A Rainy Weekend – Book Barmy Style

I set aside a couple of books for a rainy day.  That rainy day turned into this past weekend of pouring rain ~~ and yes, as you can imagine, I had a very nice time.

Nabokov’s Butterfly

By Rick Gekoski

A gift from my sister several years ago.  Nobokov’s Butterfly is a special book, only a true Bibliophile could appreciate.

Rick Gekoski abandoned his career in academia after only a few years of collecting and dealing in rare books.  Why?  He doubled his salary in the first year.

This little volume is packed with memorable stories about his life as a rare book dealer, and some of the rare books themselves. He covers twenty rare books.  Each chapter details the publishing history of a classic including, The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, On the Road and The Hobbit. 

The author delves into tales about each author, the writing of the book and the acclaim (or lack thereof) when first published.  He then dishes about the politics, frustrations, and joys in acquiring and eventually selling their rare editions.

Gekoski’s first meeting with Graham Greene was over the purchase of Greene’s rare first edition copy of Lolita which was inscribed by Nobokov to Greene and included an author sketch of a butterfly under the inscription.  (Nabokov was a keen butterfly collector.)  Greene and Mr. Gegoski become friends and bond over books and literature.  The author later sold this incredible find for a great deal more money to, none other than, Bernie Taupin — the famous lyricist for of Sir Elton John. See what I mean about dishing?

Mr. Gekoski tells of Ulysses and how James Joyce followed the advice of Ezra Pound who suggested Joyce send each  newly completed chapters to various magazines to earn money as he wrote. He also interviews a famous collector of rare editions of James Joyce who was unable to get through Ulysses:

[No] one has ever wished it longer than it is.  Ulysses is universally admired but rarely loved.

Mr. Gegoski is a skilled storyteller and each chapter of Nabokov’s Butterfly  is a delight for any book nerd lover.  And, just look at these wonderful flyleaves!


Don’t worry, in case you’re falling asleep, our next book has lots of pictures.

Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany

Illustrated and written by Jane Mount


Someone gave me this book, and while it’s beautiful, expensive, and filled with colorful illustrations, I’ve avoided opening it.  I wasn’t sure I was on board with the concept of a hand illustrated picture book for book lovers – maybe it was this publicity blurb:

The perfect gift for book lovers, writers and your book club.  Book lovers rejoice! In this love letter to all things bookish, Jane Mount brings literary people, places, and things to life through her signature and vibrant illustrations.

When I finally did open it this rainy weekend, I found myself entertained and was happily turning the pages for an hour or so.  There are plenty of illustrations, many truly charming, and some interesting tidbits.  (Just click on images to make larger.)


There are sections on beloved bookstores

Pages of recommended books

Bookstore cats are lovingly rendered.

Books made into television series

Some award-winning covers

Special editions, collections by genre, and even more bookstores

In the end, I really enjoyed going through this illustrated devotional to books, learned some interesting things and naturally wrote down a few books I want to read.  I especially liked the section on Types of Fiction wherein Bildungsroman, Metafiction, and Magical Realism were defined in a most understandable manner (see decoding below)

And, as an added bonus, Bibliophile was perfect with tea on a rainy day.

The author, Jane Mount is an illustrator, designer, and founder of Ideal Bookshelf, a company that makes all sorts of bibliophile tchotchkes. She, of course, lives happily on Maui, in Hawaii.


Bildungsroman:  A young person gets an education of some sort and comes of age. A Portrait of the Artist as  Young Man, by James Joyce; The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Metafiction:  These stories remind you with a nod and a wink that they are stories, not real life, often by nestling other stories within themselves. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut; The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Magical Realism:  Originating in Latin America in the early 20th century, these are stories set in the real world but with a little magic thrown in without fanfare.  One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

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