Bookish Luck


Someone at work had the idea to install a corner for abandoned books in the coffee area. People who want to get rid of their books can leave them on some shelves. Of course I had to have a look. Within a few days the shelves were crowded. Surprisingly there were more unread than read books. Most of the books which showed signs of having been read before were by authors I’m not interest in but there were quite a few brand new copies of books I had wanted to buy anyway or which looked interesting. So over the last weeks I’ve been adopting quite a few of them.

Here’s the booty:


Don DeLillo – Underworld

Fatal Eggs

Mikhail Bulgakow – The Fatal Eggs

Winter Birds

Jim Grimsley – Winter Birds


Helen Garner – The Spare Room


Ian McEwan – Saturday


Carol Shields Swann


Sue Grafton  – V is for Vengeance


Nicci Gerrard – The Moment You Were Gone

I think I was very lucky.

While I’ve never heard of Jim Grimsley before, I’ve already started Helen Garner’s  The Spare Room which had been on my wish list anyway. I was so pleased to find it. I absolutely love it and will review it shortly. If it wasn’t so bulky, I’d be tempted to start Underworld next.

Do you know the books? Have you read any of them?

58 thoughts on “Bookish Luck

  1. Lucky you. I knew someone who loved the Grafton books, but I found the alphabet thing depressing as that meant a long series that I’d lose track of.

    I’ve heard of the Garner book so I would have grabbed that too along with the Bulgakov (naturally) and I happen to have that edition on my shelf.

    • I read the first two books by Sue Grafton and liked them very much but it’s a long series. I have a few books by Bulgakov and hadn’t heard of this, so i was very pleased. I loved Garner.

  2. I’m going to ask to my boss if she agrees to do that in our coffee corners too. She’s very bookish, I think she’d say yes.

    We have this at the city library. It’s nice.

    You found great books.
    Bonne lecture!

    • Thanks, Emma. I think it’s a great idea. there was only one French book (Beigbeder) and very few German ones which surprised me.
      I was lucky. I wanted to buy at least two of the before.

    • That’s good to know, I’ll have to come and read your review. The person didn’t give it a try, it’s obvious, it hasn’t been read, like the DeLillo.

  3. While I haven’t read that particular D. DeLillo, I’ve read two others, and though he’s a bit complex and intellectual (not bad words, just characterizations), he manages to be quite comic at the same time.

  4. I have Underworld on my shelf but haven’t read it yet. I did read Saturday and I liked it, however he does go overboard with descriptions at times. I’m curious what you think of it.

  5. V Is for Vengeance must be the latest Sue Grafton, and I haven’t read it yet. That is a good series is you like smart, free-wheeling female investigators, California style. Since it is a series, you may miss a few clues joining in this late.

    Saturday was very good: typical McEwan and interesting people.

    I have enjoyed some of DeLillo’s novels but I found Underworld too long and too contrived and too much about baseball.

    • I totally missed that this was also about baseball. I’m not too keen on that. I was afraid it might be too long. I’m still curious.
      Good to know Saturday was good. I’ve only read Atonement and The Comfort of Strangers which I found very disturbing.
      I’ve read the first Sue Grafton and liked it very much, I was wondering if the later books are still good. It seems they are. It looks like this is a new book.
      As far as I remeber there was a lot of her backstory in that first volume… I might miss a lot.

  6. Swann is one of my all-time-favourite novels, but I know it’s a quiet and introspective story that doesn’t suit every reader; the library setting, the talk of women’s writing, the parallel time frames…all exactly “my thing”. I hope you enjoy it! (And, yes, what fantastic luck, indeed!)

    • You make it sound as if Swann would be a book I would like a lot. I’m glad to hear it’s that good. I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere and the only Carold Shields I’ve read was The Stone Diaries but I can hardly remember it now.
      Yes, I think I was very lucky with my book findings.

  7. You do seem to have very upmarket work colleagues! The books I see left behind at our local libraries’ booksales (which are sadly lacking in English language books) tend to be either thrillers (which is fine, as I like those), vampire novels or Thomas the Tank Engine.

  8. That’s a nice haul. Will you be leaving some books there yourself?

    Personally I’d have only taken Underworld and The Fatal Eggs, but I’m an elitistic snob who only reads books previously approved by general consensus on on their merits 🙂

    • It’s not a bad method, Miguel. I end up reading quite a lot which I didn’t like but on the other hand I also don’t mnd pure escapism.
      I still think overall it was a nice find.
      I’m toying with the idea to open a used books shop in June or so. That said, I’m keeping all of my stuff for the time being.

  9. Caroline,
    I loved Saturday. In fact, I’d like to read it again. And again. But there it is, I’m a gung-ho Ian McEwan admirer. When I hear people say, “Oh, I found Saturday boring,” or “I didn’t see the point of it at all,” I don’t listen to a word because I unfailingly like his themes, his writing, his ideas, his characters. I found On Chesil Beach to be so sensitive, so real–if people would only admit it. I’ve read most of his novels. And I’m happy I’ve got Saturday in the house!

    Gosh! I really want to read Bulgakow now, after looking him up.

    And, Carol Shields. My favorite book by her is Unless… Oops, I think I have the title words mixed up. Will have to check that. I was very sad that she died so young; i.e. before age 55.

