Friday, March 22, 2019

The Sunday Haul (on 17-03-2019) and the Holi Haul (on 20-03-2019)

It had felt hotter the Sunday before than it was last Sunday at Abids. But it was hot enough to feel the need to wear a cap. Though it was uncomfortable being out in the hot sun the haul I made was pretty cool. I picked up four books one of which was a cookbook.
The first title I found was a Hindi title. I had resolved sometime back to read one Telugu and one Hindi book every year because I can read and write in these two languages and there is no point in knowing other languages without reading their literature. So when I spotted an old copy of ‘Shah aur Maat’ by Rajendra Yadav I picked it up. I remembered reading somewhere about ‘Saara Aakash’ by Rajendra Yadav and thought it might be a good idea to buy ‘Shah aur Maat’ that I got for just thirty rupees.
A few minutes later a bright yellow cover in a book shelf caught my eye. It was a good copy of ‘Monsignor Quixote’ by Graham Greene that I do not have. I do not remember reading about this title anywhere before so I grabbed it because I love reading anything by Graham Greene. Along with this I bought a nice copy of ‘Indian Cooking’ by Lalita Ahmed that had a large and attractive cover. I discovered that this book was published sometime back and was in quite a good condition.
Jan Morris is one of my favourite travel writers. Recently I found a copy of ‘Oxford’ that I had bought without a second thought and two Sundays before I had found a Penguin 60’s copy of ‘From the Four Corners’ that I had bought for just twenty rupees. Last Sunday at Abids I saw a copy of ‘Hav’ by Jan Morris in a lot selling for fifty rupees. I knew that this wasn’t a travel book in the real sense and had actually let go of this title when I had seen it earlier at the book fair. Last Sunday I couldn’t resist the price so took it.

The ‘Holi’ Haul

On Holi I had to go to the Institute because an international training was going on. Going to work on a holiday is something no one is happy about. I consoled myself saying I would drop in at MR Books on the way home if I could leave early. Luckily I could leave right after lunch and raced to MR Books. After an hour’s browsing I found a good copy of ‘JJ: Some Jottings’ by Sundara Ramaswamy, and bought it after reading the endorsement by K. Satchidanandan on the front which said: ‘One of the masterpieces of modern Indian fiction.’ I would have anyway bought it because I had read one of his books recently and knew how good Sundara Ramaswamy was.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Sunday Haul (on 10-03-2019)

Last Sunday was one of the hottest days so far this year with the temperature touching almost 37⁰ C that had me thinking twice before venturing out. But the pull of Abids is so strong that I decided to go wearing a cap on the head and a water bottle in hand. It was a good thing I went because I found five wonderful titles.
The first book I found was a copy of ‘Much Depends on Dinner’ by Margaret Visser that was too interesting to ignore. It is about corn on the cob, chicken with rice, lettuce salad and ice cream and a lot about these food items. The cover seemed a bit soiled but it only appeared like that. I got this book for seventy rupees.
One writer I discovered long back was William Trevor who I found to be one of the most wonderful writers I’ve ever read. I do not remember the title of the book but I had found a copy of ‘After Rain’ soon afterwards. I found another beautiful copy of ‘After Rain’ by William Trevor at Abids last Sunday. I got this collection of short stories by William Trevor for just thirty rupees.
I cannot ignore any book with the Penguin logo on the cover so when I saw a copy of ‘The Night of the Twelfth’ by Michael Gilbert I picked it up. Not only did it have the Penguin logo, also there was high praise for it on the back cover. I read that this title was the ‘Winner of Current Crime’s Silver Cup for the best British crime novel of 1976.’ The thing that clinched it for me was that it was a crime fiction title so I HAD to buy it.
With the same seller from where I bought ‘The Night of the Twelfth’ by Michael Gilbert I found a copy of ‘Company Limited’ by Sankar. It was another Indian title that seemed to have been published sometime in the fifties. On the front cover was a picture of Sharimila Tagore which explained what I read on the back cover that it was made into a movie by Satyajit Ray, the most acclaimed Indian movie maker. I noticed that this was published by Sangam Books, a division of Orient Longman which was something I hadn’t heard about before. But I think this was the find of the day.
Just when I was about to call it a day at Abids I spotted a small book. It was a copy of ‘From the Four Corners’ by Jan Morris, a Penguin 60’s title that contained essays about four – Delhi, Manhattan, Sydney and Vienne. The title of the essay on Delhi is ‘Mrs Gupta Never Rang’ that sounds very interesting. These four essays have been taken from her collection ‘Among the Cities’ that’s now on my ‘to read’ list. I picked up this small book from a pile of books selling for twenty rupees.

