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Los Angeles, CA

The Art of Reading and Everything At Hand to Make It More Enjoyable --

     Highly-desirable vintage and modern books,accessories and art

Blog

a selection of the very best vintage books & authors

Filtering by Tag: Book

Books and Bookstores as Movie Stars

S.A.

Hollywood Book Stars Just in -

Woody Allen stars as the owner of a failing bookstore who becomes a pimp in order to make a living. "Fading Giglio" is an upcoming film, written & directed by John Turturro. Given the current state of the economy, Amazon and the Nook Niche, there may be more truth than poetry to this film, ( said to be released here in late 2013 or 2014).

I am a fan of most movies with book store scenes (over, say, scenes in auto repair shops or cupcake bakeries). That is because, for me,  books are It. 

Over the years,  books and bookstores have played both starring and supporting roles in many movies. Here's my short list, in chrony order:

- The Big Sleep (1946)

-Funny Face (1957)

-Manhattan (1979)

-When Harry Met Sally (1989)

-You've Got Mail (1998)

-NottingHill (1999)

Those are the movies I actually saw, but there are other notables, featuring book stores, I have yet to see (including Hugo, 2011).  Plus, there are TV shows featuring books and book stores (too numerous to list here, but the recent one that come to mind is Sundance Channel's Rectify).

As a book collector/purveyor, I love all bookstores, especially those on the brink of extinction. I am always rushing around, attempting to support these stores, buying, tweeting, word-of-mouthing, dragging relatives and friends in by their shirt collars. I even supported endangered book stores that weren't Independents (like the late Borders). Before Borders closed in Carlsbad, I bought boat-loads of books there and even a wooden bookcase that had once been screwed to the wall.

But, as the saying goes, any publicity (or movie role, for that matter) is good publicity, so maybe Woody's turn in the Turturro movie will showcase the plight of  struggling book stores - Independents and (gulp) even their big brother,  Barnes & Noble. You know, we just need to get out there and shop (before they drop).

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*special thanks to BookRiot.com

A Book for a Buck: Ancient Philosophers

S.A.

In the 1940s and '50s, if you read magazines, especially the adverts, you could reasonably teach yourself to draw, collect limited edition prints of famous artists and also enrich your library by joining a book club. One of the biggest reprint publishers was Walter J. Black. Black published book club editions of detectives, Zane Grey and often esoteric literary antiquities (The Classics Club). Clubbing with the Classics

If you signed up to be a member of The Classics Club, you could get three free books and thereafter, as a subscriber, a book for a buck. Some of the titles in this series included the more familiar Robinson Crusoe and works by Poe. But, if you were home-colleging yourself, you could order Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things," Erasmus' "The Praise of Folly" or even "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius. I can't say I was familiar with any of those titles. My education in philosophers stopped way, way short of Greece & Rome, settling on the more recent Sartre and Kazantzakis.

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So, when I recently came across a set of nine books from the Classics Club series, said to be "Deluxe" editions (tweed cloth covers with gilt-stamped  titles), I knew only one title: Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe." But I didn't buy them to read, but to sell. Look below: They are "vintage-worn" attractive; they would like good in a study bookcase.

Worthy - on & off the shelf

However, when paging through some of them (to check their condition), I came across  the "Meditations" from Aurelius that seemed to make quite a lot of (current) sense.

     Now Aurelius (161-180 A.D.) was perhaps the last great Roman emperor, before the Decline. Apparently, he was regarded as a Stoic, which today, would be a good thing. But, by measure of this book,  he was also a deep & prolific thinker, as were many of the authors  with works contained in these classics, including Homer and Aristotle.

If I had world and time enough, perhaps I'd extend my education with a home-schooled Masters in Ancient philosophy. Alas, this will not likely be the case, as I neither have time or world enough. Just ask anybody who knows me. Also, long ago, I synthesized my own philosophy into one sentence "Go with your gut."

