Thursday, February 01, 2007

Knock knock. Who's there? Goliath. Goliath who? Goliath down, you looketh tired.

There was Christmas money to spend.

So I betook myself to Half Price Books, where they gave me a dollar-fifty for about a dozen duplicates of Magic Treehouse, A to Z Mysteries, and Time Warp Trio books of Primo’s, and I gave them almost ninety dollars for the following bonanza:

Baker Towers – Jennifer Haigh. ($1) Gina just read this and LOVED it. Good enough for me.

Birds of America – Lorrie Moore. ($1) Moore is consistently mentioned as one of the best short story writers.

The Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks. ($1) I dig plague books, and this is a wonderfully written book. I could not remember if I had my own copy of this or not, but it was a dollar. I figured it was worth the risk. (I didn’t already have it. And I have NO IDEA why not.) I will say that, much as I loved this book, I could not even finish her newest book, March.

Jenny and the Jaws of Life - Jincy Willett. ($1) I read Willett’s second book Winner of the National Book Award, with its librarian-heroine Dorcas, and really enjoyed it. Willett was funny and sharp and wry.

Riding the Bus with my Sister - Rachel Simon. ($5) No idea why I picked this up; I think Sarah Louise was reading it recently…we’ll see how it is. Maybe I heard an NPR piece on it…?

Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear. ($5) I finished this last night, and ordered the next one from for 43 cents. It’s what the Mary Russell books would be if *they* weren’t so incredibly well-written. Winspear has developed a charming and interesting character, but I am not sure how realistic her books are, and the writing is at times rather elementary. But mostly, this book was entertaining, and I learned facts about World War I that have heretofore escaped my notice. I had to go do some research on the Battle of the Somme, and Passchendaele, and the Battle of Messines. Horrifying.

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff. ($5) I believe it was the Jessmonster who threw this recc my way.

Case Histories - Kate Atkinson ($5) LOVE Kate Atkinson. Love. Her. Must own everything she’s written. I am rationing her books the way I do Josephine Tey and Jane Austen. Fortunately – for her and me – she’s fairly young.

The Wife - Meg Wolitzer. ($5) I fell in love with Meg Wolitzer while reading The Position. So I am collecting her books as well. This goes on the TBR shelf right next to Surrender, Dorothy which I picked up last summer at the church book sale.

Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica - Sara Wheeler. ($5) I can’t remember who I was having this discussion with, but I like to read about all sorts of things that I never intend to do: climbing Mount Everest, deep-sea diving to look at the Titanic, performing autopsies, undergoing a sex-change operation. Traveling to and living in Antarctica falls into this category. Apparently Wheeler discusses much of the great Antarctic exploration literature, so I have a feeling that my TBR list is going to grow as a direct result of reading this book, although the chances will be decent that I will already own many of the books. It’s a minor fetish of mine.

Eight Months at Ghazzah Street - Hilary Mantel. ($5) No idea. I want to read Beyond Black which was up for the Booker; so why not this earlier novel too?

PopCo - Scarlett Thomas. ($6) Gina adores Scarlett Thomas. I got this for her for her birthday. We are very unromantic : ) I called her and said, “I am at Half Price Books. Need anything?” and she said, “If they have any Scarlett Thomas…” which they did. And then I said, “Happy birthday!” Easy peasy.

Spy for George Washington. ($1.50) Remember those “Choose your Own Adventure” books everyone read in grade and middle school? This is one of those, of which there are now, apparently, hundreds. It’s for Primo, who loved it and immediately demanded more. Yesterday I brought him home from the library the Titanic one, the Mount Everest one, and a baseball one.

History of Love - Nicole Krauss. ($5) Read this recently, loved it, need I say more?

Man Walks into a Room - Nicole Krauss. ($5) No brainer.

Doomsday Book - Connie Willis. ($3) Has been on the TBR list for simply ages. Or at least since Lazy Cow read it and told me it was good AND it was about the plague.

