Thursday, December 29, 2011

Children's and Maternity Garments (by Mary Brooks Picken)

Children's and Maternity Garments (by Mary Brooks Picken?).  Softcover book published by Woman’s Institute (no date, probably 1920s to 1930s).

This a lovely book published at some stage in the early part of the twentieth century.  The cover is a smart looking embossed black mock leather… at least I think its mock.  Whatever it is, insects are fond of it and have caused a bit of damage to both the cover and endpages.  But not to worry, I believe the subject matter can carry this book towards a sale despite the damage.  Even the preface confirms this thought:

“So satisfactory and pleasurable to most women is the making of clothes for children, that this text, with its thoughtful treatment of the subject, awakens a very lively interest among women.” 

I guess the authors never considered that men might also consider this pleasurable, although men were probably busy at the time fighting wars… or starting them. 

The author of this book was more than likely Mary Brooks Picken who was also the founder of the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences (the publisher). From what I can gather she was a bit of an expert on the whole fashion, fabric and sewing business and wrote numerous books on the subject(s) during her 95 years.  What I like about this book is the excellent vintage illustrations and photographs.  

I’m not an expert on the whole sewing of maternity wear or children’s clothing (at the time I would probably have been off fighting a war… or starting one), but by today’s standards some of the instructions and illustrations seem a bit sparse on information.  I guess the book assumes a certain skill level, whereas most of todays sewing books tend to have slightly more detailed illustrations and diagrams and assume a slightly lower skill level. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sarcoidosis by J.G. Scadding and D.N. Mitchell.

Sarcoidosis by J.G. Scadding and D.N. Mitchell.  Hardcover book published by Chapman and Hall 1985. 

“Sarcoidosis (from sarc meaning flesh, -oid, like, and -osis, diseased or abnormal condition), also called sarcoid, Besnier-Boeck disease or Besnier-Boeck-Schaumann disease, is a disease in which abnormal collections of chronic inflammatory cells (granulomas) form as nodules in multiple organs. The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown.” Wikipedia

So of all the medical texts in the world of secondhand books why would I pluck out a book on Sarcoid?  It’s pretty dry… the book that is, not the disease.  There’s pages and pages of x-rays and photos of sick people and then there’s heaps of text… Which is page after page of more dryness.  Well dear reader, I picked up this book because I have first hand experience of sarcoid.  I have (had?) sarcoid. 

Sarcoid is a fairly complex disease to diagnose and I only found out that I had it the first time my lungs collapsed.  By the time this happened a second time, I well and truely knew about it… sort of like meeting up with an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while… but with less oxygen.  It took a bit of a biopsy (which is like an autopsy… but on live people) till it was all confirmed that I didn’t have cancer… but I did have Sarcoid… doctors have such a way with words.  So a number of years of monitoring my condition and one round of steroids (never again) and here I am 15 years later and I have no idea whether I still have it or not.  I’ve got a sneaking suspicion it has simply vanished* in the same way that this book hasn’t sold. 

So with my knowledge and first hand experience of Sarcoid, I purchased this book.  It’s the sort of book that I wear with pride… that’s my ability to select this book, not in regards to the having of the disease.  Of course when I found it, I had to share my excitement with someone and what better person to discuss a great book like this than with another bookseller and here’s where it gets really interesting.  I start mentioning this book to a local bookseller and don’t even get to the title and he asks, “It’s not about Sarcoid, is it?” I was gobsmacked.  Of all the medical texts and nasty insidious diseases in the world how did he know?  It turns out, that this other bookseller also has (had?) Sarcoid of the lungs and from my glowing introduction and description to this title, he guessed what it was.  I find this weird as it’s not that common a disease and it certainly is not a disease of the bookseller. 

So there you go, there’s 2 people who know what Sarcoid is.  I’ve met a few others over the years who are acquainted with it but generally only medical professionals and some of those have been a little vague on the exact details.  What they need is a good book on the subject…?

*There is no cure for sarcoid but it can mysteriously just disappear

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Woori Yallock School and District: A Short History by Shirley W. Wiencke.

Woori Yallock School and District: A Short History by Shirley W. Wiencke.  Paperback booklet self published (?) (no date, probably 1974).

(Woori Yallock is a small town here in Victoria, situated somewhere between Lilydale and Warburton, it has a population of around 2,800… so it’s a bit bigger than where I live.) 

