Friday, February 24, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 19-02-2017)

It was only after finishing reading ‘The Heart of the Matter’ by Graham Greene that I decided to read everything he had written. I had already acquired a few titles by him, some that I picked up at Abids and other places without knowing how well he wrote. I had read about ‘May We Borrow Your Husband’ somewhere a long time back but couldn’t find it anywhere. Last Sunday, however, at last I came across a decent enough copy of ‘May We Borrow Your Husband’ that I snapped up the moment I laid my eyes on it. I got it for just twenty rupees.

On Saturdays Business Line comes out with its supplement ‘Blink’ that I had begun reading a couple of years back for its interesting mix of articles. It is not easy to find ‘Business Line’ with the usual vendors because it seems the paper gets sold out soon enough. Only a few vendors have enough issues that can be found at any time. I usually buy it at a vendor at Lakdikapul. Last suggested the vendor asked me if I wanted ‘Mint’ as well and offered it to me assuming I wouldn’t say no. So I took it and sometime after returning home from work I found the time to read it. Inside was a very interesting article titled ‘The Slow Rise’ by Neha Bhatt that was about artisanal and home-made breads. It was a wonderful piece about how some people were baking some interesting breads.
After reading the piece my mind immediately went back to a book that I had been seeing with a seller at Abids which was also something about home-made breads. It was a big tome with an attractive cover that tempted me a few time to buy it just for the heck of it but I did not succumb to that temptation. But the next day which happened to a Sunday, when I saw the book at Abids I picked it up to take a closer look. It was ‘Farm Journal’s Homemade Breads’ and was in a good condition. I hesitated wondering what I would do with that book because I had no intention to bake bread at home. But I bought the book just because the cover was very attractive and the fact that it might come in handy in case I suddenly decided to chuck my job and open a bakery.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Birthday Haul

On the sixth of this month I turned fifty four. I am yet to believe that I have actually crossed fifty years. As the age increases the gifts seemed to be coming down. However, there are two friends who never fail to give me a present on my birthday. This year too they offered to present whichever title I wanted since they knew I loved to get books as gifts. So I chose two books. I told M to send me ‘Ghachar Ghochar’ by Vivek Shanbhag and when I went with Hari to Landmark I picked up ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi.
I had actually picked up ‘The Great Derangement’ by Amitav Ghosh but when I saw ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ I picked it up instead. It isn’t a book to be read by those in their fifties especially around their birthdays. It is a crushingly sad account of a young neurosurgeon’s account of his struggle with lung cancer that ultimately defeats him. I felt terrible after reading the book and for a couple of days I found it difficult to shake away thoughts of death that were in mind all the time.
On Sunday I had been to Abids but I hadn’t found anything worth buying there. So I returned empty handed which felt good for a change. I hope next Sunday I will find something good.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 5-2-17)

Since the beginning of this year I’ve brought home an average of four books from Abids every Sunday. Last month I hauled in a total of twenty odd books and last Sunday I picked up four more books. If this trend goes on I guess there would be a small mountain of books at home. Every Sunday before starting for Abids I make a resolve to pick up just one book if I cannot help it but end up buying more than one title. So last Sunday when I saw four good titles I was unable to resist not buying them.
My first two finds last Sunday was not at Abids but at Chikkadpally. The seller had some fresh stock and the books appeared all new. I found a wonderful copy of ‘In the Heart of the Country’ by J.M. Coetzee that I snapped up as it was almost brand new. The next find was ‘Our Moon Has Blood Clots’ by Rahul Pandita. This was another brand new book. There were more than a dozen new titles in the stock with the seller at Chikkadpally including Mihir Sharma’s ‘Restart’ that I somehow did not buy. I got these two titles at thirty rupees each.
I thought of returning home with these two books but my Sunday is never complete without a visit to Abids so I went on. I hadn’t met my friends since a couple of weeks so I thought they’d be disappointed if I do not turn up. However I was a bit disappointed that none of my usual Abids friends turned up. Alone I went around and chanced upon two wonderful titles- one about writing and the other about reading- two things I love to do.
Apart from books that I have loved reading I also buy multiple copies of books on reading and writing because someone or the other is always asking me for books on writing. So last Sunday when I spotted yet another copy of ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott I picked it up. It was in good condition and I was getting it quite cheap. I had found my first copy of this title a long time but after a long search. ‘Bird by Bird’ is a recommended read for anyone who plans to begin writing and, as I have found, it is quite an useful book for writers taking their first steps.
The second find was about reading. It was a nice copy of ‘How to Read a Book’ by Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren. The previous owner of this book seemed to have read this book thoroughly because it is underlined, passages highlighted, and remarks written in the pages of this copy. I think I had read about this book a long time back and had also made a note of the title in one of my notebooks. I am glad I found this wonderful book about reading a book, and naturally, I am eager to read this book right away.

