It has been a great month for books so far in the Morgan household! Since school has been out I’ve been collecting books like they’re going out of style, which of course you and I both know will never be the case. Here’s a run-down of some of my recent good biblio-juju.
Alabaster Books, NYC
The first great book day was a couple of weeks ago when I went to meet a friend for coffee in Manhattan. While we sat sipping our small black brews in the window of Think Coffee on 4th Ave near Union Square I noticed a small, unassuming book shop across the street with an unusual name: Alabaster Books. Not that either of us “needed” any new books, but we both love them and were in no hurry so decided to do some browsing. Alabaster is a small, jumbled place that felt quaint and inviting on a Sunday morning before the hordes had ventured out. We spent a long time in there and both walked away with some very nicely priced items. I got Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, which I've never read before, and Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf, which I've read a lot about but also never read. We headed to The Strand after that and had a wonderful hour browsing in there, but I resisted buying more because the prices weren't as good as Alabaster and I remembered that my dearest step-dad had sent me a gift card to Amazon.com for my recent birthday…
Of course, I used my gift card to buy books. I got: Virginia Woolf, by Hermione Lee (just finished reading it from the library but decided I needed to own it, too), Virginia Woolf: A Biography, by Quentin Bell (to compare), Jacob’s Room, by Virginia Woolf, Moments of Being, by Virginia Woolf, The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe, and Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel. It’s amazing what you can get for $50 on Amazon! So cheap, but much more fun to go browsing at The Strand and little shops like Alabaster. Anyway, so far I’ve received all of my purchases except for Fun Home, but haven’t started reading any yet because right now I’m on Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang by Hunter S. Thompson, which I borrowed from a friend. Also, in case you’re wondering, yes, I have a Woolf (and also Wolfe) project in the works.
Propeller Books, Portland, OR
I love getting books in the mail! I love it even more when they’re beautiful, as the titles from Propeller Books always are. Because I’ve been writing a recurring column (titled Mostly Novels, wouldn’t you know) for their online magazine, www.propellermag.com, the good folks at Propeller saw fit to send me a couple of their books that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading. The story collections, Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women, by Mary Rechner, and Disorder, by Dan Deweese, arrived in my mailbox a few days ago, and I can’t wait to get started on them. Everyone says this about Propeller Books but I’ll just go ahead and repeat because it’s so true: they are beautiful objects. The covers are soft and supple, the papers are crisp and smooth, and the designs are uncluttered and soothing to the eye – all of this combines so that the experience of reading is elevated beyond the intellectual to the sensual. It all makes you want to arrange the rest of the reading experience to match – smoking robes and low light and just the right cup of tea. I know this because I did read another book published by Propeller, A Simple Machine, Like the Lever, by Evan P. Schneider, which is beautifully sparse and sad, and about which I have been meaning to write a post for far too long now.
As I told you in my last post, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to make better use of New York City. As such, I’ve joined a email list that provides information about free and cheap things to do around town. This email let me know (as did New York magazine before it, my subscription to which is part of the same plan) that The Dude from The Big Lebowski, aka Jeff Bridges, and Zen Master Bernie Glassman have written a book together called The Dude and The Zen Master, which they would be discussing in person at Barnes and Noble Union Square on Tuesday night. So off I went. I had to buy the book to get a seat (this was not the case when I saw Candace Bushnell there seven years ago), but it was worth it to see and listen to Jeff Bridges up close and personal. The talk was a little haphazard, but so far the book is nice. Not too heavy, man, but still deep, you know?
So now I need to buy more bookshelves, and/or find a bigger apartment.