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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bargain Book Finds and Intriguing Reads

This is one of my every other weekends, when I work Saturday and Sunday, and then I work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. When you work part-time, five days in a row feels like a long stretch. So what did I do Saturday evening, after leaving the busy and hectic library world? I went to a bookstore, browsed the shelves and tables with my husband, and bought two bargain books and Guitar World magazine. (The August 2009 issue has a lengthy Green Day article focusing on Billie Joe Armstrong's songwriting process, and his "working" collection of classic guitars.)

My first bargain book find is Carson McCullers's The Mortgaged Heart: Selected Writings, with an introduction by Joyce Carol Oates (Houghton Mifflin, c1971, c2005). I've owned Collected Stories of Carson McCullers (Houghton Mifflin, c1987) for many years, which also includes The Member of the Wedding, and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. I went through a time in high school, where I read most of everything she'd ever written. Mortgaged Heart includes her early and later short stories, essays and articles, her thoughts on writers and writing, and a selection of five poems. I count The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter among my favorite books of all time, and Carson McCullers as one of my favorite authors, but it's been so long since I've read her, I'd like to be reminded of why I was impressed. At $3.00, already bargain priced and discounted an additional 25%, this will be a great book to get me going.

My second $3.00 bargain is J. R. R. Tolkien's Roverandom (Houghton Mifflin, c1992, c1995, c1998), including a thorough introduction, definitions, and notes. I'd never heard of Roverandom. So far, I've only had a chance to read the first few scenes. Told much like a traditional fairytale, in appealing language with modern sensibilities, it begins with the words: Once upon a time...

Here's a quote from the back cover to give you some idea of what the fantasy is about, and why Tolkien wrote it: In 1925, four-year-old Michael Tolkien lost his beloved toy dog on the beach. To console him, his father, J.R.R. Tolkien, improvised a story about Rover, a real dog who is magically transformed into a toy and is forced to seek out the wizard who wronged him in order to be returned to normal. This charming tale, peopled by a sand-sorceror and a terrible dragon, by the king of the sea and the Man-in-the-Moon, went through several drafts over the years. Now, more than seventy years later, the adventures of Rover (rich in wit and wordplay) have been published for the first time... and illustrated with Tolkien's own delightful drawings.

Another book store find, from a few weeks ago, is an intriguing, dry, and challenging book. I found it in the writing and publication section, but it could properly be included in psychology, or language and linguistics. It's cataloged by the Library of Congress under the subject headings: Language and Languages - Philosophy, Metaphors, Concepts, and Truth. Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (University of Chicago Press, c2003) was first published in 1980, and updated by the authors with an afterword, in 2003. As I read more of the book, I'll post more about it. The authors propose and support the position that metaphors are not just a construct of language; metaphors are representative of the way humans think.


  1. Oooh, what bargains! I loved reading 'The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter'. I don't have a copy either. Looks like I'm going to do some hunting!

  2. That book on metaphors sounds extraordinary, Annie. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on that.

  3. What great finds! I was just thinking about Carson McCullers the other day...how much I enjoy her and how long its been since I've read her. The Tolkien book sounds like a lot of fun and what a sweet story of its writing.

  4. Oh, I'm so jealous. These are great finds! I love going to secondhand bookstores. Does your library have booksales, too?

  5. Hi Julie,

    Actually, I found the books at Borders. Our local Borders, at least, has been getting more bargain books, and they had a few shelves of Houghton Mifflin "remainders." Metaphors We Live By was full price less a 20% coupon.

    The library has an ongoing book sale of "weeded" and donated books. I have so many books at home already, I only look for the books in excellent condition. Often, we get to see the donations as they come in the back door, and I have to be extremely selective, or I'd come home with more books almost every day!

  6. Oh! I just last week read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and was GOBSMACKED by love. I have not fallen in love with a novel like that in a long time, it was a beautiful experience and I have found a new love.