Friday, November 28, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Those who know me and my habit of going to Abids every Sunday looking for books sometimes ask me to search for books they are unable to find elsewhere. They either want the book at a cheaper rate or it isn’t available so easily in the normal bookstores. Then there are some people I pick up books for at Abids without being told to. One such person is my kid who devours comics especially those of X-Men, Avengers, Spiderman, Superman and so on, of which he has an impressive collection. Needless to say I’ve picked up most of them when he isn’t able to come along with me. These comics are action oriented and so far I haven’t been able to find titles of Asterix, and also Calvin & Hobbes cheap at Abids.
Last Sunday however I found a Calvin & Hobbes title that was in good condition. Though 300/- was penciled in a corner on the inside cover I managed to bargain and got it for fifty rupees only. Even I was amazed when the seller agreed to the price I quoted.
The next find was at Abds and it was an old favorite- The Summing Up by Somerset Maugham. I found an edition different from all the ones I had picked up so far. I might have found and bought at least a dozen copies of this priceless title t hat I have given to friends who evinced interest in writing. I got this title for fifty rupees.
Another find was Truman Capote’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys and…’ that I saw immediately after I found The Summing Up. It was in good condition and I found that it was a 50th Anniversary Edition so I picked it up for thirty rupees.
At another seller I found a Robert B. Parker title that wasn’t one in the Spenser series. It was a Western called ‘Appaloosa’ which seemed to have been made into a movie also. The cover was impressive and I thought I may have to shell out nothing less than a hundred rupees for it. But I was surprised when the seller asked for thirty rupees only that I gladly paid him.
Only last week or so I had read about the venerable Shiv K Kumar, now into his nineties and ready to release another couple of books. At Abids I came across his ‘Trapfalls in the Sky’, a hardcover first edition that I got for the ridiculous price of fifteen rupees. It was more than forty poems and one of them was ‘An Indian Mother’s Advice to her Daughter Before Marriage’ that I remember reading somewhere long, long back.

Somebody had told me that the Hyderabad Book Fair was likely to begin from the seventeenth of December and would be held for ten days. There’s a couple of more weeks to go before the Book Fair begins and I am already feeling all excited about going there and plundering the second hand book stalls.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Full Stomach, Half Brain and the Jubilee Hills Crowd, Two Haul

Full Stomach, Half Brain

One can hardly expect the Jubilee Hills/Banjara Hills folks/crowd to get misty eyed about something as piffling as the closing of a bookstore when what makes them happy is the new eateries opening around them almost all the time. When they don’t have enough time to visit these numerous eateries how can one expect them to know that a major bookstore in their locality has shut down. If at all they show any interest in such an event it will be only to find out if a new eatery is coming up in place of the closed bookstore. On the other hand tell them a popular eatery has shut down then they will go into deep mourning like they’ve been struck by some great personal tragedy.

Well, in case the JH/BH crowd doesn’t know, the Landmark bookstore located on Road No. in Banjara Hills has shut down. I was there in Banjara Hill sometime last week and happened to notice this catastrophe. LM was a fairly large store to begin with but later it transformed itself into something else and finally it seems to have decided to fold up altogether. I wonder if the Odyssey store in Jubilee Hills has also met the same fate because I haven’t been there since a long time. Then there’s Akshara that doesn’t seem to have a fixed address. It seems to move to a different address every couple of years. I don’t know where the store is now because it is one store I was made to feel welcome.

I guess some of the bookstores realized they had a problem and had eateries inside the bookstores. Almost all the bookstores in JH/BH seem to either have an eatery inside or be conveniently located near one. However, this doesn’t seem to be working so I have an idea. Maybe they should think of having a bookstore inside an eatery. When the folks of JH/BH pause between their courses maybe they will take a reluctant look at the books. Even if this doesn’t work then as a last resort they should bring out books that can be eaten. The JH/BH crowd will be really happy someone has finally understood them and will be more than happy to buy such books that they can bite into after they have finished reading them.

The Sunday Haul

Anyway, last Sunday at Abids I found just one book that I picked out from a heap selling for twenty rupees only. I bought Ed McBain’s ‘The House that Jack Built’ because the title sounded familiar. It was a hard cover edition and when I sat in the cafĂ© for chai I flipped through the book and hooked by the opening started reading it. I finished it in two days.
The Midweek Haul