This little booklet is something that I stumbled across quite by accident.  I didn’t buy it.  I didn’t pick it up.  So where did this magical mystery booklet come from?  Well, it was accidentally inserted in another book, totally unrelated to Woori Yallock, that I did pick up and purchase (… everyone’s dream is to find a $100 note squirreled away in a book…  and all I find is a history of Woori Yallock… no offence meant to the residents of Woori Yallock).  What is interesting is that if I have of found this book, I would have picked it up.  This kind of local history is something that I tend to buy and list on ebay to varying success.  Sometimes you get lucky and a little inconspicuous self published booklet like this one, can be worth the big $... but more often than not, its worth just under $10… or nothing.  Of course when you’ve paid what I paid for this book anything is a good margin… The implication that a free book has a great profit margin, is possibly a little misleading.  I did of course have to drive to the place where I found the book and I did have to spend time looking through books to find the other book that I did purchase.  I also had to clean the book and spend time describing it, scanning it and then listing it (ebay).  I then had to relist it (it didn’t sell the first time around) and of course I have also spent time writing about it here.  If it sells, I will then have to pack it up and go to the post office, which is of course more time and we all know what time is*.  There’s a lot of work and effort that goes into this bookselling business.  Sometimes I despair at the amount of time and effort it takes.  It would be lovely to find all those easy to sell $100 books (key words here are “easy to sell”), but that isn’t the nature of this business… at least not the nature of my business.  I’ve found over the years that any book worth $$$ is more often than not, jinxed.  Any book valued under $20 is a much easier sell… which is why I tend to pick up books like “Woori Yallock School and District: A Short History”…  and always hope that there’s a $100 note in it.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lighthouses of Australia: A visitor's guide by John Ibbotson.

Lighthouses of Australia: A visitor's guide by John Ibbotson.  Hardcover book with pictorial boards (no dust jacket) published by Australian Lighthouse Traders 2003.

As the fog of Christmas starts to thin, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Which brings me to this lovely guide to the Lighthouses of Australia.  John Ibbotson is a bit of a one man beacon in the world of Australian Lighthouses… yes, a bit of a shining light in the world of the Lighthouse fancier.  If you go to his website you can see the passion that this guy has for all things sitting on rocky coastlines shining lights.  There are a number of books with his name on them and they all sell for a good price both new and second hand.  This particular book no longer appears to be in print, although I’m sure that once John has finished promoting his book about “Climate Change Myths”, he will get back to the world of Lighthouses and once again guide us through the rocky world of the Lighthouses of Australia.

I was in my local post office the other day and quite casually and in a round about way, the post master informs me that she spent her early years growing up in a lighthouse in Queensland.  Unfortunately her family left when she was quite young and she doesn’t remember much, but still it’s not everyday that you meet someone who has first hand experience of not being able to go sit in the corner as a small child.  She also informed me that the lighthouse she grew up in is in this book… if only I could remember which one it was.

John Ibbotson’s Lighthouse books are all beautiful productions and I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t ooohhhed and aaahhhed when perusing any of his titles… even a hardened bookseller like myself ooohhhed.  I like the fact that John not only writes but also self publishes his books and from all appearances quite successfully.  

(I bumped into the Post Master mentioned above.  It was the Low Isles, Port Douglas. This is a photograph from the book of the Low Isles.) 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Return from the stars by Stanislaw Lem.

Return from the stars by Stanislaw Lem.  Paperback published by Mandarin 1990.  (This book was originally published in 1961) 

Chapter 3, page 79.
"I spent the afternoon in a bookstore. There were no books in it. None had been printed for nearly half a century. And how I had looked forward to them, after the microfilms that made up the library of the Prometheus! No such luck. No longer was it possible to browse among shelves, to weigh volumes in the hand, to feel their heft, the promise of ponderous reading. The bookstore resembled, instead, an electronic laboratory. The books were crystals with recorded contents. They could be read with the aid of an opton, which was similar to a book but had only one page between the covers. At a touch, successive pages of the text appeared on it. But optons were little used, the sales-robot told me. The public preferred lectons—lectons read out loud, they could be set to any voice, tempo, and modulation. Only scientific publications having a very limited distribution were still printed, on a plastic imitation paper. Thus all my purchases fitted into one pocket, though there must have been almost three hundred titles. A handful of crystal corn—my books. I selected a number of works on history and sociology, a few on statistics and demography, and what the girl from Adapt had recommended on psychology. A couple of the larger mathematical textbooks—larger, of course, in the sense of their content, not of their physical size. The robot that served me was itself an encyclopedia, in that—as it told me—it was linked directly, through electronic catalogues, to templates of every book on Earth. As a rule, a bookstore had only single “copies” of books, and when someone needed a particular book, the content of the work was recorded in a crystal."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Terry Nation's Blakes 7, novelization by Trevor Hoyle.

Terry Nation's Blakes 7, novelization by Trevor Hoyle.  Hardcover book published by Arthur Barker Limited 1977.

I’m a very late convert to Blakes 7 which was a British Sci-Fi TV series that screened from 1978 till 1981.  It was written by Terry Nation who was the guy who created the Daleks in Doctor Who.  It’s not everyone whose claim to fame is that they created one of the most feared alien races in TV history.  I viewed Blakes 7 on a friends recommendation and here we are many years later and a galaxy away and Blakes 7 has stuck with me.

