Category Archives: Book Finds

Chapter 721 Comfort Found In Good Old Books

Last weekend was the Pasadena Antiquarian Book Fair and this weekend is the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair. Due to other commitments, I couldn’t attend or sell books at either fair. I was a bit mopey about missing an opportunity to buy and sell books and to visit with my bibliophilic buddies, but  I chose to take comfort in a few things like my family and that familiar standby, good old books.

In addition to visiting a local estate sale to go book shopping on Friday afternoon, I noticed a few things around my home that make me realize that, while I know I’d definitely enjoy the book fairs, I’m always glad to be home.  Here’s what I noticed just by being here this weekend. First, Huck, who recently turned 12, has decided to add a touch of whimsy to my autumn decor:

Those are juggling balls you see on the left. Huck is teaching himself to juggle. This I have got to see. And I also found him conducting some kind of scientific experiment in our kitchen:

I’m rather afraid to ask what that’s about. 🙂

And then there’s Tom. Even though I stopped blogging for a long while during the spring and summer, my sons kept growing up and older. Tom started high school last month. High school! Here’s a random snapshot from the corner of his bedroom. I’d say it’s fairly representative of his current teenage state:

Skateboard for getting to and from school. Homework in backpack. 3-D glasses from Friday night movie with friends. Beatles guitar picks. Many of his current major interests are represented in that one corner — skateboarding, studying, movies, music. Not necessarily in order of importance. 🙂

Here’s a closeup of The Beatles guitar picks, which I thought were kind of fun:

When I see little vignettes around the house such as the one that I just showed to you, I’m always amused and pleased  by the completely unexpected ways in which these boys add life to my house. Then I’m grateful that I’m here to see it.

And now for the book related part. On Friday, I had to pick up Tom and three of his friends and then Huck at school. Lucky for me, the Bookmobile also doubles as a Mom-mobile. It can safely convey lots and lots of kids and teenagers as well as books.  On my way to Huck’s school, I saw an estate sale advertised on a nearby street. Of course, I took what I expected would be a short detour. (N.B. Whenever you make a stop to look for books when you don’t really have time to stop, it is virtually guaranteed that you will uncover a treasure trove of good finds.) One half-hour later, I was receiving text messages from five boys who really needed a ride and wondered where I was.

I quickly made my purchase and left to pick them up. What I found involves a lot of photos and will have to be shown to you over the next several posts, but I promise it will be interesting.

See you in the stacks!

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Filed under Book Fairs, Book Finds

Chapter 720 New Tolkien Book on the Horizon

It’s not often that I write about books that are currently in or soon to be in print. My bookselling specialty is the hard-to-find and the out-of-print book. However, since it is fairly often that I write about my own nerdiness, I thought I would just go ahead and tell you how excited I was to read this today. That’s right. In May, 2013, a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit), will be published. What I’m most excited about is the title:  The Fall of Arthur. It’s about Britain’s legendary, amazing King Arthur.

Here’s where the nerdy part comes in:  I love Arthurian legend. When I was majoring in English during my college years, I took an entire course on Arthurian Legend. Really. (And I can still hear my parents right now, begging me to consider taking something practical, like Business. Clearly they did not know I was destined to be a teacher and then a bookseller and that Arthurian legends are just one small part of our stock-in-trade.) I loved that course and the reading that went along with it. Here’s a page from my textbook from college, written in Middle English (The Alliterative Morte Arthure). If you want to see for yourself how different Middle English is from modern English, click on the photo below and the print will be bigger.

Tolkien is not only a great storyteller; he is a master of language. One of his early jobs was writing for the Oxford English Dictionary, where he wrote specifically about the history and etymology of words.  He even created his own language, Elvish, as shown in this book, below:

I think it’s high time we revive interest in King Arthur and I think Tolkien may just be the perfect author to do it! I’m looking forward to the publication of The Fall of Arthur next spring.
See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 719 Women, Books, and Art

I found this frontispiece page of a book recently.  I like how the woman portrayed in the picture is so engrossed in her book that she appears not to notice nor to care about the person who is watching her — the artist who drew and then engraved this picture. That artist paid close enough attention to his subject to capture the sheen of her hair, the shadow on her neck, the filigree of her fine lace collar and cuffs.   The attention to detail, while typical of engraved frontispiece portraits, makes me think that the artist is capturing an important interaction — that between a reader and her book. While I’m not an art collector, this frontispiece inspired me to look around for art that featured women reading books.  These days, with more women than men reading electronic books rather than the printed kind, this sort of bookish art may become a thing of the past.  Here are a few more:

See you in the stacks!


Filed under Book Finds, Literary Influences, Uncategorized

Chapter 712 Cataloguing Machine

I’m pleased to tell you that a house call late last week ended with my purchasing a small collection of 75 books. I’m also pleased to tell you that the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair is coming up next Saturday, March 24 and I’ll be exhibiting in my usual space right inside the entrance to the main hall. Stop by if you’re in the area, and if you know you’re planning to come, leave a comment below and I can email you a free pass! And, yes, I’ll be bringing as many of those new finds as I can get priced and catalogued to the fair, so stop by if you’d like to see them.

