Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lawrence of Arabia: The authorised biography of T. E. Lawrence by Jeremy Wilson.

Lawrence of Arabia: The authorised biography of T. E. Lawrence by Jeremy Wilson.  Hardcover book published by Heinemann 1990, 1188 pages with a few black and white photographs and illustrations.

This is a large daunting volume by anyones standards.  The sort of book that requires commitment and care to both the book and the reader.  I read it many years ago and I can’t quite remember how I managed it at the time, but obviously I did despite its unwieldiness.  What I do remember is that the book opened up the whole world of Lawrence to me which lead me to read Seven Pillars of Wisdom.  To this day, Seven Pillars is a book that I look upon as a milestone in my reading history and as being a must read for anyone else interested in reading.  I’ve found a few copies over recent years and have had no difficulty in selling it either by recommendation or by fulfilling requests.  Those of you that know the book, know what I’m talking about.  Those of you that don’t…. click here.  Just last weekend I had two separate customers ask me for anything about Lawrence and I did manage to sell a copy of the letters which from memory were edited by the author of this biography.  Lawrence still has many admirers and his relevance, legacy and controversy is worth mentioning in relation to the current issues that plague the Middle East and most recently Syria.  Not bad for a guy that has been dead for more than 75 years.  If you don’t know what the “relevance, legacy and controversy” is all about, I know of a book that should sort this.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Australian Hereford Breeders' Guide: 1950, edited by Frank O’Loghlen.

The Australian Hereford Breeders' Guide: 1950, edited by Frank O’Loghlen.  Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by The Australian Hereford Society 1950, 160 pages with black and white photographs and a few black and white illustrations.  Book contains quite a lot of advertising for Studs and related products.  (Spine title indicates that this is “Vol.2.1949”)

I do like a good vintage agricultural book and this one meets most of the harsh Huc & Gabet criterias that are carefully considered before such a purchase.  These include:

Subject matter –  Bovines of the Hereford sort in Australia 
It’s a cow.  There are lots of them. They’re in Australia.  People are interested in cows for various different reasons… and so are cows.

Year – 1950.
It’s a historic/nostalgic look at cows. 

Condition – Good.
Condition is always important (… of both the book and the cows).  It was published in 1950, so it should have a little bit of wear… but not too much.

Bonus features – Contains advertising.
Not only does it have cow products (hair gel, deodorant*) it also contains advertising for other cows… sort of like on line dating but with less emotion.


Scarcity – It’s not the Da Vinci Code.

There are other very positive things about this book other than what I’ve written above and I’m fairly sure that one of my regular shop customers will snap it up once I have carefully placed it in his hands.  For now though it’s on line, awaiting some moovement. 

* Not true.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Childlens, edited by Action Punch.

Childlens, edited by Action Punch.  Hardcover book with pictorial boards (no dust jacket) published by Action Punch/Little More 2003, unpaginated with colour photographs as well as some black and white photographs (of the photographers)(Small amount of text only.  This is in Japanese).

I recently sang the praises of hard boiled vintage photographer, Weegee. This book is at the complete other end of the spectrum re interesting/of interest photography books.  The small amount of text is in Japanese, but that’s not really important as it is a collection of photographs and the photos really do speak for themselves.  My skills of detection lead me to believe that the book was published to accompany an exhibition of photos in 2003 somewhere in Japan… at least that’s what the promotional sticker on the front cover written in Japanese and English indicates.  The title gives a little more information as to who took the photos and the subject matter of many of the photos leaves little doubt that they were taken by young children.  There’s also a section at the back of the book where there are many small black and white photographs of the photographers.

I am a bit of cynic at times and the idea of an exhibition of childrens photography is something that horrifies this bookseller… Sorry if this offends any parents of young “gifted” photographers, but it’s true, I couldn’t think of anything worse than looking at out of focus poorly executed photographs.  If I wanted to see that sort of thing, I would take more photos.   So, I nearly didn’t pick up this book until I had a good long hard look at it.  Wow...  it’s beautiful, a true surprise… and revelation.  I am so impressed with this book that I’ve even written about it here.  Here’s a few scans of some of the images.  (Some of the edges are a little blurry and have been trimmed due to the scanning process.)

