Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 11-11-2018)


With Diwali and the Diwali shoppers out of the way Abids was back to its old self last Sunday with the second hand booksellers at their usual spots when I went as usual to look for good titles. Since I rarely return from these trips empty handed last Sunday I managed to pick up a lot of five interesting books.
Sometimes I come across books that I somehow feel are special in some way. Either it is because of the title or the name of the author or the way the book is, one gets the strong urge to pick it up. When I saw a hardcover copy of ‘The Mouse and His Child’ by Russel Hoban I felt that I had to take it though I don’t (unfortunately) read much fiction meant for children.
Then next find was a title I remembered having read about long back which was ‘I Never Promised You a Rose Garden’ by Hannah Green. I spotted this title in a heap of books selling for twenty rupees and picked it up. A few minutes after I picked it up I found a nice copy of ‘Love and Friendship’ by Alison Lurie. I bought it mainly because it was a Penguin title and I trust Penguin to publish only very good books.
The next find, the fourth title of the day, was a beautiful, old cookbook, one of a collection of foods from different regions. I picked up the hardcover old book with the title ‘Foods of the Orient-India’ introduced by Sharmini Thiruchelvam, on the cover. I bought the title published in 1978 more for its looks than the recipes inside.

The fifth and last title was actually more of a booklet than a real book. I spotted a copy of ‘Kate Humble’s Guide to 100 Birds of Britain’ by The Telegraph in a different heap of books selling for just ten rupees. I hope it gets me into some keen birdwatching though I may not find the birds described in it.

Friday, November 09, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 04-11-2018)


More than half the regular shops at Abids were open than was the case last Sunday displacing the second hand book sellers who usually sold their wares on the pavement before these stores. Not that it made any difference to me, because I managed to find some really interesting titles during my couple of hours’ browsing before the shoppers trooped in.
A few years ago I had found a tattered copy of ‘Travels with a Donkey’ by RL Stevenson that had many termite holes in it but nevertheless I bought it because I haven’t found the book till then. Last Sunday I found a better copy of the same title that was published in 1955 and bought it for thirty rupees.
I became a big fan of Ross Thomas after finding one of his titles out of pure accident in a heap of books at Abids a long time back and thereafter the other titles by him appeared one by one. But the Ross Thomas titles I most desperately wanted to find were ‘Missionary Stew’, ‘The Cold War Swap’ and ‘The Seersucker Whipsaw.’ Last Sunday I happened to glance at a heap of books I don’t really care to look at because they are all Mills & Boons titles and other obscure titles, I got a thrill when I saw a book that lay askew. It was a copy of ‘Missionary Stew’ by Ross Thomas and I grabbed it like it was a brick of gold. It was a hardcover library copy with the jacket intact that I got for just twenty rupees. Inside the stamps said it was from Sandpoint-Bonner County Library, Idaho and another stamp said it was purchased from the estate of Juanita Rhodes. Whatever its origins it looked like a first edition from Simon & Schuster, New York.
The next find was a nice copy of ‘Dave Barry’s Money Secrets’ by Dave Barry that I purchased without a second thought because I cannot resist anything by Dave Barry. I already have a copy of this title but I bought it because there are many I know who haven’t yet discovered how funny Dave Barry is.
The last find of the day was at Chikkadpally. I found a nice copy of ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison that I had missed buying sometime ago at Abids. It hadn’t been a good enough copy so I had let it be but the copy I found last Sunday was in a fine condition so I bought it. It cost me seventy rupees.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 28-10-2018)