Friday, March 08, 2019

The Sunday Haul (on 03-03-2019)

Of the couple of books that I have bought multiple copies over the past few years ‘The Summing Up’ by Somerset Maugham is a title that regularly appears at Abids, in second hand book stores and elsewhere. Last Sunday I spotted a nice copy that was priced pretty cheap at Abids and bought it. I got it for just thirty rupees.
Of late since the past couple of years I have begun to look for books by Indian writers in English published in the early years. Over the years I have managed to find quite a few good titles by writers I have read about or have come across somewhere but I always end up finding titles by writers I have never even heard about. Last Sunday I spotted a book with an attractive cover and picked it up. It was a copy of ‘Nails & Flesh’ by Kartar Singh Duggal. I got it for thirty rupees only.
The copy of ‘Nails & Flesh’ by Kartar Singh Duggal I found had no year of publication mentioned anywhere inside. There are no details of the publisher mentioned anywhere on the cover or in the inside pages except the name ‘Pearl’ and its logo. I wish I could know more about this publisher.

Friday, March 01, 2019

The Sunday Haul (on 25-02-2019)

There’s no better way to judge if it’s summer yet than to be out in the open for a couple of hours. Last Sunday just a few minutes in the open at Abids and I was convinced that summer has begun in Hyderabad. The temperatures have touched 35 degrees C and in another couple of weeks it will be somewhere around forty degrees or more. Then it would be hellish to be in the open for more than a few minutes. However, I did not want to think about the coming weeks and went about looking for books. I ended up finding three good titles.
Sometime back I had found a copy of ‘ A Town Like Alice’ by Nevil Shute that I haven’t yet read. Last Sunday I spotted an old copy of ‘Lonely Road’ by Nevil Shute and hesitated for a few moments wondering if I should buy it. But after reading the first page I decided to buy it and it was the first book I bought last Sunday at Abids.
Further down the road at a seller with a heap of books selling for twenty rupees only I found another Anita Brookner title. I am currently reading ‘Look at Me’ that I had found recently. It is beautifully written. So when I saw a nice copy of ‘Providence’ by Anita Brookner in the heap I picked it up hoping it would be as good as ‘Look at Me.’ Then a few moments after I read the blurb on the cover (“A beautiful study…has the gentle concentration of Barbara Pym”) I spotted the copy of ‘A Glass of Blessings’ by Barbara Pym in the same heap. This copy belonged to someone in London, an OBE and J.P. Needless to say I bought the two books right away.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Sunday Haul (on 17-02-2019)

All signs that summer is not too far away are around us: it is warmer, the sunlight is no longer mild, and there's the change in vegetation. It isn’t really summer though but it felt that way at Abids last Sunday. Luckily, I had taken along my cap which made it bearable to be out in the open.
I am embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read much Dylan Thomas. I know this would sound ridiculous that someone like me who enjoys reading poetry hasn’t much knowledge about Dylan Thomas. Something wonderful happened after I picked up a copy of ‘Life with Dylan Thomas’ by Caitlin Thomas. A fan of Dylan Thomas began following me on Twitter moments after I bought this title. It was a curious coincidence.
I had come across copies of titles by Anita Brookner in the past but somehow did not have the good sense to pick them up. Last Sunday when I spotted a copy ‘Look at Me’ by Anita Brookner in a heap of Rs 30 books I picked it up. I started reading it yesterday and found it to be a wonderful book and felt an idiot for not having bought her books when I came across them earlier.
I already have two copies of ‘An Atlas of Impossible Longing’ by Anuradha Roy, and have given away one of them. However, I haven’t yet read it though my friend is urging me to read it. I know Anuradha Roy is a wonderful writer and had got a copy of ‘All the Lives We Never Lived’ her latest title that I had signed by the author at Lit for Life in Chennai last month. When I saw yet another copy of ‘An Atlas of Impossible Longing’ I did not hesitate before buying it. There will be someone else who might want to read something wonderful.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Recent Hauls

There have been no posts here on this blog since the past couple of weeks because I was involved in conducting a training course for senior officers at our Institute and then I myself underwent a training course at New Delhi soon after. It left me with no time to write about all the books I had picked up in the meantime.

