Noteworthy


My newest fixation is the audiobook. I’ve taken a few long trips — one to Paris, and most recently holiday travel. When traveling for long periods of time, I have always brought books along but either my eyes get tired or I find I’m restless from bending over a book.

So in preparation for my interminable flight to France, rather than buy a new book, I downloaded one. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. It was mesmerizing. The narrator was brilliant and brought the story to life — a dark and perverse story, I might add. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not for the faint of heart; it is an intriguing mystery that touches on some very uncomfortable subjects (rape and incest, for example).  Audiobooks are a bit pricey, but I consider the entertainment for long trips well worth it. I use Audible, associated with Amazon.

Now I’m on to Anna Karenina, a book that I’ve started before but never finished. The audiobook is around 37 hours long. I’ve listened to 8. But I’m optimistic that I’ll finish. Audiobooks are particularly well-suited to lengthy classics — you don’t get bogged down in the minutiae of difficult characters’ names and heady detail. The story flows at the steady pace of the narrator, and you are drawn along for the ride.

TwilightAfter another day of post-holidays sale hunting, a friend and I stopped at a Border’s. It’d been years since we’d really talked about books, and so we showed each other books we’d read lately and talked about what interests us.

I knew she’d seen the movie version of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer because I’d already heard her sigh over the “killer” looks of the male lead. But I found out today that she’d read all the books in the series, plus some other Young Adult books featuring vampires (though, she pointed out, there is a lamentable lack of sex scenes in the genre). Is it the crazed pop culture aspect of Young Adult books that draws her in, or does she just have a thing for vampires?

I didn’t get a definitive answer to that question, but when I came home I thought about the Twilight phenomenon some more. When I surf blog tags related to books and reading, I inevitably come across one or more mentioning Twilight. And the readers, like my friend, graduated from the Young Adult age group long ago.

And then, my Twilight Internet journey led me to… the $2,000 copy of Twilight on Alibris. That’s right. The book was published in 2005, and if the original purchaser is now selling the copy, he or she is apparently hoping for a greater than 10,000% return on investment. Not bad.

I have a few questions: Will anyone pay this? Is there any chance that the copy will be worth near this much, say, 20 years from now? And most importantly, is my friend’s copy a first edition?! I’ll have to inquire.

Since I’m new to collecting books, I have no idea how the values of overly hyped books fare in the long run. I also suspect that this incredibly quick and incredibly high price inflation of first editions with pop-culture significance is a recent phenomenon (perhaps best exemplified by the Harry Potter series).

In any case, if the book is conceivably that valuable… maybe I should read it.

Oprah's library in california

Having been formerly in the employ of Oprah (not that she ever knew my name), I was especially excited to see an issue of O, at Home dedicated to books and libraries — and promising an inside look at Oprah’s personal library.

I’m building my own little fledgling “library” of first editions, gathering favorite books that I will always have at my fingertips and can share with loved ones. But my library consists of three shelves, hardly a room filled with 1500 volumes.

oprahslibraryOprah has some help, of course — she’s hired a consultant, a rare-books dealer who builds private libraries for wealthy clients. That might be nice, but what about the thrill of the hunt? And if you’re too busy to gather your own books over time, I wonder if the books in Oprah’s library will ever actually come down off the shelves?

Maybe not all of them, but I’m sure the autographed first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and the first edition of John Steinbeck‘s first novel Cup of Gold have made it down a few times. Quite the rare pieces!

Read the article about Oprah’s library at Oprah.com.

Here’s my latest round-up of interesting news in the book world:

    Chuck Robert's 54,000-square foot book warehouse

    Chuck Robert's 54,000-square foot book warehouse

  • Should bargain hunters be blamed for the doomed book business? One bookstore owner claims that buying used books deprives the authors of their deserved income. [The New York Times]
  • More bad luck for Oprah. Yet another memoir she selected has turned out to be fabricated. This time, the author lied about meeting his wife at a concentration camp — he claimed she threw food to him over a barbed wire fence. In fact, they met in New York years after the war. James Frey breaths a big sigh of relief. [ABC News]
  • “[T]he web book business is literally the Wild West.” An independent bookseller with an online bookstore and a stock numbering in the tens of thousands talks about his booming business, in stark contrast to the troubles facing brick-and-mortar bookstores. [The Washington Post]
  • Get nine free e-books. Free books you say?! Yep. Absolutely free. And some nice picks too, all with at least 4.5 stars on Amazon. I haven’t read The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss yet, but I’ve heard it’s good, and I just may download it. [eReader.com]
  • London’s The Guardian has come out with a list of not-to-miss books in 2009. One title, 2666 by Robert Bolano, came out in the US in 2008. The rest of the list is largely comprised of British writers, and it offers an interesting perspective for those of us on the other side of the pond. [The Guardian]

Every time I considered starting my own blog, I realized I didn’t have much to say. My life is fine enough, but extemely boring compared to the offerings of reality TV.

Lately I’ve picked up a new hobby — book collecting. I’ve read some books about book collecting, and spent the requisite hours prowling the aisles of cramped and musty used bookstores. And it occured to me — why not blog about it? So here it is: A blog about buying books, having books, and reading books. Pretty simple.

I am by no means an expert. In fact, I’m a complete “noob” in Internet lingo, so if you have any knowledge, share what you know! And if you don’t, we can learn together.