Sunday, March 24, 2013

Did We Need Piles of Bargain Books?

My answer to 'more books' is a resounding yes. Yesterday, ES and I each carried two canvas bags to the Friends of the Houston Public Library Bargain Book Sale at the George R. Brown Convention Center. We skirted the halls that offered a High Caliber Gun and Knife Show, the Texas Home and Garden Show and HADA (Houston Antique Dealers Association).
Reminded me of the days when Mary B and I also took just two shopping bags to this book extravaganza. Helps put a limit on our purchasing powers. Though the propensity to buy art and design books adds a weight limit too.
What I love about the Bargain Book Sale is the numbers of people who arrive with shopping carts and wagons, linger over the book filled tables and sit on that concrete floor making final decisions about their cache of books. Lots of folks still like real books and this phenomenon is wonderful to witness.
ES chose very big and heavy art books. He found 'The Age of Rubens' by Peter C. Sutton, 'Greek Art in the Aegean Islands'  and a tome on 'Medieval Art' by James Snyder. I just weighed these three books and together they are sixteen pounds. You can see how we were econstrained both by just two canvas bags each and by the weight of the books we chose.
All of these books are dusty and my nose always stuffs up and I begin to sneeze, but none of this deters. I also read an article last December in The New York Times about the problems librarians are having with bedbugs living in books. Apparently, it's a real problem of late. Something that Kindle would not tolerate. Guess we'll see if my bed becomes infiltrated.
So, here are some of the books I brought home.
1. Found a paperback copy of 'Villa Montana Cuisine' by Ray Cote, a book I wished I'd purchased 35 years ago when we visited Villa Montana in Morelia, Mexico with friends. The food at this hill top inn was superb and for whatever reasons, I deemed its cookbook an extravagance and left without a copy. I'd say it has the same sentimental value as Helen Corbitt's Neiman Marcus 'Potluck Cookbook'.
2. Found a copy of 'Fresh Paint, The Houston School, MFAH,' by Barbara Rose and Susie Kalil. I have to admit, 'Fresh Paint' still appeals to me. I know the artists. Their work is vibrant, still feels charged in a way that most of the art on gallery walls these days does not. Too much palette knife and trowels at work today. ES was in this exhibition.
3. 'Paris' by John Russell, a big softbound book filled with the man's take on the City of Light. Illustrated with dozens of paintings, old photos of Paris, posters and drawings. I know when I get into it, I'll again be thinking of a return trip.
4. 'The Nabis, Bonnard, Vuillard, and Their Circle' by Claire Fresches-Thory and Antoine Terrasse. Couldn't resist this book even though I wish it had more images in color. I am fascinated by the paintings of Vuillard and Bonnard, intimate, light filled, in many ways graphic and flat, wonderful palette.
5. 'Gardens, As Essay on the Human Condition,' by Robert Pogue Harrison. Quote on the back cover of this book, "...thoughtful wide-ranging examination of the many ways that gardens evoke the human conditions...gardens of ancient philosophers to the gardens of homeless people in contemporary New York."
6. Texas 1903 edition of 'Our Language, Third Book of Grammar' by C. Alphonso Smith, Ph.D., Edgar Allan Poe Professor of English, University of Virginia. For use in sixth and seventh grades. I opened this well worn book on the page that described 'simple sentence.' The simple sentence is a unit of grammar and the simplest expression of thought. by modifying or multiplying the simple sentence, all other sentences are made. A simple sentence may be divided into two parts and each part will mean something and will contain its own subject and predicate.
The example given ? 'Trees grow /and/but/ they also decay.'  Choices to be made here.
7. 'Fig Heaven, 70 Recipes for the World's Most Luscious Fruit' by Marie Simmons. I never even liked figs until two years ago when Rosario brought me figs from her tree. They were divine. Then I found Mexican sugar candied figs at my local Fiesta and Mary and Queta baked chicken with figs and Meyer lemons. I am hooked on figs now. So this cookbook is a dream come true.
8. 'Fish on Friday, Feasting, Fasting and the Discovery of the New World' by Brain Fagan. This looked interesting in light of the recent Continuing Studies course at Rice U on Florence and the Medici. Oh, and it covers fifteenth century climate change and the reasons for Columbus's sail to the Americas. Folks needed fish as well as spices.
9. 'Roads, Driving America's Great Highways' by Larry McMurtry. Who can resist a McMurtry read?
10. 'The Rich Man's Guide to the Riviera' by David Dodge, the author of 'The Poor Man's Guide to Europe.' I picked this book up because of its cover and after reading a page, dropped it in my bag. This is the man who authored 'To Kill A Thief' which Alfred Hitchcock made into a movie with Carry Grant and Grace Kelly. Do we remember? Dodge is a funny writer. I've read a third of this book already, laughing all the way. And sneezing too. It's a dusty book. Remember when bikinis were a big deal?
Mary, wish you'd been here. Kate, you'd have had a good time too. Nothing like perusing old books.



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