The Birthday Gift
Before I left for New Delhi, in fact on the day I was leaving Hyderabad I got a book as a birthday gift from a friend in Mumbai who had asked to choose a title I wanted to read. I received a new copy of ‘Milk Teeth’ by Amrita Mahale. It was a hardcover copy and I left it at home because I planned to read it sometime in the future.

The Haul at Delhi
During my previous visit to New Delhi in November I had been to Jackson Books in Pahargunj and picked up four titles. This time I again went there and managed to find three wonderful titles. I found a nice copy of ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns that I did not expect to find so soon. Then I saw ‘The Big Knockover’ by Dashiell Hammett that I added to the haul. The last find was a beautiful copy of ‘Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life’ by Karen Armstrong. I had picked up ‘Through the Narrow Gate’ by Karen Armstrong some time ago and after reading it had found a copy of ‘The Spiral Staircase’ that I am yet to read. Impressed by ‘Through the Narrow Gate’ I picked up ‘Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life’ that I hope to read soon.
One of the days I was in New Delhi I had read a tweet about a book related event in ‘Oxford Book Store’ in Connaught Place. Since Connaught Place was within walking distance of YMCA where we were put up I dropped into listen to the conversation between Ambarish Satwik and Mirza Waheed about the latter’s ‘Tell Her Everything.’ It was interesting enough though I had to hurry away for a dinner appointment but not before picking up a copy of ‘Kashi Ki Assi’ by Kashinath Singh.

The Sunday Haul

I was back home at Hyderabad on Friday night and a day after it was Sunday which meant book hunting in Abids. I had been looking for a copy of ‘YOUNGUNCLE COMES TO TOWN’ by Vandana Singh that I wanted to present to someone in my office but I couldn’t find it then. The person is no longer coming to the office so there was really no need for me to buy it when I saw it last Sunday at Abids. But I bought it hoping I’d meet that person again sometime soon. Another reason was that I was getting this copy for just ten rupees.

A long time back in 2013 I had picked up a title by Janwillem van de Wetering (Tumbleweed) that I discovered to my delight was a crackling read. Soon afterwards I happened to find ‘The Japanese Corpse’ by the same writer. Though I wanted to read more titles by van de Wetering I couldn’t find any subsequently. However last Sunday I spotted ‘Outsider in Amsterdam’ by Janwillem van de Wetering. I got it for eighty rupees and I felt glad I found another good crime title.
Again a long time back I had discovered another wonderful writer- Lisa St Aubin de Teran. The first title I had found was ‘The Last Train to Milan’ and soon after I found ‘Keepers of the House’ and a couple of years later I found ‘Memory Maps,’ Last Sunday in a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees I saw a copy of ‘Joanna’ by Lisa St Aubin de Teran that I grabbed right away. Somehow I had failed to notice a copy of ‘Oxford’ by Jan Morris that was in the same heap. I picked up this copy after Uma pointed it out to me on the way back.
All of them finds add up to nine books so far this month.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Sunday Haul (on 20-01-2019)