The story revolves around a group of people travelling through space on a “found” spaceship who are plotting and fighting against the Federation… which I guess was the government.  In other words, they were terrorists.  Now before all you Blake 7 fans start foaming at the mouth and start sending me nasty messages re this terrorist comparison, this quote from our friends at Wikipedia:
“The word "terrorism" is politically and emotionally charged, and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition.”
I guess I’m using the word terrorism in a VERY broad sense.  In Blakes 7 there was a government and some rebels were fighting against it… These rebels are of course, good rebels fighting against a bad government a bit like… ummm… well…ummm… somebody… Maybe like Mahatma Gandhi… or Nelson Mandela… but with spaceships and more blowing up of things.

Blakes 7 had the appearance and production values of contemporary episodes of Doctor Who.  If I had to define the main difference and avoid the concept of Terrorism, I would describe it as being more adult oriented and less panto. Now that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t panto (it was), it was just less panto than Doctor Who.

This book was written by the Science Fiction author Trevor Hoyle and was published before the TV series was first broadcast.  I find this interesting as here we have a book written by a Sci-fi writer based around the story of another Sci-fi writer.  The difference is that Terry wrote for the telly and Trevor wrote books… and this book is a book and is not on the telly and Terry’s scripts were not books are were on the telly.

So I was out and about patrolling the galaxy on my quest for more books to sell.  I had my crew with me at the time and we were all frantically searching for those elusive power titles to little avail.  All of a sudden, one of my fellow intergalactic travellers walks over to me and hands me this book, knowing that I am a fan of the TV series.  So I look at it and ummm and ahhh and seriously consider putting the book back when all of a sudden and inexplicably, I decide to make the purchase.  In retrospect the fact that I only had 2 other books in my hand made me think that I needed to walk away with something… anything.  I pretty much immediately regretted my purchase, thinking to myself that I would be better off spending my money on books that I can actually sell.

Back at mission control, I check this title out on the interwebs and…. WOW (if your keen on checking it try this and type in “Blakes 7” “Hoyle” and “Barker” in the appropriate fields).  How wrong was I?  But you know, I still have the book and maybe… just maybe… I might have been “better off spending my money on books that I can actually sell”.  Still, it’s all part of the adventure… and it is another episode in the story of Huc & Gabet... but without Daleks.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong.

Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong.  Hardcover book published by Modern Library 2000.

A number of years ago I was contemplating the history of the middle east and was wondering how i could possibly find a good unbiased history of this fascinating and often volatile region.  A co-worker at the time kindly recommended Jerusalem by Karen Armstrong. To cut a long story short (…as in, avoiding the long story about me looking for the book, finally tracking a copy down and paying too much for it… etc etc), this was an excellent introduction to the writings of Karen Armstrong and it did give me a better understanding of the middle east and in particular Jerusalem.  Since then I have read a number of her other books and have enjoyed them immensely.  Maybe enjoyed isn’t quite the right word… actually it is, but maybe I need to clarify “enjoyed”.  I have “enjoyed” the learning experience gained by reading her books. 

As a complete layman in regards to most things religious, I find Karen’s writings to be very enlightening and interesting (of interest).  The way she writes about these subjects is particularly of interest to me, as she tends to look at the history rather than the emotional and metaphysical aspects of the subject (the history is more my thing)… that is unless she’s writing about the history of the emotional and metaphysical aspects of the subject (does this make sense?). 

Karen was originally a Catholic Nunn but left that all behind her quite a while ago and has become "arguably the most lucid, wide-ranging and consistently interesting religion writer today".This particular book is of course about a very topical religion and despite Karen’s background she tackles the subject in a most readable and sympathetic way avoiding bias as best she can.**  She tends to do this with her other books as well and indeed (and this is completely from memory), in her book Jerusalem she was most critical of the Christian involvement in Jerusalem. 

I like Karen and I like her books and would not hesitate in recommending any of her titles to anyone vaguely interested in the subject matter or even if they were not interested… it’s still good.  

*Laura Miller (quote stolen from Wikipedia).

**My opinion… probably not the opinion of the Taliban.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Interest Rate Swaps and Their Derivatives: A Practitioner’s Guide by Amir Sadr.

Interest Rate Swaps and Their Derivatives: A Practitioner’s Guide by Amir Sadr.  Hardcover book published by John Wiley and Sons 2009.

Books of interest.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Gentle Art of Smoking by Alfred H. Dunhill.

The Gentle Art of Smoking by Alfred H. Dunhill.  Hardcover book published by Max Reinhardt 1954.

