Friday, July 29, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 23-07-2016)

My weekly visits to Abids every Sunday have been yielding a regular haul of books. I bring home at least two good books from Abids every Sunday. This has resulted in overflowing bookshelves at home crammed with books. This year so far I have bought about 106 books, all of them (in my view) fantastic titles that I have brought with the intention of reading, obviously. Last Sunday was no different and I added five more titles to this figure.
The Sunday before the last I had found Series II of Sahitya Akademi’s ‘Contemporary Indian Short Stories’ that had a story by an author I had been looking for. I had bought it because it had a story by Pudumai Pitthan. Though there were Series I, III, and also IV I did not buy them for some reason. Last Sunday I bought series I and II but left Series IV behind to be picked up next Sunday. Series I has fifteen stories and Series III has nineteen stories. These series have stories translated into English that were by writers of all Indian languages that would be difficult to find at one place. I am glad I found these series. Next Sunday I will buy Series IV. I do not think anybody would be interested in it so I am certain it will be at the same place I saw it last Sunday.
Another title I bought was a title someone I am bumping into at Abids told me was a good read. I have read David Morrell earlier but since I haven’t read ‘Extreme Denial’ I bought it to avoid disappointing a fellow book lover. In the same heap of books I saw a couple of titles by a writer whose books I see quite often at Abids. Somehow I have resisted buying T. Jefferson Parker’s books so far but last Sunday I decided to picked up one title and that was ‘Silent Joe’ just to see if he is any good.
The most interesting find of the day was a title I picked up right away the moment I spotted it. The title was ‘Travels in Nepal’ by Charlie Pye Smith which I bought because I love to read travelogues. Another reason why I bought it was that it was a Penguin title that I cannot resist buying. In one of the pages at the back I found ‘The Penguin Travel Library’ which is a selection of about two dozen travel titles published by Penguin. I was quite thrilled to find that I have ‘Hindoo Holiday’ by AJ Ackerley, ‘Indian Summer’ by James Cameron, ‘Stones of Florence and Venice Observed’ by Mary McCarthy, and also ‘Mash Arabs’ by Wilfred Thesiger. After seeing the titles in the list I want to look out for all those I do not have especially ‘First Russia, Then Tibet’ by Robert Byron and also ‘A Little Tour in France’ by Henry James. One travel writer whose books I have been unable to find is Patrick Leigh Fermor. I wish I could lay my hands on one of his titles somewhere soon.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 17-07-16)

Most of the titles I’ve picked up purely on a hunch at Abids have turned out to be those written by good writers I haven’t had the luck to know until then. In this manner I have found Ross MacDonald, Ross Thomas, Peter Blauner and other writers. I do not hesitate if I find a Penguin title by writers I haven’t heard about before since I know Penguin publishes only good writers. Last Sunday I came across a Penguin title that I bought right away.
I found this title with the seller at RTC X Roads who kept this title in a heap of twenty rupees books. It was ‘An Exile’ by Madison Jones, which, I read on the cover was also made into a movie under the title ‘I Walk the Line.’ ‘An Exile’ is a small, slim title with just 156 pages. I love these kind of novels that tell a story in under two hundred pages because it doesn’t take me more than a day to finish reading them.
The previous Sunday I had picked up ‘The Group’ by Mary McCarthy from this same heap but not her other title ‘A Charmed Life’ that was also in the same heap. I decided that I would buy it this Sunday if it was still in the same place. It was and I bought this title too for twenty rupees only. Sometimes after you finish reading a good book by an author you haven’t heard before you wish you could read other titles by the same author. Since I read that ‘The Group’ is a good book I hope I will like it and also read ‘A Charmed Life’ next.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 10-07-2016)