The Sunday before last I was in Chennai where I managed a decent haul of ten titles that did not seem to have prevented me from going to Abids last Sunday. The weather in Chennai (or anywhere else, for that matter) is nothing like the beautiful weather in Hyderabad, I once again realized. It was sunny, warm and bright last Sunday as I went around the book bazaar in Abids picking up four wonderful titles.
The first title I found was a nice copy of ‘Husband of a Fanatic’ by Amitava Kumar, a Penguin title published in 2004. I had read several essays by Amitava Kumar but none of his books so finding this book was a stroke of luck. I got this copy for eighty rupees.
The next find was a beautiful copy of ‘Nine Faces of Kenya’ by Elspeth Huxley that runs into nearly four hundred and fifty pages. I hesitated long before finally deciding to buy it because in no other single book would I find so much written about by Kenya by so many writers. It is in fact a treasure trove of writing about Kenya. After I saw the contents page and also read the introduction I realized that the anthology is divided into nine parts: Exploration, Travel, Settlers, Wars, Environment, Wildlife, Hunting, Lifestyles, Legend and Poetry being the last of the nine parts hence the ‘Nine Faces’ in the title. I am glad I found this book because I would get to read about another country in Africa that I am somehow drawn to.
I already possess three copies of ‘The Groaning Shelf’ by Pradeep Sebastian which is one of the best books by a bibliophile. Of the three copies I have two are new copies I had bought in bookstores and one is a used copy that I found recently. Somehow I cannot resist buying this wonderful book and so when I saw another nice copy of ‘The Groaning Shelf’ by Pradeep Sebastian with one of the sellers at Abids I bought it. This was the last find at Abids.
The last find of the day was at the RTC Crossroads where a seller has a few hundred books, mostly books for the Civil Services but some of them are novels and such stuff. In a pile with a ‘Rs 20’ board I spotted a copy of ‘The Naked Triangle’ by Balwant Gargi. This was a title I remember fromthe days when I was appearing for the competitive exams and there was a multiple choice question about the author of ‘The Naked Triangle’ and I was able to guess correctly. I found the actual book, nearly two and half decades later.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Chennai Haul

In the ten years that I’ve been attending the Hyderabad Literary Festival here at Hyderabad it remained the only lit fest I’ve attended. I’ve never been to any other lit fest in the country though I wanted to go to the Jaipur Lit Fest. I never got the chance to go to Jaipur all these years but last week I attended the Lit for Life 2019 literature festival of The Hindu at Chennai. Apart from attending the many sessions and listening to some of the wonderful writers talk about their books and other issues, I also managed to attend the Chennai 42nd Book Fair and also dropped in at a second hand book store and returned from Chennai with a haul of ten books.

The Haul at the Chennai Book Fair

An online friend whom I’ve never met and wanted to meet at Chennai informed me that the Chennai Book Fair was on. It was wonderful news for I had a lot of time on hand on the day I reached Chennai. The venue of the Book Fair, YMCA Grounds at Nandanam, was not too far from where I was staying and after lunch I started for the book fair. I had read that that there were more than 700 stalls of which, I discovered, there were fewer than a dozen stalls stocking books in English. In the handful of stalls selling second-hand books I managed to find three titles.

The first title I found was a copy of ‘Master Georgie’ by Beryl Bainbridge that I got for a hundred and fifty rupees. The next find was a beautiful copy of ‘The Dain Curse’ by Dashiell Hammett that I bought along with a copy of ‘Tar Baby’ by Toni Morrison for two hundred and fifty rupees. It was more than what I would normally pay for second hand books at Abids in Hyderabad but since it was a book fair I did not think twice.

The LFL Haul

At the LFL, I had decided beforehand, that I would buy the latest titles of Amitabha Bagchi (Half the Night is Gone) and Anuradha Roy (All the Lives We Never Lived) and get them signed by the authors. I had read ‘Above Average’ by Bagchi only recently and was quite impressed enough to think of buying his latest title that is getting rave reviews everywhere. Though I have almost all of Anuradha Roy’s titles I haven’t read any till date, though I know they are all outstanding works. I managed to buy these two books and also get them signed. What I had not planned was buying a copy of ‘Virtual Realities’ by Neelam Saran Gour that I bought after hearing her talk.I also got it signed by Neelam Saran Gour who, later next day , was awarded the Hindu Prize for fiction.
On the second day of LFL I had sat in a session in which Abdullah Khan was on the panel and I was impressed by the candour in his replies to the moderator’s questions. After the session I bought his ‘Patna Blues’ but forgot to get it signed. The next day I sought him out and he signed on the book and chatted with me for a while over coffee. The only thing I regret is not getting my copy of ‘Ghachar Ghochar’ that I carried from Hyderabad to Chennai, by Vivek Shanbhag. I had thought he’d be around for some time but apparently he had left soon after his session on the first day itself.
Amitabha Bagchi doesn’t appear anything like the person shown in the photograph on the book. He had a ponytail and a long beard and many people couldn’t recognise him until he was introduced by the moderator.

