She Has Done Her Bit – What About You?

This post will continue the Indian theme of the last post. I have, since writing that, made a Twitter Bot  which tweets a couplet from the first book of J.N. Mookerjee’s Epic poem about the Russo-Japanese War every ten minutes for 66 hours. If I can find the energy, I might programme it to do book…

Modern English Usage

In an attempt to prove that I don’t only buy books that were published before I was born, I am writing a post about a book launched yesterday at the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon.  It was the debut collection of poet and forager Richard Osmond, Useful Verses. Many of the poems are focused on nature, through…

In Praise of Human Progress

When one philistine saw the huge extent Anatole France’s book collection, he asked the typically tedious question: “And you have read all these books have you Mr France?” Mr. France, of course, replied dismissively: “Not one-tenth of them. I don’t suppose you use your Sevres china every day”. At least that is how Walter Benjamin…

The Occupation of Wall Street

Over 5 years ago the Occupy Wall Street sit-in in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan was cleared. On the 17th November there was a march in protest and, as I was studying at Columbia at the time, I went along. On a street corner someone was handing out posters saying “We are the 99%” in various…

“The Best Collection of Bee Books in Britain”

In the mid-1930s at a meeting of the Scottish Beekeeper’s Association, the aged John Moir stood up and upbraided the assembled company. “Will everyone present who has honey on his or her table practically every day of the year hold up his or her hand.” When only about one third of the beekeepers raised their hands…

The Tariq Ali Trilogy of Four

One of my favourite things about book shopping is finding dedications in the front of books. But it is a pleasure tinged with sadness. Every book with a dedication in that ends up in a second-hand bookshop is, somehow, out of place. It has left the place that it was intended to be. If one…

“Retain them not to their hurt so that ye transgress…”

I have had this framed page from the Quran hanging on my wall for a number of years now. I got it as a present but I believe it was sold at Willingham auctions. It was given to me, I assume, because it is an attractive item and the Arabic script looks nice. Perhaps it is…

Closing of Meroe Bookshop

I learned today from this article in al-Baeed (which is, by the way, a fantastic Sudanese website for readers of Arabic) that Meroe bookshop in Khartoum is closing down. Apparently the rent is being raised and it cannot afford to pay it. It is quite likely that they will move somewhere else and continue their work….

Al-Fayturi, Songs of Africa

At the Cairo book fair in the second hand tent there are a number of tables selling assorted books for 2 or 3 EGP. People spend hours (well I spent hours) getting their hands dusty by flicking through old Arabic paperbacks. This year one of the things I found was 1950s edition of al-Fayturi’s Songs…

Radio-Centrale

On Mark Lamarr’s God’s Jukebox (may Radio 2 bring it back one day), he used to remind the listeners that once radio waves were broadcast they would continue infinitely in to space. Somewhere out there, his Radio 2 broadcasts were bouncing around. A few light years beyond them are the Soviet radio broadcasts that came to…

Perhaps there are still children who have not eaten men?

This is a post about two books: one found in the basement of Housman’s bookshop the other at Cairo book fair. Both were printed in Beijing (or Peking as it is called in these books). It is a collection of short stories by Lu Hsun published by the Foreign Languages press in both English and…