I was travelling over the holidays. It wasn\’t intended to be a bookish trip (aside from the fact that I finally got through some books on my e-reader). We had quite a few flights and I didn\’t want to haul books around, plus I didn\’t anticipate finding many English books in the Spanish- and Dutch-speaking countries we visited (or at least, slim chance that among the small English selection there\’d be anything I actually wanted). But in spite of that I brought two home:
The first is a YA (or J Fic?) graphic novel El Zoo Petrificado by Joris Chamblain (The Petrified Zoo). Turns out the original isn\’t Spanish but French, so this is already a translation. I looked it up when I got home and there doesn\’t seem to be an English version yet. We were in a small newstand/gift shop in a main bus station on Gran Canaria, killing some time and making a purchase to get change for the bus. Picked out a few items for the kids as souvenirs, and this book kept catching my eye. I thumbed through it in the shop- it appears to be about some kids who together with an old man start painting animals on the walls of a derelict zoo- and then I don\’t know what happens. I was really intrigued by the artwork and apparent subject matter, and I thought I just might be able to understand enough of it to enjoy it rather than struggle at translating every other word, since it\’s written for youth. We\’ll see! If I do manage to read it, this will be the first foreign-language book featured on my blog.
The second book has quite another story. On our last day abroad we stayed in a nice but very futuristic-feeling airport hotel, Citizen M. It had lots of large, open areas set up like living room spaces, to relax or eat in. With tons of floor-to ceiling shelves full of fake plants, classy bric-a-brac and books. It looked like someone just bought a ton of unwanted, cheap books secondhand to fill these shelves and make it look homey. But book nerd that I am, I actually scanned the titles while eating, and found this one by Peter Dickinson that caught my interest because it has similar subject matter to another book I\’m reading right now (Elegy Beach by Peter S. Beagle); in both stories the alteration of the world is called The Change. I like the illustrations, too (but the cover image is pretty awful).
I read the first few chapters while my husband watched the news, and then approached a staff member on the way back to our room. I asked if the books were decorative only, or if I could read this one? He shrugged: Oh, sure, you may keep it for yourself. He probably thought it was funny or odd I wanted this old, juvenile apocalyptic fiction. But I was tickled pink.
Here\’s another foreign book I\’ve newly acquired. This one is a gift I received in the mail, from the Netherlands. One of my vector artworks is being used by a village association in Westenschouwen to represent their legend of a mermaid. My drawing was included in their book of the village history, and they sent me a copy of it! I\’ve asked my husband to read and translate it to me a bit at a time- so far we\’ve gotten through the introduction (he is fluent in Dutch, whereas I know about four words). I have written more about it over here, on my art blog.
Not to be outdone, my husband also picked up a new book while we were at a museum in Galdar. There was a countertop next to the lockers with a row of books and a notice about Book Crossing! None were in English, but my husband happily picked out a German crime/thriller, and left in its place a Dutch paperback he\’d finished reading earlier on the plane.
On a different note, I was disappointed to find I can\’t do book splurges from Loudoun County surplus anymore. There was a little storefront just outside of town where unwanted stuff from government offices was sold off. Including tons of books weeded out of school libraries. I used to go there once every other year or so, and I could fill up three or four boxes of books for what amounted to thirty dollars- it ended up being less than twenty cents a book. I hadn\’t been in a long time (since I got so much from The Book Thing recently, and a large regional library sale earlier in the year). I was looking forward to taking my older daughter this vacation week. But it\’s now closed. They now only conduct online auctions, and unfortunately I don\’t want to buy huge lots of books unseen. I\’m not in the business anymore of selling off used ones on Amzn (tried that already, didn\’t work out for me). Well, I guess it\’s better to not overdo it on the used books anyhow. There are two tall piles in my bedroom already since I ran out of shelf space, and I need to work at getting the floor cleared again!