I confess — one thing I always do in Britain is visit second-hand bookshops. I can’t walk past one. From Oxfam charity shops to G. David in Cambridge, I have to take a look.

Among my acquired treasures this trip are Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb (from Wheeler’s Bookshop in Midhurst, purchased from Simon Wheeler personally), a book of 19th century plays (£1 from G. David), a book by Charles Williams in the same imprint as another I already have (Oxfam), a ration book from 1947 (20p at Blackwell’s), a book called Cricket Matches 1860-1863 (one of a series) that shows Joseph Wells (HG’s father) bowling that incredible four-thing I still need to figure out, and the Cambridge Lectures of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (£2). This last has a sticker in it showing it was once owned by H.H. Huxley, a Cambridge professor of classics who apparently likes to change English into Latin (sounds like alchemy to me).

I’m afraid I feel a little like Helene Hanff, minus the New York part, and the successful author part. And minus the martinis and cigarettes (I could work on that if I put my mind to it). But still. She was my age when she published 84, Charing Cross Road. Like her, I seek bargains, and have particular books I want. Like her, I am seeking to educate myself because of gaps in my education. Thus I am specifically looking for small-format, hard-cover, older editions, small enough to carry in my purse, or hold over my head in bed without risk of dropping and chipping a tooth.

Now that the Royal Mail doesn’t have a “printed rate” anymore, it costs a bit more to send them home, but you can post a box of up to 5kg so long as it’s all printed material (otherwise you can only go to 2kg).

All this doesn’t mean I don’t also go to shops with new books. Must help authors who are still alive, I say.  This trip it’s Daunt Books for that, since I’m in Marylebone. The front room has all the books for reading.

Daunt Books, Marylebone

The back room is for travel books, but really it’s just to look at the back room, which is justly famous. Not the best picture, but it’s ok.

Time to stock up on new fiction paperbacks!


2 comments to Books!

  • Hi Lisa, not at all directly related to the book finds (though I identify with extra things found inside second hand books), just wanted to say I’ve enjoyed reading your blogged sabbatical, and how rich a record it is of your experience. And in your voice.

    I did notify a colleague who lives in West Sussex of your project, they likely already contacted you. I also have a good friend in Chichester.

    Enjoy it all

    • Lisa M Lane

      Hi Alan,

      Not contacted by anyone yet, but always delighted to hear from anyone interested in my research. I had no idea you had friends in England, much less near where I was working.