AbeBooks' Reading Copy

AbeBooks book blog

Advanced Search Browse Books Rare Books Textbooks
Advanced Search

The Daphne Award: Righting the Wrongs of Book Awards Past

the-favourite-game-cohenThe good folks over at Bookslut have announced plans for a new book award. Dubbed the Daphne Award, it will celebrate the best books of 50 years ago and ‘right the wrongs’ of book awards past.

As an afficionado of old books, I love this idea. And always up for a challenge, I couldn’t resist trying to answer Bookslut’s call for help with their list of nominees and spent some time this week hunting down treasures published in 1963. It was an interesting year in the literary world, with books by some authors who were newcomers at the time but who have since become very familiar – Joyce Carol Oates, John Fowles, Larry McMurtry, Mario Vargas Llosa, to name just a few.

I’m already coveting most of the books on Bookslut’s lists of potential nominees but still managed to find a few more to throw into the mix – and to add to my own wish-list.

Here are just some of the best, overlooked books from 1963.

Fiction:the-collector-fowles

The Collector by John Fowles
The Gift by Vladimir Nabokov (first English translation published in 1963)
Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry
The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen
La Ciudad y Los Perros (The Time of the Hero) by Mario Vargas Llosa
The Barracks by John McGahern
By the North Gate by Joyce Carol Oates
The Bender by Paul Scott
Visions of Gerard by Jack Kerouac
Inside Daisy Clover by Gavin Lambertself-portrait-ray
Travelling People by B.S. Johnson

Nonfiction:

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King
Self Portrait by Man Ray
The Presidential Papers by Norman Mailer
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
What is Remembered by Alice B. Toklas
Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof

Poetry:

It Catches My Heart in Its Hands By Charles Bukowskizoo-munari
No Voyage by Mary Oliver
The Rising Fire by Gwendolyn MacEwen

Kids’ Books:

9 Magic Wishes by Shirley Jackson
Bruno Munari’s Zoo
How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes
Hold Fast Your Teeth by Edward Bawden


Remembering John Banville’s 1970 debut

Our recent feature about debut novels includes Nightspawn by John Banville.

Now Banville is an interesting case as Nightspawn is actually his second book. He made his publishing debut with Long Lankin in 1970.  Long Lankin is a collection of short stories and is sadly rather forgotten these days. It contains nine stories of everyday life where people are influenced by the strongest emotions.

Banville keeps a low profile even though he is a past winner of the Man Booker Prize (2005 for The Sea). His titles are moderately collectible but could never be compared to rare Salman Rushdie books. Bag-End Books in Saskatoon, Canada, offers a signed first edition of Long Lankin – something of a rarity in the world of modern firsts.

Greg Foley, from Bag-End Books, offers these thoughts on Banville. “He was born in Ireland and follows in the tradition of so many other great Irish writers,” said Greg. “Though he is not as high profile as other UK writers, he has a committed following. At the Hay Festival in 2013, which I had the privilege of attending, his fans were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  The large crowd was extremely appreciate of Mr. Banville’s wit and erudition. Why did he begin his career with the short story? Many writers feel intimated by the immensity of a novel when they first begin writing and try their hand at short stories.”

Famous examples would be Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov who both began their writing careers with short stories.

Of course, Banville – who has worked as a sub-editor on The Irish Press and The Irish Times – is also Benjamin Black, the name he uses for his murder mystery books. He has written seven novels as Black and 16 under his real name.


2014 Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Awards Announced

Flora-and-Ulysses

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo is the 2014 winner of the John Newbery Medal, awarded by the American Library Association for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Illustrated by K.G. Campbell, DiCamillo’s mash-up of comics, prose, and even poetry, is a high-energy romp about a lonely girl named Flora and her super-hero friend, Ulysses, who happens to be a squirrel.

This year’s winner of the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished picture book is Locamotive by Brian Floca, a detailed and beautifully illustrated story of 19th century train travel. And the 2014 Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature went to Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood, a darkly atmospheric tale encompassing both past and future, told in reverse chronological order.Paperboy

The awards were announced on January 27 at the American Library Association’s midwinter conference in Philadelphia.

