A day in the Oxfam book shop

Boos, lots of books

After another day of working in the Oxfam shop yesterday I must say that I am really starting to like it. I most like to work behind the till which I did all day yesterday. I like the interaction with the people buying books or music. Some are very talkative, some are very grumpy but most of them are friendly people. And I also figured out that I like this work much more than my paid day job work …

The shop is located on Marylebone Highstreet (a 5 minute walk from Baker Street station and not too far from Oxford Street either) and attracts both the very posh and the very down to earth (and everything in between), and both the very young (children) and the somwhat older.

Here are a couple of notes I made in some quiet moments (of which there were very few):

  • I have sold everything from children’s books to old school Wagner LP’s.
  • There are the regulars who are waiting for the shop to open to be the first to check if anything interesting has arrived. And there are people who just wander in without really wanting to buy anything but then come to the till with a huge stack of books. “I really didn’t want to buy anything today” they then say, “but there are so many good books in this shop”. It’s nice hearing that.
  • Two lovely DJ’s sitting down on the floor going through the boxes with vinyl record for ages and buying a stack of them. Vinyl is stil hip I tell you. Not only for dj’s, also classical music LP’s are still sold. And I have even sold some prerecorded casette tapes!
  • VHS videos are still sold. Yep. I admit that the DVDs (and they have Bill DVDs too – I saw Hot Fuzz coming in yesterday …) are more popular but there is a good offer on VHS tapes: 3 for £1. There, how cheap is that?
  • And I sold The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan LP to a very friendly American. I had a talk with him about the fact that LP covers are so much cooler than cd covers. We talked how a carefully selected stack of albums carried under your arm could define just how cool you were.

    This American could not resist the temptation of owning The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan on vinyl again. And he didn’t even have a record player at home he said!

  • It is quite amazing to think about the fact that every single book in this whole shop (and there are many many books!) has been donated by someone. It is heart warming when people come into the shop with bags of books they want to donate. And they can use everything, so please come in and bring the books (or music) you no longer need.
  • Kids love to sit down on their knees on the floor in front of kids section reading a fairy tale or looking for Harry Potter.
  • It is lovely to see all those people wander around in the shop, browsing for books. The shop does have quite a selection, and there is something for everybody. From easy to read chicklits to novels, literature, and books about science, gardening, films, London history, trains, planes or automobiles. There is a pretty good Travel section too, and when I saw this San Francisco guide come in (in mint condition and for only £2,50) I of course had to buy it.
  • Have I spotted any celebs in the shop? Yes I sold a book to the singer of former UK band The Fine young Cannibals. Never a dull day in the book shop!

I will be back working in the shop next Sunday so come in and say hi if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.

Beat the credit crunch: Five cheap ways to get books

Book exchange in Lympstone (Devon)

I like to read and I used to buy my books new in the many book shops London seems to have. I normally don’t really want to keep books after I read them so I found some better and cheaper ways to get books and to get rid of them again.

And in these times of credit crunch: here are five cheap ways to get books:

  • 1. Exchange with a friend.
    Probably one of the easiest ways to get fresh books to read and to get rid of some of your own books. You could organise a little book meeting and discuss a book over tea. Nice and easy!
  • 2. Charity shops
    The UK is a haven for charity shops (Oxfam, Red Cross etc), and most of them have a book section. I have bought several books in charity shops, they are cheap (ranging from 50p to £2) and often in good condition.
  • 3. Readitswapit
    I use the readitswapit website a lot. You can list your books there, and exchange them with other users on the site for the price of a stamp. It works brilliantly.

    The site is aimed at the UK though and I don’t know if there are any international equivalents out there, if there are, please add them in the comments!

  • 4. Ebay
    There are loads of books on sale on ebay, and it is certainly possible to grab a bargain there. In order to keep postage to a minimum, i is a good idea to buy them from someone who lives in the same country as you do.
  • 5. Lympstone book exchange
    And there are places like the book exchange in Lympstone. Lympstone is a tiny village near Exmouth. We had a wander through the small streets and accidentally stumbled over this outdoor book exchange. The idea here is that you can take any book you like from their shelf and leave the amount of money you find reasonable for the book in the post box beside it. You read the book and if you like return the book the next time you are there. (The money they get for the books goes to RNLI (Royal National Lifeboats Institution – which is a charity in the UK).

    I picked up Tony Parsons – The Family Way and left them £1.50. The stack of books looked great and I really liked the fact that people are still trusted. There were no people around to guard the book shelve nor the money. Lovely.