Besides the parents of the kids involved, I don’t know that many people would be interested in this book… except for me… and if I like it, and I’m not related to any of the photographers, there may be others.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bang!: The Complete History of the Universe by Brian May, Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott.

Bang!: The Complete History of the Universe by Brian May, Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott. Hardcover book published by Carlton Books 2012 (fourth edition), 144 pages with some colour photographs and illustrations as well as a few black and white photographs and illustrations.

“BANG! Space, time, matter... the Universe was born 13.7 billion years ago. Infinitely small at first, it expanded more rapidly than anyone can contemplate. Brian May, Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott explain how all this came about, from that moment when time and space came into existence, to the formation of the first stars, galaxies and planets, and to the evolution of human beings able to contemplate our own origins and ultimate destiny. Then on towards that destiny in the infinite future, long after the Earth has been consumed by the Red Giant Sun.”

The complete history of the universe in 144 pages!!!  144 pages isn’t really a lot of pages, particularly if you start thinking about the 13.7 billion years that are covered by this book.  Even 50 shades of Grey has more detail, so I can only assume that this is probably a condensed version of a long, long story and the authors have left out some very, very boring bits that just go on and on forever (billions of years).*  But let’s face it, we, the reading novice astronomers of this planet, only really want to know the juicy bits and this book sets out to do just that.  It avoids all that boring maths stuff that I, and probably others, don’t understand and goes straight for the jugular avoiding the times when not a lot was happening.

One thing i want to know is how someone from this classic rock band

(he’s the one with the rollers… now I understand why his hair was always so curly) can have time to be so knowledgeable about Astronomy.  I guess when you’re a rock legend there is quite a bit of downtime and besides taking lots of drugs and getting into trouble as some rock stars do, Brian decided to spend his time studying and writing about the Universe. There are two other guys who helped him write this book and both of them aren’t rock stars, although flicking this book they understand quite a bit about the life of the stars.

*Maybe 50 shades should have done the same thing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Algebraic Eigenvalue Problem by J. H. Wilkinson. The Algebraic Structure of Group Rings by Donald S. Passman.

The Algebraic Structure of Group Rings by Donald S. Passman.  Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by John Wiley & Sons 1977, 720 pages.

The Algebraic Eigenvalue Problem by J. H. Wilkinson (Monographs on Numerical Analysis series). Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by Clarendon Press Oxford University Press 1969, 662 pages.

Maths.  Not one of my strengths.  I’m not a complete klutz around the basics but once I start getting anywhere near anything slightly more complicated… such as algebra… my brain does a complete shutdown.  As sad as this may sound, this is how I select maths books.  Both of these books are great examples of this process and I don’t even have to look at the contents to give you the reason why these books are now for sale in the Huc & Gabet ebay shop.  It’s those magic words “Group Rings” and “Eigenvalue” that caught my attention… and then quickly uncaught my attention causing my attention to catch again.  My thought process went something like this:

Maths books.

Complicated stuff.

What is a Group Ring and what is Eigenvalue?

They sound difficult and like something that is not all that common a subject.

Could be a hard sell.

Maybe these books are not that common.

Pick em up, you never know.

Which is what I did.

I guess I also had the benefit of selling a few rare (and expensive) books a few days before hand, so this was also in the back of my mind whilst considering.  I also have to confess that this process doesn’t always work and sometimes I get it wrong.  Last book town I had a guy buy all of my marked down unsold maths books and then compliment me on the excellent selection.  He was happy… so happy that I’m expecting him to come back for more.  Hopefully these will have sold by then… but if not, he’ll be happy once again.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Zombies vs. Unicorns, compiled by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier.

Zombies vs. Unicorns, compiled by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier.  Hardcover book with pictorial boards published by Margaret K. McElderry Books 2010, 418 pages.

“It’s time to decide: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn? A must-have anthology with contributions from bestselling authors.  It’s a question as old as time itself: Which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? This all-original, tongue-in-cheek anthology edited by Holly Black (Team Unicorn) and Justine Larbalestier (Team Zombie), makes strong arguments for both sides in the form of spectacular short stories.” 

