The Avid Reader March 2008
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In This Issue:

» Hiroshige

» Favorites from Japan

» Antique Map of Yokohama Bay

» Shelf Talk: Stung Again

» February's Most Expensive Books Sold

» Contests


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We're really enjoying the promise of Spring offered by all the trees currently blossoming outside our office, so we've devoted this issue of The Avid Reader to Japan, where the hanami (blossom viewing) parties have just begun.

Taschen has a beautiful new release featuring Utagawa Hiroshige's renowned 'pictures of a floating world,' and we've picked out six more of our favorite books from Japanese authors, artists and architects. We've also sifted through our millions of wonderful listings, and found a stunning, full color, antique map of Yokohama Bay that we're quite excited to share with you.

In Shelf Talk this month: 85-year-old WWII veteran Charles Dills has spent decades searching for a long lost, cherished edition of a childhood favourite. Can you help him track it down?

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Book Hoaxes: The Made-up Memoirs   ar-button-more.gif
Hiroshige by Melanie Trede and Lorenz Bichler


Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
by Melanie Trede and Lorenz Bichler

What could be more enticing than pictures of a floating word?

We're big fans of Taschen at AbeBooks, and this new release from the renowned art book publisher does not disappoint. With typical brilliance in graphic presentation, Hiroshige's famous prints are laid out in arresting size and each is paired with a detailed and engaging description.

Utagawa Hiroshige was one of the leading artists of the Ukiyo-e tradition. This boldly colorful genre of woodblock printing was popular among the wealthy and playful Edo (Tokyo) merchant classes that emerged at the beginning of the 17th century. The name translates to the delightful phrase above - a somewhat cheeky reference to Buddhism's philosophy of the sorrowful world. We think the name is more than appropriate: an art book as beautifully absorbing as this has no difficulty carrying us off to far away places.

After Dark by Haruki Murakami A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume
Drop Dead Cute by Ivan Vartanian Superflat by Takashi Murakami Shigeru Ban by Matilda McQuaid

Japanese Literature Selections

Japanese Art/Architecture Selections


Opening of Yokohama Bay
by Yoshikazu Ichikawa
Available for: $4185

As well as books, AbeBooks has some unbelievable ephemera. This rare, color map of Yokohama Bay was hand-printed using hand-carved blocks in 1859.

See the full listing description.

Browse more antiquarian maps.

Beautiful Covers from Puffin: The Secret Garden and Others  ar-button-more.gif
Hoping to get 'Stung Again'
by Richard Davies - PR Manager; Resident Brit.

Books mean different things to different people. Take 85-year-old Charles Dills – a retired professor of chemistry who lives in San Luis Obispo, California. He was once a World War II fighter pilot who flew 94 missions over Italy, Corsica and Southern France, and he comes from a family "that has an uncommon fetish about books."

Charles was orphaned at the age of 14 in the middle of the Great Depression and he has a single quest thanks to lingering memories from his childhood of growing up in North Dakota more than 70 years ago. He is trying to find a very particular edition of a book called ‘Stung Again’. It’s a joke book with a yellow, green and black cover, and the illustration of a bee in flight. Charles has bought a couple of copies from AbeBooks but they are not the one he remembers. The copies available on our site were all published in 1908.

"On the cover, I remember the bee is bigger, more dynamic and more boldly coloured with yellow and black," said Charles, who has scoured the Internet and contacted the Library of Congress about the book but without joy. "I’ve spent 10, 20, 30 years looking for this edition."

The original book was lost long ago – Charles has no possessions at all from when he became an orphan. It’s a book of good, clean old-fashioned jokes they don’t tell anymore.

To most people, this is just another long forgotten book consigned to history, but Charles remembers handling the book. It has special meaning to him because the book played a role in a practical joke where his mom, a small 5-foot-2 lady born in Norway, was locked into a locker. She managed to escape and placed the book inside the locker before her captors returned.... ensuring the joke was on them when they opened the door. "She got a big laugh," said Charles. "It would mean a lot to me to find that book."

It’s odd how a book can just stick in your mind. A book can hold a moment in time like few other things. To Charles, that book shows how his parents larked around – something that was completely taken for granted at the time but you cannot have those moments back when they’re gone.

At AbeBooks, we hear a lot of stories like this – someone trying to find a book from their childhood that was lost over the decades. Buyers often contact our Customer Support department to thank AbeBooks and the booksellers because they have been reunited with an old favorite from the past. It is one of the best things about being in this business.

Are you able to help Charles? Do you have a copy of Stung Again with the larger, bolder bee or some useful information? If you can help, email me at

We would also love to hear about your experiences of being reunited with a book from the past that held special memories. Tell us your book hunting tales.

More words about books have been scattered on Reading Copy, the AbeBooks Blog.

Stung Again


Debut novel The Outcast by Sadie Jones   ar-button-more.gif

Bestsellers for February

  1. A New Earth
    Eckhart Tolle
  2. The Pillars of the Earth
    Ken Follett
  3. Flat Belly Diet
    Liz Vaccariello
  4. The Purpose-Driven Life
    Rick Warren
  5. The Secret
    Rhonda Byrne

See the whole list on our homepage.

Most Expensive books sold in February

  1. Sefarad: Revista del Instituto Arias Montano de Estudios Hebraicos y Oriente Próximo
    Consejo Superior de Investigaciones - $7,265
  2. Eloise in Moscow
    Hilary Knight and Kay Thompson - $5,852
  3. Gone With the Wind
    Margaret Mitchell - $5,500
  4. Over Sea, Under Stone
    Susan Cooper - $4,800
  5. Science and Health
    Mary Barker Eddy - $4,750

See the whole list.

The Hooker Prize  ar-button-more.gif

Current AbeBooks Contests

Win a Bundle of Books.

We have some fun news for Avid Readers - from now on, every month we'll be giving away a really lovely set of books. You don't have to do a thing! As an Avid Reader subscriber, you are already entered. This month we have a beautiful selection of books about gardens, that includes Anna Pavord's richly illustrated new release on the history of plant taxonomy, The Naming of Names.

See March's Bundle of Books!

Current Promotions

Best Buys on Books

Many of our booksellers offer remainder and overstock books at greatly discounted prices, meaning you can get a new book for the fraction of the original list price.

This month's featured best buy is Duma Key by Stephen King. Brand new copies of the hardcover are available for $15.10 - a 38% savings off the list price! Visit our Best Buys page.

Talk to Us

Thoughts? Comments? Witty anecdotes? We'd love to hear them.

Let us know what's on your mind.

Notes from Avid Readers

Last month, our Richard Davies shared with the world his opinion that non-fiction is, well, much, much better than fiction. We received some notes fully in support of this theory, but we also asked readers to nominate fiction books that proved Richard definitively wrong - here's what some of our readers recommended:

Stephen: The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve. I was blown away at the end with just one sentence!

Gina: The Eagle's Throne by Carlos Fuentes. You asked for books that were surprising, shocking or stunning...well, I thought this book was all of those!

Julie: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It's a short book, but wow...there are some scenes in that book that really stuck in my head, and by the end of the story I felt almost as exhausted as the main characters!

Susan: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I finally read [it] for the first time in July. I was puzzled and transfixed. I was outraged by the story's historical events. I was moved to tears and to laugh out loud multiple times. Generally, I was awed. I can't imagine ever being not interested in reading fiction.

Laura: Noon Wine by Katherine Anne Porter. [It] is a masterpiece. I've been reading it over and over for years. It's about a death on a south Texas farm in the early 1900s.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."   - ALBERT EINSTEIN

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