Newbery Award Honor Books:

Doll Bones by Holly Black

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Paperboy by Vince Vawter

Caldecott Award Honor Books:

Journey by Aaron Becker

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly IdleKingdom-of-Little-Wounds

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

Michael L. Printz Award Honor Books:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Julian Crouch

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool


From Written Word to Silver Screen: 17 books hitting theaters in 2014

Books have a long history of becoming great films. It goes without saying that the two make a good pair, in fact, five of this year’s Oscar Best Picture nominees are book-to-film titles. American Hustle is based on The Sting Man: Inside Abscam by Robert W. Greene. Captain Phillips was inspired by A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Captain Richard Phillips. Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty Year Search by Martin Sexsmith became Philomena starring Dame Judi Dench. Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave and Jordan Belfort’s Wolf of Wall Street are also on the list.

So what’s next? Here are 17 books hitting theaters in 2014:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

1. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard becomes a film of the same title, starring Kate Winslet.

2. The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter becomes The Monuments Men starring George Clooney and Matt Damon.

3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead is a shoe-in for film following the Twilight phenomenon.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter 4. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin will star Colin Farell in it’s big screen adaptation.

5. Thérese Raquin by Émile Zola becomes the film In Secret, starring Elizabeth Olsen.

6. A Long Way Down is not the first Nick Hornby book to hit theaters.

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth is screaming blockbuster.

8. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is yet another YA read turned movie.A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

9. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais stars none other than Helen Mirren.

10. The Giver by Lois Lowry will come to life with Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.

11. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn isn’t the author’s only appearance on the big screen this year…

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green12. Gone Girl is also hitting theaters and stars Ben Affleck.

13. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper stars funny man Jason Bateman.

14. Rainier and Grace by Jeffrey Robinson inspired the film Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly.

15. Wild by Cheryl Strayed will feature Reese Witherspoon as the author who walks to redemption.

The Giver by Lois Lowry16. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand isn’t the author’s first film experience – she also wrote Seabiscuit.

17. Serena by Ron Rash will star on-screen duo Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

Get reading before you grab the popcorn!


Art Deco ephemera collection on display at Book Club of California

The Book Club of California is hosting a fascinating exhibition for fans of Art Deco, which opens on January 27 and runs until April 28. ‘Design for Modernity:  Art Deco Ephemera from the Collection of Bruce Shyer’ displays art deco motifs printed on programs, menus, travel brochures, matchbox and luggage labels, catalogs, playing cards, business cards, signs, sheet music, letterheads, blotters and much more.

Bruce Shyer, a retired attorney, currently serves as vice-president of the Ephemera Society of America. He is also a collector of books and ephemera about bookselling.

His collection is an insight into the stylish design era of the 1920s and 1930s. You will see chevrons, sunbursts, zigzags, lightning bolts, ray bands, and silhouettes galore if you go along to the Club, which is located on Sutter Street in San Francisco.

The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm and it’s free. It opens with an event on January 27 between 5pm and 7pm where Mr Shyer will introduce his collection.

The Book Club of California celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. It’s a true haven for bibliophiles.

More details on the Art Dec exhibition.


The 75 Greatest Living Female Authors

Late last year we asked you, our loyal customers and keen bibliophiles, to name the greatest living female author. We knew J.K. Rowling would lead the votes after the final count, which she did by a country mile, but it was intriguing to see who would be next.

In short, it was Canada who ran closest to the Harry Potter creator, with Margaret ‘Peggy’ Atwood at No. 2 and Alice Munro at three. American Toni Morrison was in fourth place.

Rowling, Atwood, Munro and Morrison garnered the vast majority of the votes between them and there was some distance between them and Joyce Carol Oates, who is followed by Harper Lee, Joan Didion and Zadie Smith. Hilary Mantel and Barbara Kingsolver round out the top 10. Lee makes the list with just a single book to her name, To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960.

Customers could vote for any living female writer, regardless of genre or standing or her number of published works, so this list is broad and stretches from bestsellers you find by the supermarket checkout to Nobel Prize winners and authors whose books are studied in universities. A number of these authors have been writing for decades and we should applaud the likes of Atwood, Morrison, Munro, Oates, Ursula Le Guin, Penelope Lively and PD James for their ability to regularly produce books that people want to read.

