Thursday, 29 June 2017
People donate their old books for library funds.
This one was inscribed by its owner with a date of 1970. I realised immediately that this owner was someone whose tastes I probably shared, and this was confirmed. The only other book I chose to buy that day had the same inscription.
I knew, as soon as I saw the book, that I would most probably buy it. The reason was, that yellow jacket.
The yellow jacket was the house style of the publishing house Victor Gollancz. Throughout my teens and early twenties, you could still find plenty of yellow-jackets in second-hand book shops. They are much thinner on the ground these days, hence my instant decision.
The book harks back to my early reading days. Victor Gollancz was the first publisher of Vera Brittain's masterpiece, "Testament of Youth". Victor Gollancz was the imprint of the influential Left Book Club, (If you scroll down the page that this link opens, you will see a book called "The People's History of England - Not for Sale to the Public" I own a copy of this book, and my copy looks exactly like the one in the picture! Will try to find my review and post in due course).
Victor Gollancz was the nephew of Israel Gollancz, who was a founder member of the National Theatre, and a director of the Early English Text Society.
It wouldn't really matter what the book was about at this stage.
I scanned the jacket but it contained nothing about the plot, so I was really buying it "blind".
Have started the book, and am enjoying the sedate, steady old-fashioned pace which suits me very well. I don't like modern dystopian thrillers (written in threes, almost always to publishers' orders, and often to a formula).
I like realism, and books written in the third person and the past tense. This one is about a lawyer who encounters ethical problems.
The great thing about a second-hand book stall is that you can pick up a new interest. I've already put in a request for a collection of Louis Auchincloss's short stories from a county library archive.
After a somewhat turbulent six months so far this year, I feel I am gaining some equilibrium by re-establishing an old custom - buying second-hand books.