Another Chennai Haul

I had long been thinking of visiting Chennai’s Moore Market, where I was told, were booksellers who stocked used books. At last I was there last week but since it was festival time the market was closed. But I wasn’t prepared to give up. I had read about Govindaraju’s ‘Rare Books’ in RA Puram which was where I was headed soon after finding that I wouldn’t find a single title in Moore Market. ‘Rare Books’ turned out to be some kind of a garage store with thousands of books stacked haphazardly. There were books, magazines, tattered tomes, and loose papers scattered around. From this mess I managed to extricate three titles. The first find was a hardcover copy of ‘The Gutenberg Elegies’ by Sven Birkerts that was in my ‘must-buy’ list. I had read about this title somewhere and so remembered it.
Two more titles that I bought here were copies of titles that I already possess. One was a nice copy of ‘Writing Down the Bones’ by Natalie Goldberg and the other a copy of ‘The Instant Enemy’ by Ross Macdonald that I also read again in the plane back to Hyderabad. I got these three books for four hundred rupees. I had seen a book by Jai Nimbkar and a hardcover book of Rainer Maria Rilke that I now regret not buying.

The visit to Chennai yielded ten titles and with these my total haul in the first fortnight of the first month of the new year comes to eleven.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Sunday Haul ( on 06 -01-2019)

The haul at Abids on the first Sunday of the year was just one good title and I am perfectly okay with it. The reason is I had bought 250 books in 2018 and this year I want to keep that tally to something under hundred if I can.
I found a copy of ‘The Haunt’ by A.L. Barker, an author I hadn’t heard about before. But I bought it based on the high praise for Barker in the blurbs on the back and front covers. I don’t know how it would be but I bought it nevertheless. I got it for eighty rupees only. This was the only book I bought at Abids and I am now thinking if it would be a good idea to buy just one title every Sunday at Abids.

This Friday I am at Chennai until the 15th. I came to know that the Chennai Book Fair is going on and will end on the 20th. I am looking forward eagerly to drop and see what I can pick up there.

Friday, January 04, 2019

2018 Books

After adding the five titles that I picked up on the last day of the 32nd Hyderabad National Book Fair on Christmas Day, the total number of books I picked up last year comes to a perfect 250. I do not think I have bought so many books in the previous years. I guess it is a record. While it makes me happy that I possess so many books it also makes me worried that there’s not enough space for more books in the future unless I begin culling my collection.

While I appear to be ambitious in buying books I am not so in reading them. Last year I have read only 85 books, some of which I am yet to finish reading. Out of these eighty five books listed below are some that I enjoyed reading.

‘Disgrace’ by JM Coetzee
‘Havanas in Camelot’ by William Styron
‘The Story of a Brief Marriage’ by Anuk Arudpragasam
‘I Feel Bad About My Neck’ by Nora Ephron
‘Dreams in a Time of War’ by Ngugi Wa Thiong O
‘The Great Gatsby’ Scott F Fitzgerald
‘Ants Among Elephants’ by Sujatha Gidla
‘Woman in the Dark’ by Dashiell Hammett
‘We Need New Names’ by Noviolet Bulawayo
‘The Forgotten Waltz’ by Anne Enright
‘African Laughter’ by Doris Lessing
‘Through the Narrow Gate’ by Karan Armstrong
‘Home Fires’ by Kamila Shamsie
‘Longing Belonging’ by Bishwanath Ghosh
‘Out on the Rim’ by Ross Thomas
‘The Long March’ by William Styron
‘Among the Believers’ by VS Naipaul
‘A Bend in the River’ by VS Naipaul
‘Above Average’ by Amitabha Bagchi
‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl
‘Sydney’ by Jan Morris
‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ by William Maxwell
‘Goat Days’ by Benyamin
‘Missionary Stew’ by Ross Thomas
‘Republic of Caste’ by Anand Teltumbde
‘Arabian Sands’ by Wilfred Thesiger