Christmas in July

The Strand Annex on Fulton Street is closing. The rent hikes are too high, the construction on the streets is choking foot traffic, times they is hard. I pass the place frequently, depending on the particular route I take from work to the subway home, but I've never gone in. I'm on the wagon and a budget. But everything is twenty percent off, said the sign in the window, so I went for a coffee and a zucchini muffin to pass the half hour until opening, came back for the unlatching of the door, slipped inside, and let myself loose.

Two sacfuls and twenty-two big, beautiful books later (and they are, for the most part, attractive books -- life is so short and there are so many books, I don't see any harm in restricting myself to the most handsome and physically satisfying specimens, which really streamlines my browsing and spruces up my bookshelf), I feel like a kid at Christmas. So allow me this rare bit of self-indulgence, a moment of show and tell. Lookit what I got!

One of the best things I found was the selection of brand-new leather-bound, gilt-edged, illustrated classics that, to my mind, they were practically giving away. In fact, I'm pretty sure that new paperback editions of these books from Penguin Classics at today's prices would have cost a fair bit more than these beauties. I snagged Candide, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Medieval Epics and Sagas, and Classics of Horror, plus a canvas-bound, illustrated, dual-language version of Dante's Inferno, and I probably should have gotten more. I also scored some cheap Taschen Icons books: Alchemy and Mysticism, 16th Century Paintings, and M.C. Escher.

A sample of my other discoveries:

The Phantom Museum and Henry Wellcome's Collection of Medical Curiosities

The Devil's Doctor: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic

Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time

Vice: An Anthology

Literary Landscapes of the British Isles: A Narrative Atlas

The Curious Sofa: A Pornographic Work by Odgred Weary

Logorrhea: A Spellbinding Collection of Tales from Twenty-one of Today's Most Imaginative Storytellers

One more thing to love about the Strand: their price stickers come off so easily. I wish they would spread this remarkable book-stickering technology to the rest of the world. Some people love old book smell. Me, I get mostly used book smell: eau de WD-40.

Okay, back on the wagon now. I'm going to need it to carry all these home.

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Blogger CupKate:

I know Odgred Weary or rather Edward Gorey's work - I have an a amazing Dracula theatre playset, and have given the 'Gashlycrumb Tinies' book to my cousin! Very clever - and known all the way across the world in Tasmania!


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