And, in this case, my gut told me to buy these books. Even though they originally only cost a buck, and are cover-worn, someone will surely find them worthy, either on or off the shelf.  Because, inside these "Deluxe" covers, the Ancient Philosophers would likely say, is what matters most. That is, unless you're an interior decorator

Alcott By the Book(s)

S.A.

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There are Louisa May Alcott books, and then there are  Louisa May Alcott books. This week, we had the opportunity to offer for sale two vastly different sets of three of her novels, published more than 80 years apart. Our Alcotts are three lesser-known novels by the Queen, or at least the Princess, of popular children's fiction from the late 1800s through today.

Louisa May Alcott, S/3

 Our first Alcott set, published circa 1888, included  Rose in Bloom, Under the Lilacs and Jack and Jill. The second set, published circa late 1950s-'70s, includes "An Old Fashion Girl, Eight Cousins and, again, Jack and Jill.
If books could fly, the antique set, see just above, flew out the window, almost as soon as the window opened for sale.
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The more contemporary set, "vintage" (pre-1989) as we call it,  is on sale now. Children's books from the 1950s, in good condition, and by well-known authors, generally find their new owners as fast as you can say "Louisa May Alcott." Maybe not as fast as the 1880s version, but  vintage children's books, in good condition,  have "legs," as well they should in the eBook generation.
Although neither of our Alcott trios includes the more famous Little Women or Little Men, Alcott's books are every bit as popular today as they were back in the 1950s, and before then, back in the late 1800s.
There aren't many female children's authors who weather the decades like Alcott. I think of her as a literary Mary Cassatt. Nurturing.
Sophisticated Reader's Note:  The second set of Alcott books, sold like the first set, within 2 1/2 hours of being listed for sale.

The Magic of Book Picking: Lessons in Art Deco Fashion Design

S.A.

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IMG_5171 There are two of us, Sophisticated Readers, living 100 miles apart. We are online only, when it comes to selling, but hands-on only, when it comes to selecting our books.

Some times, we experience an ineffable mystery of connection to our finds:  an indescribable cosmic link between us, the pickers, and the books we pick.

Once, at an outdoor book sale in Carlsbad, in the midst of thousands of books piled high on folding tables, I put my hand on an uncommon Charles Bukowski book of poetry: a birthday gift for Sophisticated Reader #2 who avidly collects him. Another time, in Los Angeles, at a thrift store, while out picking books with Sophisticated Reader #2, a Bukowski book fell off a book shelf and landed on top of her head. Luckily, it was a soft cover. Also, luckily, it was autographed by Sean Penn.

You can feel the magic when this happens. "Wait a minute!" the inner voice commands, as if this coincidence, this Jungian synchronicity, could not have happened the way it did.  Moments like this are memorable because they are random and infrequent. But recurring. Of course,  they do not always involve Bukowski (although wouldn't that be nice)?

They belong together

Take the set of Art Deco Fashion Design books, above, we are now selling. The scarce set includes both 17 softcover correspondence-school lessons in fashion design (1930s-'40s), plus a 1938  hardcover fashion design book by the same author & publisher. The hardcover is illustrated , with a surprise bonus of a valuable Deco pochoir fashion plate, tucked inside.

The magic in this pick is that I bought the softcover design-class books in March at an auction in Vista. Sophisticated Reader #2 bought the hardcover recently, at a sale of antique books in Glendale. Our picks were  months and miles apart. The books are only, now,  re-united, as if there had never been any time or distance between them. They belong together. 

Over the many years Sophisticated Reader #2 and I have collected, we've never run across these titles. Sophisticated Reader #2 didn't  know I had purchased the lot of fashion design correspondence books, until she told me about her Art Deco fashion design find.  But, her book, when added to the school lessons I already had, greatly increased the books' combined value, for more than one reason.

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To paraphrase, the great Kurt Vonnegut, "If this isn't magic, I don't know what is."