As tobacco packaging laws here in Australia become more extreme, I thought it might be appropriate to write about this book written by Alfred H. Dunhill.  Here in Australia we are more acquainted with the Dunhill brand of cigarettes and less so with the shops of the same name that specialize in selling men's luxury leather goods, writing implements, lighters, timepieces, fragrances and clothing.  Dunhill cigarettes are considered a luxury brand and are…. hang on a sec “luxury brand”.  A cigarette, luxurious?  No, no, no, no. … Whoops.  Sorry.  I forgot.  I’m trying to sell this book.  Yes, it’s a luxury brand and yes, it is named after the author of this book.  Dunhill was the brand favoured by Hunter S. Thompson… and my father, the two of whom had very little other than the cigarettes they smoked in common.

So this book looks at the history, growing, preparation of Tobacco and then moves on to Pipes, Cigars, Snuff and some other bits.  There’s a few photographs and a few illustrations.  

This photograph and illustration of a cigarette making machine reminds me of a visit to The Royal Melbourne Show at some stage in the early 1970s (I was a young boy at the time).  I remember very clearly seeing a machine there that demonstrated the making of cigarettes.  It’s interesting to reflect on the fact that a cigarette making machine was on display at an event mostly catering to children.  At the time it didn’t seem that strange.  I personally found it interesting to see where the three packets a day that my dad smoked came from.

Recently I had someone email me about a book I had for sale at that time.  Their question was in regards to the odour of the book and particularly whether the book smelt of cigarette smoke.  Fortunately it didn’t, although to be honest I hadn’t sniffed it until asked to do so.  Mr Dunhills book though, did get the full sniffer test before purchase… and passed.  At the moment I do have 2 other books that do have a vague scent of cigarette smoke. I find this to be fairly obvious whilst checking books for any defects (… they tend to waft).  In the past I have aired these odourous books over a few weeks by standing them up, fanned out and leaving them in a well ventilated spot whilst occasionally flicking through the pages (usually once a day).  This has worked to varying degrees in the past.  Sometimes this problem (stinky smell) can be removed completely, usually it is decreased in intensity and occasionally it doesn’t matter what you do, it still smells.

The Gentle Art of Smoking is a puff from the past and I don’t know that many people would now describe smoking as a “Gentle Art”.  This book is possibly of interest to those that persist despite the health warnings and social stigma that now surrounds “The Gentle Art”.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Salad Guide for Employee Cafeterias and Other Large Food Services.

Salad Guide for Employee Cafeterias and Other Large Food Services.  Softcover (vinyl boards) spiral bound published by Department of Labour and National Service (Australia) 1971.

Lets face it, one can’t live on Hotdogs alone.  This book written (tossed together) for commercial establishments and in particular Employee Cafeterias, is a great example of the “healthy option”.  In 1971 it was obviously considered important enough by the Department of Labour and National Service to publish a book like this one. Were there really that many Employee Cafeterias back in 1971 that a book such as this was required?  This is a bizarre concept by today’s standards or maybe not.  Maybe my personal experience of Cafeteria’s is sadly lacking.  The only Cafeteria I’ve been too in recent years has been a Scandinavian establishment… that big furniture company…. you know the one… Swedish Meatballs? 

This book was designed for a very hands on approach.  The spiral binding allows the book to be easily flipped open (and stay open) and the vinyl cover and glossy pages make it quite easy to clean up any mess that may venture away from the plate. There are some great basic salad recipes at the beginning of the book, that yield 50 serves… this could be perfect for Christmas and the other salads look… well, they look like 1971.

Cheese Salad

Cottage Cheese and Fruit Salad

Fish Salad

Rock Lobster Salad

Scandinavian Salad

I find it very hard to believe that any employee cafeteria would serve Rock Lobster to it’s staff, even if it was 1971.  Call me old fashioned but no employer cares that much about their employees.  Even the Scandinavian establishment I mentioned earlier doesn’t do the Lobster and now I think about it I can’t even remember seeing a Scandinavian Salad on the menu (… but hotdogs were down stairs).

As we head towards summer I can only imagine how much use this book will be to someone who has to cater salad for many people.  For those of you out there who are fortunate enough to be partaking in a 1970's Salad Party this summer, this book has all the answers to your salad making questions. And this all goes to show you, that you can make friends with salad.

Friday, November 25, 2011

An Intermediate Latin Grammar with Exercises by J.P. Giles and E.N. Pfitzner.

An Intermediate Latin Grammar with Exercises by J.P. Giles and E.N. Pfitzner.

I’ve only recently cottoned on to the massive Latin learning resurgence that is taking place world wide as we speak.  OK, maybe “massive” is overdoing it a bit, but I assure you that learning Latin is becoming more popular than you think. Young and old are flocking to secondhand bookshops (and also on the interwebs) seeking those elusive Latin texts.

“doctus cum libro”

Yep, that’s right.  They all want to learn from books.  There’s even a “Latin for Dummies” and those “Dummies” people are usually on the ball with what’s happening.  You’ve probably seen (or read) Henry Beards “Latin for all Occasions” or one of his other Latin books and these titles are so popular, that even Huc & Gabet has managed to sell a few.  “An Intermediate Latin Grammar with Exercises” is an older title (1960) but considering that Latin was popular with the Ancient Romans, I don’t know that the age of a Latin textbook really matters that much.  I guess it probably doesn’t have the word for “computer” in it, or the Latin words for “digital downloads”, and it definitely doesn’t have “e-book reader” in its vocabulary.

