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PeAcE WiTh GuNs

Monday, June 19, 2006

Second Hand Books

A weird coincidence this. I read the invisible man (finished yesterday) and wrote a post on it immediately. A comment on that made me mention second hand books. Now I realize how much of a nostalgia it is to be reading a second hand book. I am currently reading "The Plymouth Adventure" by Ernest Gebler. That book was published in 1950 and the copy that I have in my hands was printed in 1952. 54 years hence, the book is still safe and in readable condition.

I remember my earliest days of reading novels in school library. All the Enid Blytons and the Hardy boys. I read so many books that I still hold the all time record for most books read in school and its been 8 years since I left school. Reading used to be a passion so intense that I'd come home, throw my bags and go into the bedroom and read. I read while eating, while watching TV and I made it a point to finish the book that very day. We got 2 books every week from the school library. I read more books by going to the library everyday in the Diwali vacations and being the most obedient guy in the library, the librarian gave me the books that were off the muster too. Those were the days.

So, I was mentioning second hand books. While in school, I also read a abridged versions of some popular classics and then I borrowed other classics from a friend once in a while and read those. My friend told me that his brother bought these books second hand from some place in Pune city and I've scourged all over the lanes in the city to find dedicated second hand book shops but I havent been able to locate anything particularly similar to that description. So, I've been to every raddiwala in my area, to every old looking book-shop in Appa Balwant Cowk (ABC, as its popularly called) and roadside scrap vendors looking for second hand novels. I've succeeded in getting some great books for as low as Rs.10 or 20 and there was a time long ago when I befriended a raddiwala and had got a few books for Rs. 3 or 4. Sadly, those days dont exist anymore and I cant find any novels with raddiwaalas these days and all the second hand book shops in Pune charge as much as a new pirated copy.

Well, this post was meant to be short, just a copy paste of some info I found interesting about the subject but well...its something close to my heart and so I ramble on.

Here is the info:
I came across an article in the Indian Express today about a little town called Hay-On-Wye in UK, close to London. Here is the description on a site:

Hay-on-Wye, located by the River Wye in stunning countryside on the English / Welsh border, is the world centre of the second-hand book, rare book, antiquarian book and out of print book trade with some 4 million plus books in 39 specialist bookshops. Hay is also the home of the world famous Hay Literary Festival, held annually in May and June, attended by such literary giants as Norman Mailer, Edna O'Brian, Tom Wolfe, Patricia Cornwell, Bill Bryson, Lady Antonia Fraser and many, many others. During these two weeks everyone seems to be a writer, critic, book dealer, or book fan.

  • Try this google search : here
  • Excellent article on second hand books with some really nice hideouts to get those in verious cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Gurgaon etc. I am sure you will be VERY interested in this article. Its also really well written : here
  • Another great article, this time in The Deccan Herald : here
  • Article in the Hindu about sourcing of second books in India : here
  • A list of second hand booksellers in the UK: here
  • Book sellers in the town of Hay-on-wye : here
  • A really good search engine on the official Hay-on-wye website. They've got a HUGE database which you can conveniently search : here
  • Our very own Indian site for second hand books : here
  • Another very good Indian site : here

Finishing with a poem by John Arlott that I found on one of these articles :

A Second-hand Bookshop
The sunlight filters through the panes
Of book-shop windows, pockmarked grey
By years of grimy city rains,
And falls in mild, dust-laden ray
Across the stock, in shelf and stack,
Of this old bookshop-man who brought,
To a shabby shop in a cul-de-sac,
Three hundred years of print and thought.
Like a cloak hangs the bookshop smell,
Soothing, unique and reminding:
The book-collector knows its spell,
Subtle hints of books and binding
In the fine, black bookshop dust
Paper, printer's-ink and leather,
Binder's-glue and paper-rust
And time, all mixed together.
`Blake's Poems, Sir-ah, yes, I know,
Bohn did it in the old black binding,
In '83.' Then shuffles slow
To scan his shelves, intent on finding
This book of songs he has not heard,
With that deaf searcher's hopeful frown
Who knows the nightingale a bird
With Feathers grey and reddish-brown.




Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Invisible Man

I've picked up this book to rekindle the fire of reading. I read this book a long time ago when I was in school and its one of the major reasons for my (seemingly weird) choice of novels.

H.G. Wells wrote this novel way back in 1897 and so its about 110 years since this masterpiece came out. Wells was the first popular writer to write in the genere of science fiction. He wrote War Of The Worlds, The Time Machine, The Island Of Dr. Moreau among others. Invisible man is something that I like the most for the awesome way in which the concept of invisibility is tackled. There is such a pragmatic approach to the book and the concept that you wonder how those things were never considered in films like The Hollow Man, Gayab etc.

A naked man roaming the streets is bound to get chilly. The dust on his feet will show up and so will any rain/snow falling on his body. What happens to the food that he eats, the blood that he spills? All these questions remain unanswered in those movies but you will be surprised when you read the book.

A true classic and I am now hunting for DVDs of the film Invisible Man (starrring Claude Rain, released 1933). Apparently, there were other films released as sequels like The Invisible Man Returns and The Revenge Of The Invisible Man but there was only one book ever, the original. Oh, btw theres another novel by the same name by Ralph Ellison. That is about a black man's struggles in a white country and it isnt anything sci-fi.

Check out some pics/wallpapers :