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As winter wears on, Bookman and I decided to visit a used bookstore today. We haven’t been used book hunting in ages so I expected to go crazy and come home with an armload of books. But strangely, or maybe not so strangely, since I have become more selective about the books I buy and add to my shelves, I only found three books to bring home with me. Three seems like such a small, sad number in light of the wild binge I was expecting to take place. What matters though is the quality of the reading material and not the number, right?

Here is what I found worthy to bring home:

  • Salamander by Thomas Wharton. Thomas Fludd, an 18th-century London printer is hired by an eccentric Slovakian count to create for him an infinite book. It sounded so good it turns out I already have a copy on my shelf! What I really wanted by Wharton is The Logogryph: a Bibliography of Imaginary Books. But at the store I was confused and thought it was The Logogryph I had already and that I really wanted Salamander. Good thing I can return my duplicate.
  • Glass, Irony, and God by Ann Carson. I loved Carson’s translation of Sappho but I have never read any of Carson’s poetry. This one includes a long poem called “The Glass Essay” about the end of a love affair told in the context of Carson’s reading of the Bronte sisters. There is also what looks like an essay at the end of the book, called “The Gender of Sound” which title alone would have been intriguing enough for me to get this book.
  • The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. This is a beautiful mint condition book. I usually don’t like getting big collected poems books, but for early to mid 20th-century poets it seems the best way to get all of their books because individual editions are so very hard to find. In this case the advantage is all the collections are there and I can read them in order of publication. It isn’t complete though since it was first published in 1954 in honor of Stevens’ 75th birthday, but he died a year later so it is likely close to complete.

Even though I will be returning Salamander, the other two will definitely keep me occupied for a while and will be worth keeping on my bookshelves. Plus, even if I didn’t come home with am armload of books, any time spent in a bookstore is time well spent.

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