Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Swedish Food: 200 Selected Swedish Dishes The Smorgasbord Traditional Party and Everyday Menus, edited by Sam Erik Widenfelt.

Swedish Food: 200 Selected Swedish Dishes The Smorgasbord Traditional Party and Everyday Menus, edited by Sam Erik Widenfelt. Softcover book (stiff card) with decorative front cover published by Esselte 1954, 151 pages with black and white photograph, a few colour photographs and a few black and white illustrations.

The publisher of this book believes that you will enjoy making or renewing your acquaintance with Swedish food. Besides the famous smorgasbord, with all its delicacies and appetizing tid-bits, the Swedish kitchen boasts specialties of other kinds. For in a country so far north, with a relatively severe climate, food and the preparation of food are regarded as important. Culinary imagination and skill are highly developed in Sweden, and both housewives and professional cooks, aware that good, well-prepared food is always appreciated, take pride in their handiwork. This book makes it possible for you to prepare 200 of the best Swedish dishes, breads and cookies in your own kitchen.”

So you've been reading Scandinavian noir. 
But what is Scandinavia really like? 
It can't be all dark, cold, serial killers with a moral complexity that enthralls us all. 
No, it's the Smorgasbord as well.

I wasn't thinking of Kurt Wallander when i picked up this book. I was thinking how beautiful the cover is and how wonderful these vintage photographs are.

I'm a bit of sucker for this period of vintage cookbooks. It doesn't matter where it's from as long as it has enough recipes and photographs from a by gone era.  A snapshot... in the same way that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a snapshot of Sweden as it was in 2005, this book is a snapshot of Sweden in 1954... but with more seafood.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman, Mazin Al-Khafaji, with Kevin Baker.

A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman, Mazin Al-Khafaji, with Kevin Baker. Hardcover book published by Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications 2007, 675 pages with black and white illustrations, and black and white with some brown illustrations.

"Established as the most complete work on the channels, collaterals and points in English, A Manual of Acupuncture has become the gold standard text for students and practitioners of acupuncture." 

I like text books. I think this 'like' and passing interest comes from my early years of bookselling way back in the 1980s when I was working in a university book shop. Large unwieldy volumes filled with stuff I didn't understand and never will understand, still get me excited (… no, not like that), despite the impenetrable wall of my personal incomprehension. It was an Australian University and it was the 1980s so there were no books dealing with Acupuncture on the shelves under my coordination. If they had of taught it there, I would have had it... They didn't, so no acupuncture. Despite my lack of bookish experience in channels, collaterals and points, I didn't hesitate in picking up this weighty tome. “Most complete work on the channels, collaterals and points in English”, is what convinced me. It is a little concerning that there is possibly a more complete text in another language(s), I guess this one will have to do for English speakers at this point in time or rather at that time (2007).

Click here to view this book for sale on ebay.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Gold at Gaffneys Creek by Brian Lloyd and Howard Combes.

Gold at Gaffneys Creek by Brian Lloyd and Howard Combes. Hardcover book published by Shoestring Bookshop 1981, 267 pages with black and white maps, illustrations and photographs.

The early goldseekers of Gaffneys Creek were tough, resolute and adventurous people typical of Victoria’s gold generation. This book is about the exploration, exploitation and settlement of that remote, inhospitable, but beautiful and rich corner of Victoria. The Gaffneys Creek goldfield was opened up by men who came across from the Buckland to the Big River in 1857, and climbed over the Mt Terrible range to the Goulburn watershed in 1859. There followed a few lawless years of rich alluvial mining before the reefers got to work, and permanent and law-abiding settlement followed. The wild speculative quartz mining boom of Gaffneys Creek and Woods Point in the 1860s was followed by decades of depression, with most of the mines closed or on tribute. The only miners to prosper were the tributers at the A.1, and even there they had to endure many years of barely subsistence earnings from the fickle reefs. The mining revival about the turn of the century saw some years of prosperity at the Dempseys and Rose of Denmark, but by World War I only the A.1. was left as a profitable mine. After the gold cut out there in the mid-twenties, more years of depression followed, until the Victory Reef was discovered in the early years of World War II. The 1940s were rich in gold and dividends for the A.1. but then, with rising costs and the price of gold fixed, the mine struggled on against mounting odds, until it finally closed in 1976.”

Gaffneys Creek? Another place of which my geographical knowledge was severely lacking in. Thanks to the interwebs, I now have a rough idea of where it is (between Matlock and Jamieson... and not close to here) and i'm fairly certain i've never been there... which is probably why I couldn't picture it's location. Besides being a local history book, this is also a book about Gold mining and the Gold Rush(s) that Victoria experienced over the years. With a few exceptions, the description above could easily be one of many towns in Victoria... including Clunes*. The dates are close to Clunes's, although mining stopped here earlier than Gaffneys Creek and it's that gold price mentioned in the blurb above that has historically hindered any further mining here in Clunes**.

