Sunday Salon: More Books!

I’m spending the July 4th weekend at my sister’s home in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. A weekend away with family is always a treat, but this weekend took a wonderfully bookish turn because the book bargain extravaganza known as the Green Valley Book Fair just happened to be taking place only a few miles from my sister’s house.

The book fair is basically a huge warehouse of remaindered books and print overruns in the tiny town of Mount Crawford, Virginia, near Staunton (for all two of you who have heard of Staunton). The book fair is only open for a couple of weekends every two or three months. When I realized that the fair would just happen to be going on when I was in the area I had to make plans to stop by. I hadn’t been in years, and I had forgotten how amazing it is—and how cheap the books are. Most are $4 or less.

I’ve been fairly restrained in my book purchases this year, and I had no intentions of going on a spree this time, but when I walked into the section of the building that houses the adult fiction, the first thing I saw was a table of books by Nobel- and Booker-prize-winning authors. And next to that was a section of world literature. Well, as some of you know, I’ve been wanting to read more world literature, so my resistance got quickly worn down when I saw their fabulous selection! I left with 13 books in all, and I only spent $52! And let me tell you, I could easily have spent that amount a few more times over.

No pictures of my haul, since I’m away from home, but I will share the list and the first sentence or two of each.

  1. The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe. “One day in August a man disappeared. He had simply set out for the seashore on a holiday, scarcely half a day away by train, and nothing more was ever heard of him.”
  2. Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. “It lay low down in the hollow, rich with fine old timer and luxuriant pastures; and you came upon it through an avenue of limes, bordered on either side by meadows, over the high hedges of which the cattle looked inquisitively at you as you passed, wondering, perhaps, what you wanted; for there was no thoroughfare, and unless you were going to the Court you had no business there at all.”
  3. If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino. “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel If on a winter’s night a traveler.
  4. Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. “If there was a bishop, my mother would have him to tea.”
  5. King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett. “When the year one thousand came, Thorkel Amundason was five years old, and hardly noticed how frightened everyone was.”
  6. Looking for Alaska by John Green. “The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing a going-away party. To say that I had low expectations would be to underestimate the matter dramatically.”
  7. Waiting by Ha Jin. “Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.”
  8. Arabian Nights and Days by Naghoub Mahfouz. “Following the dawn prayer, with clouds of darkness defying the vigorous thrust of light, the vizier Dandan was called to a meeting with the sultan Shahriyar.”
  9. The Love of a Good Woman: Stories by Alice Munro. “For the last couple of decades, there has been a museum in Walley, dedicated to preserving photos and butter churns and horse harnesses and an old dentist’s chair and a cumbersome apple peeler and such curiosities as the pretty little porcelain-and-glass insulators that were used on telegraph poles.”
  10. A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipul. “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”
  11. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu. “In the reign of a certain Emperor, whose name is unknown to us, there was, among the Niogo and Koyi of the Imperial Court, one who, though she was not of high birth, enjoyed the full tide of Royal favor.”
  12. John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead. “About 45 years ago I was in Morgan County, Kentucky. There was a bunch of darkeys came from Miss. to assist in driving a tunnel at the head of the Big Caney Creek for the O&K railroad.”
  13. An Equal Music by Vikram Seth. “The branches are bare, the sky tonight a milky violet.”

Almost all of these are new-to-me authors that I’ve been wanting to try. The only exception is Dorothy Dunnett, one of my favorite historical fiction authors. King Hereafter, about the historical Macbeth, is my favorite of her books, and I’ve been wanting a copy for a while. The book fair actually had all of her historical novels for $4.5o each, and I was tempted to just grad them all, since I only own two of them (and can’t remember which two). I resisted, though, because most of her books are part of her two historical series, and I don’t know that I’ll ever get around to rereading them.

So the Green Valley Book Fair is definitely worth a trip!


Notes from a Reading Life

Books Completed

  • Small Island by Andrea Levy. Beautifully constructed novel about World War II and the period immediately after.
  • Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Better the second time around.
  • One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (audio). The second Jackson Brodie novel. Not quite as wonderful as Case Histories but still an excellent crime novel. I’m wondering if the narrator is part of the problem. Hmm…

Currently Reading

  • The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. Nonfiction about scary, scary viruses. I knew Ebola was something I didn’t want. Now I know why.
  • Howard’s End by E.M. Forster. This is probably my favorite of E.M. Forster’s novels, but I’ve only read it once. Time to fix that.
  • When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (audio). The third Jackson Brodie novel. Off to a better start than One Good Turn.
  • Waiting for God by Simone Weil. A collection of Weil’s essays and letters that I’m working through slowly. Reading just one or two selections each week.
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36 Responses to Sunday Salon: More Books!

  1. winstonsdad says:

    good selection you got ,I ve read couple andhave couple in to tbr pile ,be reading bend in riverin next month or so ,all the best stu

    • Teresa says:

      Bend in the River is one I’m particularly looking forward to. They had almost all of Naipul’s books there. Which of these have you read? Any you particularly recommend?

  2. I went to college in VA (William and Mary) so I do know where Staunton is – the Shenandoah Valley is just beautiful – enjoy the time with your family!

    Sounds like you are off to a good start – great selection of books! Someone just recommended Looking for Alaska to me last week.