The 75 Greatest Living Female Authors

1. J.K. Rowling – no introduction needed but she is also Robert Galbraith.

2. Margaret Atwood – Canadian icon known for Handmaid’s Tale, Edible Woman.

3. Alice Munro – another Canadian, queen of short stories and Nobel winner.

4. Toni Morrison – Nobel winner in 1993, BelovedThe Bluest Eye and more.

5. Joyce Carol Oates – more than 40 novels since the 1960s.

6. Harper Lee – a true one-hit wonder but what a one-hit wonder!

7. Joan Didion – non-fiction, fiction, screenplays. She can do it all.

8. Zadie Smith – the top-ranked non-Rowling Brit, White Teeth put her on the map.

9. Hilary Mantel – double Booker winner and undisputed queen of historical fiction.

10. Barbara Kingsolver – fiction and non-fiction, Poisonwood Bible and more.

11. Marilynne Robinson – won Pulitzer in 2004, written four outstanding novels.

12. Anne Rice – Gothic fiction and erotica, and lots of die-hard fans.

13. Louise Erdrich – 14 novels with The Round House winning a National Book Award.

14. Anne Tyler – 20 novels including The Accidental Tourist.

15. Jhumpa Lahiri – short stories and novels make her a rising star.

16. Ursula Le Guin – prolific author of science fiction and fantasy, a legend.

17. Annie Proulx – Best known for Shipping News and the Brokeback Mountain short story.

18. Connie Willis – Hugo awarding-winning science fiction.

19. Maya Angelou – seven autobiographies including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

20. Rose Tremain – written 13 novels since the 1970s.

21. Isabel Allende – the pride of Chile but adored throughout South America.

22. Alice Walker – always remembered for The Color Purple from 1982.

23. Gillian Flynn – Only written three novels but Gone Girl was a bestseller.

24. Donna Tartt – slow but good, just three novels published in three decades.

25. Amy Tan – six novels exploring mother-daughter relationships.

25. Suzanne Collins – young and old are hungry for the Hunger Games trilogy.

26. Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love has sold and sold and sold.

27. Beverly Cleary – bestselling children’s books with vibrant characters like Ramona Quimby.

28. Geraldine Brooks – Australian journalist with four successful novels.

29. Tamora Pierce – loved by teenagers for her feminist-themed fantasy.

30. Diana Gabaldon – genre-crossing writer famous for the Outlander series.

31. P.D. James – the English crime writer who created Adam Dalgliesh.

32. Sarah Waters – carved her own niche of Victorian-Lesbian fiction.

33. Anne Enright – nurse-turned-novelist best known for The Gathering.

34. Anne Perry – prolific writer of historical detective fiction.

35. Jeanette Winterson – burst onto the scene with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

36. Nadine Gordimer – South African writer known for her political activism.

37. Anna Quindlen – former journalist who writes fiction and non-fiction.

38. Maggie O’Farrell – Northern Irish author of six novels.

39. Eleanor Catton – Her second novel, The Luminaries, won the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

40. Pat Barker – best known for her Regeneration trilogy.

41. Karen Russell – her debut novel, Swamplandia!, was widely acclaimed.

42. Kathy Reichs – a much-loved crime writer and forensic scientist.

43. Ruth Ozeki – Canadian-American novelist known for Tale of the Time Being.

44. Sue Grafton – American detective novelist best known for the Kinsey Millhone series.

45. Edna O’Brien – Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer.

46. Miriam Toews – Canadian author with six books to her name.

47. Philippa Gregory – historical novelist famous for the Tudor series.

48. Louise Penny – another Canadian, who pens compelling mystery novels.

49. Ann Patchett – best known for Bel Canto and State of Wonder.

50. Kate AtkinsonLife after Life won the Costa Prize in the UK.

51. Nora Roberts – the No. 1 name in romance (also writes as J.D. Robb).

52. Mary Roach – writes non-fiction with titles like Bonk, Stiff and Spook.

53. Laura Hillenbrand – memorable non-fiction like Seabiscuit and Unbroken.

54. Stephenie Meyer – the Twilight author captured the teen market.

55. Emma Donoghue – seven novels since 1994 but Room is the most popular.

56. Janet Evanovich – sells oodles of Stephanie Plum mysteries.

57. Sue Monk Kidd – Her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, got her noticed.

58. Judy Blume – someone who has sold 80 million books can’t be bad.

59. Diane Setterfield – this British author is best known for The Thirteenth Tale.

60. Tracy Chevalier – historical novelist with seven books.

61. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – one of Africa’s brightest star with four novels.

