The Accidental Pilgrimage: On Being Aware

Work took me to San Francisco. I was fortunate to have an afternoon off and, at one point in my pre-trip planning, checked the location of possibly the most revered of all United States bookstores: City Lights. I have been there once, in 1987, and can still remember that I bought Mother by Maxim Gorky. I thought I was staying in the Presidio and the store was pretty far away from there so I decided I probably couldn’t make it this trip. Although now that I’ve been to San Francisco, I’ll say that it is very walkable and, while I didn’t use it, there seems to be abundant public transportation so even if I had been staying in the Presidio, I could have gotten to the store without too much trouble.

What I didn’t realize is that my hotel was on Union Square, much closer to the bookstore, just a mile away. But, I never rechecked and planned a walk through Chinatown to the Coit Tower and then lunch at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadaro without thinking about the store.

So, I set out on the planned journey. As I climbed the hill on Grant Avenue and moved further into Chinatown, I came upon a bronze dedication to Jack Kerouac at the entrance to an alley that featured several stunning murals. I took some photos before heading back to Grant Avenue and continuing my journey.

I was tired when I got back to the hotel room but decided to check out my photos. On the edge of a photo of the Vida y sueños de la cañada Perla (Life and Dreams of the Perla River Valley) mural, I noticed a yellow banner that said City Lights Books. I was a bit taken by surprise. In my zeal for photographing the murals and then following the plan, I simply didn’t see the banner.

Mural at City LIghts with Banner

It turns out that I also missed the pavers in the alley with quotes from authors like Kerouac, Felinghetti and Angelou. In fact, I discovered that I had wandered down Jack Kerouac Alley, the brainchild of poet and bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It turns out the mural was painted on the wall of the bookstore.

There really was no choice but to go back. Despite having already walked several miles on the city concrete, I knew I would forever regret not making this pilgrimage. So, I trudged up the hill to China Town once again, found the alley and entered the bookstore. It is small, crammed with books, yet inviting with simple wooden chairs where one can ponder the shelves or turn a few pages. The past is very much present as you walk the same creaky floors where the Beat Generation founders read and wrote and talked. This is more than a place to buy books; it is a place where wrestling with the ideas found in books is a sacred act.

I picked up several volumes including two Ivan Doig novels I hadn’t seen before. A few others piqued my interest. But I had sort of decided I would just buy one book, probably one published by City Lights Books.

Then, I walked the stairs to the Poetry Room. I fingered some Kerouac, took a few photos of the Poet’s Chair and then found the Wendell Berry section. I own a lot of Berry, have read some, but would love to spend more time with him. I picked up Farming: A Handbook, a new printing of poems written more than 40 years ago, focusing on Berry’s experience of farming. Right beside it was the real find: a copy of a volume of letters between Berry and Gary Snyder. It was autographed by both authors. The covers shows a laughing Berry with Snyder by his side in front of Grimblefingers Bookstore in Nevada. I knew I had found my purchases and headed downstairs. These just seemed the perfect two books to buy in this special place.

Then, I discovered they would ship books. The box of other choices is on its way. It includes the two Doigs but some other more unusual volumes that I wouldn’t have looked for such as Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society edited by Kevin Evans, Carrie Galbraith and John Law.

I am grateful for whatever higher power may have intervened here to direct my attention. I would have been really upset if I waited to look at my picture until I got home. It is a lesson in being completely aware. I find cities very distracting with all their people and sounds and smells. So many places to look and sense that it is easy to lose track of it all. I focused on murals and missed banners and the ground under my feet.

New Year, New Books, New Pictures

It’s January 1st, otherwise known as Resolution Day. According to every show I’ve seen, we put too much pressure on ourselves at the beginning of the year so maybe we should rename it Guidelines Day. In general, what would you like to accomplish this year in general and then more specifically without turning it into the pressure of the every day? I’m using this profundity to justify not joining groups this year.

I am going to continue to post pictures to flickr from both the past and the present, but without the pressure of having to take a new picture every day.

As for books, I made it to 72 this year. That includes analog, digital and audible. And, with the snow, I finally dove into John Adams, the book that I had planned to read first last year.

