Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spendthrift Bookworm, The Sequel

I really was in Daegu for a totally different purpose today. Honestly.

So sue me. I guess I'm a little superstitious: If I don't visit the bookstores every time I'm in town, I feel like they might not be there next time. Walking from the train station, I vowed that I'd go but I wouldn't buy. Not a thing. Today's self-control would make up for buying My Brother's Keeper. I went through the revolving door resolutely.

Walking by the books made my heart beat a little faster, so I ducked into the Starbucks a few feet away and also inside the bookstore. To collect myself, I ordered a cafe latte and called LaMonte. We chatted awhile, then I told him where I was. He wasn't a bit surprised.

Bybee: ...and I shouldn't even be here. After what I just bought! The price on that book -- it's a scandal.

LaMonte: Man, I can't wait to see this book.

Bybee: Well, I'm not buying a thing today. I look, I leave. End of story.

LaMonte: That'll be the day. You're like a shark that smells blood whenever you get in a bookstore.

Sigh. I was right.
I didn't buy a thing.
I bought two things.

At the first bookstore, (about 15 minutes after my cafe latte and phone conversation) I bought How To Talk To Anyone by Leil Lowndes. Her book has some techniques concerning body language and small talk that would be helpful to my higher-level students who are planning to visit or work abroad in a western country. All the techniques seem short, somewhat humorous, and easy to present. [as I was writing this paragraph, CanadaBoy poked his head in the office. I briefly confessed the day's events, and he said that he downloaded this same book!]

The second bookstore is about a quarter of a mile down the city sidewalks, so I rationalized going there by allowing that I was getting a little bit of needed exercise.

It had been a while since I had last visited, so there were some new things out on display. One was a paperback novel called The Tenderness Of Wolves by Stef Penney. Winner of the 2006 Costa. All of this rang a faint bell, but I didn't know why, exactly. What the hell; I'd figure it out later. How could I pass up a title like that? Anyway, you know the deal; it was another short walk to the front register.

When I got back and looked on the computer, I realized why the book seemed familiar. Stef Penney is the author that had such a bad case of agoraphobia she couldn't travel to Canada; she did all her research for the novel with books and maps. I thought that was so cool when I read that. Not to minimize agoraphobia, but it's always seemed to me like one of the more attractive psychological challenges one might face. This kind of thinking goes a long way towards explaining why I regard the ending of We Have Always Lived In The Castle as a happy one.

I've spoken sternly to myself about going off the rails on a biblio-train, but I can't quite bring myself to contrition. Yet I know that I must calm down with the book purchases for a while.....but wait!

What The Book? sent out their bi-weekly newsletter today, and they've just gotten in fresh copies of Korea: A Walk Through The Land Of Miracles by Simon Winchester. What The Book? is the best new and used bookstore in South Korea! One click! A quick-and-easy bank transfer! Cheap, often free, fast delivery! Or I could hop a train to Seoul this weekend and pick it up in person and get that extra bookstore time that I so seriously crave...


kookie said...

You are as bad as I am. My husband always says that he's happy that I'm not addicted to buying jewelry or fancy clothes. (I do have a nasty shoe habit, however, that he doesn't understand).

Eva said...

awww-I'm sorry that you couldn't find it

on the other hand, it seems like you found some other awesome books!

Anonymous said...

I'm addicted to buying books too. There are just too many good books out there and reviews like your's to tempt us.

Have you seen these Video Book Reviews? More incentive to buy books for you!

Bookfool said...

I love knowing there are other book addicts who are as weak as I am. :) Sounds like you found some interesting titles. I stuck How to Talk to Anyone on my wish list, but that's probably silly. I talk to total strangers all the time. I babble. But, it sounds interesting and see how easy it is to rationalize? ;)

The Traveller said...

Hi - you left a note on my blog asking if I would like you yo send e a South Korean novella. I'd love that! Only if I can send you something from the Uk in return though. Email me at to let me know what you think.

Bybee said...

I really don't get it about jewelry at all. It leaves me cold, except for my wristwatch.

Well, I'll keep looking. Hornby's pretty popular here.

I didn't even know there was such a thing! Don't know whether to give you a virtual smack or what!

I wish I could just embrace my weakness, skip the rationalizing step and make this my mantra: "I don't give a crap, it's out there and I want it and I'm getting it." But I have a feeling my whole life would be like The Lost Weekend, except with books instead of alcohol.

I admire you for reading around the world. Happy to help.

Lotus Reads said...

Bybee, whenever I walk into a bookstore I head straight for the travel section and I always,always see copies of Simon Winchester's "Korea: A Walk Through The Land Of Miracles", what I need to ask you is, have you read the book? And if you have, would you recommend I get it? Please let me know!!!

Bybee said...

This is kind of embarassing. I've read bits of it because one of my friends keeps it in his bathroom for "crapper reading". I know, TMI. I do recommend it, though. I want my own copy.

Anonymous said...

Wow... you're in Korea. That makes two of us. SeouLife might be of interest to you then...

As for Winchester's walk, I've read it and I wouldn't recommend it. It's seriously dated as he wrote it pre-Seoul Olympics and I'm not the only one who felt that he was really patronizing to the people he encountered. He seems a randy bugger too but there you are...

What the Book is by far the best secondhand bookshop in Seoul and therefore Korea. I could spend hours and serious won in there...

Bybee said...

Since I've just been reading bits & pieces in the Winchester book for a few short moments at months-long intervals, I don't have as much of a feel for the book as someone who's read it in the conventional way. Therefore, everyone: listen to Arukiyomi. And go visit the blog Seoul Life. It's wonderful!