62. Penelope Lively – too many books to mention, won Booker in 1987.

63. Mary Higgins Clark – ex-air stewardess who became a bestselling suspense writer.

64. Naomi Klein – three major non-fiction books including No Logo.

65. Jennifer EganA Visit from the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer for Fiction.

66. Kristine Rusch – talented writer of science fiction, fantasy, mystery and romance.

 

67. Deborah Harkness – professor of history who has written three novels.

68. Tanith Lee – British writer of sci-fi, horror and fantasy. 90+ novels.

69. S.E. Hinton – she wrote The Outsiders in high school.

70. Ruth Rendell- mystery writer who created Chief Inspector Wexford.

71. Cheryl Strayed – she walked to redemption with Wild.

72. Margaret Weis – expert creator of fantasy worlds.

73. Meg Cabot – best known for the The Princess Diaries.

74. Jodi Picoult – over 20 books and more in the pipeline.

75. Danielle Steel – a woman who needs no introduction.

Notable female writers who did not make the top 75 include Mary Stewart, Donna Leon, AS Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Anita Brookner, PC Cast, Lois Lowry, Joanna Trollope, Jane Urquart, Kate DiCamillo, Kiran Desai, Diana Wynne-Jones and Patricia Cornwell.


The dictator who collected rare books

Earlier this week the New York Times reported on the book collection that belonged to Chile’s infamous former dictator General Augusto Pinochet, who was responsible for thousands of deaths and disappearances, and widespread torture. Pinochet used public money to build a vast personal library of Latin America’s literature during his years of rule. The library had previously gone unnoticed because it was divided between several of his homes.

General Pinochet collected many works on the Napoleonic era, including an 1841 edition, in the original French, of “Études Sur Napoléon,” by Marie Élie Guillaume de Baudus, and other titles translated into Spanish.

General Pinochet also acquired rare colonial tomes, like the writings of Alonso de Ovalle, a Jesuit priest and a chronicler of Chilean history in the 17th century, and 18th-century volumes of “La Araucana,” the epic poem by Alonso de Ercilla about the insurrection of the Araucanian Indians in Chile in the 16th century.

Complementing his books connected to Chilean history, which also included the prison diaries of Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, the 19th-century Chilean writer and politician, General Pinochet amassed works on guerrilla insurgencies and Marxist theoreticians like Antonio Gramsci, the Italian philosopher imprisoned by the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini.

Apparently, he was not a fan of fiction or poetry.


The top 100 most searched for out-of-print books in 2013

What do Ray Bradbury, Madeleine L’Engle, Arthur Hailey, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Salvador Dali and Dick Cheney’s wife have in common? They all appear on the annual BookFinder.com list of the top 100 most searched for out-of-print books in North America.

As usual, the list is topped by Madonna and her famous spiral-bound Sex photo-book, which is still in demand 22 years after its publication. Putting aside the pop star and her sexual antics with Naomi Campbell and Vanilla Ice, the list offers an interesting snapshot of American culture, including guns (four books), needlework (five), food (three) and art (six). The gun-related books include an example of pro-gun lobby fiction called Unintended Consequences by John Ross – a firearms enthusiast who, according to his website, “fires upwards of 20,000 rounds of ammunition per year.” Stephen King has four titles on the list, including Rage, which will never be brought back into print as it concerns school shootings.

Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini – dubbed the world’s weirdest book – has dropped off the list after a new edition was printed in October 2013. Vincent Price’s ever popular cookbook returns as does Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe.  The Afronauts, a photography book (pictured above), by Cristina de Middel is a newcomer. Self-published in 2012,  The Afronauts reimagines the true story of the bizarre Zambian space program in 1964. De Middel’s images show Zambians dressing up in Buck Rogers-style space outfits made by her grandmother. Copies now sell for more than $1,000. Birds of Britain (not the feathered variety) and Women Are Beautiful are two other photo-books that are in demand.