My first encounter with the phenomenon of the Latin learner was a friends grand daughter who was looking for any Latin books.  That is ANYTHING in Latin.  She didn’t care what it was, as long as she could learn some Latin, which is a bit confronting when your talking to a 12 year old who’s passion in life in learning Latin (shouldn’t she be swooning over Justin Biber… ad gustum)… her mother did point out that there was a Harry Potter connection to the whole Latin learning business.

“ab ove maiori discit arare minor”

I was recently visiting Allsorts books and chatting to the wonderful and most knowledgeable proprietor Paul Francis Perry who as far as I’m aware doesn’t speak a word of Latin, when a customer asked for some Latin textbooks.  She was an older lady who explained that she had last taught Latin 35 years ago and had been recently approached be an acquaintance to once again doce ut discas.  She seemed to be very pleased with the knowledge that her moth balled skills would again be of use. It was mirabile visu.

But you know, I personally am not very good with languages. Just look at this blog and you’ll get the idea.  … and Latin, well “it’s all Greek to me”.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Life by Keith Richards.

Life by Keith Richards, with James Fox.

“Would he really rather be Keith Richards givin half a chance” Arthur Comics, isgodaman

Keith Richards isn’t a god.  He’s just a guy.  He plays a bit of guitar, has written some great ditties, has taken some drugs, hangs out with the Rolling Stones (cool… well… up to a point) and is a bit of a legend.  But a god he isn’t.

I wrote a while ago about the rock ‘n’ roll biography in reference to the Grateful Dead.  These sort of books are always a hard sell and from memory the Grateful Dead were definitely a hard sell.  Some of these people aren’t really that interesting or are of interest to only a small number of nostalgic oldies… or to the current wave of teenage fans that would probably now download any book they wanted for free as apposed to buying a hard copy from Huc & Gabet.  Some books though, really are “of interest”.  We all know enough about Keef to know that he was a bit of a wild boy in his youth… ok, maybe for a bit longer than just his youth, which is probably why this book received so much attention at the time it was published.  The back cover photo has Keith’s scrawl over it and reads, “This is the life. Believe it or not, I haven’t forgotten any of it.”  I know a few people who have read Keith’s “tell all” and they have all enthused quite enthusiastically about it.  At this point in time I haven’t read it… but you never know.

These photographs of Keith Richards library are from a book entitled “At Home with Books: How booklovers live with and care for their libraries”.  Keith was obviously promoting his solo album at the time, but despite the obvious promotion it does give us an idea of his taste in books and how he lives with books.  I don’t want to go through and analyse what Keith Richards reads and doesn’t read, but I do want to mention the bottle of HP Sauce sitting on the shelf. 

Keith, you gotta know that HP + Books is not a good thing… and ummm… thanks for the tunes.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity by Tariq Ali.

The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity by Tariq Ali.  Hardcover book published by Verso 2002.

Firstly, that isn’t George Bin Laden’s picture on the dust jacket. Secondly, this photo is not an indication of a humorous tone to Tariq Ali’s excellent book.  I read this a few years ago and have recommended it to a number of people as I think it’s a great read and very enlightening despite being 10 years old.  The only person who took my advice and read it, thanked me for the recommendation and agreed with my rather brief description (“It’s a great read”). 

Tariq’s observations, despite being very one sided (the left side), on September 11 particularly in relation to the history of Islam, are excellent.  The book is interspersed with personal anecdotes which only add to the readability and ease of understanding of what are difficult subjects for many of us to fully comprehend.  I think it’s a good sign that I can remember specific bits from this book even though it’s been a few years since I read it.

I saw/heard Tariq talk a few years ago and was very impressed with the ease in which he addressed a large hall full of people in a very casual, and what appeared to be, unscripted manner.  After being impressed not only with what he said but the way he said it, I tracked down a copy of this book and read it post-haste.  I have read another book by him entitled Bush in Babylon, but I found Clash of Fundamentalisms to be the better read.

So how sellable is a book like this.  Well, to be honest, I find on line sales of anything remotely topical (such as terrorism) very difficult.  The reason I’ve decided to give this title a go is purely because I think “it’s a great read”. Why these sort of book are hard to sell, I don’t know… maybe this time I will be wrong.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Frogwatch Field Guide to Victorian Frogs.

Frogwatch Field Guide to Victorian Frogs by Jean-Marc Hero, Murray Littlejohn and Gerry Marantelli.  Paperback book published by Department of Conservation & Environment Victoria 1991.

