Lawrence & Nancy Goldstone, Slightly Chipped: Footnotes in Booklore

Strange like me! Ahhhhh.......

OK, actually the Goldstones are a little stranger than me, since I buy books on the cheap because I want to read them, rather than for talismanic reasons related to edition and physical characteristics, but I recognize their booklust, the greed their fingers feel for old paper, even the failed attempt to control expenses. (If I had more money, I'd spend most of it on books. Period. I spend as little as I do because that's how much I have.)

The Libray of Congress description on the info page says it's about book collecting, and it is, but Paul Theroux's travel writings can be described with the same quality of justification as "about geography." The Goldstones travel between places where one could buy books -- libraries, book fairs, stores -- and they're passionate about the individual books -- Virginia Woolf & Lytton Strachey, Letters ($125); Ben Franklin's Notes on Electricity ($3,000) -- but it's about the passion, not the collecting. That's why we attend a live performance of a 1940s radio Dracula at a crime bookstore, for example, and a rare books event at the Pequot Library, where the authors get not just to see a Kelmscott Press Chaucer (one of the most beautifully published books the world will ever see) but to handle both a twelfth-century illuminated book of letters and a fourteenth-century Book of Hours.

We watch the Goldstones gradually realize that they might as well spend the money, and that they might as well quit debating whether they should spend it -- because they just will. We watch the birth of a new obsession, with Hogarth Press books and the Bloomsbury circle. We meet odd characters, most of whom seem worth the drive all the way from this side of the continent. (Most of the book takes place in the American Northeast, where there are more older books in more stores than on this Pacific coast. Sigh.)

Anyway, I had this book in mind while digging through the thousands upon thousands of volumes at the Times-Colonist book sale a few weeks ago. I decided not to spend more than $40 there, and spent $37, but I only managed it because I kept myself out of the individually priced books area, where the Good Stuff lived. I don't regret that, because really I just want something to read. I can live vicariously through the Goldstones, and buy only the occasional book for ownership reasons, because I'd rather read a dozen good ones than spend the hours looking for a newer edition than I already have.

But lest I come across as dismissive of the Goldstones, I hasten to say that I simply MUST find the previous book now, Used & Rare, because I was so cranky when this one ended. Too much fun!


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