An Insatiable Craving for Books

“One unquenchable longing has the mastery of me, which hitherto I neither would nor could repress; ’tis an insatiable craving for books, although, perhaps I have more than I ought.” —Francesco Petrarch

I had the chance today to visit one of my favorite bookstores in New England.  Located in a small, shoreline community, it actually has five different locations spread throughout the town.  I only managed to visit two of the five locations today and even that took me a few hours.  The main store is a large, old farmhouse with a series of barns on the property, all filled from floor to ceiling with books.  None of the barns are heated so it was a bit rough going on this cold, wet day.  But, in the end, (even though I was cold and drenched and looked like a wet poodle) it was totally worth the trip.  Here is my haul:


I’ve become quite fond of collecting the Library of America editions—they look rather handsome on one’s shelves. I have been making a concerted effort to read more American authors, so this LOA edition of 17th and 18th century poetry was a great find. I was also pleased to add more Michael Hamburger, Marianne Moore and C.P. Cavafy to my poetry collection. The “Diaries of Exile,” translated from the Modern Greek and published by Archipelago Books, was also a pleasant find.


I was so thrilled to find another George Steiner collection of essays that I don’t own, as well as another volume of Joseph Epstein essays.  The J.M. Coetzee essays look intriguing—topics include Cees Nooteboom, Translating Kafka, Robert Musil’s Diaries, Dostoevsky and the essays of Joseph Brodsky, just to name a few.  I already owned the paperback version of Michael Schmidt’s Lives of the Poets, and I was excited to upgrade to this hard copy edition that is in perfect condition.  Lord’s The Singer of Tales is a nice addition to my classics library as it deals with the orality of Homeric poetry.  And finally, the Hamburger and Colin Wilson essays will be a nice additions (or editions)  to my shelves.

Autobiography and Letters:

I am especially excited about this stack.  I’ve already started reading John Cowper Powys’s novels and I upgraded to this hard copy edition of his Autobiography.  My Powys reading project will take me into 2019.  I am also planning an Anthony Powell reading project for the new year and was exited to find this first volume of his autobiography.  I own a copy of the first volume of Flaubert Letters which is in tatters, so not only did I get a copy in perfect condition but I also found a copy of the second volume.  Finally, I found a wonderful early, hard copy edition (Yale Press, 1933, collected by Thomas J. Wise) of Robert Browning’s Letters.


Finally, I did manage to buy some fiction as well.  I want to read Anita Brookner in the new year.  I already have one of her books sitting on my shelves so these two will be nice additions.

Bonus: Today’s Book Mail

I’ve also become captivated by Andre Gide’s writing and these two gems arrived today in the mail.  (I thought my family was going to have a fit when I arrived home with all of these books and there were also more books waiting for me in the post!)  I am planning to explore Gide in the new year and I am also awaiting a copy of his Journals which I have already sampled and am eager to dive into.

As Petrarch says, perhaps I have more than I ought?

It doesn’t matter, I will still collect books and read them anyway.

(For what it’s worth I did cull three large bags of books from my shelves today so, overall, I broke even.)


Filed under American Literature, Autobiography, British Literature, Classics, Essay, Letters, Literary Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry

25 responses to “An Insatiable Craving for Books

  1. Never. One can never have more books than one ought. But I’m not allowed to say that around my household either…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz

    An incredible haul which will certainly be keeping you of mischief for a while! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kaggsysbookishramblings

    I’m with you and Petrarch on this (obviously…) I’m strongly of the belief you can never have too many books (though I can hear my family grumbling away in the background about this…) However you have some marvellous finds there and they really couldn’t be resisted!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is the edition of Cavafy that I have at home. I’m trying to resist the temptation to get more, as I am very particular about the translations of his work (knowing a little modern Greek is a dangerous thing, as you think you own all the possible translations).
    Glad to see I’m not the only one with a bit of an addiction problem…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. alilauren1970

    What great books! I love seeing what books people buy. I bought several books with my Christmas money already (The Landmark Thucydides, Arnaldo Momogliano’s Essays in Ancient and Modern Historiography, Shirley Hazzard’s The Transit of Venus, and Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy–there’s not much unifying these books other than an abiding interest in the classical world and a desire to read some philosophy). I love Epstein’s essays, especially his essays on literature, and I own quite a few of his collections. I also have the second volume of his letters with Frederic Raphael, and I want to buy the first volume. And I will totally follow along with any Powell project you embark on–I have heard so many people talk about A Dance to the Music of Time lately.

    PS: Since I mentioned Thucydides, do you have a preferred translation of his History of the Peloponnesian War?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comment. It would be great to spark more interest in Powell! It sounds like you have your own , amazing post holiday stack as well!

      As for Thucydides, I have an old Penguin translation that I think is excellent. I can’t recall the translator. I’ll have to look it up.

      I haven’t come across Epstein’s letters, thanks for the recommendation. I love his essays. Such a wide range of topics. And he has a wonderful, subtle sense of humor!


  6. You can never have too many books, Melissa.

    I’d love to visit these barns. I could stay hours there too. What a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. PS: If you feel guilty about the money spent, try to convert the price of golf clubs and golf fees into the equivalent in books. You’ll immediately feel better. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s why I love this bookshop. The most I paid for any book was $7. Most hard copies are 6 or 7 and paperbacks are 3 or $5. So I don’t feel so guilty coming away with such a large stack!


  8. I’m very much of Emma’s opinion. Just compare the cost of this interest against that of photography as an example and you’ll see what a bargain those purchases are……

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “a large, old farmhouse with a series of barns on the property, all filled from floor to ceiling with books” – makes my knees grow weak even at this distance. (But how do they keep the books from going mouldy in such weather conditions?)

    And, yes, I’m another to agree with that marvelous Petrarch quote!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jonathan

    I finally read my first Powys novel this year (Wolf Solent) and hope to read more soon. His autobiography sounds good but I’d like to read some more novels before that.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jonathan

    Yes GR would be a good one to read next; that was the one that first appealed to me. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your love for reading in general, and reading the classics in particular, has left me fascinated, after browsing through your posts.
    I was sincerely moved when I saw the sides of the Cavavy and Ritsos collections on one of the photographs of the stacks that you have uploaded, and even more moved by your interest in these great poets, among others. [*Cavafy being a giant, of course, with Ritsos measuring within more earthy standards, but important, for sure]. In my family, we had here in Athens an original Cavafy manuscript that we auctioned two years ago..
    The bookstores too, that you are describing , seem a little dreamy in my imagination. I am optimistic that classical letters and literature and studies will survive this century, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. Wow, a Cavafy manuscript. How wonderful!! As a teacher of classics I’m doing my very best to make sure that Latin and Greek will survive this century. Thank you so much for you very nice and kind comments!


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