After a long hard day at the office, there is nothing I like better than heading over to the local creek to listen to frogs.  There’s a beautiful surround sound spot at the other end of town where you can stand on a causeway and enjoy perfect 5.1 froggy digital.  This may sound a bit strange (what I do… not the frogs), but it is beautiful and to be honest, I don’t to it for hours, a few minutes is plenty.

Frogwatch, the organization who put this book together, mentions in their blurb the listening to of frogs.  Obviously I’m not the only one who enjoys the sound of frogs.  I have a friend who has a tank full of frogs and he managed to identify the frogs in the creek here in Clunes from my crappy phone recordings* (… yes I have recorded the sound of frogs on my phone)… I think he likes the sound of frogs as well. 

Frogs as we all know, are having a hard time of it as wetlands become not wetlands and lengthy droughts dry up the wetlands that are left.  This book was published by the Department of Conservation & Environment Victoria and was designed to create and foster interest in Victorian frogs and hopefully help in preventing further stress on frog numbers.  It’s very user friendly and has great pictures to help with identification.  I like this book, which is why I’ve written about it. 

Recently I came home fairly late and it was raining cats and dogs (not frogs).  There I was with a box of books under one arm struggling with keys to get in the door when I saw this out of the corner of my eye:


Sorry for the blurred photo.  It was late, it was raining and I didn’t have my glasses on.  Now as hard as this is to believe I know someone who is amazing with picking animals from my dodgy photos and descriptions and usually when I email them there is a fairly quick response with excellent answers.  The reply to this inquiry was very enlightening. This frog is probably not native to Victoria.  It’s an import, probably from Queensland and if you go to this website and have a look at the frogs of Victoria, it’s possibly that little guy known as the Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog, which is listed under Victoria but isn’t from Victoria (very confusing)… or maybe not.  I must put my glasses on next time I take a photo. 

So if you’re a tad interested in this book…

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The New Hotdog Cookbook by Mettja C. Roate.

The New Hotdog Cookbook by Mettja C. Roate.  Paperback book published by Modern Promotions 1983.

“Kids love them- adults adore them - and they're so easy on the budget! Here are over 250 new and exciting ways to fix this old-time favourite.”

This book has so many things going for it.  Like ummm…

The title: It makes me wonder what the “Old” Hotdog Cookbook had in it that required a newer version of this wonderful epicurean smorgasbord of sausage delights. I am of course keeping an eye out for any older editions.

A Wonderful cover: Look at that picture.  It’s just beautiful.  It’s what attracted my attention to this Gourmands bible of Hotdog delicacies. Unfortunately the publishers have chosen not to include any other photographs… an opportunity lost.

Cover detail

Excellent selection of recipes: There’s whole chapters on Hot Dog Soups, Hot Dog Casseroles and even a chapter for us Gourmets entitled, “Gourmet Hot Dogs”.  There’s a recipe here for “Hot Dogs in Fruited Brandy Sauce” that has a whole can of Pineapple in it…. Amazing, this book just keeps getting better.  Unfortunately the authors have chosen to not include any dessert recipes, although I imagine the Hot Dogs in Fruited Brandy Sauce comes pretty close to a dessert.

“If you want...
To serve something that’s good, and good for you, too—
A versatile food that can be served in countless ways, from appetizers to hearty main dishes—
A precooked food that cuts preparation time to a minimum —
and if you want to stretch your food budget while doing all this—try any one of the several hundred mouth- watering and fun-to-make recipes in this book. It’s the foolproof way to family mealtime magic!”

A book like this is hard to part with, but up for sale it is.  I just hope that any Hot Dog fancier that takes the plunge, enjoys it as much as I have enjoyed looking, thinking and writing about it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sikh Struggle: Origin, Evolution and Present Phase by Ram Narayan Kumar.

Sikh Struggle: Origin, Evolution and Present Phase by Ram Narayan Kumar. Hardcover book published by Chanakya Publications (Delhi) 1991.

I’ve just finished reading an excellent history of the North West Frontier* (now in Pakistan and next to Afghanistan) and Afghanistan.  It was great, but unfortunately the book was written and published during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and didn’t contain any of the newer interesting stuff that has happened in this area since… This doesn’t mean the book contained uninteresting stuff, quite the opposite.  This part of the world has been a hot point for a long time and when it’s not boiling over, it’s been on a low simmer. 

I mention this other book as it does touch upon the Sikhs and the conflicts that they had with the British over the creation of a Sikh state (Khalistan).  This book, "Sikh Struggle", looks at the long and involved history of the "Struggle" and not so much with the North West Frontier or Afghanistan.  By the 1980s the British were long gone, yet Sikh militancy was once again on the rise in India and abroad.  Militants did blow up a plane in 1985, and there was the whole Golden Temple/Operation Bluestar fiasco, which ended with a lot of Sikhs dying after Indira Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards let her know what they thought of Operation Bluestar**.

