I keep a spreadsheet on my computer of all the books I own but haven’t read, and I list where and when I bought them, and how I heard about the book in the first place. The list has 112 books on it right now! It’s a good resource that I use when I’m writing the “headers” for my reviews. I thought it would be fun to see which books I’ve owned the longest, and when and where and why I bought them. I feel like every book in my collection has a story, so here are some of them.
1. 1. Evelina, by Fanny Burney. I bought this at a Barnes and Noble in April or May of 2008, when I was still living in New York City. At the time I was conscientiously trying to read through the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list… and this was on there.
2. 2. The Birds Fall Down, by Rebecca West. Another book from the 1001 list. I bought this used at a secondhand store near my apartment in Brooklyn in the spring or summer of 2008. My copy is a first edition.
3. 3. The Question, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. This is I believe the 25th book in the Morland Dynasty series, and I’m trying to read the series in order (the books make more sense that way). My local Borders had a copy of this is stock (in January 2009, when I bought it), so I picked it up to read when the time was right. I’m currently on book 21; if I continue to read one a month, I should get around to it this year.
4. 4. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, by Daniel Pool. Bought with a Boders gift card in February 2009. I had a gift card to burn and I found this while browsing in the store.
5. 5. The Falcons of Montabard, by Elizabeth Chadwick. Bought in May 2009 from Bookdepository. I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels, and this is actually one of the first of her books I’d ever bought. However, I’m trying to read her books slowly, in publication order—this one is up next!
6. 6. The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart. June 2009 from Chester County Books and Music. I’d been there for a book reading and signing, and while I was browsing I picked up a bunch of Mary Stewart’s novels.
7. 7. Shadows and Strongholds, by Elizabeth Chadwick. Bought from Waterstones in Piccadilly, London, September 2009. See no. 5. The trip to London was a Big Save and Splurge—I think I bought about 25 books, most from the Persephone shop in Lambs Conduit Street.
8. 8. The Water Horse, by Julia Gregson. Bought from Foyles, London, September 2009.
9. 9. The Collected Ghost Stories of MR James. Bought from an antiquarian bookseller in Charing Cross Road, September 2009. I was hanging around in Charing Cross Road before I went to go see The Mousetrap, and I found this edition from 1934 in the basement of the shop.
10. Vainglory, by Geraldine McCaughrean. Bought from the South Bank Book Market, September 2009. Elizabeth Chadwick had just mentioned this book on her blog as one of her favorites. The South Bank Bookmarket is an open-air bookstall under the Waterloo Bridge. Lots of secondhand books to be found at low prices and worth the browse if you’re ever in London.