Technically, I suppose it was theft

Today, a walk to assuage my guilt! Last week I found 3 books in the National Trust’s second-hand bookshop at Polesden Lacey and didn’t pay for them. The card reader wasn’t working and they had no cash to give change. I was told I could pay for them if I exited the grounds and paid at the gift shop. But I wasn’t intending to exit the grounds at the gift shop, so I put the books in my rucksack and continued my walk before finally leaving. My intention was either to make an online donation or to pay on my next visit. Hence today’s walk to the same bookshop, in order to pay my dues. I explained to the volunteer running the shop why I had come, although I put a gloss on it saying that I had forgotten to pay!

It was a grey day for a walk and all the pictures came out drab, even with the help of Photoshop. So just one image, a black & white rendition taken at the edge of some dark woods.

In addition to paying my dues at the bookshop I also found a couple of thin novels. Don’t they have great covers!

Berlin bookstores

I’ve just started reading this second-hand, 1973 paperback  – a Christmas present from my son’s German girlfriend. Admire the book’s yellow pages – it’s 48 years-old! The enclosed bookmark says the book came from one of the many Berlin bookshops selling English books.

Astonishingly, Berlin bookshops are considered ‘essential services’ during lockdown and allowed to stay open – we in the UK can only dream.

Here’s a rather nice article detailing ‘The best English bookstores in Berlin‘.

The bookshops are open!

The shackles have been relaxed a little and the shops have reopened, including Waterstones the bookshop – yay!

I’ve just finished reading my 100th book of the year so what better way to reward myself than a little restocking. Three very different non-fiction books – a true crime, an autobiography and some history/politics.

I’m currently reading Dictators, by Frank Dikötter. It’s an examination of eight twentieth-century dictators. Fascinating stuff with astonishing parallels with the personality of the current American president. It’s enthused me to make an effort to read more history.

My local high street was heaving, due no doubt to the relaxing of the Covid restrictions as well as being not-long-to Christmas. And with Debenhams about to shut, the scavengers were out looking for a bargain.


A stroll around Dorking

A stroll around Dorking brought us across this unlikely town scene. I don’t think the sheep are permanent residents though I have seen them there on previous visits.

At the Oxfam Bookshop I was refused entry as I would have exceeded the ‘maximum of 2 customers’ restriction. They are also only accepting donations on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I have more than 30 books waiting to be donated which have accumulated over the lock-down.


Getting books during covid

In these difficult times I’ve been getting my reading material from different sources:

  • Re-reading books from my shelves
  • ebooks downloaded from my local library
  • Blackwell’s online bookshop

Today I ventured into our local Waterstones and came away with three books. I can’t say that wearing a mask for the length of time it takes me to browse is a pleasant experience, but it was fine. And it’s good to be back in a bookshop again!

As an aside I wasn’t sure whether I should use ‘ebook’ or ‘e-book’ in the text, but after looking up “E-book, ebook, eBook” on Grammarist, I decided to go with ‘ebook’.


Stony Stratford

It’s a nightmare going by car from North Surrey to Milton Keynes. Getting there it was the South/North Circular – a mere 14 miles in the first hour, followed by the M1 motorway. The return journey was M1 and M25 which was going well until it wasn’t. Five hours total driving is no fun on our road system.

Getting rid of books

Not being able to browse bookshops, I’m getting my reading material by downloading e-books from the library and by re-reading books from my shelves. Once read I would normally hang on to a book only if it’s received my ‘highly recommended’ stamp of approval or, exceptionally, a ‘recommended’ one. But with the passage of time the shelves are bursting and I’ve decided that any book I re-read I will dispose of. There may be exceptions.

It’s too much hassle to try to resell books online and too little money to be gained so I take books to my local Oxfam Books. A book given to a charity can often be sold several times over since there’s a strong likelihood that books bought from a charity shop will be donated back to the same shop. This is clearly good for the charity, though less good for the author of the book. I don’t know whether that should bother me.

A ten-book-binge

On my second visit to the Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham, South London, and for a mere £21, I now have an additional 10 novels queued up for reading. The shop has a great variety of pre-loved novels, something I just don’t see in my local library, my local Waterstones, or my nearest Oxfam Bookshop. A bookshop to be revisited.

Not Amazon

I refuse to buy books from Amazon, so I’ve added menu links to three alternatives. In particular, Blackwell’s appear to be price comparable with the big A.

You may be lucky to have a local bookshop.

Do I know you? & The man with a tail

On the train to Dorking I really got into James Rhodes’ Fire On All Sides – this is going to be a great read. I took a dozen books to the Oxfam bookshop and bought three (A Gate at the Stairs – Lorrie Moore, The King is Dead – Jim Lewis, and the non-fiction The Death of Expertise – Tom Nichols). I deserved the coffee and pain au chocolat at the very pleasant Dorking Deli. Incidentally there’s an amazing bike shop just a couple of doors down.