May 14, 2010

Friday Book Coveting Post

Mmmm Books

The month of September, which is when I’ll be moving away to start library school, dangerously approaches, and my to be read pile remains at around 150 books (I can hear some of you saying, “Pah! that’s nothing!”). So over the next few months, I’ll have to remain stronger than ever in my resolution not to acquire more books. My book buying ban has been in place for over six months now, but in reality it has done little more than prevent my tbr pile from actually increasing – which I suppose is something, right?

The problem is that the urge to get new books simply won’t go away, and it’s been especially bad of late. I’m sure I’m not the only one who tends to use new book acquisitions as a form of therapy when I’m feeling down for whatever reason. Anyway, I thought that it might be slightly helpful to talk about the books I wish I could get instead of, you know, actually getting them. I’m not sure how effective this strategy is going to be, but it’s got to be worth as try, right? Here are a few books I’ve been especially coveting lately:
  • Can Any Mother Help Me? by Jenna Bailey – I found this when I was looking for more social history books that focused on women’s lives in the early twentieth century. The title sounded a little familiar, so I did a search and realised that Jenny had reviewed it some months ago. The book is about the Cooperative Correspondence Club, a private magazine that was started by a lonely young British mother in 1935. The correspondence club was used by women who needed advice about personal aspects of their lives and had nowhere else to turn, or who simply wanted some support and companionship. It seems that many lifelong friendships were born out of it – like Jenny said in her review, sounds a bit like blogging, doesn’t it?
  • Wild Romance by ChloĆ« Schama – This isn’t an actual romance, but The True Story of a Victorian Scandal: it’s a biography of Theresa Longworth, whose affair with William Charles Yelverton shocked mid-Victorian society when it was brought to court. Theresa claimed they had been secretly married, while William maintained that no such thing had ever happened. This, of course, at a time when being married rather than having had an illicit affair was a life-or-death matter for a woman. I remember reading about this court case briefly in Victorian Sensation, and I’m sure I’d love a full account of it – especially as it sounds like ChloĆ« Schama tackles all the gender questions Longworth’s story raises head on.

  • Bachelor Girl: A Social History of Living Single by Betsy Israel – This book was brought to my attention when I noticed that Aarti had added it on Librarything. Based on private journals, newspapers, and other primary and secondary sources, it’s an account of the lives of single women from the nineteenth century to our days. What’s not to love?

  • The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen – An indirect recommendation from Claire at Paperback Reader, who mentioned it in her review of To Bed With Grand Music. Set during the London Blitz, this is a novel about the effects of the tension of the war on the lives of those who stayed in the city at the time of the air raids.

  • After the Armistice Ball by by Catriona McPherson – This book, the first in the Dandy Gilver mystery series, was recommended to me by GeraniumCat on Twitter after I mentioned that Maise Dobbs hadn’t quite lived up to my expectations (more on that next week). It’s set in the early 1920’s, and our sleuth is a woman caught between Victorian mores and the social changes that followed the end of WWI. How could that possibly go wrong?

  • London War Notes by Mollie Panter-DownesGood Evening, Mrs Craven left me craving more Mollie Painter-Downes, and Fleurfish confirms that this is as excellent as it sounds. It’s a collection of her journalism pieces about life in London during WWII, which were written at the same time as the fictional pieces collected in Good Evening. Mrs Craven. Sadly this book is now out of print, but hopefully used copies won’t be impossible to come by.
Have you read any of these? What did you think? And are there any books you’ve been particularly coveting lately?


  1. Your starting of library school soudns so exciting to me, Ana! Oh how I wish I could turn back the time so I can attend school all over again! :D

    When it comes to book buying ban, most of you come off far better than me because I just cannot say no to buying books! There were a few times I walked out of the bookstores empty-handed, but ended up thinking of those books more so I had no choice but to succumb to the temptation. *sigh*

    Those books sound great! I'm quite intrigued with Can Any Mother Help Me? ;)

  2. Exciting re library school! I am impressed at your resolve with the book buying ban.

    I love the sound of Bachelor girl and there's a copy in the library, so will be heading there at lunchtime.

    I'd also love to read the Mollie Panter downes

  3. Pah! That's nothing! (LOL!) But seriously, not buying any new books at all just doesn't work with me so I've seriously cut back instead and that's not going *too* badly. Of course, if I didn't read so many library books that might help the tbr pile decrease rather more quickly.

    I haven't read any of those books but would also like to have the London War Notes.

  4. I don't have anything like library school forcing any deadlines (but I wish it were!) but I'm still trying not to buy anything. It makes me so sad when I see books that people have given me, and knowing I may not read them for years. Not to mention every wonderful book I see on the blogs, like these. Of course, my first inclination would be towards the WWII novel, but they all sound worthy of our time!