With the festival of Diwali not too far away the shopkeepers at Abids had kept their shops open on Sunday which meant that some of the booksellers who sell their books on the pavements before these shops had to move away to other spots. Apart from these few booksellers who moved the other booksellers were at their usual places. It was a bit warm last Sunday as I and Uma browsed for books and I ended up finding four good titles.
I have to think of a drastic way to prevent myself from buying books on writing because I have about two hundred such books at home and despite reading all of them I do not seem to have improved on my writing skills. Last Sunday the first title I found was a copy of ‘The Creative Writing Course book’ edited by Julia Bell and Paul Magrs. It was quite bulky and looked like it would be of some use to me so I bought it.
The second and third finds were crime fiction titles by authors I had never heard about. The second title I found was a book that looked like it had changed a lot of hands and that had an attractive cover. It was a copy of ‘The Quiller Memorandum’ by Adam Hall, and I was surprised to find on the cover that it had been made into a movie starring Alec Guinness, Max Von Sydow, and the screenplay is by none other than Harold Pinter! I got this title pretty cheap, at just ten rupees only.
The other crime fiction title I picked up was a hardcover copy with jacket, of ‘Mandrake’ by Paul Eddy who was another writer I hadn’t read about anywhere till then. Paul Eddy, I read inside, was the creator of ‘Flint’ who also I have never read about. Anyway, I was glad I found this title that had a lot of praise on the blurbs at the back. This too I got pretty cheap, twenty rupees only.
The last find was a cookbook that I would have bought anyway but something on the cover caught my attention. On the cover of ‘Traditional Indian Cooking’ by Amiya Chaudhuri it was mentioned that inside was an essay on ‘Gastronomy in India’ by Nirad C. Chaudhuri. Inside I found the original bill of ‘Book World Enterprises’ Kalbadevi Road, Bombay dated 4/12/1993. For twenty five years the receipt was inside the book and no one had taken it out. It gives an impression that whoever bought it may not have used the book.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Another Midweek Haul

Last Friday while on the way to Hitex, I spotted the second hand bookstore in Madhapur I remember seeing a couple of years back. I decided to check it out on the way back later in the evening. On the way home I stopped at ‘Liberty’ bookstore and picked up three titles that I couldn’t resist buying though I already possess two of the three titles.

A long time back I had seen a copy of ‘The Well of Loneliness’ at Abids but I did not buy it because I found it too bulky and the price too was not within my reach. Recently I had been thinking about all the good titles I had missed buying because I was too dumb to realize their value at that time. ‘The Well of Loneliness’ was one such title featuring in those thoughts of regret. But last Friday when I spotted it again I was once again reassured that when it comes to books I am very lucky.
The copy of ‘The Well of Loneliness’ by Radclyffe Hall I found was in a very good condition and I felt very glad having found this interesting title. However it runs into several hundreds of pages and I wonder when I would be able to find the time to read it.
The second find was a hard cover copy of ‘On Writing Well’ by William Zinsser which was clearly much used. I have a couple of copies of this title at home but I bought this copy as well since I have in mind someone to give it away to.
I have three copies of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ by Dashiell Hammett that I picked up at various times but I can never resist buying one more copy of this crime classic. It was a beautiful paperback copy that appeared to have been never opened. I got these three titles for three hundred rupees which was more than what I would have paid for them at Abids.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday Double Post- #2. The Sunday Haul (on 21-10-2018)


