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Buying presents — for myself

I do 99 percent of my Xmas shopping online. In fact, once Thanksgiving arrives, I make a concerted effort to steer clear of any shopping area unless absolutely unavoidable. And, of course, given my tendencies and my family’s interests, I tend to do that online shopping at places that also happen to sell books.

My book addiction, however, results in certain consequences. Since there’s a package on its way to my home or office anyway, what can it hurt to throw in a book I also happen to be interested in? Other than the monetary cost, the only impact is on the size of the TBR list. And there was an impact last week. Including one in-store purchase, here’s what’s arrived in my home (or is on the way) in the last week:

  • Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories. This translation by the same couple who did the wonderful translation of War and Peace ended up in my hands when I had a great discount coupon and saw it at the local B&N.
  • It Shined: The Saga of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils by Michael Supe Granda. For various reasons, the Daredevils remain one of my favorite bands from the ’70s (at least their first four albums or so). I’ve been eying this book by Granda, a bass player with the band since its inception, for quite a while and it just happened to find its way into an online shopping cart when I was buying a Xmas gift for someone else.
  • Little Man, What Now?, Hans Fallada. I’ve become a big fan of Fallada. Since I only discovered him this year thanks to Melville House, it seemed entirely appropriate that I added this to another online purchase before yearend.
  • Wave of Terror, Theodore Odrach. As this work of translated fiction dealing with the Stalist occupation of Belarus appeared on my August Bibiliolust list, I figured it was time to satiate that lust.
  • Prescription for a Superior Existence, Josh Emmons. If being on the Bibliolust list for four months justifies a purchase, then execellent reason exists for a book that was on my November 2008 list. That’s especially so since I had yet to find the book in stock in any of the bookstores I’ve visited over the last 13 months.

Now none of these should really come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. Three of the five are translated fiction, one deals with music and the other was described as resembling “something Philip K. Dick might have written.” So, any guesses what I’ll be doing with my free time between now and the end of the year?


Whoever therefore claims to be zealous of truth, of happiness, of wisdom or knowledge, … must needs become a lover of books.

Richard de Bury, The Love of Books

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