Reading Copy Only

Over the years I’ve filled countless notebooks with lists of titles or authors I feel I should like to read and/or own one day. Frequently they’re the sort of book where I’d gladly accept a “reading copy only:” perhaps because I’m just eager to be able finally to read the thing, or because I’ve long since realised that my chance of finding an affordable first with beautiful dustwrapper intact is so small, I’d better count it as non-existent and accept gratefully any version out there. Does anyone else do this with books? I’d be very interested indeed to hear how other people keep track of book recommendations.

Available at One Brown Cow

Sadly most of the books on my lists haven’t been available in public libraries for years so apart from kind friends with better home libraries than mine and possessing a generosity of spirit about lending, or small publishing houses deciding that a particular title is worthy of a reprint, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to read them easily before purchasing. Hence the pricking of my thumbs (in a good way!) when I see the three words “Reading Copy Only” in book sellers’ descriptions. It generally means a book so worth reading/owning the fact that it’s in appalling shape doesn’t render it worth tossing, and it might well be down on one of my lists.

Available at One Brown Cow

Before the days of the richness of book blogs (and surely I can’t be the only one with pen and notebook in hand when I read a favourite blogger’s current discoveries?), a lot of the books listed were recommended from friends, but most were drawn from literary allusions in books I had already read and enjoyed.

Available at Liberty

Sometimes it’s as simple as trying to find the elusive “missing” titles of an author I love (ahem! should confess here and now to being a bit of a completist!). Sometimes it’s books that bookish friends have mentioned in passing “Oh you simply must read…” so you do and then rather ashamedly covert the copy they’ve so kindly lent you. And thus, years later you can’t pass a similarly coloured spine high up in a second-hand bookseller just in case the CHAMBERS on the spine might mean it’s Ven of Gregory’s published by them in 1925, written by Elsie J Oxenham, illustrated by Nina K Brisley, fourth in the Sussex set, read and enjoyed by you all those years ago, but sadly lacking from your own bookshelves still!

Available from Liberty

I’ve chucked nearly all of the notebooks over the years: no space, frequent moves and life moving on. When one filled up, I’d move onto the next and toss the old one away, but now I wish I hadn’t. It’s silly really as outstanding titles have long been listed electronically in the usual places and many of them are burned into my memory, but I’d still like to see them jotted down in that original context – those little notebooks were snapshots in time I guess. In some ways more revealing than an appointment book would have been. There would have been a notebook from my first year of university in Regina in 1979. I was taught a biography class by a wonderful professor, Joan Givner. Joan was at that time writing her own biography of Katherine Anne Porter so we heard the fascinating details of the difficulties of a biographer at first hand, but she was also generous with her recommendations of biographies and indeed literary works we might enjoy. I scribbled down and pursued many of her recommendations.

Image from here

There would have been lists from the late 80s from when Miranda was little of children’s picture books gleaned from Dorothy Butler’s recommendations. A notebook compiled from reading Miss Read feverishly in a year spent mainly in hospital in 1990 – so many happy discoveries from her.

Image from here

Sometimes it’s not so much that the books on the list are impossible to find, but I’m unwilling to pay the usual asking price and will hold out for a serendipitous find. Sometimes I forget why they’re on the list or how they came to be there. Someone at some point might have told me to look out for Loretta Mason Potts, a children’s book by Mary Chase (living in the States as I did for several years I’ve got lots of American books on ABE that now I wished I’d tried to find more determinedly whilst I lived there!). Or that title might have got on my list because I know Mary Chase wrote the play Harvey which eventually became the movie of the same name with James Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd. I love that film. I might well have taken note that she also wrote that unusually titled children’s book and thought I’d like to read it too.

Image from here – Peter D. Sieruta’s wonderful blog. I was so sorry to hear of his untimely death. He will be sadly missed.

Hmm so from now on, I’ve decided I’ll also jot down who recommended the title or where I read about it at least, and I’ll try to keep this next notebook I’m starting today even when it’s scribbled over and filled as an example of my Reading Wishlist starting the week of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee anyway.

6 thoughts on “Reading Copy Only

  1. I have my original book of quotes from when I was a teenager & still do use them, though my blog is a much easier way to re find rather than losing hours re reading to find the right quote. This post has also prompted me never to throw my blog notebooks away – so thank you.

    • Oh that’s lovely! Haven’t thought about blog notebooks – what a great idea. I haven’t yet figured out how to tag posts with subjects I must admit, but can see that would be very useful for searching back later.

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