With the Dasara festival over and the shopping frenzy paused before the Diwali shopping frenzy begins again, the second hand booksellers were back at their usual places at Abids last Sunday. The first find of the day was a wonderful title. I spotted a nice copy of ‘Hot Days Long Nights; An Anthology of African Short Stories’ Edited by Nadezda Obradovic. It turned out to be a NBT publication. NBT books are generally cheaper but the price on this copy was rubbed out so I had no idea about the original price. I bought it for a hundred rupees which wasn’t much given that the copy I got was quite good. It had twenty six stories but the best thing about it was that it had a foreword by Chinua Achebe. I read the foreword where Achebe mentioned ‘People of the City’ by Cyprian Ekwensi that I had picked up at a bookstall at last year’s Hyderabad Literary Festival. However another title was also mentioned along with it and it was ‘Palm Wine Drunkard’ by Amos Tutuola which is one title I want to lay my hands on.
These are the stories in it: A Handful of Dates by Tayeb Salih; The Advance by Henri Lopes; Papa, Snake & I by Luis Bernardo Honwana; A Child in the Bush of Ghosts by Olympe Bhely-Quenum; It was Easter Sunday The Day I went to Netreg by Sindiwe Magona; The Brother by Charles Mungoshi; The Dignity of Begging by William (Bloke) Modisane; The Garden of Evil by William Saidi; Bossy by A.R. Gurnah; A Night Out by Tololwa marti Mollel; Hot Days, Long Nights by Nnadazie F. Inyama; Her Three Days by Sembene Ousmane; A Life in Detail by Mohammed Berrada; The Three-Piece Suit by Ali Deb; The Wicked Tongue by Mohammed Moulessehoul; Four Dimensions by I.N.C. Aniebo; Thought Tracks in the Snow by Dambudzo Marechera; Waiting for a Turn by Ken Lipenga; The Other City by Ibrahim Abdel Megid; God of Meme by Ndeley Mokoso; Africa Kills Her Sun by Ken Saro-Wiva; At the Time of the Jasmine by Alifa Rifat; The Last Battle by Ossie O. Enekwe; Civil War I-VII by Adewale Majaa-Pearce; The Point of No Return by Miriam M. Tlali; The Winner by Barbara Kiwenye. Of all these writers I have read about Charles Mungoshi, A.R. Gurnah, and Ken Saro-Wiwa only, sadly. But I am glad now I can read more of African writers.
Along with Dave Barry, Bill Bryson is another writer I enjoy reading. I have read all his books and also have copies of almost all his titles. Yet whenever I see a good copy of any book I have enjoyed reading I buy it with a vague intention to give to people who have similar tastes. This was the reason why I picked up a nice copy of ‘The Lost Continent’ by Bill Bryson though I already own a copy.
The last find was a cookbook I had seen listed somewhere as one of the ‘must have’ classic cookbook title. So when I spotted ‘The Complete Indian Cookbook’ by Mridula Baljekar I grabbed it right away. It was a beautiful hardcover copy that I got for just a hundred rupees.

Friday Double Post- #1.The Sunday Haul (on 13-10-2018)

Despite the festival shopping spree disturbing the second hand book sellers at Abids from their usual spots some of the managed to hold on to their original spots making it easy for me to end up with a nice haul of six interesting titles. In the list of travel classics mentioned in ‘Lonely Planet’s Travel Writing’ by Don George the ‘The Road to Oxiana’ by Robert Byron features. I had always thought it would be some ancient book that would be impossible to get hold of anywhere so I did not pay much attention to finding more about it online. Imagine my surprise and utter delight when I spotted a copy of the same title at Abids last Sunday. The copy I found was published in 2007 and had an introduction by Colin Thubron. I paid a hundred rupees for it. This is another wonderful addition to my collection of travel literature classics.
Next I spotted a book that seemed very old and much read with top corners of the last few pages nibbled away as if by rats. It was a copy of ‘The Appointment’ by Leone Antonio Viola and on the cover page it said that the novel was made into a movie starring Omar Sharif and Anouk Aimee. But when I read on the back cover that the screenplay was by James Salter and the movie was directed by Sydney Lumet I instantly decided to buy it. I’ve already started reading it and I am very impressed at the pace at which the novel moves propelled by the simple sentences. However, after I finished reading it today I found that it had a sad ending.
The next three finds were cookbooks. One good find was a nice, hardbound copy of ‘English Bread and Yeast Cookery’ by Elizabeth David that I bought though I have no plans of baking bread or anything like that now or in the future. I bought it because it looked too good to let go though I had to shell out a hundred rupees for it. The next cookbook was a copy of Potatoes- 101 Quick, Easy & Delicious Recipes’ by Rajni Khurana, another title that I bought just for the cover alone. I got this for forty rupees.
The last find was a small book, something that looked like it was published in the 70’s and seemed quite attractive judging by the cover. It was a copy of ‘Indian Cuisine: Dal & Roti’ by Vimla Patil. I got this book for just twenty rupees.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Midweek Haul


