Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2008 Issue

Beach Books

Islandia.1

Ron Randall's choice: Islandia


By Bruce McKinney

There are books that are important and others that are valuable. For book collectors and dealers the everyday focus is on value. Readers place their emphasis on content. For many the summer is a chance to escape the hubbub and claptrap of everyday existence. At such moments many hope for an exceptional book to take along. The car is packed, the beach house waits. Friends will arrive soon enough. For the idle moments a few choice books can make all the difference. This month I've asked an interesting group of men and women, who spend their lives amid the printed word, for their recollections and recommendations for a great book or books to read. These are their thoughts.

I asked Joe Trenn of the Book Shed [Benson Vermont] and encountered deep enthusiasm for the works of Anthony Dymoke Powell [pronounced Pole]. He wrote the 20th century cult classic "A Dance to the Music of Time," a fictional account of English life between the world wars. Joe describes this set of twelve books as "Henry James in complexity, rewarding to those who read and reread them." Summers he travels to England to participate in the Powell society. Single volumes, as well as the entire set, are available online.

Michael Thompson of Michael R.Thompson Rare Books of Los Angeles. "For me its 'Language, Truth and Logic' by A. J. Ayer. I first read it around 1962. It totally destroys old school metaphysical philosophy. From it I became an empiricist, becoming less interested in philosophy, and more interested in books as objects. It’s a small book you can read in a few hours. I recommend it to anyone interested in philosophy and religion. It will be a struggle but also a revelation." For Mr. Thompson's partner Carol Sandberg "Everything else was just stories. Virginia Wolfe made me appreciate the value of the moment, left me in awe that someone could capture the feeling, the experience. All things Virginia Wolfe, that's my recommendation."

Vic Zoshak of Tavistock Books offers this: "Three titles, all of which I read years ago, immediately come to mind - RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE by Rita Mae Brown, a coming-of-age story of a young woman; NEUROMANCER by William Gibson - the hallmark title of the cyber-punk genre which forecast much of what we see in today's commercial society. And then there's 'Pillars of the Earth' by Ken Follett. It's a fantastic historical novel of a master mason who builds a cathedral in 13th (?) century England. I couldn't put the book down; a real page-turner, and totally out of genre for Follett." It was listed #33 on the BBC's Big Read, a 2003 survey with the goal of finding the 'Nation's Best-loved Book.' It was also selected for Oprah's Book Club in 2007."

Mary Cooper Gilliam of Franklin Gilliam Rare Books, Charlottesville, Virginia offers "Billy Lee Brammer's 'The Gay Place being related novels: The Flea Circus, Room Enough to Caper, Country Pleasures.' It's a very good story and his only book, considered a very good political novel, perhaps the best since 'All the Kings Men' [by Robert Penn Warren]. You can read it for fun and relevance today."

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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