29.5.11 | By: Megan Langham

Labyrinthine ... and a Fellow Blogger's Contest

One week ago, for my birthday, I got lost in a bookstore. Not just any bookstore, and not just any lost -- but a really massive bookstore, and a really splendid kind of lost. I made it out of the labyrinth with a basketful of wonderful books all my very own, which I'd like to unwrap before your eager gaze if you've got a moment or two.

Oh, and I also managed to avoid the minotaur. According to the art on the back of the map (yes, the place required a map) there was a Dalek lurking among the shelves as well -- lucky I missed that one.

Anyhow, these are the treasures I emerged with. At least, I think they are all treasures; most of them I was quite sure about, but I haven't gotten to know the other ones yet.

1. The Complete Stories by Dorothy Sayers. I am a great admirer of Dorothy Sayers, and I am particularly fond of her fair-haired monocle-wearing detective Lord Peter Wimsey. Though Lord Peter was the main reason I bought this collection, I admit that I also enjoyed the stories in which he did not feature. Word to the wise: don't read the very last story ("The Cyprian Cat") at 1 am, as I did. Ms. Sayers isn't a chilling writer -- generally.

2. The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber. One of my favorite remembered stories from an old literature textbook is one of Thurber's: "The Night The Bed Fell". Few literary pieces still make me laugh so much -- here's hoping that the rest of his work will be of a similar hilarious quality!

3. Everyday Life in Roman and Anglo-Saxon Times by Marjorie and C. H. B. Quennell. If you know me at all, you can imagine my expression when I came across this delightful little gem. From what I've seen it looks to be accurate, thorough, and an all-around worthy acquisition.

4. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. I've heard excellent things about this author and this book in particular, but I had trouble finding it at my usually trusty local library, so I went ahead and bought it. All I can say is, I like the look of it, and I'll see soon whether I like it for itself.

5. Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander. All right, I went off track a little here. I know this is technically a children's book; my excuse is that I want to read it to my little sisters. Anyhow, who's to say children's books can't be valuable during all stages of life? I love the time-traveling aspect of this one, and I especially love the fact that the times they travel us to are delightfully obscure.

6. The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall. This is another children's book -- or so says the label. Label or no label, I'm not ashamed to adore it. Goodness, I could write a whole series of posts on this one book alone; but I won't do that now. I'll just say that I'm so happy I finally have a copy of it on my shelf. Now I can visit Muggles and Gummy and Walter the Earl any time I wish to.

7. Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie. I don't generally buy murder mysteries after I've read them -- not unless they're Chesterton or Sayers, anyway. But I had to make an exception for this particular Christie. The characters are brilliant, the plot twists are fascinating, Poirot is in fine form, as always -- but everything pales in the presence of the ending. Oh, that ending. I've read it three times over and I still can't get my head around it. So I bought the book in order that I may reread it until it doesn't shock me anymore.

8. The Tain by Thomas Kinsella (trans). Jenny mentioned this Irish epic a good while ago. I can't remember if she recommended it or not, but what hey! It's an Irish epic, and that's enough for me. And if the "Cuchulainn" whose name keeps cropping up is the Cuchulainn I know of old, the book's going to be well worth the read for that reason alone.

9. Sagas and Myths of the Northmen by Jesse Byock (trans). I'm a sucker for Norse mythology. Greek and Roman and Persian legends are all very well, but there's something special about the Nordic god-stories. Something inside me goes all warm and squiggly at the mere mention of Baldur or Freya or Loki. If I remember rightly, this was the first book I picked up at the labyrinthine bookstore; and it all went downward (upward?) from there.

10. The Mabinogion by Jeffrey Gantz (trans). Right, whatever, I'll admit it. I spent an awfully long time in the mythology section. But that's explainable. Since so far I'm the only member of my family to go doolally over ancient religions (particularly Norse/Celtic, as explained above) I have to do my own bookbuying in that area if I want more than the bare minimum. Also, the Mabinogion! How could I bypass the Mabinogion? It is Welsh, my good man! Of Wales! (By the way, my copy is nicer than shown, being hardback, but I couldn't find a good picture of it.)

I can't wait for finals to be over so I can do nothing but read all day.


Before I skip out, I want to call attention to a fabulous contest that fellow-writer Miriam is holding over at her blog. It's a truly lovely blog, as one might expect from its name. After you enter the contest, do spend some time checking out the archives!

10 missives:

Keaghan said...

Wow, you found some treasures!

Last week, my family was on vacation. As is tradition, my mom and I stopped by at the local--large--thrift store. I immediately head for the wall of books. (More like two walls...room...anyway...)

