books · bookshelves · bookshops

Book-shopping

Two weeks ago, while running some errands, I stopped by the Books.ba bookshop. I thought it would be a short visit since my only intention was to return Turgenev’s stories that I borrowed more than two months ago. Last time I was there, their used book stock was disappointingly thin. The category ”used books” on their web page no longer existed, and I feared that they were planning to cut out this segment entirely.

What a pleasant surprise it was to see the shelves full! Naturally, I had to stay and check what was on offer. I found quite a number of wonderful titles, among them Durrell’s

I found quite a number of wonderful titles, among them Durrell’s Menagerie Manor (for a ridiculously low price) and The Shipping News.

  • Look at Me. Anita Brookner

When books are cheap, I tend to grab any available title by an author of interest. Particularly when a twentieth-century British woman writer (that I am yet to discover) is in question.

  • The Bell. Iris Murdoch
  • The Philosopher’s Pupil. Iris Murdoch

I have only read (and loved) the first couple of pages of The Sea, the Sea, but I have read a lot about her writings during my final year at the university. It’s the philosophy of morality that attracted me to her. Looking forward to exploring!

  • Menagerie Manor. Gerald Durrell

The best kind of comfort read – British humor and animals!

  • A Peppered Moth. Margaret Drabble

After reading four of her books I can say I have mixed feelings towards Drabble. If I am to be honest, the feelings are leaning slightly on the negative side. Still, my hand automatically reached for this book and I concurred with it.

  • The Shipping News. Annie Proulx

I have read it some time ago, but certain images of the sea come back to me fairly often. I always knew I would like to reread it so here it is…

And finaly… At last!! My first Virago Modern Classic! I felt such a rush of excitement upon spotting the green spine that it did not matter which author or which title it was. I am content with it being Stead’s The Salzburg Tales mainly because she is Australian – having it near will be a reason more to build up my laughable knowledge of the literature of that country.

When books are cheap, I tend to grab any available title by a publisher of interest… Well, in any case, this is certainly true of Virago. I found a collection of stories, Close Company: Stories of Mothers and Daughters, and decided it’s coming with me.

The next day, my sister invited me to a birthday shopping spree and, after purchasing a dress and some flowers for the balcony, we ended up at the Books.ba. Here I lost all my restraint and bought all the books I saw (and put on hold) the previous day.

  • Her People: Memories of an Edwardian Childhood. Kathleen Dayus

Another Virago… The subtitle offers all the explanation needed.

  • Eminent Victorians. Lytton Strachey
  • Orlando. Virginia Woolf
  • The Life of Samuel Johnson. James Boswell

These three books share a connection. I wrote my master thesis on Orlando following my interest in Woolf’s understanding of the art of biography. The Life of Samuel Johnson was the book which she praised and held in high regard, so it was essential to read it as part of the research. Eminent Victorians I haven’t read but always wanted to since it occupies a significant place in the history of biography as well.

  • Master Georgie. Beryl Bainbridge

This one came as a surprise since I did not notice it the day before. Bainbridge belongs to a group of writers I am looking forward to get acquainted with. I read Master Georgie is brilliant.

  • Lorna Doone. R.D. Blackmore

It’s a classic I knew nothing about. The name was faintly familiar, but nothing else. The time will come to change that.

  • The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien

I haven’t read it in the original language. Soon, I hope…

  • The Angel’s Game. Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The second book of the serial I am eager to dig into. Now I only have to get the other three!

Last but not least, A Gardener’s Guide to Herbs. I dwelled for a long time whether to buy this one or not since information on any possible herb is readily available on the internet at any given hour. However, I prefer having them in a form of a book and so the preference sealed the deal. Great photos, short instructions on sowing, caring for and harvesting 60 herbs; the book also states some culinary, medicinal, cosmetical and fragrance use of these herbs. There are some craft ideas as well. Wonderful!

And that was it…

bookshelves · bookshops

books.ba!

A new bookstore opened last year in April… I just found out about it two weeks ago! How I managed to stay ignorant for a year and a half is astonishing.

