In which The Book Wyrm adds to her hoard

Today my Mum and I went for a wander round some charity shops (and Waterstones), and I ended up coming home with a suitcase full of books, and then some. I simply had to document the day’s haul here – can’t wait to read all of these at some point, though it may take awhile to get through them all!

Allow me to preface this little story by saying that, as I had travelled to see my Mum and only stay overnight, I had only brought a backpack with me. Said backpack was, of course, full of my stuff, and I wasn’t going to lug it round the shops. I therefore had no bag with me in which to carry potential purchases. This wasn’t an issue for long, however, as in the first charity shop we visited, I found this:

Yes, that is a small handheld suitcase. Yes, I did purchase it – not only for its use as a handbag today but for future Larp-related reasons in the future (I have a doctor character who needs a medical bag) – but I digress. I half-joked to Mum that my goal, having bought to suitcase, was to fill it with books – and little did I realise how soon that would become a reality. In the next charity shop we visited, the process began when I found the following:

I knew I’d heard of this book before – I’d seen it previously with a different cover when it was first published, meant to buy a copy, never got around to it. I was very excited to be able to find a copy now, and with such a beautiful cover.

From Michael Arditti’s 2017 review of the book for The Guardian: ‘Crimes of the Father is a provocative and powerful study of abusers and the abused. It captures the honourable priests determined to expose the outrage and the church hierarchy equally determined to discredit them. Most poignantly, it depicts ordinary Catholics caught in the crossfire, whose faith is eroded by men who, in the words of Keneally’s protagonist, Father Frank Docherty, have “been exalted above our merits”.’

I also found a copy of The Discomfort of Evening – a book I’ve been meaning to read ever since it came out, but I always had other books higher up my list of priorities:

Obviously this edition was in print before the author became the joint winner of 2020’s International Booker Prize, along with the novel’s translator.

Following this charity shop, we went on to Waterstones, where I proceeded to spend the book voucher gifted to me at Christmas by my aunt, uncle and cousins, which was apparently burning a hole in my pocket.

I’d wavered on whether or not to buy this book for ages, considering its gruesome subject matter, but I read a review of it the other day that convinced me to give it a shot.

My dear friend Ari told me about ‘The Lottery’ recently, which I read on Kindle and enjoyed so much I knew I’d want to re-read it, so I bought a physical copy (I prefer to read physical books as opposed to electronic books or listening to audiobooks) and can’t wait to read the other stories too as ‘The Lottery’ was so good!

This one wasn’t on my radar at all until I spotted it on the shelf, but having read the blurb I thought it’d be an interesting change of pace from my usual true crime/Russian history/literary fiction:

The Walkman. Karaoke. Pikachu. Pac-Man. Akira. Emoji. We’ve all fallen in love with one or another of Japan’s pop-culture creations, from the techy to the wild to the super-kawaii. But as Japanese-media veteran Matt Alt proves in this brilliant investigation of Tokyo’s pop-fantasy complex, we don’t know the half of it.

Japan’s toys, gadgets, and fantasy worlds didn’t merely entertain. They profoundly transformed the way we live. In the 1970s and ’80s, Japan seemed to exist in some near future, soaring on the superior technology of Sony and Toyota while the West struggled to catch up. Then a catastrophic 1990 stock-market crash ushered in the ‘lost decades’ of deep recession and social dysfunction.

The end of the boom times should have plunged Japan into irrelevance, but that’s precisely when its cultural clout soared – when, once again, Japan got to the future a little ahead of the rest of us. Hello Kitty, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and multimedia empires like Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z were more than marketing hits. Artfully packaged, dangerously cute, and dizzyingly fun, these products made Japan the forge of the world’s fantasies, and gave us new tools for coping with trying times. They also transformed us as we consumed them – connecting as well as isolating us in new ways, opening vistas of imagination and pathways to revolution.

Through the stories of an indelible group of artists, geniuses, and oddballs, Pure Invention reveals how Japanese ingenuity remade global culture and may have created modern life as we know it. It’s Japan’s world; we’re just gaming, texting, singing, and dreaming in it.

One last charity shop find before lunch – how have I not got around to reading this one yet?

After an amazing feast of sushi and chicken katsu curry at a Japanese restaurant I hadn’t been to before, the quest to fill the suitcase with books (though, to be honest, it was full and I ended up having to borrow one of Mum’s tote bags) continued.

The first shop we came to yielded remarkable results – having only intended to buy one book, I was informed it was three books for £1. Well, if you insist…

It’s not very fitting I should have found this book a year to the day I was recovering from the removal of my inflamed gallbladder, since I’ve always been treated wonderfully by the medical professionals who have looked after me! I do, however, have a couple of dangerous doctor characters in the Larp and online forum RPG worlds, so figured I’d give this a shot. Having been informed of the 3 for £1 deal, I picked up the following:

Yet another book I’ve dithered about buying before, but I figured why shouldn’t I, as I would be getting it so cheap? Let’s see if it lives up to the hype.

I think someone may have dropped this book in their bath at some point, but I was sold on the premise (not to mention the adorable cover art):

Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .

Because how do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear?

In dealing with the Devil our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink. Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.

On to the final charity shop of the day. I picked up a copy of In The Miso Soup as I first read it years and years ago and, having more recently read Piercing and Audition by the same author, I wanted to see if this book was as good as I remembered.

The final book of the day was this one – RRP £25, I picked it up for £3.99. I’ve always been meaning to read it and add it to my Russia shelf (history, novels, books about Russia more generally) but had always been put off by the price – and, admittedly, the length: this copy is 923 pages long. But for that price, I couldn’t say no. I’ve enjoyed Figes’ The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia – if enjoyed is the right word – so I hope this one will be similarly enlightening.

Thus, at the end of a long late morning into the afternoon of book-shopping, I arrived home with a haul of eleven books, plus a nifty suitcase to carry some of them in:

I would like to thank my Mum for her infinite patience. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and read for a bit.

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