The second hand book sellers of Abids who were scattered and in disarray on all Sundays during the month of Ramzan that got just over were back to their usual places last Sunday. This was comforting because it meant that it improved my chances of finding some good titles that I usually find at some of the good sellers at Abids. Needless to say last Sunday I ended up finding three good books.
The first find of the day was a collection of short stories- Series II of the Contemporary Indian Short Stories- brought out by the Sahitya Akademi. Though there were all the series from Series I to Series IV with the seller I had reason to buy only Series-II. Sometime back I had read about Pudumai Pithan, the Tamil short story writer whose works I was desperately hoping to find some day. I was glad I found one of his stories- The Redemption- in this volume that had twenty stories by different authors translated into English from different languages. After I went home I realized that it would have been better if I had bought all the series. Next Sunday I will buy them if I find them.
The second find was a title I picked up on a hunch. In a heap of books that were being sold for Rs 20 each I spotted the title ‘Law and Order’ on an attractive cover. The author was Dorothy Uhnak and it was a name that I was coming across for the first time. I read inside that Uhnak had been a police officer and ‘Law and Order’ was her first book. I had a hunch that it could be a good book and so I bought it. Later when I checked out the reviews online I discovered that I had indeed bought a good title. I hope to find her bestseller ‘The Investigation’ and other titles by Dorothy Unhak soon.
The third and last find was another wonderful title. I already own a good copy of ‘A Room of One’s Own’ by Virginia Woolf that I found a couple of years ago. I saw another nice copy of this same title with a seller who manages to stock some good titles in the few dozen tattered books that he displays. This copy was in a good condition except for a stain on the bottom of the cover that seems to have spread to some of the first few pages. Otherwise it looked new. I bought it to add it to a couple of books I plan to a dear friend who lives in Mumbai.

Friday, July 08, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 3-7-2016)

Of the many agonies that some bibliophiles like me experience one in particular I face quite often. When one is looking for a particular title by an author that has made him/her famous it is agonizing to find other titles by the author other than the one you are searching for. I’ve gone through this agonizing experience several times in the past. I’ve come across ‘Killing Mister Watson’ and also ‘At Play in the Fields of the Lord’ when I was looking for Peter Matthiessen’s ‘The Snow Leopard’ that I ultimately found after a long search. Similarly I came across copies of ‘Play as it Lays’ by Joan Didion and other titles when it was her ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’ that I was desperately looking for. While looking for JM Coetzee’s ‘Disgrace’ I kept seeing many copies of ‘The Life and Times of K’ until finally I found it sometime recently.

For me this agony is doubled because I have developed this curious habit of not reading any other title by an author until I’ve read the title that made the author famous. Though it was ‘The Group’ by Mary McCarthy that I was hoping to find since a long time I never was able to find a single copy all these years. However I found ‘Venice Observed’ a couple of years ago but haven’t read it because I wanted to read ‘The Group’ first before reading other titles by this author.

Last Sunday, finally, I spotted an old copy of ‘The Group’ with a seller at the RTC Crossroads on the way back home from Abids where I hadn’t been lucky. The copy of ‘The Group’ I saw had a faded cover and looked like a very old copy. No wonder the seller had dumped it in a heap of books being sold for twenty rupees. I took it but not the copy of ‘The Charmed Circle’that was also there in the same heap. Now I am wondering if I should have bought this title too.

Friday, July 01, 2016

A Midweek Haul

Last Sunday’s visit to Abids did not yield even a single title in the haul. I came home empty handed after a long time. I wasn’t disappointed though because I met my friends and fellow book lovers. We had sat in another café we’ve begun to haunt because the café which was our regular meeting place was razed to the ground a couple of months ago. We talked about books, writers, movies, and the trending topic- the potholes on the roads of Hyderabad. The time spent in the company of friends made it possible to forget that I hadn’t picked up anything at Abids.

Later on the way back home, at Chikkadpally, I had seen a good copy of ‘The Sly Company of People Who Care’ by Rahul Bhattacharya. I decided I would buy this title after a couple of Sundays after wearing down the seller who was asking for a high price for it.
However, on Monday I happened to drop in at the MR Bookstore branch beside the flyover near Punjagutta. I saw a good copy of ‘My Own Country’ by Abraham Varghese. Sometime back I had read his ‘The Tennis Partner’ and right away decided to read his other books. Though I picked up ‘My Own Country’ and held it in my hand I came across another wonderful title that I instantly decided to buy instead of Abraham Varghese’s book. I found ‘Yesterday Morning’ by Diana Athill. Finding a good copy of ‘Stet’ by this celebrated editor on the pavements of Abids was one of the few thrilling moments of my life half spent dredging for books. This joy was doubled when I found a second copy shortly afterwards. Anyway, I bought ‘Yesterday Morning’ by Diana Athill, a remarkable editor, and also a person who led a very interesting life.