Book Buying

How do you all go about buying books? Where do you most regularly get books from? Do you spend hours perusing old secondhand book stores, or do you spend a few minutes clicking mouse buttons?

I tend to get books from a number of different sources. Some I prefer to others, however the method which I get the most enjoyment from is the one that I do the least.

I get some books from local auctions. My father inhabits the local auction scene and has been known to pick up the odd six or seven boxes of books for me, usually for 25p a box or something silly. This is obviously cheap, but the quality and type of books can be quite random. It can be interesting searching through the boxes to see whether there is anything of interest or value, but in general my least favourite method.

My favourite method book buying is secondhand book stores. I can spend hours lost in the pleasure of leafing through musty old tomes. I will hopefully be checking out a few of this type of shop on Friday when I go to London. I have plotted a route from the station to the restaurant that should take me past six or so bookshops. I will just have to be careful not to get too engrossed in them and be late for my meeting. That would not be ideal. Although this type of book buying, along with visiting book fairs, is my favourite method, it is not the method that I use the most.

As much as I would like to have the time to buy secondhand editions of books with character from real shops I tend to end up buying most of my books from Amazon purely because of the convenience. The pressures of work tend to mean that I have little time for visiting bookshops and being able to get the books I want online is just too tempting. I actually really love the Amazon wish list as I enjoy adding all of the books that I want to get as I discover a new author or read a review about something. The ability to buy books with one click is also useful, but extremely dangerous in my opinion. I should really disable it, if that is possible. The recommendations that Amazon provide can also be quite useful in pointing you to other books by the same author or stories in a similar to what you have just ordered.

So what is your favourite method of book buying? Comments please.

London trip

I have been checking out a blog recently, after following a like on one of my posts back. The blog is  The Matilda Project. I have really enjoyed looking at this blog as it describes different bookshops that have been visited by the blogger; there is even a map. There are quite a few bookshops described that are in London, the bloggers home turf. I personally tend to shy away from London, only visiting when absolutely necessary. I do not enjoy the number of people that are always around. However, I am going to a lunchtime meeting on Friday at the Gilbert Scott restaurant in St Pancras. As I will be in London I thought I would try to visit a few of the bookshops mentioned on the Matilda Project. Only those within walking distance of Kings Cross as I would rather avoid the tube if possible. One of the bookshops is Housmans radical booksellers, which appears to be just around the corner from the station on Caledonian Road. There appear to be a few other shops mentioned on the blog that could be within walking distance, although you can often not tell from the maps how far they really are.

Hopefully it will be interesting. I should arrive a couple of hours before my meeting so have plenty of time to mooch around some bookshops. I just need to be careful not to end up buying too many books which I will then need to take to the meeting and carry around for the rest of the day.

If anyone has any bookshops to recommend within walking distance of Kings Cross please comment.


I have been having trouble writing lately. Just general free writing, nothing specific, but this morning I seemed to have no trouble at all. Everything just flowed easily. I think it may have been going out for a few beers last night and totally relaxing freed things up. I was amazed at how easily I could write, even with the inevitable headache and sick feeling from the excesses of last night. I am not sure that indulging my vices is the way forward to keep writing but it appears to have been a solution on this occasion. I am even catching up on my reading today, which I have also been neglecting. Catching up on the Proust and Robert Ludlum books. Perhaps I will have a chance to look into the other books I have on the go at the moment. I like to have a variety of books available to read, depending on my mood, which changes frequently. I usually have about five or six books that I am reading concurrently, although I prioritise some more than others. I have been working on my journal too.


How many of you keep a writer’s journal?

What do you write in your journal?

I like to use my journal for all sorts – ideas for characters, plots, story ideas, words and phrases that I like from books, tv, songs or anywhere really. I find it really useful as a record of my thoughts on a daily basis and I can expand on the ideas at a later date. Often what starts just as a simple prompt can be expanded into a full blown story.

Unfortunately the lack of sleep from last night is catching up with me, so time to take a nap I think.



Today is my birthday. At my age I do not usually bother a great deal about getting yet another year older. Surprisingly this year I have had quite a good day, all the more surprising because I was at work. I usually take the day off. I had a couple of cards from friends and from some of the staff and a bottle of chocolates. My friend also gave me a book ‘102 Ways to Write a Novel’ by Alex Quick. I haven’t had chance to delve into it much but I was pleased to receive it.

