The Quinto Bookshop (in Charing Cross Road) is an evil place. It is run by an fiendish mastermind, whose determination is to ruin people like me, his customers, who enjoy interesting and obscure books.
Here is how his plan works:
- The basement of the shop is given over entirely to non-rare secondhand books (the main floor is rare books and is of no interest to anyone). These books are priced from about £1 upwards, but usually in the £3-£5 bracket.
- Every month, they close down the basement down entirely.
- While the basement is closed, they remove the stock and replace it with an entirely different stock.
- They then re-open the basement.
The consequence of this is that every time I go in there, unlike most secondhand shops where books hang around for years, I find an entire new selection of books that have to be looked through and bought. This not only takes time, but ends up with me buying rather a lot of books.
Sometimes, it’s true, the selection is fairly dull. It all depends on what they’ve recently bought in. Often, it’s clear large amounts of the books have come from the same source, since there’s a certain theme to their content. The last two times I’ve been there, I’ve bought nothing. Today, however, I bought ten books (which is really bad because I’m running out of space in my flat).
They were (and you’ll notice a theme here):
- Selected Poems, Heinrich Heine (German with English translation)
- Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle
- Greek Science After Aristotle
- Early Greece: Bronze & Archaic Ages
- From Solon to Socrates, Victor Ehrenberg (something of a classic)
- The Provinces of the Roman Empire, Theodore Mommsen (yeah, the bloke who once won a Nobel Prize / greatest Classicist ever)
- Plutarch’s Lives – Complete, 3 vols (I don’t think Penguin actually do the whole set, and they only do them in series – not parallel)
- Myths, Dreams and Mysteries, Mircea Eliade.
The last two items cost me in total £3 (I had been assuming the Plutarch was £2/vol – but no). Hmm, not a single novel either!