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On Rebuying Books

The sun was shining this afternoon (in a bright way, but not a warm way) so after a delightful podcast conversation I bundled up and headed outdoors to gather supplies for Cindy and my weekly Six Dollar Date night.

We are creatures of habit, so our date night fits a specific pattern and menu: Two cans of soda direct from Phillips Brewery on Government and Discovery for $4.10, [1] a large bag of Nosh Potato Chips from the Rexall for $1.77, [2] to be consumed on the loveseat while we watch Gogglebox and possibly TaskMaster or the Great Canadian Baking Show. Iggy cat gets fed prior to the start of the first program to avoid interruptions. It's a good life.

It just about turned into Forty Six Dollar Date Night this week though, because I stopped in at Bastion Books. We are blessed with many excellent bookstores in Victoria so I don't get to Bastion very often. It's a proper used / antiquarian bookstore, where the collection is curated, well sorted and eclectic. It's a large space too, so there is room to roam around without fear of stacks falling on your head.

I was on the hunt for two books, volumes I have owned and read several times, but regretfully left behind in Regina. One is The Voyage of the Northern Magic: A Family Odyssey, the story of a Canadian family that bought a sailboat and sailed around the world from their home in Ottawa. I'm developing a Round the World stamp collection and am inspired by their story of essentially heading out the front door, down the St. Lawrence River and around the world; I'd just head west from Victoria's inner harbour instead.

The second book is The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks by Robertson Davies. These are the fictional diaries of Davies' charismatic and flamboyant alter-ego, who lived a life of leisure, charmed his dinner companions and did battle with petty bureaucrats, precocious children and his temperamental coal furnace. I've been thinking about this book for months, especially the passages where Marchbanks continually gives in to the temptation of eating salted nuts at all hours. (Let's just say I've been developing a raw almond 'issue'.)

They didn't have the Northern Magic book, but the paperback copy of the Marchbanks book was in my hands in an instant. It's the same reprint that I had back home, including the mulched spine. It's the standard problem; an omnibus edition of three smaller books all under one cheap cover, causing the spine to give way on second reading. But on another shelf I found a hardcover copy for only $20. Bliss. But can I really justify buying a book I've already read a dozen times when I have so many books still to read?

Next, I strolled over to the Folio Society section. I'm smitten by the custom bindings, slip cases and robust paper of Folio printings since I found one in a book box a few weeks back. I found a slim volume entitled Fables in Slang by George Ade ($20 also). Originally printed in 1899, this reprint is gorgeous and the 'fables' look hilarious (and likely quite inappropriate to modern sensibilities) with titles like “The Fable of the Martyr who Liked the Job” and “The Fable of the Professor who Wanted to be Alone.” It has a similar feel to the Marchbanks book, but with an American touch compared to Davies' Upper Canada sensibilities.

I left empty handed and I already regret it. I can't help myself; I'm a collector at heart. Time to clean off some shelf space, dig around the couch cushions for a couple of twenties and head back to Bastion Square. These books need to be on my shelf.

  1. Dare Devil Orange Cream for Cindy, either Intergalactic Root Beer or Speed King Craft Cola for me. ↩︎

  2. Ripple, or if they're out, Plain. We're living large. ↩︎