What I haven’t counted are the number of books I purchased this year. I do hope it wasn’t 72 😉 I do want to try to avoid buying books this year. Learn to love the library and just plow through all the books I own but haven’t read. Catalog the ones I already have as I pack them for the move to their new home: a REAL library room in a 19th century farm house. I really can’t wait to have them displayed and be able to browse. I know there are books I have completely forgotten as well as plenty just begging to be read.

Then there’s blogging: for once in my life, I am free to write about what I would like. The trick is to find the discipline when there are no deadlines other than those that are self imposed. I suppose that’s what the daily challenges are all about. We tend to work better when there are expectations and deadlines. Is it possible to just weave these things in our lives without having to make them a daily regimen. I’m going to experiment with that idea as the new year begins.

Don’t Read This Book

…if you’re a reader, that is!   Pat Conroy, author of books such as The Water is Wide and The Prince of Tides, has written a nonfiction account of his lifelong love affair with books titled My Reading Life.  I chose an audio version of the book, read by the author himself, and enjoyed hours of Conroy’s gruff voice, the lover caressing his own words as he moves from descriptions of  Gone With the Wind to War and Peace and the role each novel played in his life.  It is a great book.  So, why shouldn’t you read it?  Because my reading list just got longer and so will yours.  You can check out the book list on Conroy’s website.

Also, Conroy has really made me rethink the 75-book challenge.  I really haven’t had too  much trouble reading a book and a half a week but I wonder if I would have taken a bit more time to absorb and appreciate them without the deadline.  In addition, as I look over my list for the year, I wonder how many had the kind of impact that Conroy describes.  I read and listened to some great books this year but were they life changing?  And, if I had read some of them more slowly, would they have had a bigger effect on my life?  Maybe I should abandon the number of books and focus on Conroy’s goal: 200 pages a day!

How would I fit them in?  By finally giving up television, something I’m seriously considering since I heard the advertisement yesterday for a new “reality” show called Bridalplasty.  I guess I missed the earlier iterations of this plot line: brides to be move into a mansion and compete for plastic surgery and a fabulous wedding. This seems like an obscene example of our superficial society and the fact that these kinds of shows are considered reality really makes me worry about the future.  This certainly doesn’t reflect the reality of my life or those of my friends and colleagues.

Sitting With the Hummers

As you can see, dear readers, I have taken something of a hiatus from this blog and from my online life in general including nings and twitter and facebook.  A new “part-time” job began in July but June was filled with preparations and travel.  My first month on the job included lots of travel as well and I was just getting caught up when August, with its double whammy of beginning-of-school-year training and beginning-of-college-year, took arrived, something that always seems to catch me off guard.  Suddenly, it’s the second week of September.  And, there’s some light…literally, it’s early evening and I’m enjoying my little courtyard where the hummingbirds dodge and parry as they grudgingly share a feeder.  After months of seemingly non-stop work, I’ve got some breathing room, some precious minutes between moving away from work and starting dinner, and in an effort to revive these ailing pages, I’ve decided to post a blog entry.  Oh, Joy!

N.B. In the interest of transparency, that paragraph and many of the following ones were written four days ago.  I am just getting back to this draft now so I’m still kind of looking for that breathing room.  Next week holds some promise.  I am, however, sitting in the same courtyard sitting on the Adirondack chair that I managed to finish painting, listening to the fountain with no real sign of the hummingbirds yet.

Three days agao…Meanwhile, despite all, I have been reading.  Well, most of July was spent listening to other people read, but I’m counting it.  I made it through all three of the Stieg Larsson books that way.  The narrator, Simon Vance, was great; the Swedish place names tumbled off his lips and I was glad to hear them rather than having to figure them out on my own from text. I found this Google Map of the various locations though and that helped with my non-existent knowledge of Swedish geography.

They were a bit difficult to listen to in terms of content but I got used to it and a friend remarked that Larsson was really a feminist, and I believe that’s true in the most fundamental way.  Even the main male character, the journalist Mikael Blomkvist, doesn’t necessarily treat women all that well at least outside of the bedroom but I suppose he would think of himself as a feminist by allowing women to be free. But maybe that was just an excuse for his own philandering.  Hmmm…

I was fascinated with the real main character, Lisbeth Salander, and her head-on approach to life. I couldn’t help but bristle at the all-too-real depiction of public education painted by Larsson.  Her unusual gifts and unwillingness to compromise her values put her at odds with the very people who could have protected her.  As the school year begins, she is a reminder to all of us that we owe every kid our attention and non-judgmental support. And, who knows, maybe her fascination with Fermat’s last theorem will help make math cool.

