Holiday haul


Summer holiday: all those unnecessary possessions spilling from boxes and cupboards and wardrobes and drawers reduced to camping stuff and a couple of bags of clothes. And nothing is missed, we’re just here in the present. There’s a lesson there I’ve patently failed to notice, because back home I’m shuffling a new hoard around and wishing I could just ingest everything like something from the movie eXistenZ


Beginning with a superb Penguin from 1964: the cover is a still of Anne Bancroft from the film version which I saw a few months ago. A fascinating film, beautifully acted and shot, 50 years old and still relevant. (The write-up on the DVD has the slightly fatuous line ‘Jo Armitage has a breakdown in Harrods and her life begins to crumble’.)


Just brilliant typography – and another film from the 1960s I saw recently. Carson McCullers has such evocative titles for her novels (like Tennessee Williams, and some might find it a little melodramatic) but a phrase like this always draws me to a book, which is partly something to do with how they look in print and how designers can work such magic with them. I haven’t read Carson McCullers before but I know I’ll love this. I had to wrestle and choose between this and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe in the same edition. I wish I’d just got both but was physically removed from the bookshop once it was clear I was about to spend the rest of the holiday budget and probably throw the camping gear out of the car to make room for these essentials.

Huxley and Bowen

More 1960s paperbacks. To think there was a time when most books looked like this.

Bowen and Lehmann

Another evocative title that I’ve been looking for: The Weather in the Streets. I’ll just add this poster from the Transport Museum here, because it comes to mind every time I pick up the book…


Notable to see Howard Spring recommending this, a bestselling and respected author that never made it to the 21st century. I’m looking forward to the ghostly short stories from Elizabeth Bowen, particularly after The Demon Lover.


And lastly, some Leon Garfield. The cover of The Drummer Boy is by Antony Maitland. I was partly drawn to this by a walk to Easby Abbey in Yorkshire, passing a memorial to a drummer lost in the secret passage from Richmond to the abbey in the eighteenth century.

Drummer's stone


4 thoughts on “Holiday haul

  1. Oooh – treasures! Wonderful. Am in a bit of a rush at the moment – but will be back soon to savour further all your fascinating finds… I feel as if I’ve been to the bookshop with you – just love that feeling when serendipity leads us to special gems to add to the hoard!

      • I’m not surprised! (love your Yaffle analogy!)… At last, I’ve found some quiet time to return and properly absorb all the details of your holiday haul – and I feel a bit Yaffle-like myself, just enjoying all these treasures secondhand and via the screen!

        I love your greetings card gatherings – all intriguing images, with a journeying, dream-glimpsed, time-present, wondering-story feel to them – and they look fantastic together. You’ve got such a great eye for these things… What a great selection to add to your stash. I share that habit of collecting greetings cards too – an irresistible way to hoard delicious images without breaking the bank. I can see why you were so drawn by Emily Sutton’s work…

        I had to laugh at that DVD write-up for the ‘Pumpkin Eater’ – and I love the Graham Greene quote on Carson McCullers.

        So much beautiful and arresting design to take in here. I particularly love the two Elizabeth Bowen volumes, ‘The Cat Jumps’ and ‘The House in Paris’. I found a lovely 1953 edition of Rosamond Lehmann’s ‘The Echoing Grove’ at the Book Barn in Somerset a couple of years ago – still waiting to be read. Must rectify that! A wonderful thought-connection you’ve made there re. ‘The Weather in the Streets’; I agree – that beautiful Transport Museum poster is just the perfect manifestation of images conjured by the title! Great to see Leon Garfield too – I have a copy of that same edition of ‘The Sound of Coaches’ on my shelves! Many thanks for sharing all these – it’s been a treat to see them.

      • I love the words ‘journeying, dream-glimpsed, time-present, wondering story feel’ – wasn’t intentional but now I look at them there’s a journey from the 17th century to at the least the 1930s, everywhere at once… Emily Sutton is great, and carefully negotiates an area that could easily become quite twee (I don’t like that word – it really sounds what it describes…) but manages to remain whimsical (I think that’s a good word – keeps things a little bit off-kilter!). Try her website for more

        I’ve got a similarly picked-up same edition of The Echoing Grove – I’ve yet to read and keen to know how Rosamond Lehmann fits alongside her fellow writers of the time. Their writing is universal and yet it occasionally seems to be reissued and repackaged today with a slightly patronising ‘prettiness’ I think.

        I think Leon Garfield will be November reads – a good fit with late autumn atmospheres!

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