  5. Such interesting choices! Can Any Mother Help Me? was one of the very first books I reviewed after I began blogging and it's definitely worth the read. Will be looking to track down a copy of Bachelor Girl for myself. As you say, what's not to love?

  6. i almost dread your coveting posts! They don't help my wishlist at all.

    I am terrible for buying books when I feel low. I have just gone out and bought more today and I swore I wouldn't, but hubby did give me his lottery winnings and I have been stuck at home with two sick children all week!

  7. I have such a bizarre relationship with book and TBR acquisition & therapy. Sometimes it's theraputic to buy-buy-buy (well, or acquire-acquire-acquire, either way is fine). But sometimes I get the exact opposite urge and it's theraputic to read the first 10 pages of 50 books and end up discarding/donating 35 of them. I've been doing that a LOT in the last few weeks, going so far as to check a ton of book out of the library expressly for the purpose of seeing if they're worth keeping on my virtual TBR. I turn them all in the next day regardless of whether or not I want to read them eventually. I've also been using Google Preview a lot to determine if I want to read a book. I'm only doing this with modern books, though - classics need more than a 10 page litmus test because they're structured differently. But anyway, I've cleared off two full shelves in the last month and hope to clear off more in the near future. I'm also not adding things to my TBR pile from reviews, not nearly as often anyway. It's a strange sort of therapy, but it works. I'm excited - I'm down to 150 books on my virtual TBR pile. A year ago, it was over 400.

  8. As I'm sure everyone else is going to say, book acquisition is something we all feel. I used to be pretty good about not buying books-- just using a library. But I've bought myself a bookshelf and I feel I'm going book acquire crazy!

    the books you share sound lovely. I read the Maisy Dobbs books pre-book blogging an thought them ok. I'm wondering if I'd be picker and more easily disappointed today. The book you mention instead of it sounds loves.

  9. Library School, yay. I'm going to be excited along with you as September approaches.

    Book coveting posts help if you cannot actually acquire any :) All yummy books

  10. Congratulations of attending library school. If it is any comfort, if you take some of the literature courses that are offered, such as children's literature, you will get to read a whole lot of good things for school.
    My virtual TBR list grows by leaps and bounds each day, in part because of great posts like yours. I have tried to really curtail both my magazine and book buying habits due to finances. I have been more successful with the magazine embargo. I allow myself to buy at least one new book every month or so as a treat in order to make it more bearable.

  11. Whhhhhhhhy must you make everything sound so tempting? Wild Roamce sounds fantastic doesn't it (the interview in the Times about Schama's influence on his daughter becoming a writer scared me a bit though - pushy parenting indeed).

    I have to tell you about this new book on the key players in the Romantic movement while I'm here -'Young Romantics' by Daisy Hay, because I'm dying to read it and think you'll like it too (a bit on the awful strains the poets open relationships put on the women involved). And June Morgan has a nw novel coming out about the Brontes... Tempted?

    Love when bloggers go to library school and I know you'll do so well.

  12. You are definitely going to enjoy library school and will become I'm sure a wonderful librarian. It's a funny thing, not all librarians love books completely. Most do I think, but not all. You will. :-)

    I have two of your the books you highlight here at home, but, naturally, have not read them yet. I have the Armistice Ball one and also Can Any Mother Help Me. Both were "must have" purchases and then, there they are. Sitting. LOL

  13. I haven't read any of these. But the good thing about Library School is that it isn't difficult to come up with project or paper ideas that involve reading your favorite books!

  14. Interesting list, and I am so impressed with your 6 month buying ban! I have convinced myself that I need one of those... but am giving myself until the end of the month before implementing it. I know, silly right? I'll just end up getting extras before the month ends... but I didn't want the ban in place over BEA!

  15. I have a copy of Bachelor Girl on my TBR pile at home... been meaning to read it for a long while, but just haven't started it yet. :(

    Good luck on not buying any of these, because they do all look quite good!

  16. I haven't read any of these, but they all look good. I continually have to battle the urge to buy more books as well, so I know exactly how you feel.

  17. Aww, I promise to read Bachelor Girl ASAP so that you can know whether it's good or not. I have an inkling it may be disappointing, if it makes you feel better. A lot of the reviews say that the author messes up her facts multiple times.

    Can Any Mother Help Me? sounds wonderful! So many books on WWII women in England, but what about everywhere else?!

    Also, I found Maisie Dobbs very disappointing as well. I didn't really like her method of just adopting someone's posture and then somehow being able to know exactly what they were thinking.

  18. I am also a big believer in book retail therapy, and find myself ordering and shopping for books whenever I really need a pick me up or whenever I come across something I just have to have! You will be pleased to know that your reviews can send me off into a heady buying spree very frequently!! I haven't heard of any of these books, but they all look very interesting, for very different reasons. I am at the stage where I can't really be bringing anymore books into the house right now either, so we will have to be strong together! Very nice post!