The books kept me going as the miles of road stretched ahead of me and for that I’m grateful.  I also listened to Star Island, the new book by Carl Hiassen, a perennial favorite, and just finished House Rules by Jodi Picoult.  Both were excellent in their own ways.  Hiassen is wickedly funny with his portrait of young idols gone bad and the system that supports them.  I laughed out loud a lot at this one.  Picoult was very different.  A mystery in its own right as well as a thoughtful portrait of Aspberger’s syndrome.  It was read  by the Audible Books ensemble so rather than one reader providing multiple voices, various voices took over for Picoult’s sections which were each narrated by one of five characters.  It worked as it made these sections quite distinct, and highlighted the distinct perspectives of each character.

I have also been doing “real” reading, by which I mean holding an analog book (and I’d even include my Kindle here since I’m holding it and reading text).  I’ve read everything from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, which I’m not completely sure I understand, to British mysteries (mostly Martha Grimes and P.D. James) more than I’ve read all my life, and, in light of the controversy over the Koran burning, a very interesting piece of non-fiction called The Faith Club.  It features three women–a Christian, Jew, and Muslim–who come together to write a children’s book about religion and find it much more difficult than it seems, forcing them to examine their own beliefs and prejudices.  Highly recommended!

Here’s the whole list for 2010.  I’m up to 52 and easily on track to finish 75 books by the end of the year.  I haven’t tackled the big boys yet–McCullough’s John Adams and Inwood’s A History of London.  I need a read-all-day kind of vacation but I don’t see it happening any time soon.  So, maybe I’ll make them the first two books of 2011 when the colleges are on break.  In the short term, my book group is reading The Sparrow.  I went ahead and added the second book, Children of God, to my Kindle as well.  So, the minute I finish Anne Perry’s No Graves As Yet, I’ll start reading.

The photo a day plan has failed.  I made it until June and then things just fell apart.  Now, I can’t even locate my camera!  But, in looking for early photos of our beloved black lab Ivy who we lost this summer (16 years and several months…she had a GREAT life!), I’ve gotten access to the digital photo archives for the Richardsons that started with our Sony Mavica some time in 1996 or 97.  It will include our Lewis and Clark photos, only a very small few of which are on the web.  I’ll save the stories of that trip for another post but let’s just say that Kinko’s was pretty much the only Internet access in those days and they charged $12 an hour! I’m hoping to find some time soon to start going through them and may start my own “picture a day” project that pulls things from the archives.  There’s also a drawer full of digital video tapes that could yield some gems.

I’ll keep you posted.  And, I’ll go ahead and post this so I don’t go another four days!

There’s No Accounting For Taste

I just finished my first Early Reviewer book for LibraryThing: The Cart Before the Corpse by Carolyn McSparren.  A mystery set in Appalachian Georgia with a backdrop of carriage racing.  I enjoyed it…not great literature but in the same tradition as Janet Evanovich and Diane Mott Davison.  You can read my review at LT.  Here’s the funny part: I was all excited about my review so once it was posted, I went to the page and read the other review.  That reviewer HATED the book!  Thought it was boring, figured out the murdered right away, etc. etc. etc.  Oh well, as my father says, the world would be very dull if we all thought alike.  I did find myself second guessing my review but I really did enjoy the book.

The mystery was my first book of 2010.  I joined the LibraryThing 75 book challenge so I’ve got just 74 to go.  I better pick up the pace a bit.  I’m still working on Scandalmonger by William Safire and hope to find time to finish it tomorrow.

Project 365 Update: So far, I’ve kept up with taking a picture each day rather than drawing on already posted picture.  You can view my pictures here.

A Window On Slavery and the South

It felt like it took a long time, but I finally finished The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed.  I am a fan of Thomas Jefferson, a brilliant, complex man whose paradoxes demonstrate his humanity.  This book spends a lot of time examining those paradoxes.

Because Gordon-Reed refers to the Hemings, Wayles, and Jefferson using their familial relationships (ie, Sally Hemings was Martha Wayles Jefferson’s half sister since both were offspring of John Wayles, Jefferson’s father-in-law) the reader is struck throughout by the fact that these people are all related!  And yet the white members seemed to feel no compunction about selling off their relatives.  There was this huge black hole in the Southern vision that allowed them to move through their lives without really seeing those relationships.