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

    • Great to know you liked Saturday so much. I know people are very crtical of him, at leats in Europe. I’m still not sure I know why. After finishing Atonement I bought at least 6 of his books. Not Saturday though. The problem with my book haul is, I’d like to start them all at once but I have so many others waiting to be read.
      I think Bulgakov is a must-read and I was stubborn because so many people kept on asking whther I have read The Master and margarita and adding “It’s my favourite book”. That put me off. Weird.
      I think I have Unless as well. That’ another one, I’m sure I will like.

  10. We have the same thing where I work. I think is a great idea.

    I have heard great things about Don DeLillo and have wanted to read him for years but have not yet. My wife read a few of the Sue Grafton letter mystery books. She did not get up to “V” however. She thought that they were just OK.

    • I did think it’s a good idea and was surprised nobody came up with it earlier. People don’t seem to take a lot though. The shelves are more crowded every day.
      I think it depneds on what you like in a crime novel whether you like Grafton or not. I liked the protagonist.

  11. very lucky!! I wish the same idea can be applied here too…we all know that someone’s junk could be someone else’s treasure.

    I have never heard any of them…hope you’ll enjoy them all 🙂

  12. oh you have to read underworld it is the best american book of the ninties hands down much easier to read the the wallace book and more relevant I feel ,all the best stu

  13. Nice collection that you acquired, Caroline! That is a wonderful bookish idea that has been implemented in your office! I have had Delilo’s ‘Underworld’ on my shelf for a while now. I have wanted to read it since the day I got it but years have passed since then. One of these days I will get to it. Enjoy your new books! Happy reading!

  14. How lucky Caroline. I am feeling just a little envious.:)

    I have heard of a few authors but havent read any of these books. Looking forward to your reviews of them.

  15. Great collection Caroline. I got Underworld 2 weeks ago too from a used book store! Seems we are picking up similar books. Enjoy your booty. 🙂

  16. Nice initiative! You certainly got a varied crop.

    I read Underworld a good while ago (pretty much when it came out I think) and it’s very long but not a difficult, “dense” read. I also wouldn’t say it is “about” baseball, although he uses a very specific baseball event as a thematic marker that winds through the book. The opening set-piece takes place at a famous baseball game in New York and is superb.

    • That’s good to know. I’m not so keen on books about sports but this sounds different.
      The more I compare I’d say that there is overall not a lot of dense writing in the US.
      Those books you don’t want to tackle with an “after work brain” are usually European.

      • That’s fair comment Caroline, although Pynchon probably makes the “density” grade (as does Gass I think – haven’t read him though).

        What else is Underworld “about”? Crime, waste disposal, families, religion, turning points, marriage, obsession, secret networks of influence, mass media. The usual stuff!

        • I don't think Grass is that dense. W.G. Sebald is dense. In German that is. In English he is much more accessible as the translator didn't stick to the syntax.
          It's been a while since I've read Gravity's Rainbow - in school actually - and at the time it didn't strike me as too dense. It's due for re-reading. Some of Henry James's novels would be good examples for dense American books.
          I see... Underworld is a vast novel.

    • Yes, I know it is not only about baseball, but when a writer starts in on what a great game it is and how it is a metaphor for something or other, I don’t particularly want to hang out in the bleacher seats.

  17. Pingback: Helen Garner: The Spare Room (2008) | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

  18. What great finds! I would be snapping up all the books like this as well. I have not read any of them but I have several on my own shelves to read–I feel like I ‘should’ read Don Delillo and have a couple by him but never seem to get around to reading him. I have the Garner, too (and I see you did read it so look forward to hearing what you thought…). I’ve also got Saturday and a few books by Grafton…all unread! It looks like you have lots of good reads ahead of you!

    • It was a pleasant surprise. I’m afraid some of them will stay on the piles for a long time. DeLillo is a chunkster. Grafton is dangerous territory! The series is long and the first as far as I remember are great. Kinsey is my favourite PI.

  19. What a great idea! At Mr Litlove’s office they have a DVD swapping shelf, but it tends to be films that people have seen once and not thought great – often for a good reason! I don’t know what if says about the people you work with that they want to get rid of perfectly good books, but I’m sure you’re not complaining! What good loot!

    • Litlove, I was thinking the same, on the other hand it’s a huge department. There were four shelves full of crap as well – or at least what I call crap. I’m not going to name anything.

      • As a group of editors, many of us were surprised at some of the crap (mostly what I would call airport books) that got left on our work shelf. No one ever took them to read and their presence was rather embarrassing.

        What we (or rather I) eventually did was keep an eye on what never seemed to move and when the bookshelf got full I boxed up the laggards and sent them off to Asilomar, a YWCA conference center down the coast that I knew constantly lost those type of books off of their free shelves when visitors took them to read and never returned them (I asked beforehand if they would be interested in the donation when I noticed their near empty shelves). Win-win!

        • Does that mean people pretend they read one thing and then it turns out, oh, no, actually they only read crap in their spare time. Airport books is a nice way to say it. There are many like that too and those look as if they had been read in the bathtub or on the beach. I suppose someone will remove them sooner or later.
          I noticed today that there are now DVDs as well. An odd collection as far as I’ve seen.

          • I think rather that the airport books were bought in desperation and people wanted them off their shelves.

            On the other hand, I always appreciated that Big Boss would buy the latest in paperback lit fic and had no interest in keeping them. Many of those books were clearly borrowed and returned many times over. (And many are still in my own guilt-laden TBR pile 18 months later. Hence my TBR challenge for the year.)

Thanks for commenting, I love to hear your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.