cost me $5.00. The whole lot ran me a bit under $50.

If you're new or newish to this blog, I lost about 95% of my books in The Great Storage Disaster. When we moved in to this too-small apartment, we were forced to stash some 60 cartons or so in storage, which we could really not afford, and we eventually lost. (The storage was something like $130 a month; if we had it, we could have rented a bigger apartment.) I lost most of my books (including most of my cookbooks), all of my journals (about 40 years' worth) and my writing samples and poetry and magazines in which I published, my baseball card collection, my postcard collection, my mother's wedding dress, and of my vinyl and a lot of my CDs and most of my cassettes (the bulk of my bootlegs were on cassette, mostly Elvis Costello).

I've been trying to embrace the paring-down aspect of it, but the truth is that I liked keeping books I had read and often dipped into something over and over. The books I have now are really random because they're mostly freebies from the "take" shelves at Penguin that I accumulated over my time there (I was on staff there for two years, but the year before that I temped there for about nine months). I haven't read most of them, and am not sure if I will. I was always a subway reader, so I had two hours of good reading time five days a week, and since I read fast, I could plow through lots and lots of books. I don't really have a good reading spot here at home, though I always take a book to a doctor's appointment or on a subway or when I go sit on the Boardwalk (I will probably start doing that again very soon). I've actually been reading again this week, a really good book of blues-oriented short stories that I'm reviewing for Blues Revue. Makes we want to build more reading time into the day.

Because of the doctor's appointment and the bookstore, and then shopping up fruit and vegetables on the way home (our amazing produce store closes from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and follows the religious Jews to their summer enclave in Deal, NJ), I didn't really do much other work today (though I did read one of the blues short stories while waiting for the podiatrist). I did make some new Facebook friends from the "Dan Lynch Alumni" list. (Dan Lynch was a ratty old blues bar with some of the best music in the city, from the early 80s until the middle 90s. The Holmes Brothers used to play a lot of Saturday nights there.) And in jewelry world, I gave three pair of earrings and a business card to one of the nurses there, because we determined on my last visit that we both adore Swarovski. That was a freebie, but the freebies are also in part about networking.

What I feel like doing now is playing with my beads for a while. I got some nice vintage beads yesterday that I won on eBay, some twisty opalescent green ones; some "blueberries and cream" ones, also twisty; and some eyepopping channel-set violet Swarovskis with a loop on each side, for earring or bracelet components. One of my jewelry weak spots is wire-wrapping briolettes. Some months back, I won an auction of 100 lots of Swarovski from an eBay seller I was familiar with, each lot being one large bead or maybe half a dozen smaller ones, a mix of new and vintage, and there are quite a few beautiful briolettes in there, so I'm going to knuckle down and work on making some nice earrings with them. (I also have half a dozen beautiful briolettes in imperial topaz -- the good, real stuff -- that I've been sitting on for half a dozen years until I figured out how to use them, or got good enough.

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