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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • October 05, 2006


    Old vs. New Books

    I left a comment to Danielle's post on buying old books vs. new books. She talks about how she might scour a used bookstore to browse and perhaps buy a book, but if she wanted something new it just went without saying that she would buy it new and quite often at full price. I would do the same except now almost all the books I read or put on my reading pile are in print--and that means the cost of buying these books new can be staggering. So I rely on the used bookstore, and thank God the city offers some of the best used bookshops with wide selections and book-savvy staff.

    I read and re-read works of my favorite authors: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Banville, Saramago, Ishiguro, Hollinghurst, Franzen; for pleasure, and also analytically, conscious of the style, the diction, the way these authors employ close third-person narration to describe their characters, who are often given to sober fits and semi-delirium for significant portions of the narrative, etc. So it just goes without thinking I would buy books new, whether they are hardback or paperbacks.

    Sometimes I want to experiment (experience) with new authors, authors whose works I have yet to read, or other forms and genres of literature. I encounter inevitably the uncertainty of whether a book is up to my liking (I'm sure every devoted reader and bibliophile can relate)--I usually read the first few pages and try to be conscious of the style, the diction, the tone and the writing. This is how I discovered Heinrich von Kleist as i have mentioned in my blog, and also Desperate Characters by Paula Fox, a thin novel with dazzling prose that slowly unveils the faultlines of a marriage through the incident in which the woman, heedless of her husband's warning, got bit by a stray cat while feeding her.

    I have also used Alibris, and Powells Books, both of which are great resources for used and rare books. Recently I was looking for Rebecca West's 1966 novel The Birds Fall Down after coming across a literary tribute to her on the paper. I had no luck anywhere scouring all the local bookstores, not even the used store. It turned out that the novel has been out of print for 20 years! So I looked it up at and ordered a copy from a bookseller in California for more expedite shipping. These sites are treasure boxes for book lovers!


    Blogger Greg said...

    I loved used bookstores and the "Friends of the Library". My collectoin wouldn't be as large as it is if it weren't for those places.

    10/05/2006 3:22 PM  
    Blogger The Traveller said...

    I'm really fussy about the condition of my books - so much so, that one of my friends once told me she had a nghtmare where she drew on one of my books and folded the corners of the pages and I freaked out (scares me, too, I should loosen up). But when I was a broke student, I relied on the Oxfam shop down the road for decent quality second hand books. As long as they're in good condition, I'm not bothered.

    10/07/2006 1:07 PM  

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