Friday, December 02, 2011

Books and brickbats

Over the past fortnight, I bought just three books from the secondhand bookstall I frequent on my way home from work. I usually pick up more. They were The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn, an Inspector Morse mystery by British crime writer Colin Dexter; Dr. Death by American psychologist Jonathan Kellerman; and Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut. These are used books in very good condition and cost me a little over a dollar…for the lot.

While I am familiar with Dexter and Vonnegut, I have never read Kellerman before. However, Dr. Death will have to wait his turn behind a long line of to-be-read books which, on last count, was pushing fifty, maybe more; not counting the unread Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, the Classics, and God alone knows what else.

Of course, I can get Kellerman to jump the queue because I am curious to read how psychologist-detective Alex Delaware solves the brutal murder of Eldon Mate, alias Dr. Death, somewhere near Hollywood. I will have to bring Kellerman to the book-front ever so discreetly lest it annoys Martin Cruz Smith, Agatha Christie, Lloyd C. Douglas, Frank G. Slaughter, Amitav Ghosh, and Ed McBain who are immediate next.

When the hoarding gets tough, the books (have to) get going. Pretty unlikely, till I decide whether to read them, and read them fast, or give them away. It’s a malady that afflicts and a dilemma that confronts all book lovers.

For the time being, I have decided to take the middle path—no more new (old) books.

So this entire week, as I stepped out of the railway station in the evening peak hour and walked past the bookshop, I turned abruptly on my heels, stepping on cursing shoes and feet, to look at the neat pile of books. I didn’t buy any, though, except for a beautiful hardbound The Secret of the Lost Necklace and Other Stories by Enid Blyton (Award Publications Ltd, 2008), a gift for a child.

Here’s what I have missed so far, all in mint condition and selling at Rs.100 ($2) each—five books by James Patterson, based on his characters Alex Cross and Michael Bennett; three books by the historical-romance author, Julia Quinn, which included the Bridgertons family series; one book by Jasper Fforde, whose title I don’t remember; two books by fantasy writer Jonathan Stroud (Books 2 & 3) of the Bartimaeus Trilogy; Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith; and Samit Basu's The Manticore's Secret (Book 2) of the three-part GameWorld trilogy, a fantasy. There were more, many more…

Then yesterday, December 1, as I was browsing but not buying, the shop owner came up to me and said: “A new lot has just come. We are sorting them. Wait for a couple of days.”

“What category of books?” I asked.

“The Rs.20 lot,” he smiled, knowingly, for half my collection in recent months has come from the 50-cents pile. You don't want to know what it looks like.


  1. I'm always picking up a mixture of books and I would highly recommend Kellerman. I love his Alex Delaware series.

  2. Sarah, thanks for dropping by. I intend to read DR. DEATH soon. I liked what I read on the back cover.

  3. I want to read Dr. Death. I've read another book by the author that was good.

  4. Charles, I'll probably post a review after I read DR. DEATH. Kellerman has written an amazing number of books.

  5. Three good selections. I've read all three although I don't remember them well since it was long ago.

  6. Patti, this guy sells some really good used books without knowing their true value, and they're all in good shape too.

  7. It's hard to dislike Morse isn't it, in-spite of him being a insufferable pedantic boast and a miser to boot :)

    The only works of Dexter I was disappointed were the short stories.

    //this guy sells some really good used books without knowing their true value, and they're all in good shape too.//
    Quite true and am more surprised by people selling out works of Dexter, Vonnegut.

  8. WordsBeyondBorders, my bookseller is not exactly a professional, it's more of a business enterprise sans literary knowledge. Good for readers, though. Some months ago I picked up a few brand new Erma Bombeck for 50 cents each; they were selling at cover price in new bookstores.

  9. Aha, my bad. I had actually referred to the original readers who had given up Dexter, Vonnegut etc. Wonder what made them given up these books, maybe shifting to new city etc.

  10. WordsBeyondBorders, I don't know about Dexter but I have friends who still swear by Vonnegut. Incidentally, Dexter is fighting for space on my bookshelf. I picked up two more books by him, thus breaking my own resolution not to buy any more books for a while.

  11. //I picked up two more books by him, thus breaking my own resolution not to buy any more books for a while.//

    Tell me about that, when has rational thinking/resolutions ever worked when it comes to books :)