Other possibilities (which I haven’t tried myself):
Book crossing – leave a book for someone else to find, and register the book’s travels on the website
The new London based Choosewhatyouread, an attempt to get people to read books in stead of the free newspapers messing up the bus and underground.

Do you have any tips on how to get cheap books? Please add them to the comments!

Vote for Bill Nighy’s next silksounding book!

Bill Nighy and Edgar Allan Poe

Remember this?

The suggested book titles for Bill to read have been collected and the result list is made. Now it is time to cast your vote on the book you want Bill Nighy to read next for Silksoundbooks!

I need as many votes as possible in order for the silksounding people to convince Bill to go and read the chosen book. Please pop by here and cast your vote, it will only take a moment.

The last day to vote is the 31th of August.

A big thank you to everybody who has send in book suggestions, the winner of the free new Bill Nighy silksounding book will be announced soon.

» Go vote for Bill Nighy’s next silksounding book!

Voicilicious: Bill Nighy and Silksoundbooks

So you feel absolutely knackered with a headache and a soar throat but you don’t want to call in sick in your last week at your current job. You drag yourself to work, and after an hour the fire alarm goes. While enjoying the view from the 18th is great, walking down the stairs from the 18th with jelly legs really is not.

So it’s good there is something to get me going. They could have called it voicilicious.com but they chose silksoundbooks.com in stead. If you like your British classics, and better, if you like British actors with voicilicious voices reading them to you then Silksoundbooks.com is for you.

Edgar Allan Poe – here we go. My iPod is trembling with pleasure.

(If you want to help decide what Bill Nighy is going to read next for Silksoundbooks, read on here)

Parade’s End

Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford

I made a list of things I need to buy before taking off. My calender tells me that one week from now I will be in Moscow, and I now realize how time is running very fast.

On my to buy list were (among other things) Lonely Planet’s Trans-Siberian Railway and a haircut. And a book called Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford. Let’s leave the reason why I wanted this particular book in the middle, I just want to take it with me on that long train ride.

Now I realize I am a foreigner and my English is not Oxfords. I realized that even more in New York where people didn’t understand me at all, and where they were plain rude to me. Which makes me wonder why I want to go back to New York in the first place. Oh. Yes. I remember now. Right. Don’t get distracted now, you can do it, you can write a post where you don’t mention his name. Go on. Back to the bookshop, which was Foyles on Charing Cross Road by the way. I asked the bookshop assistant for Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford. And yes, foreigner, but I can say Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford and most of my colleagues will understand what I say when I do.
Not this British bookshop lady.
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Summer reads

StarterNorthern Lights - Philip PullmanThe Cryptographer - Tobias Hil

I have found my bookshop. I buy loads of books in the charity shop around the corner here in Croydon, where I can buy a bag full of books for only a few pounds. Most of them are just 50p per book, which gives you 8 books for the price of one in Waterstones. And they happen to have excellent books over there too. I have seen The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Nighttime several times there already, for 50p. Bugger, I bought it for ?7.

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Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt

The Salmon of Daoubt - Douglas AdamsThe Salmon of Doubt is a must read if you are a fan of Douglas Adams. It contains interviews with, and articles written by Douglas Adams, and it gives you quite some personal background about Douglas Adams as a person. It’s difficult to base your opinion on books only, but I think it is safe to assume that Douglas Adams was a very witty man to be around. And how weird to read his half finished last Dirk Gently chapters, knowing the book will never be finished. And to read that he was actually considering writing a 6th Hitchhiker book, which will never see the light of day either.

Here is a bit about tea, I especially like his remark about social (in)correctness.

Some people will tell you that you shouldn’t have milk with Earl Grey, just a slice of lemon. Screw them. I like it with milk. If you think you will like it with milk then it’s probably best to put some milk into the bottom of the cup before you pour in the tea.(1) If you pour milk into a cup of hot tea you will scald the milk. If you think you will prefer it with a slice of lemon then, well, add a slice of lemon.

Drink it. After a few moments you will begin to think that the place you’ve come to isn’t maybe quite so strange and crazy after all.

1 This is socially incorrect. The socially correct way of pouring tea is to put the milk in after the tea. Social correctness has traditionally had nothing whatever to do with reason, logic or physics. In fact, in England it is generally considered socially incorrect to know stuff or think about things. It’s worth bearing this in mind when visiting.