It’s amazing how many people have an opinion on this one.  I was recently visiting some friends and the issue just happened to pop up in conversation… as it often does… and of course you get a room full of people (4 of us) and there will be varying opinions.  Up front was a good friend of mine Dave.  A horror fan of many years, Dave’s answer was a little predictable which is fine,  we need all opinions and a broad spectrum is a good thing in any group of people.  So that’s 1 vote for Zombies.  The big question was which way would his daughters swing and also a little predictably they swang to the Unicorn, although the eldest (6 years old) did seem to consider the question seriously and hesitated before her unequivocal reply in favour of Unicorns.

Now I’m not sure if all of this is representative of gender or age, although I’ve got a feeling it’s both… and I’ve also got a feeling that it doesn’t really matter.  We had a bit of fun for a few seconds discussing the benefits of each and it held my interest enough for me to remember this conversation whilst looking at this book ‘Zombies vs. Unicorns’.  I think the same bit of fun is the purpose behind this book.  But if you are serious about Zombies and Unicorns and want to know the truth…

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Secret Life of Wombats by James Woodford.

The Secret Life of Wombats by James Woodford.  Paperback book published by Text Publishing 2001, 229 pages with a few colour and black and white photographs and illustrations.

In 1960, a fifteen-year-old schoolboy called Peter Nicholson began to investigate the secret world of wombats by crawling down their burrows and making friends with them. These torchlight adventures have since inspired a generation of scientists, and his research is still considered useful today.”  

Look at that cute picture on the cover.  That’s how you sell a book.  You find something cute and fluffy and whack it on the cover.  Fortunately in this instance, the picture is related to the subject.

I’ve never crawled into a Wombat burrow but I have seen some and they are enormous and the idea of a skinny 15 year old crawling into one is plausible.  Personally I can’t really figure out why you would want to, but I’m not a skinny 15 year old, so what would I know.

…well, there is something that I know about Wombats and that is that if confronted in the wild (probably with young wombats nearby), they will attack.  Yes, a ferocious wombat, I will avoid using the word “killer”, attacked a good friend of mine whilst she was sight seeing in Victoria’s alpine region.  Not only did it go for her, it drew blood… not a lot, but enough for me to mention it here.  Needless to say, this story is usually recounted in a lighter form, but the truth is that a wombat did attack her.  Since this vicious blood drawing event, I have had the pleasure of briefly holding a baby wombat at another friends house.  It was an orphan and they were looking after it for a few days.  I got an invite to come around and have a look and I was there in 10 minutes.  They are cute and cuddly (the wombats, not my friends) but also incredibly strong and determined (…facts based on my 5 minute visit).  ...and this little baby didn't draw blood.

I haven’t found any other books about wombats, so this one was a must.  It also won an award for best popular zoology book in 2002.  Whether you are a wombat or have been attacked, held, or have an interest in wombats, this book should be of interest to you.  I haven’t seen any wombats or burrows around here, but I do know that if I do, I wont be crawling into it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Weegee's World by Weegee, essays by Miles Barth, Alain Bergala and Ellen Handy.

Weegee's World by Weegee, essays by Miles Barth, Alain Bergala and Ellen Handy.  Paperback book published by Bulfinch 2000, 262 pages with black and white photographs.


I was aware of Weegee and his work long before I found this awesome book.  I seem to remember having flicked through a number of volumes containing Weegee images, many, many years ago… So many years ago that I can’t remember any details about the experience at all, other than thinking what an amazing photographer he was.  Looking through this book, my opinion hasn’t changed.  This guy had a skill and art that enabled him to capture moments that are normally lost to time and place.  These moments cover the whole spectrum of emotions and are truely beautiful in all there sadness, happiness, darkness and light… and combinations thereof.

(Apologies for some of the blurry edges.)

Weegee whose real name was Arthur Fellig, was a New York press photographer during the 1930s and 40s.  He got the name Weegee (Weegee is a simpler way of spelling Ouija, as in Ouija board) due to his uncanny ability to be in places where the action was happening long before most had realised that any action was happening at all.  I guess people found this to be a bit spooky.  What I think is interesting is that these situations must at times have been very stressful and needed quick thinking, yet his photographs appear to be carefully staged and thought through.  Looking at some of these images he probably only had a few seconds to get the shot.  Amazing.

The guy had a talent which I guess is why he has gone from being a humble press photographer photographing the news, to a highly respected 20th century icon whose snapshots have gone on to become icons in themselves.  Finding a book like this is a real joy and something I wish I found more of.  I’ll keep looking.