Saturday, April 26, 2008

On Book Buying and Self-Restraint

I was pleased this morning when I checked my book buying log (a spreadsheet I started to track book expenditures in an attempt to work on self-restraint) to see that I had not purchased a single book in the month of April. Unfortunately, some backsliding occurred today. I had a bag of books to trade at Half-Price, and this fatal lure resulted in the purchase of 5 more books. I rationalized that the trade credit covered half the expenditure. And one of the books was a Martha Grimes novel Elly wanted. Then I saw Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People by Dave Tylka at Backyard Bird. I couldn’t pass that up! Then I noticed a new ALexander McCall Smith at Costco, Miracle at Speedy Motors. That was another book for Elly. I also placed an Amazon order today. One of those was for Elly too.

I dutifully added them all into my Book Buying log this evening: 12 books! It puts me at about 1 book every other day. Well, maybe not quite that much because the Amazon order won’t come for a week or two. I guess I’m going to add a Bibliomania category for book buying confession posts. Anyway, here is the list of 12.

Martha Grimes, The Winds of Change. (Elly!)

Edward Hirsch, How to Read A Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry. (I’ve had this checked out of the library twice. Figured it might as well have a permanent place in our home.)

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. (I obviously need no help freeing the "book buyer" within.)

Anne Lamott, bird by bird. (I blame this one on Eloise by the Book Piles.)

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale File. (Lovely Everyman’s Library edition for $7.98 at Half-Price.)

Alexander McCall Smith, The Miracle at Speedy Motors. (Elly!)

Dave Tylka, Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People.

Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion. (Another book I have checked out from the library multiple times. I needed it for my next Richard Dawkins rant...)

Ted Kooser, The Poetry Home Repair Manual. (Irresistible. Are you reading this Eloise? One to add to your TBR pile.)

Stephen Fry, The Ode Less Traveled. (Eloise’s fault again. BUT, this is available as a bargain book from Amazon now for $5.99.)

Bill Bryson, Shakespeare: The World as Stage. (Had to return this to the library today and Elly said we might as well order it. Shakespeare books generally come with a “Get Out of Jail Free” card from Elly.)

Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis. (One of the most interesting books I have read this year. With, I should say, an extensive, and equally fascinating bibliography, which doesn’t bode well for future book buying restraint...)

The picture of Samba and me was taken this morning. For those of you who are aware that Samba has bone cancer, I am happy to report he is doing excellently ten months after his diagnosis. Life expectancy after a diagnosis of canine bone cancer is usually 2-6 months. Samba is getting a combination of radiation treatments and intravenous pamidronate. He is the first dog our vet has had on this course of treatment. The result has been so good she is now treating two more dogs with the same combination.


Eloise said...

Oh no, I'm not taking responsibility - I feel bad enough about my own book splurges! I'm sure you'll enjoy Bird by Bird, it seems everyone does, but I'm a little more nervous about the Stephen Fry - he writes in a way that is very English - I hope it translates well across the Atlantic. I finished it this afternoon and announced to my husband that it was the best non-fiction book, and one of the best books, I've ever read. If you feel even a small bit of the enjoyment that it's given me over the past couple of weeks I'm sure you'll think it was worth getting.
To return the compliment, I'm about to order a few more books on poetry and I'm going to add the Edward Hirsch to the list.
I bought the same Nabokov the other day; it looks intriguing, doesn't it?

Fiske said...


I have Stephen Fry’s Ode checked out from the library and am enjoying it so not to worry about trans-Atlantic culture issues. Plus, at 25% of the cover price I didn’t agonize over the purchase decision. I’ve also had Lamott’s bird by bird checked out for some time and decided to add her to my permanent collection of friends. Reading certain books seems more like listening to a close friend, toward whom one is willing to exercise a certain amount of indulgence, overlooking a fault here or there, agreeing to disagree on this or that point, secure in the knowledge that the value of the relationship far exceeds any compromises one might make. One turns to such books for insights, amusement, and spiritual uplift. The subject of the book isn't even that critical, writing, gardening, a mystery story, what have you.

Intriguing is the right word for Nabokov’s Pale Fire. The Everyman’s Library edition includes an Introduction from Richard Rorty in which he cautions the reader to read the poem first. The commentary on the poem forms by far the larger part of the book. Somewhat surprisingly, Nabokov was an authority on a certain type of butterfly, Blues. I have been scouting Half-Price books in the area for a copy of a book about this, titled Nabokov’s Blues, for the past year.