Needless to say, I had to pay a visit to the store as soon as was possible. (The minute I got back home I started writing to my sisters and friends, spreading the word of the thrilling discovery, singing praises at the top of my lungs. It turned out one of them knew about the shop all along. Somewhat disheartening.)

img_20161123_133550Anyway, as it happened, I did not go alone but with a friend (who knew nothing of the new bookstore). We stayed there for more than an hour and left excited and tremendously happy.

The bookstore is very pretty in its simplicity and the staff is particularly friendly and welcoming. Stepping in we found ourselves amongst the books written in/translated to Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian – fiction, poetry, essays, reference books… img_20161123_122735

I admit I moved on to the next room very quickly because I knew they had books in English. At the center of the room stood a large table with dozens of Wordsworths , then I caught the gaze of small black Penguins. Wonderful!

I was trying to decide whether to immediately purchase Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and some of Conrad’s sea stories or novels when I saw something I could not ignore (which left this second section quite underexplored).

Used books, in English! The most pleasant surprise. I don’t think any of the bookstores in Sarajevo has them. What a marvelous idea! img_20161123_122553

The area is pretty large, with taburets and tables in the middle, as well as a tiny cafe corner right beside the window. There’s a coffee machine, and one is welcome to have a cup, take a book and read for as long as one wishes to. One can even borrow a book! It’s here we stayed the longest.

img_20161123_122608One of the shelves contains a delightful variety of non-fiction. From Sheep for Beginners to The Poser’s Guide, Attracting and Feeding Garden Birds to Tea Rooms of Britain, The GI Plan: Lose Weight Forever to The Loo Companion – Are You Sitting Comfortably; we had such a fun browsing through these titles.

Other shelves hold mostly romance and detective novels, but one can find some great things there as well. I came across my first Virago – The Virago Book of Women Gardeners! Then two more appeared – Angela Thirkell and Michele Roberts. By this point, I was ecstatic – not just because I found Viragos in Sarajevo, but because this allows me to hope, on a solid enough ground, that there could be more of these in time to come…

I brought home six new books:

  • img_20161124_090610A Year in Provance. Peter Mayle – I’m not usually drawn to places that bask in the sun but Provance and Tuscany are enchanting.
  • Making The World Legible. Edited by Julian Evans, it contains extracts from 36 books that Writers in Translation Programme has supported since its inception.
  • High Rising. Angela Thirkell. Not my favorite of her works, still I couldn’t resist having it.
  • Fair Exchange. Michèle Roberts. Never heard of her, I’m afraid, but since the novel tells about Mary Wollstonecraft and William Wordsworth I decided to take it with me.
  • The Virago Book of Women Gardeners. edited by Deborah Kellaway. This one is self-explanatory.
bookshops

The Hunt

I still feel exhausted because of the extensive reading in which I was engaged at the beginning of this week. In the course of just a few days I have read more than three hundred Emily Dickinson’s poems – twice (some of them thrice and some even four or five times) – in order to select twenty best-loved ones for the upcoming event: an evening of Dickinson’s and Poe’s poetry…

A “serious” problem presented itself shortly after the initial excitement – neither I nor the person whose idea this event was actually own Dickinson in translation. Since, of course, poems cannot be read from paper sheets!, I embarked on a mission to thoroughly search the city bookshops, antique shops, and street vendor stalls and find a copy. The mission disappointingly proved itself – impossible. Not a single volume found! Well, to be precise and honest, I did find something: The Poems of Emily Dickinson – The belle of Amhurst which would be as usable as nothing since it contains but a few poems and a long analysis of Emily’s poetry and life.

I did the only thing I could – I got back home and made my own book.

The quest, however, was not all disappointment.. I profoundly enjoyed sniffing around the shelves and just being surrounded by a vast number of desirable books. I wished I was bold enough to get into a conversation with antiquarians, to ask them about their shops, their books-related life stories, their favorite authors or titles and current readings. What more, I wished I had guts to offer myself as an assistant clerk…

“I know You don’t really need one, sir, but, if nothing, think of it as a good deed.. You needn’t even pay me.. Except, I think, You would prove so kind and would want to reward my work with a book or two a month.. Of my own choice.. And, would it be possible for me to use Your shop as a library? I solemnly swear I will not cause them any harm!”