Has anyone read this, is it any good?

I also got some money from both my mother and my father and also a nice floor standing light with a separate reading lamp that will be great for reading ion the lounge. The reading lamp just bends over my shoulder and provides fantastic light. In fact I have tried it and should now be able to read without straining my eyes as I have been doing for years.

Not much to report on my reading. Both that and my writing have taken a bit of a dip the last few days. When I get home from work at the moment I just do not seem to feel like doing very much anymore. I have tended to just sit watching the tv feeling guilty that I am not doing something more productive. At least I am still writing a little in my journal each day. I just need to start motivating myself again.

Anyone know any good web sites for writing prompts? I often find these help to kick start me motivationally speaking.

Wilko and more books

Since hearing , in fact even before I heard, that Wilko Johnson had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, I have been obsessed with watching old clips of Dr Feelgood (obviously with Wilko playing guitar) on YouTube. I just cannot seem to get enough of his unique, choppy guitar style lately. Such sad news about a true legend.

Books wise I have finished ‘Books v. Cigarettes’ and moved on to ‘The Art of Fiction’ by David Lodge for my reading at work book. I am still reading Proust and a Jason Bourne novel. So lots of variety in my reading. I am still enjoying the Proust and every time I read some of it I seem to feel that he is talking directly to me. So many of the things that he writes resonate deeply with me. I suppose that is the mark of a good book. If it can make us feel like we are connected with the author in some way, that we are not the only person who feels a certain way about something.

Nothing much more to add today as I have quite a busy evening, but more soon, hopefully something a little more interesting too. I am trying, believe me!

Sunday Snow and Books

I’ve been very disappointed with the weather the last few days. The weather forecast has been telling me that it is snowing where I am, but I haven’t seen any snow falling at all. Admittedly there is snow on the ground, but that fell either before I got home from work on Friday or during the Friday night when I was asleep. I love to sit in the house and watch the snow falling. I find it extremely relaxing and peaceful. Typically as I am writing this there are a few flakes beginning to fall, very small ones at the moment but hopefully it will get bigger and I will get to enjoy the snow.

I am still reading Proust and the George Orwell book. I should finish ‘Books v. Cigarettes’ today, so will need to find a new lunchtime read for work. Not something too heavy, like the Proust, as sometimes it can be a little hard to concentrate in the staff room, with people talking all around you. I may have a look at ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami and see how I get on with that. I had a bit of an Amazon spending spree just before Christmas and have thirty or so books that I ordered that I still need to read, ranging from more of ‘In Search of Lost Time’ by Proust to some Jack Kerouac to a few trashy novels.

For some reason someone thought that it would be a good idea to site a cheap bookstore right next to the opticians that I had to visit over the Christmas break for an eye test. Naturally I didn’t leave the bookshop without ten or so books, spending longer ion there than in the opticians. Entering a book shop has always been a little bit dangerous for me as I just love the look, feel, smell of books. I want to have them on my shelves, even if I do not intend to actually read them. In fairness I do try to control the purchase of books that I don’t intend to read, unless of course they are something that I just want to collect.

Well, the snow hasn’t really improved much in the time it took to write this. A very poor show. Going to watch the Chelsea-Arsenal game now, hopefully we’ll get an Arsenal win.



Books v. Cigarettes

I am still managing to have a lunch break at work and I have been keeping one book aside to read only during this time. The book is ‘Books v. Cigarettes’ by George Orwell. It is a collection of a number of short essays on different topics such as ‘bookshop memories’ and the title essay. This was his musings about his spending on books versus cigarettes in response to suggestions that reading was an expensive pastime. I am enjoying the book immensely. It was very interesting reading his assumptions on his spending on both books and cigarettes/beer and his comparisons of the cost per hour of entertainment.

Proust is on the back burner at the moment, but I expect I will return to the next book in the series at the weekend. I should have plenty of free time, barring anything unexpected arising.

Not much else happening at the moment. I did however buy a digital camera the other day. My first one. I wanted something to take photographs with in order to remember things that I see that I want to write about. I have never been much of a photo taker and am not sure whether I will actually get a great deal of use out of it. Still, if one picture paints a thousand words then having pictures of locations that I want to use in my writing will hopefully allow me to better craft more descriptive narrative than just trying to remember the images and feelings I have of a place. Providing a prompt if you will.