I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith. ($5) A gem by the author of One Hundred and One Dalmatians - which is a great book and (strange for me to say this) an even better movie (the original Disney cartoon version, not, please, the Glenn Close version). But Castle is charming and sweet without being saccharine and stupid; Gina told me to read it, and I really liked it.
There was a movie made of it, but I don’t recognize any of the actors except Bill Nighy, of whom I seem to be growing inordinately fond. I first saw him in “Love Actually” and even in that I found him strangely hot. He is in the new film “Notes on a Scandal” which I want to see very much. Because I also happen to harbor a serious girl-crush on Cate Blanchett.

The Ha-ha - Dave King. ($5) H nearly fell into a ha-ha at Versailles. Not that that has anything to do with this book. But ha-has (walls located in the bottom of a ditch so as not to disrupt the view of the landscape, often used in English gardens) fascinate me. They are in the realm of crazy garden accoutrement that were wildly popular in 1800s England; I first encountered the ha-ha in one of my favorite plays, Tom Stoppard’s brilliant Arcadia, and found the idea absolutely nuts but also functional. Those crazy English – they are masters of the useful. Plus, apparently they name their children things like "Capability Brown."

Kaaterskill Falls - Allegra Goodman. ($7, hardcover) I enjoyed Intuition so much that I felt like I wanted to try more Goodman, even if I would swear I had tried to read this before and found it slow going.

Confessions of a Slacker Mom - Muffy Read-Ferro. ($1) I was on the Hold list at the library for this forever, and ultimately got so sick of waiting canceled my hold. I swear, it must have been a year. And now that I have read it (I whipped thru it in about an hour one night last week) I do not get what all the fuss was about. It’s not especially entertaining or funny, which is sort of what the title leads you to expect; in fact, the author is strangely earnest and more than a little na├»ve. She’s like a slacker fundamentalist. Her “slackerness” refers to her characterization as a parent who won’t give in to buying all sorts of electronic toys, and who won’t leap to her child’s aid every time she whimpers, and who doesn’t childproof her house because, really, where do you stop and haha, didn’t we all stuff forks into electrical sockets when we were small and live to tell the tale? I get her point, but I still found her almost insufferably smug and wildly annoying. I could write an entire post on this and how and why I disagree with her, and the things with which I do agree, but all that will do is generate lots of the same old arguments about mothers and children, and for that you can go see Melissa at Suburban Bliss and the NBC video of her guest appearance on The Today Show in which she does come across as a moron, but in which Meredith Viera - also moronically - acts like the patron saint of mothers (whom we DO NOT require, thank you very much), and I am just so not interested in that tired old debate.
Can’t we all just get along?

A Prayer for the Dying - Stewart O’Nan. ($1, hardcover) O’Nan is one of the most underrated writers around. This short, spare novel is haunting.

Feeding a Yen - Calvin Trillin. ($1, hardcover) Food. Calvin Trillin. A buck.

Big Book of Knock-knock Jokes. ($1) This is for the boys who at the moment are very very into knock-knock jokes. God help me. My contribution to the epidemic was this:
Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Dwayne who?
Dwayne the tub, I’m dwowning!

I know, I oughta be ashamed of myself.

The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett. ($2) The first installation of the Discworld series, for H.

When I got them all home, I had to resist my overwhelming urge to empty them out of the shopping bag and roll around nekkid in the pile.
(I apologize for that visual.)


lazy cow said...

Excellent haul, you lucky thing. I'm on the hunt for One good turn because I adored Case Histories so much (next time I'm remotely near a Borders...)
My kids are into knock knock jokes too. Most of them don't make ANY sense but they find it hysterical. I find it bloody annoying.

Suse said...

Nice loot.

And you do already own a copy of Year of Wonders.

hungry in LA said...

So oddly timely, your ha-ha Wiki. Who knew they could be doublesided? I read Arcadia last night (since I have so wisely decided to get back into designing theatre). But how will you have time to read all these with so many episodes of Heroes to watch?

I think I should change my screen name to hah-ha Wiki.

hungry in LA said...

Badger said...