Friday, February 03, 2017

A Double Haul

A Weighty Haul
The New Year began with a wee bit of luck in store for me. Eight months after the posting in a district I was shifted to Hyderabad. I will post about this stroke of luck and my new place of posting sometime later. More than anything one reason why I wanted to be in Hyderabad was to be able to drop in at the second hand bookstores and also to be able to attend literary events such as book launches and readings whenever I wanted. Within a fortnight of being transferred I got the opportunity to drop in at a second hand bookstore and haul in a tidy collection of books. I also got to attend the Hyderabad Literary Festival where again I found two more titles in book stalls there.

On the Republic Day (26th Jan) after attending the flag hoisting event at my new workplace in the morning I stopped at a second hand bookstore on the way back home. Nowadays second hand bookstores in Hyderabad have started selling books by weight. I wanted to check out if I could find something of worth in the MR Bookstore in Begumpet so I landed there early in the afternoon on Republic Day. I had the whole day before me so I decided to spend at least a couple of hours in the store looking at each and every title to see if I’d be able to find something good.
Only the week before I had finished reading ‘CAL’ by Bernard MacLaverty that I had found some time back at Abids. It turned out to be extremely good and enjoyed reading the interesting love story of Cal, the protagonist. After finishing reading it I gave it to Hari to read. At the MR store I found another Bernard MacLaverty title- ‘Grace Notes’ that I got for fifty rupees. I was thrilled to find it and afterwards I went into the section where the books were to be sold by weight. It was downstairs where there seemed to be thousands of titles on the shelves. I got down to looking at the titles hoping to find enough books to make up a kilo which was the minimum one had to buy. The books were priced at Rs 120 per kilo. I got lucky and found four good titles.
The first title was another Bernard MacLaverty title- ‘Lamb’- that was also made into a movie like the other title I had read-CAL. So I was mighty thrilled and breathless I searched carefully. I found a hardcover copy of ‘The Man Within My Head’ by Pico Iyer. The jacket had a piece missing on the front but otherwise it was in good condition so I picked it up though I already have another copy of this same title. The next find was ‘Bomber’s Law’ by George V.Higgins, a writer whose books I don’t want to miss reading. I had been hunting for ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ but haven’t found it so far but any book by George V. Higgins is worth picking up. Only recently I had found his ‘Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years’ at Abids last December. The last find was ‘A Home in the Sky’ by Vaasanthi.
These four titles added up to a little more than a kilo that cost me just a hundred and thirty rupees. It means I got these books for a little over thirty rupees each. It surely is a ‘heavy haul.’

The HLF Haul
A day after I bought the books by weight at MR Bookstore the Hyderabad Literary Festival began. However I wasn’t able to attend on the first day but I took a day off on Saturday and landed at the Hyderabad Public School. As usual, there was the stall by Oxford Publishers and one stall by Best Books.
At the Oxford stall I picked up ‘Roots’ by Malayatoor Ramakrishnan for seventy rupees. At the Best Books stall I picked up a title I had missed buying at the Annual Hyderabad Book Fair last month. It was ‘People of the City’ by Cyprian Ekwensi. I got this book too for seventy five rupees. I had read somewhere that this book was published much before Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart.’ With these two books the number of books I had bought in the first month of the New Year stands at twenty already.