By the early 1990s, when this book was published, the Indian army had started to get a handle on the whole situation and of course during all this time Kashmir was bubbling away and then began to boil over. 

Sikhs are a very proud people and from my own minimal experience, a very friendly and inviting people.  I visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar many years ago and found the whole experience to be a warm and memorable one.  Maybe they were trying to convert me… The truth is, the whole turban wearing business is not really my thing.  As i walked around the temple, Sikh pilgrims from all over the world were lapping up the atmosphere and generally enjoying themselves. The whole place had a family day out sort of feel to it and I was made to feel most welcome.  Maybe I missed the point.  That is, the whole religious thing.  But as a complete outsider, I did enjoy the atmosphere.  Getting back to Operation Bluestar (the invasion of the temple by the Indian Army to remove Sikh militants), there were many reminders of this event within the temple complex.  Even though most of the bits that were destroyed had already been rebuilt, people were very keen to point out all the finer details to me, just in case I didn’t notice.

My other experiences of Sikh militancy are minimal.  I did see camouflaged Indian tanks parked in fields in the Punjab and I was searched at gunpoint in the same area at the time (…they were looking for guns… in my backpack).  I was also stranded at one stage in a small town in the Himalayas as there were no buses going through a largish bus station due to some bomb blasts.  I was there as I was heading back to Delhi after a very enjoyable visit to Kashmir (…it was the year before that began to boil over).

Anyway, I mention all of this as these experiences are the reasons why I pick up a book like this one.  I see the words “Sikh” and “Struggle” and I know this does not refer to the tying of a perfect turban… although I have seen a Sikh struggle with a turban.  I guess this is all part of the knowledge that goes into picking out books and it’s something only experience can explain. 

*Every Rock, Every Hill: The Plain Tale of the North-West Frontier and Afghanistan by Victoria Schofield.
**They assassinated her.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Racing Alaskan Sled Dogs

Racing Alaskan Sled Dogs, compiled by Bill Vaudrin.  Paperback book published by Alaska Northwest Publishing Company 1977.

Alaskan Sled Dogs… no, I haven’t seen any recently.   Actually now that I think about it, I haven’t seen any sleds with dogs going past my window.  We get very little snow here in Clunes (none in the last 2 years) although my pipes have frozen twice*… yes, it does get cold enough, but no snow.  So this book probably has very little appeal to any of the locals here in sunny Clunes.  Indeed you may wonder if anyone here in Australia has any interest in Sled Dog racing.  A quick look at the interwebs and I discovered this:  …although it looks like they are actually bike dogs as I can’t really see anything that looks vaguely like a sled except the three wheeled thingy.  To be honest, I do know someone else who’s interested in Sled Dogs, so obviously it’s not an uncommon interest here in Australia.  This all goes to show you that there is an interest in the whole exercise of a dog pulling something along. 

This book is 25 years old.  Sometimes information can become a little dated in older books particularly in the case of instructional works such as this one.  In this instance though, I can’t imagine that there has been much change in putting a dog in front of sled (or bike) and yelling “Mush”.   

*Not my personal pipes… the water pipes in my house.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kath & Kim

Look at Me: Scripts from Kath & Kim Series 1 by Gina Riley and Jane Turner.
That's Unusual: Scripts from Kath & Kim Series 2 by Gina Riley and Jane Turner.

Remember these guys.  It was 10 years ago that the TV series of Kath & Kim entered out lives… one day it may even leave our lives as well, but not before a feature length movie hits the big screen next year (…or is it going straight to plasma?).  In the meantime there are the DVDs, merchandise and of course these books to remind us. 

I haven’t written about Nostalgia for a while and I reckon a TV show that began 10 years ago does count as having Nostalgia value.  A lot of things have happened in the last 10 years… for one thing, I’m 10 years older and secondly, so are the Kath & Kim jokes.  I shouldn’t be too harsh on them.  I did think it was amusing at the time and in retrospect it does stand out as a landmark TV series… and these are books that I’m trying to sell.  Both books are comprised of dialogue/scripts from the TV shows which I guess is of interest as it was the dialogue and use/misuse of language that made these characters so funny. 

Kim: I want to be effluent, mum, effluent!
Kath: You are effluent, Kim!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hello Kitty: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon

Hello Kitty: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon by Ken Belson and Brian Bremner.  Hardcover book published by John Wiley & Sons 2004.

Business histories, or books on economics, are not something that usually get picked up by the Huc & Gabet radar.  Quite honestly I’d rather cut my toenails than have to think too much about business books.  In this instance it was the massive popularity of the subject matter that sparked my interest and drew my attention.  Apparently there are 22,000 licensed Hello Kitty products worldwide (22,001 including this book)… I find this a little frightening as I’m pretty sure there are people out there who collect ALL of this stuff… which includes everything from a Passenger Jet to Wine.  So what’s the appeal?  Well… I have no idea, I’m not a child and I’m not a woman in her 20s or 30s (this is the target audience for Hello Kitty products… I got this bit of info from the publishers blurb) and quite honestly it’s not my thing… but I am aware that there are plenty of people out there who’s thing Hello Kitty is. 