I now have to catalogue and cover with clear, mylar dustjacket protectors all of these books by the time I leave for the fair at the end of week. Since that’s a big task, and, frankly, not one I’m sure I will completely accomplish given my other responsibilities, I’m going to take a blogging break until I return from the fair so I can do my best to get the job done. My plan for the week is to be a book cataloguing machine.  You can expect a full report on the fair when I return.

Meanwhile, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in our usual way around here:

The Leprechaun visited, and though he was disappointed that everyone around here has grown up so much that they no longer build a trap, he left his footprints, a card, and a couple of treats behind.

I baked two loaves of Irish Soda Bread (my Nana’s recipe, which came from her mother, who came to this country from Ireland at the turn of the 20th century). One of our longtime St. Patrick’s Day traditions — one that’s been around even longer than the Leprechaun trap — is that we make a Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner for some friends and sometimes for extended family, too. None of them are of Irish descent, but they’re all coming over for a big meal later tonight. I haven’t got the heart to tell them that I have yet to meet anyone who actually lives in Ireland who actually eats Corned Beef and Cabbage. It’s an Irish-American dish, sure.

I took a few minutes to have a hot cup of “tay” from my Irish china teacup:

And, even though they are getting too grown up for Leprechaun traps, Tom and Huck will never be too old for mischief.  They got this shirt for our dog, Molly. We got her eight years ago on St. Patrick’s Day (hence her Irish name).  We don’t ever dress her in clothes. We’re just not the sorts who think dogs need clothes, but put Tom, Huck, a holiday, and the clearance bin at Target together and here you go:

Molly, though she is a grand little dog, is not amused. You can tell by her face that she finds covering her gloriously soft fur with a t-shirt from Target to be extremely undignified.

I think that once Molly can get this shirt off, she will be quite content to sit at my feet, undisturbed by the boys, while I catalogue the recent acquisitions this week.

See you at the book fair!


Filed under Book Fairs, Book Finds

Chapter 686 Winter Reading List

Since my previous post was all about reading, I thought I should update my reading list (over there on the right sidebar of the blog) so I can share with you books I recently either bought or borrowed from the library because I think I will enjoy them. Perhaps you will, too, though I know that literary tastes vary. That’s part of what makes books fun. I often learn about books I have never heard of from you, readers of this blog. Several times you have recommended books to me and most of the time they are books I enjoy.  Here’s my winter reading list:

The Prague Cemetery, by Umberto Eco

Reamde, by Neal Stephenson

My Life as Laura: How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself, by Kelly Kathleen Ferguson

The Provincial Lady in Wartime, by E.M. Delafield

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship, and the Making of a Masterpice, Edited by Joan Reardon

Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, by Paul Gallico

Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge, by Gladys Taber and Barbara Webster

Spencer’s Mountain, by Earle Hamner, Jr.

I know it’s likely that some of you may be surprised that I would enjoy a domestic novel like Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris and novels written by authors in completely different genres, like Umberto Eco (literary/historical/philosophical) and Neal Stephenson (science and cyber fiction). These seem to have nothing in common with another. Well, I’ve said it before and I will say it again (with all credit due to Walt Whitman):  “I am large. I contain multitudes.” As most of you no doubt realize by now, I like books of all sorts.

Winter seems the perfect time for hunkering down with a good book, a warm fire, and a cup of tea (or your beverage of choice). What’s on your reading list this winter?


Filed under Book Finds

Chapter 682 Thank Goodness The Weekend Is Here

Both Tom and Huck are playing on basketball teams from now until the end of February.  It’s lots of fun, but, combined with their other activities (Boy Scouts and guitar for Tom, Cub Scouts and bass guitar for Huck), it makes for hectic afternoons. Here is a sample schedule from one day last week:

3:00 p.m. Pick up boys at school, which is not in walking distance of our home, unfortunately. Return home for quick snack and change of clothes for boys.

4:00 p.m. Take Tom to guitar, here in our hometown.

4:30 p.m. Take Huck to basketball practice — two towns away because our school gym is too small to accommodate the teams from every grade, so we rent gym space where we can find it.

5:00 p.m. Return to our town to pick up Tom from guitar.

5:30 p.m. Drive back to Huck’s basketball practice to pick him up.

6:00 p.m. Drive home on Highway 101 during notorious Silicon Valley rush hour traffic. (This is the part I really can’t stand.)

6:40 p.m. Home. Time to make dinner and make sure boys do homework. Did I mention that Huck has a book report due tomorrow?