Yesterday I happened to visit the Legislative Assembly and while returning to office dropped in at the second hand bookstore at Lakdikapul. I found yet another Alice Munro title- The Progress of Love which is another collection of her short stories. The Progress of Love, Lichen, Monsieur les Deux Chapeaux, Miles City, Montana, Fits, The Moon in the Orange Street Skating Rink, Jesse and Meribeth, Eskimo, A Queer Streak, Circle of Prayer, and White Dump are the stories in this book. Apart from this title the other Alice Munro titles in my collection are: I have Dance of the Happy Shades, Runaway, The View from Castle Rock, The Moons of Jupiter.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Once again it was a cloudy morning last Sunday and there was even a light shower making me wonder if it would rain later in the day. Luckily, the rain stopped before I set off for Abids to look for books. I seem to be on an extended stretch of luck because within moments of parking my bike I found a good title that I already have several copies of. I found yet another copy of ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King that I cannot resist buying for some reason. So far I have found more than a dozen copies of this book and after giving out several copies to people who asked me for it, there are still about half a dozen copies of ‘On Writing’ on my shelves. Coincidentally, this is the fourth copy that I have found at the same seller where I had found my first copy of ‘On Writing’ which, incidentally, did not have a cover. The title was written with a sketch pen on a plain white cover and I was lucky to have spotted it. Anyway, like most of the copies that I had found so far I got this copy too quite cheap. I paid only fifty rupees for this copy which was in decent condition.
My next stroke of luck came minutes later. I have been looking for Romesh Gunesekera’s ‘Reef’ ever since I found his ‘The Match’ a couple of months back. At last I was able to spot it at Abids with a seller who had displayed it rather prominently but had no idea how valuable it was. I was able to bargain for it and ended up buying ‘Reef’ for only fifty rupees. The Granta Books edition that I found was in beautiful condition and I was glad to have found ‘Reef’ at last.
The third book in Sunday’s haul was John O’ Hara’s ‘Appointment in Samarra’ about which I had read somewhere very recently. In fact, it was in ‘Writing a Novel’ by John Braine in which the opening scene was taken as an example of a good beginning. After I read the opening I wanted to read the entire book and luckily, a few days later I found it at Abids last Sunday. Anyway, I got this book pretty cheap. It was the cheapest book in Sunday’s haul, at just twenty rupees.
With these three books the total haul this year has reached stratospheric heights. It is likely to go up further since there is the Hyderabad Book Fair coming up sometime in the next month. I am eagerly waiting to read the announcement about the dates and the venue of the next Hyderabad Book Fair.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Midweek Haul

My streak of luck with books did not end on Sunday with the finding of another copy of GV Desani’s ‘All About H Hatterr’ but continued further. On Thursday I found five more books at bookstores I visited. I was on leave on Thursday since I had to run some errands. Luckily for me, I finished the jobs by afternoon and had a couple of hours to kill. The only thing that comes to mind is to seek out the nearest second hand bookstore and check out the shelves. I was at Begumpet and the MR Bookstore was the nearest bookstore and I dived into it.
One of the titles that had been elusive so far was ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad. At last I found it at the MR Bookstore and got it for a hundred rupees. The next find was another title that I had been looking for. I had read about Kate Chopin’s ‘The Awakening’ somewhere recently and had wondered if I would be able to find it here in Hyderabad at Abids. This title too was there and I bought it again for another hundred rupees.
One discovery of an author that I am rather proud of is Alistair MacLeod. A couple of years ago at a sale by Best Books on a hunch I picked up a collection of short stories titled ‘Islands’ by Alistair MacLeod. Later I found that he was a master short story seller and I regretted not buying book by him titled ‘No Great Mischief’ that was also on the shelf at the sale. One reason was that it was too expensive and also I did not want to take a chance on a writer I did not know. A couple of days later I was surprised to find another collection of short stories ‘The Lost Salt Gift of Blood’ on the pavement at Abids which I got for an unbelievable price of ten rupees. After I read this wonderful collection of short stories I regretted not buying ‘No Great Mischief’ which is the only novel that Alistair MacLeod wrote. Last Thursday I found a paperback copy of ‘No Great Mischief’ for only fifty rupees. ‘As Birds Bring Forth the Sun’ is the only title by this wonderful writer that I do not have. Wish I could find it soon.
My next halt was at another MR store beside the flyover at Punjagutta. There I found another title by an author I had come to know only recently. I had read about Jean Giono’s ‘The Harvest’ somewhere and I had wondered about finding it at Abids. I did not find ‘The Harvest’ but found another title ‘The Slaughterhouse’ that I got for a hundred rupees. Since it was turning out to be a great day for finding books I decided to check out my luck at another store though I was spending more than I had planned.

I landed at the Best Books store at Abids where I stuck gold again. Sometime last week I had bought JM Coetzee’s ‘Disgrace’ which I am yet to begin reading. I know there is a famous Indian writer who said that JM Coetzee was ‘God’ to him. I also know enough to lap up any title by Coetzee. As luck would have it, I came across ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ at the Best Books store at Abids. But it did not come cheap and I had to shell out a hundred and fifty rupees for it.
In a couple of hours I ended up adding five more books to my ever increasing pile of books. With these five books the total number of books I have bought this year comes to 127. There’s more than a month and half for the year to end and I have no idea how many more books will get added to this total.