Gold and Victorian local history are a good combination when it comes to books and the more obscure the book, the more desirable a publication becomes. I have another book by Brian Lloyd at the moment entitled “Gold at Harrietville”. It seems that Brian wrote a few books about mining towns in hard to get too places in Victoria as well as some other local histories, and as with the Gaffney's Creek book, the Harrietville book is also worth a few $$$. I was talking to a local history writer/customer/friend recently and mentioned these books. He knew them (… he owns them) and informed me that the author had passed away in the last few years and that it was doubtful that these books will ever be reprinted. I'm not sure how true that is, but it is possible that there will be no further copies published making these books just that little bit rarer.

So why are Victorian Gold rush histories so desirable? Apparently if your family were here in Australia pre WWI, there is a good chance that you have some connection to the gold fields. A lot of people rushed for gold and a lot of them stayed here (Australia) when the gold (or the price of gold) ran out. Family historians are always on the look out for local histories and gold is a good place to start. I have family members (my sister in law) who's family came out from Cornwall for the gold rush. Quite by chance the first place that we know they went to in Australia, was Clunes.... and yes they are listed in the town records. There is now a bit more of an interest in my place of abode within my family and i'm sure a good local history would be appreciated due to the connection.

And of course we have Gold people. Any clues or hints are eagerly sought after by weekender detectors seeking those special spots where perchance there might be that lump of gold that everyone over the last 150 years has missed. There are those little clues on obscure and less visited historical mining activity that these diggers seek and what better place than a now out of print local history on a gold mining area.

Click here to view this book on ebay.

* International headquarters of Huc & Gabet: Books of interest.

** There's often been talk about new mining projects which seem to never eventuate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Great Plague in London by Walter George Bell. Folio Society.

The Great Plague in London by Walter George Bell. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) with decorative boards with slipcase published by The Folio Society 2001, 256 pages with some black and white and colour illustrations and a few colour photographs.

The great Plague of 1665 was a last and terrible visitation before bubonic plague finally burned itself out. A direct descendant of the Black Death, it killed more than 100,000 people in London alone. Its horrors have been etched on our minds by the writings of Daniel Defoe and Samuel Pepys, yet many citizens displayed great courage and compassion. London’s Lord Mayor, Sir John Lawrence, remained at his post when almost all who could afford to had fled the city; Dr Nathaniel Hodges tended patients throughout the epidemic – never himself catching the plague. Walter Bell’s astonishingly detailed account has never been equalled. This re-edited edition of his book allows his scholarship and imaginative sympathy to shine through for a new generation of readers. Edited and introduced by Belinda Hollyer.

“The Folio Society is a privately owned London-based publisher, founded by Charles Ede in 1947 and incorporated in 1971. It produces illustrated hardback editions of classic fiction and non-fiction books, poetry and children's titles. Folio editions feature specially designed bindings and include artist-commissioned illustrations (most often in fiction titles) or researched artworks and photographs (in non-fiction titles). Many editions come with their own slipcase.” Wikipedia

A while ago I wrote about the hit and miss world (nothing to do with “Miss World” or Donald Trump) of selling Folio Society books on line (click here if you want to read what I wrote), so it might seem a bit strange that after all writing what I wrote then, that i'm now expanding my Folio Society listings on ebay. The truth is that I couldn't control my buying urges when confronted with 50 odd Folio Society titles in mostly great condition. Yep, I talked myself into it and so far i've have enough sales for it to have been worth my while. I think it has something to do with quantity of titles of these beautiful tomes as i've had more than one person buy multiple items. Maybe that has been my problem in the past as most Folio books are quite heavy and therefore postage is a bit of a bummer. With the intention of posting these heavy books in an Australia Posts 3kg satchel, I have been aggressively offering combined postage on this titles. “Aggressively” means that there's a larger bold message with the items listed indicating that I offer:

Maximum of $10 for postage on multiple items within Australia. 

This is no different to what I normally offer except that the message is a little more in your face on these ebay Folio Society listings. Maybe I need to change the way I offer this deal on postage.

… and the reason I singled out “The Great Plague in London” by Walter George Bell is that it's got a nice cover... as they all do.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel by Haruki Murakami. (First US edition.)

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum. Hardcover book published by Kodansha International 1991 First U.S. Edition, 401 pages with some black and white decorative illustrations.

Quite a while ago, I stumbled upon a UK edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude and at the time I was shocked and amazed to have stumbled upon something as special as a first edition of this incredible book. Here we are a few years later and i've got another incredible find that, quite honestly, left me speechless.

There's something incredibly nice about finding a book that you can feel proud to have found and then have for sale... even though in this instance I didn't find it. A good friend of mine walked up to me at a book sale and handed over this book, my jaw dropped (and still remains dropped) and I was speechless. I don't think I even properly thanked him at the time... but have done so since then.

Haruki Murakami is one of those writers that booksellers love to find. The reason is quite simply that whether new or secondhand, paperback or hardback, first edition or not, he sells. I have read a number of his books over the years and have like most people that have delved, become entranced and despite being a book seller (that is, someone who sells books as apposed to someone who keeps them) still own a number of them. Who can forget the Wild Sheep Chase and the whole sheep thing... and the ear thing... I can't. I've got a number of his newer books sitting in my 'to be read' stack and as i'm writing this blog entry i'm working myself into a Murakami reading frenzy to the point that... I will start reading the mammoth and intimidating 1Q84 in the next few days... I will do it.

So, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, do I think it will sell? It will take the right person (other than myself) to appreciate what this book is. I'm assuming it will be a collector and a fan, and based on my knowledge of how big this guy is, it will sell.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bruce Springsteen FAQ: All That's Left to Know about the Boss by John D. Luerssen.

Bruce Springsteen FAQ: All That's Left to Know about the Boss by John D. Luerssen. Paperback book published by Backbeat Books 2012, 437 pages with black and white photographs.

Long before he sold 120 million albums globally in a career that has endured artistically and commercially like no other performer s in the rock era, Bruce Springsteen was a working-class New Jersey kid with a dream and a guitar.”

On the July 16, 2016 Alan Vega (Boruch Alan Bermowitz) passed away. He was 78 years old.

Over recent years I have often thought about which musician or group (living and gigging) I would still like to see performing in a live situation. The answer has always been Suicide of which Alan Vega was half thereof.  As far as I'm aware, Suicide never toured here in Australia (...correct me if i'm wrong) and now they never will. It's hard to explain how important that first Suicide album was/is if you don't know it... and there are plenty of people who if they did know it would hate it anyway...

despite it being fairly straight down the line rock n roll... albeit with a dark primeval twist to disturb the status quo/everything. Unlike Bruce Springsteen there weren't any guitars, no stadium gigs, no 120 million sold albums, no mega stardom, just a deep respect from those in the know.

Now you're probably wondering why i'm writing about Alan Vega in a blog entry about a Bruce Springsteen book. The truth is that I don't have any books about Suicide or Alan Vega at the moment, nor have I ever come across any in my second hand book searching expeditions, but I really wanted to write something about him. Bruce Springsteen was/is a fan. He has also rather famously covered Dream Baby Dream:

A nice version... but here's Suicide.

Goodbye Alan.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The High Road To China: George Bogle, The Panchen Lama & The First British Expedition To Tibet by Kate Teltscher.

The High Road To China: George Bogle, The Panchen Lama & The First British Expedition To Tibet by Kate Teltscher. Hardcover book published by Bloomsbury 2006, 316 pages with a few colour and black and white illustrations.

In 1774 the head of the East India Company in Bengal, Warren Hastings, determined to open trade relations with the hitherto impenetrable court of imperial China. To this end he entrusted the young Scotsman George Bogle to be the first British envoy to Tibet. Once there, Bogle attempted to enlist the influence of the Panchen Larna in a bid to attract the sympathy of the Qianlong Emperor; a hard task, for the imperial court generally viewed trade with disdain, and took an altogether dim view of the British Empire. But what began as an unprecedented diplomatic mission soon acquired a different character. Bogle became smitten by what he saw in Tibet, and in particular by the person of the Panchen Lama himself, with whom he struck up a remarkable friendship, fuelled by a reciprocal desire for understanding. And as for Tibet: ‘When I look upon the time I have spent among the Hills it appears like a fairy dream.’ Bogle’s letters and journals, by turns playful, penetrating, self-deprecating and packed with engaging detail, were to help create the myth of Tibet in the West, the Shangri-La so familiar to us today. This book tells the story of the British attempt to reach the Qianlong Emperor’s ear, a narrative of two extraordinary journeys across some of the harshest and highest terrain in the world: Bogle’s mission, and the Panchen Lama’s state visit to China, on which British hopes were hung. Piecing together the narrative from Bogle’s private papers, Tibetan biographies of the Panchen Lama, the account of a wandering Hindu monk, and the writings of the Qianlong Emperor himself, Kate Teltscher deftly reconstructs the momentous meeting of four very different worlds.”

Although I have never visited Tibet, I have been within spitting distance. ...Not that I want to spit on it or anything like that, i'm just using the spitting distance thing as an indication as to how close I have been... which isn't really within the distance that I or anyone else can spit, but more along the line of, “i've travelled in places not that far from Tibet”. Darjeeling, Nepal, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh are all destinations I have ventured too and are all not that far from where the action in this book takes place...or at least a little closer to the action than where I presently sit.

Unlike George, I've never been over the border, but like George I am “smitten”, which is a strange thing to say about a place i've never been too. I guess my adventures in the Himalaya are all about my fascination with Tibet without my ever having been there. Sort of like an unattainable Holy Grail, wished for and within my grasp, but never achieved. Ladakh, although not Tibet, was as close as I believe I have ever been to what I imagine Tibet is like and even as I sit here many years later, I can still vividly picture most of what I saw there. It is truly spectacular on many levels and to a certain extent I would agree with Bogle in saying ‘When I look upon the time I have spent among the Hills it appears like a fairy dream’ even though i'm not really sure what a “fairy dream” is and we are talking about different places.

My interest in things Himalayan and Tibetan did of course lead to me to the purchase of this book and although I have read a number of books about things Tibetan and the British and everyone elses interest in things Tibetan (eg Huc & Gabet), I haven't read this book but it does looks like my sort of thing and I figure it is probably someone elses sort of thing as well.