It was lunch-time and I was on a mission. The doors whooshed back revealing the cool, literary interior and I have to admit, I clasped my hands in joy (then got entangled in my shawl and dropped my bag, but let’s not dwell). There is nothing nicer in all the world than the prospect of buying shiny new books. Okay, I adore the thrill of the hunt with certain second-hand books, but generally those are by authors who are sadly deceased and who I am not depriving of cash exactly (only their estate, which conjures up already rich images of stately homes and butlers). But I do love buying new books. After all, we have a vested interest, don’t we?
I employ three methods when buying new books from a shop (different rules apply for online book buying), and I usually buy new fiction as part of a ‘three for two’ deal, although there can be exceptions – presents, and when I simply-cannot-wait to read a novel.
Method one is I buy three debut books by new authors. I like to support new authors (but of course!) and it is very exciting to discover someone right at the beginning of their career. Over recent years new delights have been Jennie Rooney, Kate Morton, and Charles Eton. I am now looking forward to the 2011 debuts of S.J. Watson (Before I Go To Sleep), Andrea Eames (The Cry of the Go-Away Bird), and Talli Roland (The Hating Game).
Method two is I buy three novels whose reviews have sunk into my subconscious. I will have read about them in newspapers; they will have been mentioned by blog readers; my gaze will have idled over advertisements on the underground, and I will have spotted other people reading them. This year Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall), Stephen King (Under the Dome), and Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) joined my overflowing book family.
Method three is a complete mish-mash of book covers and serendipity. Sometimes the books I pick up, although not related, will have a curious similarity – all the titles will start with same letter, or they will all share the same word. If this happens then it is fate and I have to buy. I also like to buy books purely based on their jacket illustration – the covers are so important, they really give that silent flavour of the book. A recent jacket illustration buy was William Trevor’s The Children of Dynmouth (cover art by Zandra Rhodes), which totally bought into my serendipity buying as I was also holding A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book. Ker-ching went the till as I bought both.
There are two other factors I take into account with new book buying, and they are Time and Money.
I am still very careful with money from the Almost Bankrupt Debacle (moral of the tale folks, never chuck in job to write novel before a recession), and it can be tricky simply finding time in the day to read. I can handle a few books in my To-Be-Read pile; too many and I tend to have a freak-out and retreat to comics for a while. It's a fine balance to tread! The last time it happened I ran back to Calvin and Hobbes. Before that I may have lurked for a while with Mandy annuals.
August is usually ‘Children’s Book Month’ for me, in which I review nostalgic and contemporary book pleasures. However, I now have a list of ‘book worm’ reviews as long as my arm to get through, so will probably chug through those instead as they are a right mixture!
Finally - count-down to contest! Three days left to enter for fab vintage prizes...