book fairs · bookshelves

Shelf News. September and October Arrivals

img_20161122_124959aLate September saw the end of one of my favorite places in town when it comes to books – the second-hand market near Konzum Family Center.

It’s not completely gone but moved to a different location… It could be argued that the new location is just 600 meters away from the old one, but the damage is considerable nevertheless. Of the four book stalls that existed only one is left standing. Yes, it is the one I used to visit most frequently, but it is not even close to what it used to be.

The stall is now significantly smaller and, consequently, holds fewer books. Over a thousand of dusty old volumes (that were my main interest), as well as several dozen books in English, have been put away in a storehouse somewhere. There’s just no room for them…

img_20161122_130605It was pure luck that I paid a visit to the market just weeks before the said disaster happened, that I managed to finally get my hands on much praised Colette. There were only two Claudine novels,

  • Claudine at School and
  • Claudine is Leaving (Claudine and Annie)

which means I still have to hunt down the other two titles. Fingers crossed.


  • I also bought her The Vagabond,
  • Francoise Sagan’s A Certain Smile,
  • Karel Čapek’s short story collection The Blue Chrysanthemum,
  • Practicalities by Marguerite Duras,
  • Shaw’s Man and Superman, and
  • Sharks and Little Fish by Wolfgang Ott.




Finding Aeschylus’ tragedies – all of the surviving plays in one old volume – was a sheer delight. The book is almost a century old (published in Zagreb, in 1918) and still uncut. Nobody has ever read it! Unbelievable! Sad, too.

The backbone is nonexistent, the pages are starting to fall apart, which means I will have to rebind it.


Ever since I first heard about Belgrade’s book fair I’ve been wanting to visit it. Somehow the opportunity never arose; bad timing, poor funds, no one willing or able to accompany me were the reasons that kept me away all these years (more than a decade, come to think of it!). This October however, the stars lined up just right. All the pieces of the puzzle came perfectly together.

img_20161122_130225I traveled with Johanna and her colleagues from the library and we spent the whole day browsing. Oh, the scope of it! It’s ten times larger than Sarajevo’s fair, with a much better offer and much more variety. We didn’t even manage to see everything. Still, it was a wonderful day.

I stumbled upon two of the Proust’s books at a flea market sometime in mid-September. Buying parts of a series separately is a risky business, but I decided to purchase them, hoping to eventually get my hands on the rest of it. Luck served me, and I found other nine titles at the Belgrade’s fair! Now there’s only the first one missing.

img_20161127_093535One of the most thrilling moments was spotting a wide stall that held Wordsworth Classics. I have a soft spot for these editions. It took me a good half an hour to decide which of them to bring back to Sarajevo. In the end, I opted for a number of Woolf’s novels and Ulysses.


I also found:

  • The Origin of Species, for a very nice price,
  • Queneau’s Exercises in Style, and
  • Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table.

Belgrade, I will be back.


8 thoughts on “Shelf News. September and October Arrivals

    1. I really do hope the book vendor at the market will sort things out, make a deal to get a larger stall if nothing else, because many customers were interested in those old books only…
      For those other three that left – I don’t blame them at all. The old place was bad, this new one is worse.

      Belgrade’s fair was truly overwhelming, an experience well worth repeating! I am plotting a trip to Belgrade sometime in late Spring – I’ve heard their street book stalls are heaven!

  1. Such a shame the market has been depleted like this. What is it you like particularly about the Wordsworth editions? I/v seen them but not been particularly drawn – much prefer Oxford Classics though they are more expensive unfortunately

    1. I am afraid I feel drawn to them for all the shallow reasons. I like that they are black and cheap, with fairly nice cover pictures (not all of them, though). I like the smell. They tend to have good introductions. I don’t own many (eight, counting the new ones).
      I own only one Oxford Classic. It’s definitely superior to Wordsworth.
      All the other classics I own (I am talking about English classics – I don’t buy translations of world classics to English) are Penguin. It is not necessarily intentional.

  2. Wow, what a haul you’ve got there! The Belgrade Book Fair does sound like a book haven…. looking forward to hearing more of your future adventures with them.
    Am impressed with the set of hardcover Proust you’ve got there…. what language is that in?
    And I l also love the Wordsworth editions for the same reasons that you do. I was even tempted to get their edition of Ulysses at one time, simply because I loved the cover & it was affordable (even though I have no desire/ intention of attempting to read it!) :p

    1. Belgrade fair was a dream come true! I am looking forward to revisiting it. Dare I start dreaming about Frankfurt and Edinburgh fairs…

      It’s a lovely set of Proust, isn’t it? It is in Serbian, but in Cyrillic script. In Balkans, we use both Latin and Cyrillic scripts. :)

      Well, Wordsworths are cheap enough to have them as ‘art’ only. And, who knows, maybe looking at Ulysses could eventually make you want to read it!

      1. By all means, do keep dreaming! It all starts with having the dream first, right? :)
        How versatile, to be able to read both Latin and Cyrillic scripts…. which do you prefer?
        Anyway, I sincerely doubt that any amount of ‘looking’ at Ulysses is ever going to change my inclinations towards it! :p

        1. Ulysses is a tough one. Even to look at, it seems..

          Which one do I prefer?.. I do not know… Latin is used worldwide, which is a good reason for preference. Cyrillic is interesting, a part of our Slavic culture… Many great and to this day unsurpassed academic books that were published in ex-Yugoslavia were printed in Cyrillic script, and not knowing or having difficulties with reading it could be a stumbling block, a handicap of a kind.
          Some great translated literature can be found only in Cyrillic – books that haven’t been republished for forty, fifty years, or even longer, books that will probably never be republished…
          So, I don’t think I can really say I prefer one script over the other.. :)

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