// you’re reading...


Charity shop books p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to feature a few interesting out of print books. For this issue, Norman Wallis reports on his fossicking in charity shops for second hand books…

Recently I was in a charity shop hunting for books. Visiting charity stores reminds me of that scene in 1984, when Winston Smith visits a second hand goods shop. It provides him with a temporary escape from the world outside, a world ruled by some narcissistic ideology. There is definitely a feeling of sanctuary in these shops full of clothes, old records and bric a brac. And the radio station is always playing hits from fifty years ago, which adds to the nostalgic ambience. But charity stores are also a good place to find books: especially books you wouldn’t come across, or even hear about, anywhere else. 

I was perusing the book shelves in one charity store recently, when I found four cardboard boxes full of books: a recent donation. Whoever had owned these books was probably some kind of polymath. Perhaps a well-read school teacher. There were titles on alchemy, the coastline of Australia, astronomy, paleontology. There were some school physics text books; some on Latin grammar, a constitutional history of medieval England, Pitman’s shorthand, philosophy, origami and gem prospecting. There were also many paperback novels from 60 years ago or thereabouts. 

Here are a few of my purchases: 

The Mask of Dimitrios, a novel by Eric Ambler. Pan, 1961, first published 1939. The premise is a mystery writer is researching the life of a master criminal. Apparently his body has turned up in an Istanbul morgue. A well-written thriller I am currently reading.

Humor titles included England, their England, a novel by A. G. Macdonell. Originally published 1933, this Pan edition was published in 1952.

Then there were some science fiction titles like Asimov’s Mysteries, a book of science fiction whodunit short stories by Isaac Asimov, published by Panther in 1969.

And that was just the start.

-Norman Wallis continues next page…