Does your Half-Price Books have shopping carts? Or, like, wheelbarrows?

Sarah Louise said...

Riding the bus with my sister is FAB!! And then I got to hear the author speak at the Pennsylvania Library Associaton Conference--BLISS.

Plus, it's a good time to be thinking good things about buses and why we might want to continue having them...

nutmeg said...

This is a great haul. I am quite OK with you rolling around on them, naked or otherwise. Why wouldn't you?

I've been contemplating Bakers Towers for ages and seen it around for cheap in a number of places - I may pick it up next time.

I think we may have been "discussing" (in a blogging way) Antarctica. I was saying I have "weird", past life, reading experiences/infatuations, one of which is Antarctic exploration!

I too enjoyed The History of Love. But I absolutely loved, adored, ate up, I Capture The Castle.

As to the Ha Ha, I first encountered this in my Victorian novel phase and was bewildered by the concept of it. I now keep a copy of a book called What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew close to hand when reading more of them to explin such eccentricities!

BabelBabe said...

Suse: I could've sworn I had one. If I do, I couldn'tlay hands on it. And I now have two. There are worse thngs, I suppose.

LC: The impatient-cow knock knock is my all-time fav.
Try it on your kids - Knock knock.
who's there?
Impatient cow.

Nutmeg - I really enjoy that What Jane Austen Ate book. Probably inordinately so.

Badge: Baskets, like at the supermarket.

Hungry: I love haha-wiki. I will email you every day just to be able to type that. Haha - wiki, haha-wiki...

SL: Do you ride the bus at all?

Gina said...

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Panther who?
Panther no panths, I'm going out!

One of my favorites. :-)

Anonymous said...

Loved The Ha-ha.

Beware papercuts when you're rolling nekkid. They're painful enough on the hands- can't imagine having one... uh... elsewhere.

Sarah Louise said...

I used to ride the bus exclusively. For five of the twelve years I've lived in Pgh, I was without car, and for seven of those, the bus was my major form of transport. I don't ride it now, but I wish I did. I love buses.

Also, I love knock knock jokes.

TLB said...

Jennifer Haigh was a classmate of mine; she workshopped part of Baker Towers one semester, but it ended up a bit different in the book.

Also, I have the script for the movie version of The Ha-Ha and am loving it so much I may have to go buy the book.

Peg said...

Note: I read as far as Maisie Dobbs then skipped right to the comments -- what's with buying all the copies you can get your hands on? Save some for the rest of us.

Now I'm going back to figure out what the hell you're talking about with the ha ha wiki. Is that English?

Peg said...


Q: How do you catch a unique rabbit?
A: Unique up on 'im.

Q: How do you catch a tame rabbit?
A: Tame way!

BabelBabe said...

peg, my confession - my book binge took place last thursday, i just didn't have time to write about it till now. i only bought ONE copy of Maisie, the one I read.

The Haha as a book is really good. I wonder who they'll cast...

Poppy Buxom said...

BB, you silly, it's "Interrupting cow."

Also, holy crap, woman! I am getting rid of books as fast as I can unload them on bookmooch and, and I can't imagine having to find space for that haul.

Also also, I watched the video of Melissa Summers on the Today Show and I didn't think she sounded that dumb. On the other hand, I never watch television and thought Meredith Viera (sp?) and that other cow sounded quite idiotic with their breathless concern for those poor maltreated children out there whose mothers dared to drink a glass of wine while watching them stack cups and moosh Play-Dough around.

Poppy Buxom said...

Also, I bought and read that Slacker Mom book ... and thought it was pretty lame, but I should have known better. The author's name is MUFFY.

I mean, not to judge a book by its cover ... but MUFFY???? Shyeah, right.

Stomper Girl said...

Well I'm embarrassed but I had a good laugh at all the knock-knock jokes found here. I will be trying them out on the 6-year-old toot sweet.

Also - with you on the Bill Nighy thing. He is very attractive. BUT I don't think for me it's a sexual thing. I think I just want to hang around with him, like, all the time. I would watch him in anything, though.