Only the day before, on the previous Sunday, I had returned from Abids with a haul of six good titles and on Tuesday last I felt an overwhelming urge to drop in at a Secondhand bookstore. It was a holiday for us because of a local festival and instead of sitting at home and reading I decided to check out a bookstore and ended up finding three good titles. I also stumbled upon a set of titles that led to the biggest haul of my life. I will write it in the next post but the three titles first.
A couple of Sundays ago I had come across an issue of ‘The Journal of Indian Writing in English’ edited by GS Balarama Gupta and picked it up because the entire issue was devoted to Ahmed Ali, a novelist I hadn’t heard about before. I had remembered seeing a copy of his most famous novel- ‘Twilight in Delhi’ somewhere. I was not exactly looking for it when I went to the Best Bookstore at Lakdikapul on Tuesday but I found a nice copy of ‘Twilight in Delhi’ by Ahmed Ali sitting pretty on a shelf. I was thrilled to find it so soon after reading about the book in the above journal. It was a nice copy published in India as a paperback in 1973 by Sterling Publishers, New Delhi.
The next find was a nice copy of ‘Through the Window’ by Julian Barnes. This is a book containing, as it says on the cover- seventeen essays and one short story. I am glad I found this wonderful title because the essays are about writers like Penelope Fitzgerald, Lorrie Moore, George Orwell and many others and their writing. These are the essays: The Deceptiveness of Penelope Fitzgerald; The ‘Unpoetical’ Clough; George Orwell and the F***ing Elephant; Ford’s The Good Soldier; Ford and Provence; Ford’s Anglican Saint; Kipling’s France; France’s Kipling; The Wisdom of Chamfort; The Man Who Saved Old France; The Profile of Felix Feneon; Michel Houellebecq and the Sin of Despair; Translating Madame Bovary; Wharton’s The Reef; Homage to Hemingway; a Short Story; Lorrie Moore Takes Wing; Remembering Updike, Remembering Rabbit; and Regulating Sorrow. This did not come cheap though. I had to shell out two hundred rupees for it.
I’ve come across very few travelogues by Indian writers. One was RK Narayan’s travelogue on Karnataka that I found recently. I found another travelogue-‘Dead and Living Cities’ by Manohar Malgonkar in the bookstore, my third find of the day. One reason I bought it was that it was a travelogue and that too by an Indian writer and the other reason was that the copy I found was perfectly encased in a plastic jacket that seemed to have preserved the book very nicely.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 07-10-2018)

Though the festival season was just around the corner which means that the second hand book sellers at Abids have to move on to other spots because the regular shops remain open for the festive shoppers last Sunday the scene was different. Only one store, the Hollywood Shoes, was open and the sellers who usually spread out the books on the space before this store moved out other sellers were more or less at their usual spots because not many stores were open.
This was a title I had seen earlier but somehow hadn’t thought of buying it. Last Sunday I spotted another copy and picked up ‘Yayati’ by VS Khandekar after reading on the cover that he had won the Jnanpith Award. The copy I found appeared like it was one of the earlier editions so that was another reason I picked it up apart from wanting to read it.
The ‘Essential Andhra Cookbook’ by Bilkees Latif was a book I had earlier missed buying after I first spotted it and thought it would be around. But when I went the next time it was gone. But last Sunday it turned up again and this time I did not want to take any chances and bought it though the seller asked a bomb for it. I paid a hundred rupees for it and guess what a couple of days later I spotted another copy with the seller who sits near the Telephone Bhavan in Saifabad on all days.
The next find happened to be an interesting cookbook- ‘Indian Vegetarian Delights’ by Malini Bisen. It is supposed to contain recipes that avoid onion and the reason is that the book was published during the years when onion supply was hit and they sold at very high prices. It was sometime in the nineties and the inside page says the same.
A couple of years back I had found a copy of ‘Islands of the Marigold Sun’ by Suresh Vaidya but the cover was missing. However I bought it but haven’t read it yet. Last Sunday I found another copy of the same title but with the cover. I bought it for just fifteen rupees along with another book which was a nice copy of ‘Just a Matter of Mistresses’ by Mayah Balse. I am familiar with the name because I keep seeing copies of ‘The Singer’ by her. Next time I see it I will buy it because the books by Mayah Balse seemed to have been published sometime in the 60’s and I love books published during those years.
The last find was a nice copy of ‘In the Skin of a Lion’ by Michael Ondaatje that I found at Chikkadpally. I got it for fifty rupees and I was glad I found another title by Ondaatje.

