Pre-Palindromic Book Shopping

Pre-Palindromic Book Shopping

Many of you have read by now that today”s date is a significant, once in a lifetime palindrome. (Click here to learn more.) One of my other favorites is “Able was I ere I saw Elba”, referring of course to Napoleon. Anyway, I “pre-celebrated” the occasion by shopping at two of my favorite Atlanta independent bookstores and picked up some great titles yesterday.

I would also like to mention that I’m writing this blog at the wonderful Brash Coffee located at the Atlanta History Center. If you live in Atlanta, or are just visiting, PLEASE make the time to tour the center. If you don’t have enough time for the entire tour, at least visit the gift shop which is not just educational, but imaginative and eclectic:

Eagle Eye Books:

I picked up an order at this great bookstore located on North Decatur Road. Here are the two books I can’t WAIT to read:

I’m SO looking forward to reading “Labyrinth of Ice”, the Buddy Levy book! I have an unquenchable passion for polar history and exploration (which I could, and will someday, create 15-20 blog posts on since I own about 200 books in this genre). The Greely expedition is one of the most fascinating (and tragic) of the many Arctic tales. To say that Greely and his men suffered, to use a worn cliché, “a fate worse than death” is an understatement.

I actually own a first edition of Volume 2 of Greely’s own memoirs that I picked up so long ago that I can’t recall where I got it. I also recommend that you follow Buddy Levy on twitter.

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel has been on my tbr list for a long time. I was fortunate enough to win a caption contest at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA a couple of weeks ago. They were generous enough to send me six galleys, one of which was St. John Mandel’s “The Glass Hotel”. I read it in about two days and it was astonishingly good! She plays with time, place and characters in the same way that my favorite authors Kate Atkinson and Jennifer Egan do. I strongly recommend you buy this book; publication date is March 24th.

Book Nook

Book Nook is my go-to store to trade in, and purchase, used books and blu-rays. I had a credit from a previous visit, plus three bags filled with trade-ins. So I dropped my bags up front to be valued, and went hunting. Here are my finds, one of which I was able to use the credit to get at no charge!

I read Iain Pears’ “An Instance of the Fingerpost” back in 1997 and found it very intriguing. From the NY Times Book Review:

If you liked Umberto Eco’s “Name of the Rose,” you should run to buy Iain Pears’ lavishly erudite historical mystery “An Instance of the Fingerpost.”

Like Eco’s story of nefarious doings at a 14th-century Italian monastery, Pears’ novel is a compendious historical pageant set among 17th-century clergymen, scholars and politicians concerned with the natural and the supernatural in roughly equal measure.

A murder is at the center of the story, or, more accurately, the several stories of Pears’ massive but unflagging book. “An Instance of the Fingerpost” is told “Rashomon” style, by four different narrators, each of whom has only a partial understanding of events and only one of whom makes telling the truth his primary purpose.

Four rather long excursions into the same basic tale could grow wearisome, but Pears’ effort never does. The author, a British journalist and the author of six previous detective stories, brilliantly exploits the stormy, conspiracy-heavy history of England after the death of Oliver Cromwell to fashion a believable portrait of 17th-century political and intellectual life as well as a whodunit of almost mesmerizing complexity.

As soon as I saw “The Dream of Scipio” by Pears on the shelf, I grabbed it at once. Interestingly, in addition to being an author, Pears is an art historian and a journalist who has worked for the BBC, Channel 4 (UK) and ZDF (Germany).

Margaret Atwood, 1981, Courtesy Tedd Church/Montreal Gazette

I am ashamed to say I have never read a Margaret Atwood novel (YES I KNOW HOW CAN I EVEN SHOW MY FACE) so I also picked up “The Blind Assassin”. It was published 20 years ago so I will read it before I get to “The Handmaid’s Tale” so I can compare her writing style from earlier in her career to the present.

I also picked up a blu-ray of “Gangs of New York” for $6. All in all, a great day for a bibliophile and for independent bookstores!

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