But this book isn’t really about the Kitty.  It’s about Sanrio the company that produces/markets Hello Kitty (real name is Kitty White).  It’s pretty heavy going and sticks to the whole business mode thingy throughout (…no, I haven’t read it… it just looks like it’s like this all the way through). 

“The phenomenal and global success of Hello Kitty poses some interesting questions about what drives consumer behaviour, and how crazes suddenly explode on the scene.”

There are no lovely illustrations or photographs of any of the 20,000 items and even the front of the dust jacket only reveals a partial image of the top of Kitty’s head.  The back of the dust jacket has a smallish token picture only.  Overall the book is a glowing endorsement of the company and it’s “brilliant answer to Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse”. 

I guess Hello Kitty is an interesting subject which is why the Huc & Gabet radar picked up on it.  It is a Japanese brand and icon that has successfully moved out of Japan and developed into a Billion dollar international business (which is not that many Passenger Jets, but a lot more wine).  So if your interested in modeling your own cute cartoon icon on a “phenomenal and global success” then this is the book for you.  If your 6 years old and want some nice pictures of the cute Kitty… then this isn’t the book for you.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Boxing by R.G. Allanson–Winn.

Boxing by R.G. Allanson –Winn.  Hardcover book (stiff card) with decorative boards published by George Bell 1901.

Earlier this year I sold a copy of "Boxing's Book of Records to June 30, 1914".  It was fairly worn and used/loved and did manage to sell despite having a rough and tumble appearance. This book is more of an instructional volume and also appears to have done a number of rounds.  By the looks of it, it may have been in Lefty Bicek’s pocket for quite a while.  I like the idea of these vintage boxing books being read and reread again, although this may be wishful thinking based upon a stereotype of an obsessed boxer or boxing fan (Never Come Morning by Nelson Algren).

Besides wear, there is some interesting half legible scrawlings to the front endpages.  First title page has “Mr William (?????) Butcher Lethbridge” and the title page has some writing which I can’t read the first part of, but ends with “it is bad for the eyesight.”  One can only assume that William, a Butcher from Lethbridge, lost some of his eyesight due to boxing… maybe even after following the instructions in this book.  Heavy stuff. 

It was only when I got home, that I was able to take off my gloves and have a good hard flick through.  It was then that I discovered these wonderful photographs. ….and by the way, don’t try any of this at home or you’ll end up like the Butcher of Lethbridge.

There are great illustrations as well and the text seems to be fairly straightforward.  Some great advice is given:
“…more attention should in a general way be paid to getting the head out of the way of the blow than to actually warding it off…”
Maybe the butcher should have taken this bit of advice.

I think this book is a knock out and I certainly think it will be a hit once I throw it in the ring. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Australian Civil Defence Handbook: General Information.

Australian Civil Defence Handbook: General Information. Paperback booklet published by The Commonwealth Directorate of Civil Defence (Australian Government Publishing Service) 1972. 

“Civil Defence includes the organisation of Government and the community to meet the effects of attack on them by an enemy.”

This is the first sentence of the preface and for some reason the words “attack” and “enemy” jump out at me.  Enemy? Which enemy?  Someone didn’t like Australians that much that it was considered necessary to publish a booklet about them attacking us?  There was I back in 1972 without a care in the world and some government official was considering whether an "attack" by an “enemy” would take place.  I guess it’s their job and let’s face it, even in 1972 government officials needed to stay one step ahead of any possible threat.

“The danger of such an attack is remote…”

OK. Well that’s some great positive retrospective news.  I feel a little relieved to know that we weren’t under that much of a threat other than the steady invasion of Cane Toads and bad hair.  The book opens with some chapters on the whole beauracratic organisation of Civil Defence under the heading "Principles of Organisation and Operation".  Followed by "Detailed Aspects".  This includes chapters on map reading, message writing (…"help"), fire and some practical fire prevention measures (very handy here in Australia), nuclear weapons…  

“…but the preparations required to meet it, and in particular the worst case of nuclear attack, cannot be completed quickly.”

So what do we do back in 1972 when the nuclear bombs start falling?  Well apparently a building or a trench is good protection and clothing is also good… preferably wool, not cotton, as it doesn’t catch fire as easily (I guess this also means that thongs (flip flops) are out of the question) and of course lead is a great protector. There’s heaps of other great tips, like throwing yourself on the ground if your caught in the open as well as some handy hints on how to protect yourself from Gamma Radiation.

…and all of this in the year that Gough was elected to parliament, Australia pulled out of the Vietnam conflict and Belinda Green won the Miss World Competition.  I guess this book proves that we were prepared… well maybe not "we".