The book was almost overwhelmingly detailed considering that so much of what she was writing about was speculation.  We don’t know why James Hemings committed suicide but Gordon-Reed was able to give an overview of why other enslaved and free blacks did so, at least giving us some insight into what might have motivated James.

One point she makes throughout is that the owners write the history.  As she considers the affect of Hemings’s story on Jefferson’s white family, she describes how they, “for the benefit of the historians who they knew would one day come calling, fashioned an image of life at Monticello designed in part to obscure her relevance” (Location 257).

She also tries to help the reader see things from Sally’s point of view despite having nothing in her own words.  For instance, she spends a fair amount of time discussing why neither James nor Sally Hemings chose to stay in France even though all they had to do was petition the French court.  Her paragraph on understanding love is one of the best in the book:

Love has been many things throughout history: the simple comfort of the familiar, having a person to know and being known by that person in return; a connection born of shared experiences, an irrational joy in another’s presence; a particular calming influence that one member of the couple may exert on the other, or that they both provide to one another.  A combination of all these and myriad other things can go into making one person wish to stay tied to another.  Anyone who is not in the couple–that is, everyone else in the world–will not understand precisely how or why it works for two people (Location 6612).

In other words…we simply can’t know or judge what happened except by recognizing that we are doing so without complete understanding. Later, as she questions aloud for the reader why neither James nor Sally contacted abolitionists when they were in Philadelphia, she cautions again about making judgments based on our own experiences.  She writes, “One should resist the temptation to say that when a person does not make the choice one would have made, that person must have been forced or tricked into it or deny that he had any choice at all” (Location 8983).

I found the story of Sally’s sister Mary particularly illustrative of the paradoxical nature of these relationships in the 18th century.  Mary had been leased to Thomas Bell, a business owner in Charlottesville.  The two developed a relationship that included children.  Eventually, Bell bought Mary and they lived together in the town.  He never freed her in his lifetime and Gordon-Reed suggests this is because he could use slavery as a cover for their activities.  The law would have prohibited them marrying if he did free her.  But as we’ve seen, Southerners turned a blind eye to relationships between white male owners and black female slaves.  Gordon-Reed writes, “Slavery provided a ‘polite’ cover for what would otherwise be illegal fornication” (Location 7425).  She quotes RTW Duke, who lived in Charlottesville at the same time as Hemings’s and Bell’s grandchildren.  He describes the morality of the time as “easy” in relationship to what people did and how people reacted to their actions.  Duke said, “No on paid attention to a man’s method of living” (Location 7382).

I was surprised by this revelation, as Gordon-Reed thought we would.  She writes:

Eighteenth-century people like Bell, Hemings, Jefferson, and their neighbors fit the popular conception neither of the Puritans nor of the later Victorians, though there is often a tendency to read the perceived values of one society forward and the other backward to cover the people who lived in the interim.  There were standards of behavior, as there are in every period, but the era of Bell, Jefferson, and Hemings was practical–more libertarian–about the ways of human beings and sex” (Location 7387).

Once again, the historian reminds us that we can’t judge history by our own time.

But Gordon-Reed did use history to comment, often somewhat wryly, on our own time.  One of my favorites related to “pro-family legislators.”  Jefferson’s obsession with developing the United States had a negative impact on both the black and white members of his family:

Much as he spoke of his family as the center of his universe, he, like many public men before and after him, arranged his life so that he spent large amounts of time away from his family doing what he thought was the real business of his life (Location 11664).

The book was well worth reading, if a bit dense at points.  Gordon-Reed has done her due diligence.  Yet, she still manages to tell a compelling story.

A Reading Week in Review

With my book group’s next meeting looming on Sunday, I finally picked up Switching to Goddess by Jeri Studebaker.  I found myself alternating between being irritated by her somewhat flippant, often silly-sounding tone and being impressed by the way she was really saying that the Emperor (that is contemporary religions) really don’t have any clothes.  I really got tired of the references to “snooty snobby bully boys” to refer to the gods of contemporary religions.  But her tone allowed her to attack prevailing ideas without sounding too shrill and much of what she had to say about the negative influences of religions rang true to me.  She was making a well-reasoned and researched argument which I think suffered in its message because of her tone.  And, while I agree that we need to move away from the more war-like focus on religions and I really agree with much of what she has to say about living in small, sustainable communities, but I’m not sure her notions of getting these religions to “switch” to the Goddess is realistic in light of research into adopting innovations.  I think she would probably argue that this isn’t an innovation since we are actually re-adopting something that we carry with us from our ancestors.