The whole Tea article is available on h2g2 (the website h2g2 was once started by Douglas, but is now run by the BBC) which is a good source for all kind of Douglas Adams and Hitchhikery related articles.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I picked up reading again after I came to London. There are several reasons for this.
One is I like reading. Give me a good book and I am out of this world and into the book, and I don’t hear anything happening around me. Another reason is that I need to train, feed and grow my English vocabulary. I love to learn new words like “mindboggling” and learn expressions like “Putting the kettle on”. For obvious reasons.
A third one is that I sometimes like to sit in a/the Cafe and watch people. And listen to what they talk about, and make some notes about that in my notebook. But I still feel silly sitting in a cafe on my own, and having a book with me somehow makes that easier.

So I installed the Now Reading plugin, to clutter the already cluttered sidebar on this blog even more. And started out with buying books. I could write a long rambling story about which books I bought and why and where and for how much, but I won’t.

I am just going to write that the last book I read was called :
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
And that it is written by Mark Haddon.

And that it is one of the most amazing and original books I have read. Ever. And that I think you should read it.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s, a form of autism. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

Notes On A Scandal

Notes On A ScandalSome books you just don’t want to finish, because you weren’t finished with the story and it’s character. One of those books (just read) is Notes On A Scandal bij Zoe Heller.

It’s a story about obsession, loneliness and moral. It’s deliciously written, and you’ve got the feeling that you are minding other people’s businesses where you don’t have any right doing so. Very recommended this book. (Check what others think about it on Amazon)

And oh the book is currently being made into a film , with Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench and oh, look at that, Bill Nighy …

Don’t Panic

Slartibartfast en Arthur Dent
Bill “Slartibartfast” Nighy en Martin “Arthur Dent” Freeman

Sometimes you run into books that catch you from the very first page. The Da Vinci Code seemed to be one, but coming nearing to the end of this book it faded out, and became a bit boring.

The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy seems to be this kind of book too. Or rather The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide, which is a collection of 5 books of Douglas Adams, of which The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy is one.
Are you still with me ?

And I can’t believe I missed it. 50 million people have read this book already, and I hadn’t even heard about it. Until recently.

Cold Play made Don’t Panic and Radio Head Paranoid Android and I never made the link. A whole new world is opening up for me! And now the film is on it’s way. (and the best thing is : Bill is in it, and the voice of Marvin is Alan Rickman, which doesn’t make it less interesting), and in this case it seemed a good idea to read the book before the film.

I started laughing on the first page, and haven’t stopped laughing yet. It does ask for a weirdish, slightly geekish, british sense of humour, but that wasn’t a problem for me. And now I am even more looking forward to the film. There is a week left to finish the book before the film is out in the cinema. Don’t Panic.
And do read that book, it’s hilarious.

The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown - The Da Vinci CodeGisteren op Schiphol hield ik de traditie in ere, ik kocht een boek voor de terugreis. Het werd The Da Vinci Code van Dan Brown (in het engels). “Eindelijk” hoor ik u denken. Ja als een boek zoveel bergen positieve recensies krijgt dan vind ik het verdacht worden, en dan kon het boek (dacht ik) alleen maar tegen vallen.

Ik ben er in begonnen op Schiphol in de wachtruimte, las door in het vliegtuig (de vertraging was deze keer helemaal niet erg) en bleef lezen op Billund Airport terwijl ik op de bus naar huis zat te wachtten. Dat ik daardoor mijn digitale camera in de wc liet hangen geeft wel aan hoe afgeleid ik was. En dat ik dat een half uur later pas bemerkte helemaal. Ik terug naar het toilet, maar het toestel was weg. Nu moet het wel een heel goed boek zijn dacht ik nog, want die camera was duur geweest en ik zag hem waarschijnlijk niet meer terug. Toch maar even langs de informatiebalie, en gelukkig had een aardige mevrouw de camera daar al afgeleverd. Pfew, gauw doorlezen. Voordat ik ging slapen las ik door (en ging daardoor veel later dan gepland pas slapen). En toen ik wakker werd (veel eerder dan normaal) las ik snel nog een paar hoofdstukken zodat ik te laat op mijn werk kwam.

Wat een spannend en interessant hersenkraker boek ! En wat bevat het boek een hoop interessante feiten. Nu al het beste boek voor 2005 voor mij, en ik ben pas op bladzijde 173. Ben benieuwd wanneer het boek verfilmd wordt.

Nu vraag ik me af : Heeft u het ook gelezen ? (niets verklappen hoor !) En zijn de andere boeken van Dan Brown net zo goed ? Dan moet ik even langs de boekhandel.