Review Time

Well, I made my resolution (not a new years resolution mind you, I do not think that the turn of the year is in any way special enough to require a change of habit or the like) to try to blog a little more regularly. Let’s face it, it couldn’t have been anymore irregular could it. I now appear to have made a post almost every two days since the 4th January. That to me is good progress, a definite improvement on the past. Now I just need to keep up the momentum that I have built. But what to write about!

I finished ‘The Way by Swann’s’ by Proust finally yesterday and am going to get started on the next installment ‘In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower’ fairly soon. I am not convinced that I really know what is going on though. It strikes me as the type of book that you need to read a few times to have any idea what it is really about, and more will be revealed (or at least makes more sense) each time you read it.

I have started to take a lunch break at work, something I haven’t done for years usually lunching at my desk whilst working. I am going to use this time to get away from the desk, relax and read. I have managed two days so far, let’s see how long I can continue it for.

So we now have two things to monitor. My posting regularity and whether I can manage to continue taking a lunch break. Exciting stuff! Well if the last week or so is any indicator I will be posting again in a couple of days, but what the heck, I may surprise everyone, myself included, and post tomorrow. But somehow I doubt it.

Poe and stuff

I have just finished reading ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe. I had not read any of his work before and did not know what to expect. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this short story. For those of you who have not read it I would certainly recommend taking a look. It is short and takes only a few minutes to read, but is well worth it. The subject matter is a very interesting but I do not want to spoil it for anyone that would like to read it. It has certainly whetted my appetite for further reading of Poe’s works.

In addition to my interest in reading and writing I also have begun to collect books. I now have a small collection of Enid Blyton first editions. I mainly collect the adventure stories such as the famous five series, the adventure series, the mystery series and so on. I also pick up other random books when I find them. I am quite interested in the ‘beat generation’ writers and have a nice copy of the UK first edition of ‘The Naked Lunch’ by William Burroughs. I also found a first edition of ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams that I picked up from a hospital charity sale for 50p, a bargain! Collecting means that I periodically visit book fairs around the country, charity shops, second-hand book shops and market stalls seeing what I can pick up. Not as often as I should I admit. Identifying bargains is often easier said than done, but I am always learning. It gives me immense pleasure to admire these books on my book shelves, although I never actually read any of them.

Enough for today. I am now going to read a little more of Proust before the Arsenal game starts. Back to work tomorrow.

Weekend plans

Since the last post, where I said I was having trouble focusing on my reading I have found that this has become less of a problem. As a result I have been trying to finish of ‘The Iliad’. I have enjoyed reading it, despite the difficulty of the language and the literary form in which it is written. The version that I have been reading is based on the translation by George Chapman from around the early 1600’s. One of the problems that I have is that the names of many of the Gods involved are the Latin names rather than the Greek names that I am more familiar with. Initially this seems a little strange, although maybe it is not so strange since I believe that Chapman’s translation was actually of an earlier Latin version and not from the Greek. Getting my head around the fact that Neptune was Poseidon and so on added to the complexity of my understanding this. I have about forty pages left now so should have this finished by the end of the weekend.

I am also progressing with Proust’s  ‘The way by Swann’s’, although that will not likely be finished until early next week, when I can then move on to the next part of ‘A la recherche du temps perdu’ (In search of lost time), which is ‘In the shadow of young girls in flower’.  I am still waiting for the four remaining books to arrive from Amazon.  I was waiting to see how I got on with the first book before ordering the remainder of the series but I am happy now that I am going to enjoy it. The only other reading that I will probably be doing over the next few days is ‘The cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe. I have never read any Poe and so do not really know what to expect. I am sure I will let you know how I get on.

And before you think that all I do is read, I will be working on a little writing too. I need to plan out a few general ideas for some scenes that I am working on for a story. I can then use my daily writing time to expand upon and flesh them out. I find that I need to have a rough plan first though or I find it difficult to start. Often if I have a beginning and an end, and some idea of how to get from one to the other I can usually pretty much write the scene straight off, otherwise it feels much more difficult.

Hopefully I will post again in the next few days. I am doing quite well, given that until this year posts were often anything from six to eighteen months apart. I am not promising however that they are any more interesting!