Would I recommend the book?  Sure…her introduction to the history of Goddess worship and her overview of various peaceful communities was as lively as any I’ve read.  Much of the other well-known books about the Goddess are older, written during more angry feminist era.  Studebaker is firmly placed in the 21st century and her comments about global warming and climate change touch the contemporary world in a way that other books I’ve read have not.  For Studebaker, there is a feminist element but her larger concerns are with the world.  She also directly addresses the recent flurry of books calling for the end of religion in general (ie, Sam Harris and Richards Dawkins), suggesting that it would be easier to get people to switch religions rather than abandon it altogether.

And now for something completely different…my sister recommended Jonathan Stroud’s The Amulet of Samarkand, the first book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy.  I listened to it and absolutely loved it!  Simon Jones, the narrator, was properly snarky as Bartimaeus the djinni and alternately scared, proud, and confident as Nathaniel.  It’s officially a kids’ book but I think younger readers would miss the ironic voice and sly political commentary of the setting in a world where all the major leaders are powerful magicians.  I’m eager to get started on Book 2, The Golem’s Eye.

Now, it’s back to The Hemingses of Monticello.  I’m enjoying the book but had to take a break so I could be prepared for book group…

No Place Is Safe

I learned two things yesterday:
1. My husband doesn’t read this blog.
2. Even the linen closet isn’t safe.

I learned these at the same time when, sparring a bit over books, he told me he had discovered the books in the linen closet. I replied that I had wondered if he read my blog. He looked a little confused. No, he said, I needed toilet paper.

So, I had to explain that I had overflowed all the available spaces and had moved on to the linen closet in the hopes that he would not look there and that I was sorry I was hogging the toilet paper.

But the up side is that we are in the midst of planning a new home and I’m going to get a library complete with a wall of books to which I can attach a rolling ladder like this one. It’s like the one in Becoming Jane that I just saw in Pennsylvania. If I didn’t already have books to read, I’d add rereading Austen to the list.

I finished Dee Brown’s The Fetterman Massacre in a day or so. Amazing detail of the months leading up to the event itself and lots of heavy foreshadowing about who would die. It is really a snapshot of life on the edge of civilization and I just can’t believe that women and children went along! I’m not sure I would be willing in endure that hardship for sort of murky reasons. They had a much greater faith in themselves and their country than we do now. It was a dangerous faith that led to the destruction of the Native Americans whose own faith in their culture also contributed to the downfall. Two conflicting world views clashed in those lonely places. In a way, it reminded me of Hadrian’s Wall, by William Deitrich, which described a similar moment in a far distant continent.

And now, it is back to The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon. Jefferson is in Paris and sending for his youngest daughter who will arrive with Sally Hemings. When I taught middle school, we read a book about a supposed child of the two named Harriet. It was called Wolf By the Ears by Ann Rinaldi. It filled in, at least fictionally, some of the things that Gordon can’t tell us: what it was like to be owned by a blood relative and how it felt to have to decide between the two races.

What Pledge?

Some women sneak clothes into the house. I sneak books. Remember that pledge I made just three weeks ago not to buy any more books? Well, that was the day before Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol got automatically delivered to my Kindle. But maybe the Kindle doesn’t count as the book doesn’t take up any space. And space really is the problem.

Unfortunately, not everything I want to read or think I want to read is available on the Kindle. Plus, I harbor a real love for books themselves and the bookstores where they live. I love browsing bookstores, particularly ones with overflowing shelves and hand written reviews. The bricks and mortar experience is just different from buying online, which for me is a much more directive process. I go to Amazon to buy a particular book that I want to read. Thus, the pre-order for The Lost Symbol. And, I appreciate Amazon’s suggestions based on my buying habits.

