Mid-week Catch-up…

An afternoon in Oxford with Rebecca

I had a lovely lightly bookish afternoon in Oxford yesterday with Rebecca (aka Bookish Beck). We met at Blackwell’s – where better in Oxford, and both being on a budget headed upstairs to the sale/second hand section on the top floor of the main shop – where we spent just £2 each on sale books reduced to £1. I got John Lahr’s biography of the life and death of Joe Orton, Prick Up Your Ears, and a book of poetry by Denis Johnson (of the wonderful Train Dreams), called The Man Among the Seals & Inner Weather, collecting Johnson’s first and second books of verse into one volume. £1 each – amazing! Although the selection of books up there requires careful scrutiny.

We wandered around the Bodelian bits that were open – seeing the ‘Talking Maps’ exhibition in the Weston Library – which featured two by Grayson Perry’s – his reaction to Brexit in 2017’s Red Carpet and Map of Nowhere from ten years or so earlier. Red Carpet was stunning (see a picture here) but there wasn’t a postcard of it in the shop, only an expensive silk scarf. Oh well. We had tea and cake in the Vaults garden cafe looking out at the Radcliffe Camera, luckily not being attacked by the increasing number of wasps attracted by the jam on others’ scones. (By the way I read an interesting piece recently on why wasps are at their most annoying in August – essentially the workers are made redundant). Then we wandered up to the Oxfam bookshop where I splashed out £2.50 on Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife – yet more poetry! We popped into the Ashmolean where we looked at a free exhibition of woodcuts by Japanese artist, Naoko Matsubara, too before going off in separate directions home.

My loot from Rebecca – thank you!
My purchases!

A huge thank you to Rebecca, who not only brought me a David Shrigley tote from the Wellcome Book Prize ceremony which I couldn’t go to back in the spring, but passed on four books for me to read too.


Meanwhile at Shiny…

I’ve reviewed two very different thrillers at Shiny New Books recently.

Firstly, JP Delaney’s latest, The Perfect Wife. Although not as good plotwise as his first, The Girl Before, the new one was just as page-turning, but needs a suspension of belief to accept the central premise. I won’t say more here, but click through to read my full review.

The Perfect Wife – my Shiny review.

Secondly, The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun by Sébastien Japrisot. What a title! This French suspense thriller from 1966, translated in 1967 is super! Gallic Books have brought it back into print, and it’s very clever – Hitchcock-style. Loved it.

The Lady in the Car… – my Shiny review.

21 thoughts on “Mid-week Catch-up…

  1. Laura says:

    I’m not a big fan of Oxford (having lived there for three years) but you hit the best bits – I love Blackwell’s and the church cafe by the Rad Cam!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I lived in Cambridge as a townie for several years and hugely preferred it to Oxford. That cafe’s the best place for good cake and a view.

    • Rebecca Foster says:

      Ha ha, Annabel and I were debating the respective merits of Oxford and Cambridge — she’s lived in/near both, and loved Cambridge. I’ve only been to Cambridge once and felt like there was little to do there as a visitor (maybe living there is different), whereas I’ve been to Oxford a zillion times: during my year abroad I did private theology tutorials at a retired prof’s house; I occasionally go to bookish events there like the literary festival; every time American friends visit they want to go the Eagle and Child, where the food is TERRIBLE.

        • AnnaBookBel says:

          I liked Cambridge’s compactness, loads of great pubs, nicer theatres/gig venues, the river running through it, the Folk Festival, it’s strange microclimate, the book stall on the market, and fewer tour groups going around. I’m sure it’s changed since I left though! 🙂

      • Laura says:

        Ha, see my reply to Annabel 🙂 I found Cambridge much more liveable than Oxford, and I liked the fenland and the Backs. I grew up in the Cotswolds so Oxford just felt like a knock-off version!

        • Laura says:

          PS The Scott Polar Museum (now renamed I think) and the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum are both little Cambridge gems, & the Fitz is obviously also good.

  2. MarinaSofia says:

    Quite, quite envious. I’ll be going to Oxford one of the Bank Holiday weekend days to show it to my older son (but he’s already keen on Cambridge…). But I live close to it, so always happy to meet up in Oxford with any of you lovely people!

  3. Elle says:

    God I love that Oxfam bookshop. (Assuming it’s the one near the Ashmo on St Giles, right across from John’s?) Got all my paperback Faulkners there.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      That’s the one. It was rather busy yesterday afternoon which made browsing a little crowded – else I would have surely bought more.

  4. Jenny says:

    Love Oxford and Cambridge, in different ways! Really enjoyed the John Lahr biography, still have the original Penguin!

  5. Liz Dexter says:

    How absolutely lovely! I loved The World’s Wife when I borrowed it from Ali a few years ago. Happy days! I like Oxford because of the Museum of Natural History, one of my fave places ever, and dislike Cambridge because I had the most horrible interview for University there, and then my husband had to make himself redundant (like a wasp!) by moving his office there a few years back!

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