The Lifeline booksale started on Saturday. I was going to my parents’ place for the weekend, so I was at the Convention Centre with my car packed at 7.30 ready for an 8.00am opening, along with a great many other people! The problem with the Lifeline booksale is not the price (because I don’t think I’ve ever managed to spend more than $70 at one) but coming away with too many books. Here is this year’s selection:

Potential Year’s Best (I think of myself as a fiction reader, but my favourite books include a number of Lifeline booksale biographies and histories)

Plain Tales from the Raj – Charles Allen, ed: 1976 (first 1975) – “the bestselling collection of reminiscences of British India that is based upon the famous Radio 4 series”

Underfoot in Show Business – Helene Hanff [i.e. the author of 84 Charing Cross Road]: 1981 (first 1961) – “the account of her early days as a struggling writer on the edge of show business.”

Spy Catcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer – Peter Wright, former assistant director of MI5: 1988 (first 1987) – this was the subject of an (in)famous court case to stop publication, but I’ve never read it

The Last Days of the BeebMichael Leapman: On the basis of the cover blurb, “Lively and entertaining… not since the days of the Ottoman Empire has any organization been quite so wracked by internal feuds and intrigues” – I love that description of a BBC

My God! It’s a Woman – Nancy Bird: 1990 – Nancy Bird Walton, an early Australian aviator, died just last week. This is her autobiography. I’ve already started it and it is fascinating and lively.

Florence Nightingale – Cecil Woodham-Smith: 1952 (first 1950) – written inside in pen “Hazel Matthews/Well worth reading.” and under that in pencil “I found this book very boring. JB./March 2008”. It has also been sold previously by the Red Cross and has the stamp of a Dr. J. M. Martin. I bought Woodham-Smith’s history of the charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean war at a Lifeline booksale a year or two back and it was brilliant.

Seventy Years a Showman – ‘Lord’ George Sanger: 1938 (first 1910) – introduction by Kenneth Grahame, who writes, “Mr Sanger, like a good showman, married in the profession, choosing for his bride the popular Lion Queen of a rival establishment, somewhat to the disgust of the rival establishment, who evidently held, not unnaturally, that showmen ought to marry their own Lion Queens, instead of poaching on those of other people.” 19th century circus memoirs – what’s not to love?

Fiction

The Golem: Legends of the ghettos of Prague – Chayim Bloch: 1972 (in translation) – I haven’t worked out if this is fiction (a retelling of the legends) or nonfiction (a collection of the legends), so I’m putting it here. It looks like a retelling.

Flowers for Mrs Harris – Paul Gallico: 1966 (first 1967) – I’ve only ever read The Snow Goose

Journey to the River Sea – Eva Ibbotson: 2001

A Company of Swans – Eva Ibbotson: 1999 (first 1985)

The Pipes of Orpheus – Jane Lindskold: 1995 – on the basis of what she said about the cover art on the Tor blog

The Mermaid and the Simpleton – Barbara Leonie Picard: 1958 (first 1949) – a collection of fairytales some first told on the wireless

The Sword in the Stone – T. H. White: 1991 (first 1938) – for my nephews

German

Herz auf vier Beinen [Heart on four legs] – Günther Schwab: 1963 (first German edition 1959) – adapted with a vocabulary for English readers

Das Glück des Reisens – A. E. Johann: 2001 (first 1982) – the life of a foreign correspondent and travel writer

Die schönsten Kinderreime – Ute Bogner(?): 1989 – children’s rhymes and sweet little illustrations!

Ferien mit Oma [Holidays with Grandma] – Ilse Kleberger: 1973 (first 1967) – children’s book

Edwardian era kids books – these are not in wonderful condition, but they have such beautiful covers! I select a few each year on the basis of the designs on their spines, and they are usually full of pious children expiring piteously and lists at the back of “stirring temperance tales” but all these seem to be a bit more restrained in both regards

Janet: Her Winter in Quebec – Anna Chapin Ray: 1909 – a Christmas gift in 1911

Ranald Bannerman’s Boyhood – George Mac Donald: 1911- missing half an endpaper

Mr. Dalton’s Prescription and other stories – Ascott R. Hope: no date – a Sabbath School prize in 1907, some hand drawn cats and birds on the first page

Pulp murder & romance – just… awful/fabulous covers

Emergency Patient – Shauna Marlowe

Maid for the Morgue: a crime reporter’s inside story – Marc Brody

Walk in Fear – W. T. Ballard: “Apart, they could live in peace – together, they were doomed to die.”

Cargo for the Styx – Louis Trimble: “All aboard for homicide!”

Ladybird books – I don’t care for most of the Ladybird story books, but the reading scheme and other books often have absolutely gorgeous painted illustrations, science books in particular

Levers, Pulleys and Engines – A Ladybird Junior Science Book: (first 1963) – this one makes me want to build pulley systems and make cog wheels out of tin lids and corrugated cardboard

Things we do – Key Words Reading Scheme book 4a: 1964

Read and write – Key Words Reading Scheme book 1c: 1965 – much drawn upon

Look at this – Key Words Reading Scheme book 4b: 1964

What to look for in Autumn – A Ladybird Nature Book: (first 1960)

Other/Art

Belt Up: Thelwell’s Motoring Manual -Norman Thelwell: 1974 – for the sake of the reinterpretations of common street signs

Graphic Design USA No. 14: The Annual of The American Institute of Graphic Arts: (1993)

Fashion Drawing in Vogue – William Packer: 1997 (first 1983) – lots of beautiful art, especially line drawings