Archive for September 6th, 2010

One of the many fantastic elements of the Mindfield section of the Electric Picnic was the presence of an excellent little second hand book tent. Fellow Anti-Room panelist Aoife Barry and I had an excellent browse, and I picked up a copy of Elizabeth Bishop’s Complete Poems and a collection of de Maupassant short stories (I’ve never read him, and have been meaning to check out his stories for ages) with an incredibly dodgy blurb.

Lots of lovely books to browse through. Who knows what treasures lie within?

It was a reminder of how much I love second hand book shops. In an age where we can track down any title we want online (if we’ve got the money to pay for it), nothing beats the serendipitous joy of seeing a long-searched-for title amid the random paperbacks, of finding a long out-of-print book you’ve never heard of by a beloved author. I find it physically impossible to pass a second hand book-shop without sticking my head in for a second, and I still head to certain sections hoping to find certain titles – the F shelf of the children’s section hoping for a copy of Peter’s Room by Antonia Forest; the S shelf of the adult autobiography for the middle volume of Noel Streatfeild’s memoirs and the S shelf of the adult fiction in the hope of finding some of her long-lost adult titles. For years I also used to look out for Dodie Smith’s wonderful autobiographies, which I’d got out of the library as a teenager, until my parents and sister got  two of them for me for Christmas last year.

Because nothing beats that moment when you see the book you’ve been searching for, or the one you didn’t know you wanted until it was there in your hand in a dim corner of a rambling shop on Charing Cross Road. Over the last 20 years I’ve gasped in delight at the sight of everything from E. Nesbit’s The New Treasure Seekers to Mollie Panter Downes’s London War Notes 1939-1945, from 1940s knitting books to 1950s teenage girl annuals. And then there was the memorable time many years ago when I found my own copy of William Maxwell’s The Chateau, which had been stolen from my desk by a kleptomaniac colleague a week before.

So do you share my love of second hand rummaging? What are your favourite second hand shops (these days, there’s nowhere better in Dublin than Raven Books in Blackrock)? And what have been your best finds?

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Today, at least six Anti Room women are sporting inexplicable bruises, sore legs and achey bones after last weekend’s Electric Picnic. We just wanted to say a big thanks to everyone who came along to our talks on Saturday and Sunday at the Speakeasy Tent. Also a huge thanks to Naoise Nunn from Leviathan who invited us to take part. The funniest moment of the weekend was waiting to start the Saturday talk and seeing John Waters hovering outside the tent entrance. Second funniest moment was the Diet Coke ads (which were present for every event in the Speakeasy Tent) which depicted those creepy puppets from the TV ads, with one opining:

“Eleanor says a woman should be two things: fabulous and fabulous”

Er, right Eleanor.  Highlights included MUSIC: Caribou’s post-midnight gig in the sunken stage of Body & Soul; The Antlers, Janelle Monaé, Foals, Marc Almond, Hot Chip, Eels, LCD Soundsystem and Jonsí. FOOD: Divine pies and mash from Pieminister; Chicken burritos from The Flaming Cactus; mojitos, from well, anywhere they could be found. OTHER: Arlene Hunt bringing my forgotten wellies from Dublin on Saturday, The Daily Ticket, put together by Jim Carroll and his music elves; Janelle Monaé saying “hi” over at the RTE Roadcaster (what amazing hair!), the two drunk guys who came to the Saturday Anti Room talk to heckle, but were won over enough to ask an interesting question at the end.

Lowlights included missing the Savvy Women talk, John Byrne’s Comics panel, Chaos Thaoghaire and Jon Ronson.  The National, Fever Ray;  not getting to see June Caldwell being chauffered around on a golf buggy: a bloke IN the crowd (outside the tent) randomly peeing at LCD Soundsystem; and of course the rain…

How was your weekend? What did you see? How many Pieminister pies did you have? Was it more than Anna Carey? Probably not.

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