Sunday, December 11, 2005

Book frenzy

Today I went to the big annual book bargain sale, and spent more than I want to think about. However, I haven't been spending money on books recently, so I'm telling myself that I'm doing all my spending in one big lump rather than spread out over time, and I'm getting the books cheaper than the usual price.

I can't tell you most of what I bought, because I can't remember. They will be delivered on Monday.

I took my camera, thinking that I could show you some pictures of Osaka to contrast with the lovely birds I took pictures of the other day, but forgot I had it with me as I was negotiating the crowds. Osaka was madly busy.

At the book sale I went into a trance and found myself examining books briefly, having fascinating sentences jump off the page at me, and dropping them in my basket so fast that I filled it in about ten minutes. ALL the books seemed to be good. I took my basket through to the cashier's desk and asked them to hold them for me while I went back for more.

Within another ten or fifteen minutes I had filled up another basket. I came up for air when books started spilling out when I tried to drop more in, at which point common sense kicked in and I decided it was time to stop. The problem was that staff were filling in the gaps on the tables as I wandered around, so I could do the same aisle multiple times and every time there'd be something new. It seemed like they were keeping all the best books in reserve, which made it hard to leave. I briefly considered a third basket, but it was stifling in there with the crowds and the small space, and I needed something to drink, and to cool off.

As I was leaving I saw a colleague approaching the entrance with his very small daughter.

"HELLO BADAUNT!" he bellowed, giving several people whiplash as they turned to see what the commotion was about.

"Hello," I said, meekly, trying to make myself inconspicuous. I felt like someone who has been asleep for a while and is suddenly confronted with a staring crowd. He introduced me to his daughter.

"Hello," I said again, and she stared.

"Anybody else in there?" he asked.

"No," I said, as people milled around us. I thought about it for a moment. "On the other hand, it's quite possible that they're ALL here," I added. "I've been preoccupied. This is my second basket."

"Golly!" he said, peering into the basket. "It must be a good one this time. So what did you get?"

"Um..." I said. "I'm not sure." I couldn't remember a single book I'd chosen.

He picked one at random from my overflowing basket, and three more slid to the floor. They weren't very well balanced.

"Quantum physics, eh?" he said, perusing the back cover. "Ooh! This looks interesting."

"It's about some theory about the speed of light being variable," I said, recalling the blurb.

"Can I borrow it when you've finished?" he asked, and I remembered that in one of his previous lives he'd been a science teacher. If the book looked interesting to him it was probably way beyond me. I wondered whether I should take it back. But what if it WAS interesting for me? My brain stuttered with indecision.

I turned to his daughter, quickly, before he picked up another book and introduced more doubts about what I'd chosen.

"Do you like Harry Potter?" I asked her.

She stuck a finger up her nose and nodded tentatively, eyes like saucers.

"Check out the pile to the right as you go in," I told her. "There's lots."

"Oh dear," said her father, distracted. "I don't like Harry Potter much." He frowned at her. "Do you REALLY think you'd read them?" he asked.

She shook her head solemnly, and I wondered if she could read at all. She was probably a bit small for Harry Potter anyway.

"Oh, good," he said.

"Sorry," I said to the wee girl. "But there are lots of other good books. Maybe you'll find one about quantum physics."

She nodded and took her finger out of her nose.

Her father was rummaging through my basket again.

"Oh, look!" he said. "Ian Buruma! They DO have a good bunch this time. I've never seen his books at the sale before."

"They have EVERYTHING," I assured him. "And they keep coming around and adding more. It's terrible."

"Oh, and The Kite Runner!" said my colleague, still rummaging. "I read about that in the Guardian."

"So did I," I said. "That's why I got it."

"And what's this? The history of protein...? Hmm... And here's one about bacteria! And ooh! The South Seas Expedition!"

He started to read. I rolled my eyes at his daughter, and little smile appeared on her face for the first time.

"Do you think he's going to read them all RIGHT NOW?" I asked her.

She tugged at his sleeve, and he started and put the books back into the basket.

"Let's go!" he said. "What are we waiting for?"

And off they went.

I was just glad he hadn't seen my first basket, from when I'd gone through the trashy novel section at high speed and amassed a fine collection of train reading. The second basket was MUCH better for my reputation.

But I'm a bit worried now that my book-grabbing frenzy in the science section will backfire and he'll expect me to engage me in intelligent discussions about quantum physics, protein, bacteria, and the South Seas expedition. He's one of the dinner crowd on Thursdays, and I don't feel very brainy on Thursdays at the end of the day.

Perhaps I should have just shown him the brain candy in the first basket.


The Editter said...

Hang on a minute. What about the 17 boxes of FANTASTIC, UNREAD books you got rid of recently because you had too many books???

Badaunt said...

I don't chuck out unread books! (Well I hope I didn't.) The ones I chucked out were all ones I'd read and packed away because we didn't have shelf space. However, they were un-looked-at-again before chucking them out, because if I looked at them I knew I'd want to keep them.

(And there were more than 17, but I don't want to think about how many there were...)

Wiccachicky said...

LOL - you sound like me in book stores and libraries. Then again, I was much like this today at the wine shop where I spent WAY too much money going "oooo, pretty things"...

doris said...

LOL - I wonder what he would have said if he had pulled out some wonderful erotic book or excellent sex manual from your pile?! But trashy novels sure are a dent on the old reputation - but I reckon you gotta stand by your books with pride.

And anyway, people who say less are usually more intelligent! So when he engages you, at the next dinner party, in the finer details of the physics and the speed of light there is no need to "have" to be party to such a conversation.

You have a right to only chat about what you want to and there is no reason for you to jump over any hoops in showing what great stuff you have read!

There! That's you advised and told!!!! (I am so sorry - I don't know what has come over me this morning and I shall meekly wander off)

And I so love your photographs :-)

Cheryl said...

Re-browse that quantum physics one ASAP - then, if its not so shiny away from the thrall of the shop, you have a spare Christmas present for somebody......?