Friday, October 05, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 30-09-2018)


This is the last Sunday before the festival season begins when the second hand book market would be at its full form with all sellers at their usual places. It was so when I went there last Sunday and returned with a haul of four good titles. I had picked up another title, a Telugu one about which I will write some other time. It was a copy of a book published sometime in the 1940s and it an interesting title. I need some time to go through this book before writing about it.
The first title I spotted at Abids was a book, a short one, with an attractive cover. It was a copy of ‘The City of Ladies’ by Christine de Pizan. A Penguin title it appeared like an interesting book so I picked it up. It had only 122 pages and I quickly read it but was disappointed that it wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be.
A little ahead I found an issue of ‘The Journal of Indian Writing in English’ edited by GS Balarama Gupta- A Tribute to Ahmed Ali. I had no idea who Ahmed Ali was but if an entire issue was devoted to him then he must be someone worth reading about. I thought maybe I would find another writer worth reading. Inside I read about Ahmed Ali and his famous novel ‘Twilight in Delhi’ that I thought I had come across sometime in the past. I am confident I will find this title if not at Abids, then at some second hand book store in Hyderabad. I got this issue of JIWE ( as it is referred by the editor in the inside pages) for twenty rupees only. I found the Telugu title with this seller and I got it for twenty rupees. It was a copy of ‘Gita Govindam’ in Telugu.
The next find was a cookbook. It was a beautiful copy of ‘The Art of Indian Cuisine’ by Rocky Mohan, a hardcover book with a beautiful cover. A Roli Books title it was a wonderful book with glossy paper and beautiful photographs of the dishes. The most interesting part was that it was a copy signed by Rocky Mohan. I got this book for hundred rupees. I spotted another copy of the same book with another seller but I did not pick it up though now I feel I should have.
The last find was the best find at Abids. I spotted a hardcover book with a seller near the General Post Office. There was no title on the cover and so I opened it to see that it was ‘Bright Book of Life’ by Alfred Kazin. I was pretty excited to find it. Later when I read the first essay which was on TS Eliot in which a few lines from his poem ‘East Coker’ were also given, I realized that I had read the same in the morning. Vaishna Roy in her lead essay titled ‘The Conscience of a Blackened Street’ in The Hindu’s Literary Review of last Sunday had also reproduced the same lines at the end of the column.
Though the seller asked for a hundred and twenty rupees for the copy of ‘Bright Book of Life’ I pointed out the pages that were stained and had holes and managed to get it for fifty rupees.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The Midweek Haul


After more than two decades of experience looking for books in Abids I learnt a few things about the second hand book market that comes up here every Sunday. One such thing is the knowledge that if the day of the final Ganesh procession happens to fall on a Sunday then the book market doesn’t come up as the sellers cannot make it back home on account of the traffic restrictions. The Sunday before last happened to be the day of the Ganesh procession so I decided to skip the weekly visit to the book market at Abids.
But on Thursday, three days before Sunday I was in the vicinity of Akshara Book store in Jubilee Hills. It is a three room store and adjacent to the main room of Akshara is another smaller room. On the shelves in this room one can find copies of books that look old and that come for discounted prices. On my earlier visits I had found a few good titles cheap. I had last been to Akshara almost a year ago but hadn’t found any good title. But last Thursday I was lucky to find three good titles.
There are only a couple of titles missing in my collection of VS Naipaul books and one such title I haven’t been able to find was ‘A Turn in the South’ by VS Naipaul. I spotted this title on an upper shelf at Akshara and picked it up along with two titles by Manoj Das- ‘Tiger at Twilight,’ a novel and ‘Farewell to a Ghost’ which is a collection of twenty three short stories by Manoj Das. I have yet another title- ‘The Collected Fiction of Manoj Das’ that I have yet to read.
I got these three titles for a hundred and seventy five rupees, with the ‘A Turn in the South’ costing me a hundred rupees and seventy five rupees for the two other titles. It is a fair enough price I feel.