  19. All the titles look lovely. I've read 'After the Armistice Ball' and some sequels which I enjoyed, but it is similar to Maisy Dobbs although lighter. But you can only find out whether it's your cup of tea by reading it, right?

  20. I really want to read, Can Any Mother Help Me. I love the idea of women banding together to exchange ideas and support one another. You are right, it does sound a lot like blogging!

  21. Elizabeth Bowen! I love her. After the Armistice Ball looks interesting too and I was also disappointed with Maisie Dobbs.

    Buying books is a therapy thing for me too, as are rearranging my books, writing about them, just going to bookstores and libraries, finding good book lists and reading light literary criticism (blogs and books) about my favourites, and at least most of those things are free.

  22. My bans are never successful, so I wish you luck!

  23. Maybe I should try book coveting posts and see if they help with the urge to buy books. I recently set up a plan for helping me to get the books under control (I wrote about it here) and it is working slowly but surly. I really love my books and love to read, but when the sheer quantity and resulting clutter and pressure to feel I must read faster set in I decided to act. I really do want to be at peace with my collection :o)

  24. I´m drooling over the book covers! :) This sounds like a great way to distract you from book buying, hope it works out.

    I´ve taken my acquiring urge to the library, much cheaper and still very therapeutic. I know I always sport a ridiculous smile when I leave the library with my loot.

    I think I want to read all of these books, I can hear the tbr list groaning! Too bad you didn´t enjoy Maisie Dobbs so much, I have the first one out atm. I´ll give it a try anyway but I´ll check my expectations.

    And good luck with getting ready for library school, Ana. Sounds like such an interesting degree!

  25. Bachelor Girl is a good one! I hope you enjoy it if you ever get around to reading it. I know what you mean about having too many books to read: I have nearly 100 unread books that I own, and then a further 100 on my "to be read someday" list!

  26. Oh well, I just added some of these books to my wish list. I can never resist it, because you always seem to find such amazing books. As I said to you before, you are responsible for my growing wish list (which now contains about 200 books):)

  27. Want my copy of Can Any Mother Help Me? I could send it to you. It would help me too really! You know, reduce the number of books that I have to store at my parents' place...

  28. Interesting books! I haven't read any of them myself, but I so want to.

  29. Ah, I do like managing to provide indirect recommendations! Elizabeth Bowen is very good and influenced Sarah Waters quite a bit when it came to The Night Watch.

    Can Any Mother Help Me has been on my wishlist for some time - thanks for reminding me why!

  30. I'm supposed to be on a book buying ban, but I keep breaking it. I also find that if I'm not buying books I'm obsessively reading library books instead of my own, so I can acquire new books there too. It's definitely a problem I have too!

    I actually won Wild Romance through LibraryThing - I'm just waiting for my mom to mail it to me. You've made it sound a lot more exciting than I thought it was going to be!

  31. In my mind, you can never go wrong with Elizabeth Bowen. How prose so occasionally spare can be so evocative is a wonder.

    Good luck as you prepare to move! Library school will fly by and then you will find yourself both living and working in a seemingly infinite tbr pile. :)

  32. I am a great believer in book buying therapy. It helps with almost anything, doesn't it? But book borrowing therapy works wonders, too.:)

    I'd love to read all the books on your list, but especially Bachelor Girl. That one goes to my TBR list right now.

    And so exciting that you are starting library school in the autumn! I'm a librarian myself.


  33. I applaud your strength on not buying any new books and sometimes it can be very therapeutic to write about them and worship them from afar!!

  34. 'Can any mother help me' sounds like an interesting book. Reminds me in some ways of 'The Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society'. 'Bachelor Girl' sounds like a fascinating book! I really want to read this one! 'London War Notes' looks quite interesting too.

    Interesting to know that you are going to library school, soon. It will be quite fascinating, I am sure - isn't being in the library for the whole day, the best way to live :)

  35. congrats on library school! I don't remember if you had mentioned that before.

    Anyway, I totally hear you on "bans" and think I need to do a library ban soon as my stacks are only getting taller and taller. Lots of tempting books here. I tried the book After the Armistice Ball a couple of years ago but I think I just wasn't in the mood for it then because I didn't finish it. I've always wanted to give it another go. I hope you like it and all the others!

  36. You are doing so well by maintaining the TBR book count to 3 digits. I need some of your self-control. I'm trying my best to stay off buying but I just succumb each time I walk into a bookstore. But seriously, this time I'm for real.

    I am very excited about your librarian job!

    Good luck in whittling down your 150 books. :D

  37. You just made my wishlist that much longer!

    I am somewhere around 150 books that still need to be read as well. I do think that it is an accomplishment that the amount of TBR books remains steady on your side, I'm trying to follow your example, but I'm failing miserably.