But, in book stores, I encounter books that aren’t part of an algorithm. Books I didn’t think about looking for because I didn’t know they existed or, if I did, hadn’t thought about reading. Books that Amazon would have never suggested because they don’t make any kind of digital sense. Books in book stores are in their native environment, pushing up against each other, organized in a haphazard analog way that can never be as neat and tidy as an online database and thus opens immense possibilities.

I knew I would probably have to avoid bookstores if I was going to keep my pledge. And, I have plenty of books to read before the end of the year anyway and the beginning of the pile in the bedroom so I figured I was going to be OK. I am reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which I purchased before the pledge. I have a book to read for book group at the end of the month called Switching to Goddess by Jeri Lyn Studebaker that I had also purchased before the pledge. (Did I mention it was a feminist book group?) I also sort of accidentally bought Olive Kitteredge as I showed off my Kindle to someone. (“That’s what you get for showing off,” I can hear my mother say.) And, a friend recommended The Hemingses of Monticello, which I also bought on Kindle. So, plenty of books already in my possession and no book stores on the horizon.

All seemed well. Until last Friday afternoon. I spent this past weekend at my parents’ retirement community. They were having their fall festival and I was going up to help out with several events. Here’s what I didn’t know: as part of the fall festival, they have a huge used book sale. Boxes and boxes of used hard backs and paper backs that were only vaguely organized. A book browser’s dream. I must admit that I only thought about my pledge for about 30 seconds. OK, maybe not even that. All of a sudden, there was a book in my hand: National Geographic’s The Age of Chivalry. I don’t remember the second one or the third. And, while I believe there was an individual price for the books, I opted for the bag of books for five dollars scheme. I even had my own bag…at least for the first go round. It seems that the book sale opens the day before the actual festival, on Friday afternoon. So, I got an early look and pulled in some treasures including another National Geographic on the Renaissance. It made sense to have the set, right? I managed to get about eight books in my bag, I think.

On Saturday, I was determined to avoid the book sale, but it turns out that breakfast was served directly behind the sale and I had to walk past the long tables with their inviting cardboard boxes to get my croissant and coffee (which to my horror was decaf…that’s all they serve in retirement communities, it seems). My shift didn’t start until 9 AM so I found myself with an hour to kill and my undercaffeinated senses made me more vulnerable than usual, I think…well, I think you know the rest. Another 8 or 9 books found their way into a bag. I vowed that I was done buying books. But, then my sister arrived. We hit up the used clothes and then, just to be sociable, I accompanied her to the book sale. And, of course, I didn’t want her to feel bad about buying books so I bought a few more. Anything for my sister.

All in all I bought 30 books in those three trips! Mostly hard backs and ranging from And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts’ early history of AIDS to Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel, which I don’t think I’ve ever read. There are two PD James mysteries from two different series. Two last minute purchases included a paperback collection of Winston Churchill’s history of World War II and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy.

Here’s the problem. I simply don’t have any more shelf space. The 50 books for next year are stacked precariously in the bed room. The other shelves that line several walls in two rooms already have two layers of books. What to do? Aaah…a place my husband never ventures: the linen closet in my bathroom. I live in a tiny house that, miraculously, has two full baths, which means I get a closet all to myself. Some quick rearranging of sheets and towels, and most of the books disappeared without a trace. I put Churchill and Pullman on the shelf on the back of the bed since most of the books that had been there are on project pile. It occurred to me that I was well on my way into 2011 with these new additions. And, as I drove along the turnpike on my way home, I passed several bulletin boards warning about 2012. The pressure is on: which books do I want to read before the world ends? Reading time suddenly takes on a very serious edge, doesn’t it?

Travelogue: Hay on Wye

I am something of a bookaholic so friends recommended that I visit Hay-on-Wye, the book store town.  It made a nice stopping point between south Wales and Salisbury.  We arrived around noon and started with a lunch at the cozy Blue Boar pub.   The town has new and second hand bookstores throughout its winding, narrow streets. There is also an extensive “honesty” bookstore…basically book shelves around the castle that offer paperbacks for 30p and hardbacks for 50p.  I picked up Paul Theroux’s The London Embassy from those shelves.  I bought an old copy of Wordsworth in another story.  It seemed appropriate since our visit to the Lake District and Dove Cottage.  Also found an anthology of poetry about London in another shop.  Finally, I couldn’t resist The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn that I found in the book store located in Hay Castle.