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Five dollars and change

2010 October 28

Last weekend I took advantage of the Friends of Lakewood Public Library‘s 2010 Fall Book Sale. Lakewood has an awesome library (actually it has two libraries, though I’ve only been inside the main branch), and has awesome book sales, too.

Talk about affordable entertainment. Shelf after shelf to browse, and with the majority of items priced at just fifty cents, bibliophiles can go on a real spree for merely a few dollars. For the princely sum of $5.50 I acquired the following:

Books purchased at Lakewood Public Library book sale, Oct. 2010

Nine, count them, NINE hardcover books

Ah, books books books. Let’s start from the lower right and go through everything clockwise. The two books at lower right, Milton’s Teeth and Ovid’s Umbrella, and The Whatchamacallit, were both found in a section labled “Odds and Ends,” being a collection of books which seemed to defy any other categorization. Fair enough in the case of these two, at any rate. Both look quite entertaining.

To the left of those, we have a hardcover edition of John LeCarré’s novel Smiley’s People, conclusion to what has become known as the “Quest for Karla” trilogy. I own the whole trilogy in paperback, but… it was there, it was 50¢; I thought it might be nice to “upgrade” from pocket book editions to full-size hardcover books.

LeCarré novels The Russia House and Smiley's People

New acquisition alongside another novel I already owned

Can’t say that I particularly like the cover. It doesn’t seem really fitting; it doesn’t seem to really belong with anything at all in particular, in fact. The treatment of the author’s name does match that on the cover of an edition of The Russia House; perhaps they were using that as a common element for a while. (Why are the two books different page sizes?) Frankly, I don’t think the Avant-Garde-ish type treatment works particularly well with either of these two covers, but at least the cover of The Russia House still looks pretty good overall. With Smiley’s People, though… what were they thinking?

Stamped cloth cover of Smiley's People

Here's the book minus its jacket

The interior is completely different, meanwhile, and almost as random. Weird. If I do manage a collection of the entire “Quest for Karla” trilogy in hardback, perhaps I’ll design my own dust jackets. Maybe adapt something from the covers of my paperback editions, the designs of which I like in concept, even if the execution is a bit over-rendered.

To the left of LeCarré (spatially, at any rate) we find two books which did not include dust jackets or even titles on the front cover. A combined edition of Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples, and an edition of Treasure Island. I’ve actually never read either one, believe it or not, and expect to enjoy both.

Directly above these, an omnibus collection of three of Tony Hillerman’s early novels. I’m familiar with one or two of these, but I don’t actually own any Hillerman novels in spite of having read most of them. Again, it was fifty cents… From a design standpoint, I’ve always admired the cover design on the late Mr. Hillerman’s novels. The trade dress has varied a bit over the years, but mostly within a limited number of related styles, all of which have looked sharp. This is not the best example of them, but certainly not bad.

Next to Mr. Hillerman we have The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, by the son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and mystery writer John Carr. I quite like Sherlock Holmes, and while I only owned one book featuring the iconic sleuth until now, I’ve been thinking for some time about the idea of starting a Holmes collection. Between Doyle’s original novels, and the various collections of his ephemera, and the countless homages, revivals and pastiches produced by other authors over the past century, this is a project that could probably keep me busy for the rest of my life, really. Consider that project started, I guess.

(What’s with the cover of this, though? The typography is pretty unsophisticated, and what happened to Holmes’ hair? The poor man appears even more bald than me. Most odd.)

We might arguably attach the next book over to the same project, The Patient’s Eyes being the first of a series of novels about a young Conan Doyle and a man he once suggested as inspiring Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell. I’ve read the two most recent novels in this series already, and both were absolutely riveting; I presume that the first will be well worth the trifling sum paid for it. (I like the cover designs of the other two better, though.)

And finally, Legacy, by Michener. I’ve read a couple of Michener’s books; this one appears unusually brief but (it claims) is still very memorable. We shall see; one last time it was, after all, but a half-dollar to bring home. I like the illustration; simple but evocative.

Nine for mortal man, doomed to die

I shall have to find room on my shelves!