Despite what the crazy schedule above may indicate, I try not to overschedule the boys (or myself, for that matter). I believe that some of the best learning and growth for kids happens when they have free time. I also believe that if they want to participate in these activities, it’s my job to help them do that, within reasonable limits. I limit them to one sport each per season (i.e. no playing basketball and baseball during the same season). Each takes music lessons, but only once a week for an hour. Each is involved in Scouts, but that’s only once every other week. Each kid participates in activities of his own choosing (meaning that I do not force them to play sports or music or to be Scouts — they’ve chosen these things). Even though we try make rational decisions about what activities the kids participate in, every couple of weeks, all of these activities converge during the same week and sometimes the same day. By the end of a week where everything seems to be happening at once,  I am very grateful for the weekend (except when the basketball game starts at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.)

This past week was one such extra busy week when activities converged. I was so glad when Friday came and I had some time to sit down and think about books for a couple of hours while the boys were at school. I decided that, in order to really savor the moment of time I had to just be at home, I would make it extra special. Maybe it’s just me, but when I take time to be present to the things that really matter (home life and books), I enjoy it more and don’t get driven crazy by the busy family schedule. With basketball season here, I have to fit in these moments whenever I can. It keeps me calm and energized.  Here are a few photos of my Friday bliss:

Comfort and Joy Tea from one of my book-themed teapots and my Rare Book School mug. Maple Oatmeal scone served on a piece from a Wedgwood Queensware dessert set I found at an estate sale in September:

New acquisitions and bookseller catalogues that arrived in the mail this week, waiting to be opened:

Books. Catalogues. Tea. Scones. Perfect. TGIF! (Thank God It’s Friday!)

See you in the stacks!

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Filed under A Family Business, Book Finds, Catalogues, Organization

Chapter 681 For My Friends Who Keep Chickens

This is the front cover of a book I have. Bound in decorative red cloth embossed in black, the cover features a color pastedown of a woman feeding her chickens.  It probably comes as no surprise to you that my Little- House-on-the-Prairie-lovin’ self would love to keep chickens.  Though I know several people who keep backyard chickens, I haven’t yet made the leap to doing so. But for those of you who have chickens or who want to (hi Elizabeth S.), I’m posting this for you. Like you, I dream of pretty varieties of chicken and fresh eggs.

The book above is called Better Than Rubies:  Stories for the Young Illustrative of Proverbs. Published in 1873, it has a chromolithograph frontispiece (same image as on the cover) and 62 black and white illustrations.  A charming book. Makes me think that I might get started on some backyard chickens of my own. Then again, I’m a bit of a dreamer. Instead of owning a book about the specifics of raising poultry, I own the one that has nothing to do with poultry but has a pretty picture on the cover. I think that’s probably a good indication that I’m not ready to raise my own chickens just yet.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 673 Trade Catalog and Book of Designs for Bakers and Confectioners

Autumn always puts me in the mood to bake — cookies, cakes, scones. Last week I made the most delicious pumpkin bread. I love pumpkin bread and I add a special ingredient to it when I make it. Would you like to know my special ingredient?

I am sure longtime readers have immediately guessed — the secret ingredient is chocolate. I add a few mini-chocolate chips to the loaf of pumpkin bread and it is delicious. Thoughtful Husband thinks that the combination of pumpkin and chocolate is odd, but I think it is a match made in heaven.

All this recent baking called to mind two fun pieces of ephemera I plan to bring to the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend. Come by and check them out in person or send me an email or leave a comment if you’re interested but can’t make it to the fair.  These little booklets were published by H. Hueg and Co. in 1896.  Herman Hueg was a baker and confectioner who expanded his business by selling the tools needed for baking and the instructions on how to use these tools.  I have a trade catalog called Patent Tools for Bakers, Confectioners, and Decorators. The catalog is accompanied by a Book of Designs for Bakers and Confectioners. Here’s a closer look:

The cover of the Book of Designs (a bit beat up, but internally very good) and catalog:

Illustration of the H. Hueg & Co. building in Queens, New York:

Title page:

Advertisements for other H. Hueg publications:

Tools for baking and making candy:

Things you can bake and make using H. Hueg tools:

I have a lot of respect for anyone able to make such intricate designs out of sugar.  I like to decorate cakes, as we have seen in past posts, but my own baking designs tend to be a little simpler.

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Filed under Book Finds, Ephemera, Uncategorized

Chapter 671 Bookseller Tickets

Look what I found in the back of some books I am cataloguing: bookseller tickets — and all of them from San Francisco!


Filed under Book Finds, Book Related Products, Ephemera

Chapter 669 Book Hunting Trophies

It was a record-setting weekend for book-buying for me. Only once before have I bought so many books at one time. This weekend’s purchases were due to the combination of a particularly bountiful estate sale in the picturesque and well-to-do town of Woodside and to a local bookseller who called me Friday offering me a great book at a great price that I just couldn’t refuse. Here are photos of a few (but not all) of my purchases. Expect to see some newly catalogued items for sale soon both on the Book Hunter’s Holiday website and at the upcoming book fairs in Sacramento and Seattle!


Filed under Book Finds, Uncategorized