    • Teresa says:

      You went to W&M? Jenny and I are also W&M grads (Class of 94). And I just found out last week that Frances of Nonsuch Book went there too! I actually know lots of Virginia residents who have no idea where Staunton is, so I’m impressed that you do.

  3. cbjames says:

    A warehouse full of discount books! I don’t know if that’s a dreamland or a nightmare world but I want to go. And I recommend Lady Audley’s Secret.

    • Teresa says:

      I think the nightmare will come in for me when I also visit Daedalus books (a remaindered book warehouse) later this month. My step-mom remarked yesterday that they need to give me one of their spare bookcases! (Spare bookcases????)

      I was really happy to find Lady Audley’s Secret. It’s been on my list for a while, but my library doesn’t have it.

  4. A warehouse full of discount books- be still, my heart! Those sound wonderful, and thank you for reminding me to add The Tale of Genji to my book list.

  5. Jenny says:

    I like having the first sentence of each book – way to whet the appetite! Looks like a great haul; I am helpless before the lure of cheap books myself. :p

  6. Have a lovely holiday spent with your family, Teresa.

    Cheap books can never be resisted when they come as recommended as the ones above. I’ve been wanting to read the Braddon and ordered a copy of Looking for Alaska on Friday – here’s hoping we both enjoy.

  7. Alessandra says:

    Yay for Calvino. He’s awesome. Really, really awesome. If you like If on a winter’s night a traveler, you can go on to Invisible Cities.

    BTW, I received Sense and Sensibility yesterday. Thanks :)

    • Teresa says:

      The Calvino has been on my list forever, and I believe they had Invisible Cities there as well.

      And you’re welcome for S&S. Hope you enjoy it!

  8. Melissa says:

    Oh, my … that sounds like a wonderful book fair and you got some great reads, it seems. I really enjoyed Looking for Alaska (there’s a review on my blog). Alice Munro is a new-to-me author too, and I’m hoping to remedy that soon.

    Enjoy your new books and your weekend!

  9. Patty says:

    It is truly too difficult to resist books…good ones…enjoy your newest treasures.

  10. Danielle says:

    My sister lives in Virginia–it’s lovely there–hope you’re having a great time. You couldn’t pass up such a great book fair–normally about four new books would add up to what you spent, so you got quite a bargain! I loved Lady Audley’s Secret and I think before long I am going to have to pick up a good Victorian Sensationalist novel! Oh, and I really want to read Dorothy Dunnett but am a little intimidated by the sheer size of the books and the many historical references I’m guessing they have. Enjoy your new books!

    • Teresa says:

      I’ve lived in Virginia all my life, and all over the state (Roanoke, Williamsburg, now Alexandria). It is a beautiful place.

      You should give Dunnett a try sometime. I’ve enjoyed all her books. King Hereafter is my favorite, and it might be good to start with because it’s a standalone, but I understand others have found it harder to get into than her Lymond books, which are also marvelous.

  11. Wow. What a haul! I am filled with envy. Especially about the Calvino – I have been meaning to get ahold of that for some time.

  12. kiss a cloud says:

    Absolutely loved If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Hope you enjoy it! Have yet to read Tale of Genji. I had started it but was daunted by the size.. hopefully will continue soon. Great stack!

    • Teresa says:

      Hmmm…. the copy of Genji that I got is not terribly thick, but the typeface is small.

      … and upon looking more closely at my copy I see that it is an abridged translation. Now why couldn’t they have put that information on the cover? Oh well, perhaps I’ll actually get this read, while I might never get around to a full-length version.

  13. Iris says:

    I haven’t read any of these, but they all look very interesting to me. I don’t think I would’ve been able to resist either!

  14. Sasha says:

    Wonderful books. :) I love love love Looking for Alaska, and I hope you enjoy it. And Munro has always been the go-to for me when I need some good “short” fiction. I have that book of hers too, but I’ve only read a handful of stories — I tend to read collections slowly, story by story. Unless I am intensely compelled to go through it in one go.

    I’ve wanted to read Oscar and Lucinda ever since I read my first Peter Carey a few weeks ago. And Lady Audley’s Secret intrigues me, but a part of me hesitates because the gothic-y mystery Classics don’t really appeal to me. Take Wilkie Collins.

    Anyhoo. Have fun!

    • Teresa says:

      I’m still trying to work out a strategy for reading short pieces. I tend to read collections as if they were novels, and I’m not sure that’s the way to go.

      And Oscar and Lucinda has been on my list for well over 10 years, since I saw and loved the movie without even realizing it was based on an award-winning book.

  15. farmlanebooks says:

    I’m pleased to see that you have The Woman in the Dunes – it is a very good book. I think you’ll enjoy Oscar and Lucinda too.

    Good luck with Genji – it is taking me ages to get through!!

    Enjoy your new books :-)

    • Teresa says:

      Your review of Woman in the Dunes is what put it on my list. I’ve wanted to see the film for ages, but didn’t even know about the book until I saw your review!

  16. Nicola says:

    Oh I loved Lady Audley’s Secret. Way over the top but completely enjoyable. Hope you like it.

  17. rebeccareid says:

    Great selections! Many are on my TBR too.

  18. Sarah says:

    What a great book haul! I enjoyed Lady Audley’s Secret, but it’s definitely a different kind book, and Lady A is a bit of a pill. Looking forward to reading your thoughts about it.

  19. Pingback: Visit to Green Valley Book Fair and Shenandoah National Park | A Good Stopping Point

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