Friday, December 13, 2013

The Bookfair Haul

When it comes to events like book fairs and book sales not even a thousand horses can restrain me from going there on the first day itself. Needless to say, last Saturday, the 7th of December, I was present at the Hyderabad Book Fair much before the Governor had come to inaugurate it. Unlike the previous year this year’s book fair was in the grounds of the NTR Stadium that was on my way home. This was bigger than any book fair I have ever seen what with nearly three hundred stalls. There were the usual scenes I have seen on the first day, half opened stalls, sellers still arranging the furniture, the books, and the cartons of unopened books lying on the ground. The only difference was that there was no entrance fee as this year’s fair was sponsored by NBT.
I headed straight for the second hand book stores that were open and had some books on display and ended up with a nine-book haul that is sort of a minor record for me. In the first second hand book stall at the Fair I found a hard cover copy of ‘Sun after Dark’ by Pico Iyer that I already had but anyway bought though the price was a bit too steep for my pocket. I got the book for two hundred rupees. ‘
The second find at the Book fair was a real gem. At the bottom of a pile of books stacked on the ground at the foot of a table in a stall of a second hand book seller of Hyderabad I spotted a copy of Arun Joshi’s ‘The Strange Case of Billy Biswas’. I already have two copies of this book but this copy was the original copy published sometime in the 1970s. It was the cover that got me with its illustration of a man in bell bottoms and two women that reminded me of the 70’s. It was a lucky find that I got for just eighty rupees. The book wasn’t in perfect shape but I fixed it up later at home.
The third find at the Book fair was another treasure. In yet another second hand book stall I came across a nice copy of ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. I had been looking for this book since quite some time and had actually seen it at Blossoms in Bangalore in August but did not buy it because of the prohibitive price. I got this copy at the book fair for just a hundred rupees. This will be the first book of Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie that I would be reading and I am looking forward to read the twelve stories in this collection. (Cell One, Imitation, A Private Experience, Ghosts, On Monday of Last Week, Jumping Monkey Hill, The Thing Around Your Neck, The American Embassy, The Shivering, The Arrangers of Marriage, Tomorrow is Too Far, and The Headstrong Historian.
The next find (the fourth of the haul) too was a collection of short stories and this was one by this year’s Nobel winner- Alice Munro. In a big stall put up by a Delhi based seller I found an almost brand new copy of ‘Runaway’ by Alice Munro. However this didn’t come cheap because I had to pay two hundred rupees for it but I guess it is worth it. I felt really pleased at finding this collection that has eight stories which, surprisingly had single word titles- Runaway, Chance, Soon, Silence, Passion, Trespasses, Tricks, and Powers.
Next I found two books by one of my favourite authors- Dave Barry. I found his ‘Dave Barry Turns Forty’ and ‘Homes and Other Black Holes’ both titles that I already have. However, I picked up these copies too because they were in quite good condition and ‘DB Turns Forty’ was a hardcover copy. There’s always someone who can do with a bit of humour in his/her life and these copies are for such persons who I might meet.
I was going around the stalls carrying my six books in a small plastic bag that one of the sellers had given me. I was in a different stall whose owner stopped me and offered me a bigger bag to carry all my books. I refused but he insisted and took the bag from my hand and put it inside another nice and big bag which he gave back to me with a smile. I felt a bit embarrassed knowing what to do next since it was a stall where I couldn’t find anything to buy.
The seventh find was a serious book- Harold Bloom’s ‘How to Read and Why’ that I got quite cheap at only fifty rupees in another stall selling second hand books. I have read about Bloom but haven’t read anything by him till now so this might be my first introduction to Harold Bloom. I am glad I found it because I hope to find whether I read for the same reasons that Bloom talks about. If this find was about reading then the next find was about writing- Oxford Essential Guide to Writing- that I picked up though I already have a copy of it. I was getting it for only fifty rupees. The price wasn’t the only excuse for buying the book since I like to read as many books on writing and also pass them on to others like me. So in it went into the haul.
Sometime back I had picked up a crime fiction title on a hunch and after I read it I wanted to pat myself on the back for having picked up a book by a truly talented writer. The book was Peter Blauner’s ‘Casino Moon’ that I had finished reading only last month and that left me hungry for more books by Blauner. So when I saw another Blauner title- Slow Motion Riot- I grabbed it. I was lucky to have found it and luckier to have got it for just eighty rupees. With this title the haul went up to nine and I decided to call it a day and quit.
Outside I celebrated the nine book haul by having a sweet- Madugula halwa- that was being sold from inside a van kind of thing. On one of my trips to Visakhapatnam sometime in 2009 or so I had actually been to Madugula and had been offered almost a kilo of this wonderful sweet to take home. I was glad I got to taste this sweet once again after such a long time.


Rajendra said...

good haul. Congrats.

Vinod Ekbote said...

Thanks, Raja. I've bought three more books today at the Book Fair!

asra ghouse said...

In which stall did you find the Munro collection? If only I knew that you would be there today...!

Vinod Ekbote said...

it was an unplanned visit but it is too late now. Wait another year!