  38. Melody: lol, the exact same happens to me. Whenever I pass a book, I end up thinking about it obsessively, even if I didn't want it *that* much. It's ridiculous! But I must...stay...strong.

    Verity: I'll have my revenge in September by raiding all the lovely used bookshops you have over there ;) Enjoy Bachelor Girl!

    Cath: I used to reward myself with a book for every twenty that I knocked off the tbr pile, but now that I'm moving so soon I really have to stay focused. Of course, I'm still using BookMooch...

    Sandy: I know - that really makes me sad too. I miss the days when I'd read a book within a month of acquiring it, but somehow I doubt that they'll ever return.

    Claire: I'm glad to hear that Can Any Mother Help Me is as good as it sounds!

    Vivienne: Well, I must at least share my pain ;) Stuck at home with two sick children all week? You more than earned those books!

    Amanda: It's funny; my virtual tbr pile doesn't make me feel pressured at all. I like having endless lists all over the place with what surely amounts to a thousand books by now - I like the sense of possibility. But once I actually own them, I begin to feel pressured to read them sooner rather than later.

    Rebecca: I didn't dislike Maisie Dobbs, but there were a few things about it that put me off somewhat. More on that soon :P

    Violet: Thank you for sharing my excitement :D And the book coveting post did help a little bit.

    Librarian Who: Thank you! I very much look forward to those courses :D A new book a month doesn't sound bad at all. Is less than that humanly possible for book lovers? :P

    Jodie: I'd missed the interview, but yikes! And ooh, Young Romantics sounds excellent, as does the new June Morgan. I've got Passion on its way to me via Bookmooch right now and I'm DYING to read it at long last.

    Kay: Aw, thank you so much! And lol, that often seems to be the fate of books we MUST.HAVE.RIGHT.NOW, doesn't it? :P

    Jill: I'm glad to hear it! I'm not so much worried about the time I'll have to read as I am about the fact that I'll have to leave my current tbr pile in storage and will have no access to it for a year. Of course, I have no doubt it'll take me no time at all to replace it with a new one, especially considering the existence of many wonderful used bookshops in the city to which I'm moving :P

    Amy: Well, it's been in place for six months, but that doesn't necessarily mean I have always obeyed it :P

    Court: Thank you for the wishes of good luck - I'll need it :P I look forward to your thoughts on Bachelor Girl!

    Kathy:'s a common malady :P

    Aarti: That actually makes me sad :\ Even though I can't read it at the moment I was hoping it'd be good. Looking forward to your thoughts on it! And was I told you in my e-mail about Maisie Dobbs: YES.

    Zibilee: I'm not sure if I should say sorry about inspiring those book buying sprees or not :P We'll give each other support when we need it and hopefully we'll be able to stay strong.

  39. Sakura, exactly :) It sounds like something I'll like, so fingers crossed.

    Kathleen: Yes, doesn't it? It's funny how some things stay the same.

    Carolyn: Yes - anything bookish brings me a lot of comfort :) I'm glad I wasn't the only one who didn't love Maisie Dobbs! I was sad that I didn't, as I was really hoping to.

    Lenore, thank you!

    Terri B: Well, it may be working slowly but at least it *is* working, right? We've got to stay positive here :P Being at peace with my collection is also what I aspire to.

    Bina: I so wish I had access to a public library! I'm sure that would help immensely. I didn't hate Maisie Dobbs or anything, but I was hoping to love it more. I hope you have better luck with it than I did.

    Katherine: I've lost count of my "to be read someday" list...probably for the best :P

    Andreea: The state of my wishlist is such a disgrace that the least said about it the better. And you certainly contribute to that!

    Jenny: Aww, that's so nice of you to offer! I want to say yes, but my conscience is going, "But you probably won't even read it before September and then *you'll* have to
    leave it in storage! Stay...strong...." :P

    Emidy: I'm glad to have successfully tempted you :P

    Claire: Ooh - one more reason to read Bowen!

    Meghan: Looking forward to your thoughts on Wild Romance!

    Frances: Thank you so much! Working and living in a seemingly infinite tbr pile is my idea of happiness ;)

    Tiina: It really, really does. I look forward to your thoughts on Bachelor Girl if you get to it before I do!

    Staci: Yep - it did help!

    Vishy: Guernsey is another one I've been dying to read for years! So many great books out there. And yes - being in a library all day sounds like perfection to me :D

    Iliana: Thank you so much! Sorry to hear that After the Armistice Ball didn't quite work for you. But yes, sometimes it pays to try again.

    Alice: The day it reaches 4 digits I'm going to completely panic :P

    Iris: Good luck to you! To us both, really :P


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.