There are two Formula One books on the BookFinder list.  A Different Kind of Life is a biography of team manager Frank Williams written by his wife Virginia Williams.  Life at the Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One is an autobiography by Sid Watkins, the long-time Formula One on-track doctor.  Watkins attended to Ayrton Senna as he died in his wrecked car after a 140mph crash in 1994 and he treated numerous other drivers involved in crashes.  One of the more interesting how-to guides on the list is Mediumship Made Simple, published by the College of Psychic Studies in 1996, although Make Your Own Handcrafted Doors and Windows also looks handy.

The BookFinder Top 100

1 Sex by Madonna

2 Rage by Richard Bachmann/Stephen King

3 My Pretty Pony by Stephen King

4 The Harvard Classics (51 volumes) edited by Charles W. Eliot

5 On the Nature and Existence of God by Richard M. Gale

6 Promise Me Tomorrow by Nora Roberts

7 The Jerusalem Bible by Salvador Dali

8 A Treasury of Great Recipes by Vincent & Mary Price

9 Mandingo by Kyle Onstott

10 The Centurions by Jean Larteguy

11 On the Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman F. Dixon

12 Labyrinth by A.C.H. Smith

13 365 Bedtime Stories by Nan Gilbert

14 The Road We are Travelling, 1914-1942: Guide lines to America’s Future by Stuart Chase

15 The Afronauts by Cristina de Middel

16 The Body by Stephen King

17 Mastering Atmosphere & Mood in Watercolor by Joseph Zbukvic

18 The Angelique Series by Anne Golon

19 Murmurs of Earth by Carl Sagan

20 Beyond the Plough by Janet Woods

21 The Modern Gunsmith by James Virgil Howe

22 A Different Kind of Life by Virginia Williams

23 Life at the Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One by Sid Watkins

24 Finding the Winning Edge by Bill Walsh

25 Cards As Weapons by Ricky Jay

26 Country Landscapes in Watercolor by John Blockley

27 Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

28 Dark Carnival by Ray Bradbury

29 The Pink Dress by Anne Alexander

30 A Pattern Book of Tatting By Mary Konior

31 The French Advance by Tony Kosten

32 Unintended Consequences by John Ross

33 Fly Fishing: Memories of Angling Days by J.R. Hartley

34 Cyborg by Martin Caidin

35 Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles by Terry Furchgott & Linda Dawson

36 In A Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting by Ray Garton

37 Airport by Arthur Hailey

38 Mediumship Made Simple by Ivy Northage

39 Final Truth: The Autobiography of Mass Murderer/Serial Killer Donald ‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins by Donald Gaskins & Wilton Earle