I came away with several gems myself:
"The Hero with a Thousand Faces" (One I had been wanting as a reference for a while! And since this was a used book and a thrift store, I got it for $4.00!)
"On Moral Fiction" (I hadn't heard of it before, but it looked promising..and it was only $4.00. I've flipped through it a bit--it's not really written from a Christian worldview, but the author has some valid and strong points to make about why we've lost morality in our fiction--and why it's vital we gain it back.)
"Sir Gawain and the Greene Knight" (I had this story in a collection, but I wanted a copy of it on its own so I can highlight, carry it around, etc. :) I love Gawain...)
A book of Irish fairy tales...and a copy of "The Death of Ivan Ilych" (The former because I wanted more stories to add to my repetoire for retelling, the latter for school purposes.)

So for under $20, that's what I got! :D I was pretty excited.


Jenny said...

Everyday Life in Roman and Anglo-Saxon Times made it onto my List of Books to Buy. The Sagas and Myths of the Northmen, too, looked good, but I didn't want to be greedy and I already have the Prose Edda that needs reading.

Not that you need much warning, but The Tain is definitely not a children's story. And yes, that's Cuchulainn. Fun times. It seems like a mere snapshot of his life, but it's a fun snapshot.

I'm nearly done with my copy of the fair-haired, monocle-wearing Lord Peter. I have read Elephants Can Remember, (in fact, it's the only Agatha Christie that I have read) but that was a long time ago and I'm not an elephant.

Lead me not into temptation. I am wanting to be very jealous of you and that bookstore. Your prizes are fantastic, Megan. I wish I could come look at them all. I promise I wouldn't steal them. :P

Megan L. said...

Keaghan - You nabbed all those for under $20? Good on you, mate! ;-) Ah, Gawain ... he's wonderful. I'd say he ranks just below Gareth in my Fictional List of Favorite Round Table Persons. You're making me jealous now with your Irish fairy tales -- and you'll have to tell me what you think of Ivan Ilych. I enjoyed it much more than I'd expected, though it made me feel slightly depressed.

JennyFer - Aww ... I wish you could be here to squeal all over the books with me. I would be so thrilled that I wouldn't mind if you stole any. :P We'll have to compare notes regarding Everyday Life... once we've both read it. And I can't wait to hear what you thought of Lord Peter. ^.^

Keaghan said...

"Ivan Ilych" was good. It wasn't my favorite literature assignment, but it was good. :) I preferred it greatly to another short story/novella I read--The Metamorphosis by Kafka. Yikes. (Yes, Gareth is amazing, too. One of my stories-in-progress is a retelling of the legend of Gawain and Dame Ragnell, his wife. <3)

I love bargain shopping. It inspires such delightful feelings. ;)

Miriam Forster said...

I LOVE Agatha Christie! I want to be just like Adriane Oliver when I grow up... :)

(And thanks for linking to my contest, too!)

Anonymous said...

HappySigh. I love book posts... They make me indescribably happy and warm inside. ^.^

Your finds look wonderful. I also recently acquired a copy of "Elephants Can Remember", along with about twenty-or-so other volumes of Agatha Christie Wonder. We pretty much hit the jackpot at our Church thrift sale. ;)

Happy reading! ^.^

Megan L. said...

Keaghan - Ooooh! I shall want to see this story once you've finished it. The Arthurian legends are so much fun to twist and mold and tell in fresh new ways.

Miriam - Hey, thanks for stopping by! It's lovely to meet another Agatha Christie/Ariadne Oliver fan. ^.^

Katie - I want to tippy-toe over to you and (temporarily) STEAL all your Agatha Christies. :P That's amazing you were able to find so many. Mmm, I loooove books... ^.^ *shnugs the Katie with bookish warmth*

Lilly said...

I am not very familiar with most of these books, but some (like the Anglo-Saxon and welsh norse mythology look fun! I do squee with you over the gammage cup! I need to by it myself. (I think I think I saw someone's name gammage the other day believe it or not. (Maybe they left over the mountains.... you know how skeptical the minipins are of people leaving or crossing the mountians. ;)

By the way, you were missed at einklings the other day. BTW, How's Selwin and the gang?

Megan L. said...

Oh, yes, I'm loving the mythology! Some of the stories in the Mabinogion are strange, being precursors to the Arthurian legends and all, but they're still splendid.

I agree: you ought to buy The Gammage Cup. Everybody ought to buy The Gammage Cup. ;-)

Selwin and his band of brothers are doing quite well--Selwin sends you a smile, and I send you my love. ^.^

Lilly said...

*grins!* A selwin- smile! Squee! *hoards Merihugs and snugs.* I send you my love too! How would you feel about owning Children of Hurin?

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