Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What Books Did I Buy in Boston?

As mentioned in my previous post, we were in Boston this past week.  Within a few blocks of the condo we rent at 21 Beacon Street, the old Bellevue Hotel, there are three wonderful used book shops:  Commonwealth Books has two shops only a few blocks apart and Brattle Book Shop, 'one of America's oldest and largest antiquarian bookstores'.

Brattle is where most of my library was purchased.  In the 1980s, we lived on Beacon Hill and I worked at One Financial Center.  I walked past Brattle on my way to and from work and to and from lunch, so I had lots of time to browse and buy.  In those days, they had gorgeous sale books for $1 each.  I bought a set of Robert Louis Stevenson, lots of Everyman's editions of the classics, Oxford Classics, and tons of other interesting books.

I was building a library based on classics, with the assistance of Clifton Fadiman's The Lifetime Reading Plan.  I used his book as a guide to the best of the best, sort of like the Harvard Classics, which I also have.  I wrote to him when he was quite elderly and treasure the letter he wrote back.  Not a lot of authors or celebrities, and he was one of those in his day, do that.  He's the writer Anne Fadiman's father.

This time, most of the books that came home with me came from Commonwealth Books.  They are better arranged than Brattle's books, and I have to confess that I'm appalled that Brattle now puts price  stickers on their books.  Shame on any bookseller who puts anything sticky on a book!  A light penciled price inside the front cover is the only acceptable method.

So, without further ado, here are the books I bought, with one exception.  Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life was given to me by my friend Jenny, a veterinarian, artist, and writer.  We often give each other books.

The two Angela Thirkell books, Miss Bunting and Close Quarters, and the Beverley Nichols mystery all came from Brattle.  The others are from Commonwealth.  There are three Nancy Drew books, so I now have all but three of the original (not first editions) thirty-four books.  There are also a couple of mysteries by Patricia Wentworth, a couple by Patricia Moyes, and two more Phoebe Atwood Taylor Asey Mayo Cape Cod mysteries.  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have books to read!


  1. What fun! How nice of your friend to gift you the Beatrix Potter book! She was quite a gardener.

    1. That's what I understand. I've read at least one book about Potter, but my (and maybe its) focus was on her drawings and her stories. I'm eager to read this one about her gardening.

  2. What a great haul! I'm completely with you on the price stickers, I recently bought a book which had the price on a piece of paper right on the front cover, stuck on to it with a huge piece of sellotape/sticky tape. I can't get it off - what on earth were they thinking of?!

    1. I don't know what they're thinking. If they pencil in the price, it's easily removable or easily changed. Stickers reduce the value of a book, at least to me, if they can't be removed without damaging the book. I won't buy a book with a price sticker unless I'm sure it can be removed.

  3. A mystery by Beverley Nichols? My heart be still. I didn't know there was such a thing. I am very jealous of your find, Joan. And what fun you have had in Boston. I just recently picked up (from my public library) "At Home with Beatrix Potter" by Susan Denyer. We must be on the same wave link.

    1. I thought he'd only written books about gardens and cats until Katrina (at mentioned that he'd written some mysteries. I wasn't looking for them when I was in Boston, but this one was propped up on a shelf of markdowns! According to Wiki, here is a list of his mysteries:

      No Man's Street (1954)
      The Moonflower (1955) (aka The Moonflower Murder)
      Death to Slow Music (1956)
      The Rich Die Hard (1957)
      Murder by Request (1960)

      I haven't started Murder by Request yet, but I'll let you know what I think after I've read it.

      I just love Potter's world of small animals in cozy little animal houses. When I was a child, my mother kept me quiet in church by allowing me to draw my own versions of mouse houses on the church bulletin, not quite up to Potter standards, but fun for me.

    2. Thanks for the list of Mr. Nichols's mysteries, Joan. I love his garden/house books. They are so funny, I will be interested to hear from you how he handles a murder.

    3. I'll probably never find another of Nichols' mysteries, especially since I don't travel much anymore, but who knows? I will let you know what I think of it after I've read it. Let's keep our eyes open for more of his books.

      BTW, I know you're off to your quiet retreat. I think that's a wonderful way to give thanks this holiday.