40 Make Your Own Handcrafted Doors and Windows by John Birchard

41 Ilsa by Madeleine L’Engle

42 Collector’s Guide to Colt .45 Service Pistols by Charles W. Clawson

43 Sisters by Lynne Cheney

44 On the Mountain by Peter Dombrovskis

45 Anybody Can Do Anything by Betty MacDonald

46 Sam’s Sandwich by David Pelham

47 Floatmaker’s Manual: Expert Methods for the Practical Angler by Bill Watson

48 Confessions of a Starving Artist: The Art and Life of Harley Brown by Harley Brown

49 First Lessons in Painting and Drawing by Jack Hamm

50 Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank by R.P. Hunnicutt

51 Covenant with Death by John Harris

52 Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe

53 To Drop A Dime by Paul Hoffman

54 Hello Baby by Jenni Overend

55 I Go Pogo by Walt Kelly

56 Big League Sales Closing Techniques by Les Dane

57 Drum by Kyle Onstott

58 Colt .45 Government Models by Charles W. Clawson

59 The Big Country by Donald Hamilton

60 The Book of Indians by Holling C. Holling

61 Apple Pigs by Ruth Orbach

62 Alternating Current Machines by M.G. Say

63 Jose Rizal: Life, Works, and Writings of Genius, Writer, Scientist, and National Hero by Gregoiro F. Zaide

64 Almonds and Raisins by Maisie Mosco

65 Crochet Lace: An Illustrated Guide to Making Crochet Lace Fabrics by Mary Konior

66 Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman

67 Birds of Britain by John D. Green

68 War in the Modern Great Power System 1495-1975 by Jack S. Levy

69 102 Favorite Paintings by Norman Rockwell by Norman Rockwell

70 The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler

71 The Vision: A Terrifying Prophecy of Doomsday That is Starting to Happen Now by David Wilkerson

72 Hell, I Was There by Elmer Keith

73 Professional Pattern Grading for Women’s, Men’s, and Children’s Apparel by Jack Handford

74 Good Vibes by Jay Cronley

75 Betty Feezor’s Carolina Recipes by Betty Feezor

76 History of Art by H.W. Janson

77 Basic Building Data by Don Graf

78 The McCoys: Their Story by Truda Williams McCoy

79 The Barrakee Mystery by Arthur Upfield

80 The Law o’ the Lariat by Oliver Strange

81 Women Are Beautiful by Garry Winogrand

82 Golden Book of the Civil War by Charles Flato

83 Bowman of Crécy by Ronald Welch

84 The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy

85 The Black Sun by Kyle Onstott & Lance Horner

86 The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

87 Turkish Delight by Jan Wolkers

88 The Reluctant King: The Life & Reign of George VI 1895-1952 by Sarah Bradford

89 Angels on Horseback by Norman Thelwell

90 Women and Men by Joseph McElroy

91 The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth Nathaniel Taylor

92 The King Ranch by Tom Lea

93 Pookie by Ivy Wallace

94 Fire Command: The Essentials Of Local Ims by Alan Brunacini

95 Macauley by Arthur Bryant

96 The Bumper Book: A Harvest of Stories and Verses by Watty Piper

97 A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt

99 Alla Prima: Everything I Know about Painting by Richard Schmid

99 The Ark/Noah’s Ark by Rien Poortvliet

100. Atlas of Topographical Anatomy of the Domestic Animals by Peter Popesko


Life in the Old Goat yet – a bookseller profile

A newspaper in Waterloo, Ontario, has profiled Michael Loubert, one of our booksellers and the owner of the wonderfully named Old Goat Books.

Michael opened Old Goat Books in March 2001 and has sold with AbeBooks since October 2002. The shop offers over 24 000 books and more than 16,000 are online with our marketplace.

It’s an interesting article about life in the used book trade.

Loubert is guided by general rules that evolved from his long experience in the trade. He buys books that are in good shape, and books that have a market. Poetry does surprisingly well, and Charles Bukowski’s books fly off the shelves.

He does not stock political biographies or hardcover editions of popular fiction. The demand simply does not last. But science fiction and fantasy have a large, loyal following and are always in demand.

Loubert almost always buys up books by Philip K. Dick , J.R.R.Tolkien, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain, Truman Capote, Henry Miller, Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Lawrence and Alice Munro.


Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria villa faces demolition

Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria villa, the inspiration for the author’s Alexandria Quartet, is at risk of demolition. The building is now owned by a businessman who has plans to build an apartment block, according to The Guardian.

Villa Ambron was one of the fulcrums of Alexandria’s cultural life. Built and owned by architect Aldo Ambron – one of a then 70,000-strong Jewish community that has all but vanished – the house has been home to dignitaries including Italy’s exiled king Vittorio Emanuele III, and leading Egyptian painters Saad el-Khadim and Effat Nagui. “It was the place to be seen if you were an artist,” said Awad, who has led the fight to save many of the city’s buildings.

After fleeing Nazi-occupied Greece, Durrell lived in the villa’s top floor for much of the second world war with his Alexandrian second wife, Eve Cohen – who was the inspiration for Justine, the heroine of The Alexandria Quartet. Durrell wrote the novel Prospero’s Cell in the house’s distinctive octagonal tower.

The building is a mess, which you will see if you click through to the Guardian article. The Alexandria Quartet is a series of novels published between 1957 and 1960 about characters and events in Alexandria before and during World War II. The first three books concern the same events but each offer a different perspective. The books are Justine (1957), Balthazar (1958), Mountolive (1958) and Clea (1960).

The much-travelled Durrell also wrote poetry, travel books, drama and short stories. Two of his best known travel books are Bitter Lemons and Prospero’s Cell.


Switch to our mobile site