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Sixpence House (2004)

av Paul Collins

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,2285411,577 (3.63)132
"Paul Collins and his family abandoned the hills of San Francisco to move to the Welsh countryside - to move, in fact, to the little cobblestone village of Hay-on-Wye, the "Town of Books," boasting 1,500 inhabitants...and forty bookstores. Antiquarian bookstores, no less."."Hay's newest residents accordingly take up residence in a sixteenth-century apartment over a bookstore, meeting the village's large population of misfits and bibliomaniacs by working for world class eccentric Richard Booth - the self-declared King of Hay, owner of the local castle, and proprietor of the world's largest and most chaotic used book warren. A useless clerk, Paul delights in shifting dusty stacks of books around and sifting them for ancient gems like Robinson Crusoe in Words of One Syllable, Confession of an Author's Wife, and I Was Hitler's Maid. Meanwhile, as he struggles with the final touches on his own first book, Banvard's Folly, nearing publication in the United States, he also duly fulfills his duty as a British citizen by simultaneously applying to be a peer in the House of Lords and attempting to buy Sixpence House, a beautiful and neglected old tumbledown pub for sale in the town's center."."Sixpence House is an engaging meditation on what books mean to us, and how their meaning can resonate long after they have been abandoned by their public."--BOOK JACKET.… (mer)
  1. 20
    On Reading av André Kertész (Fliss88)
  2. 20
    84, Charing Cross Road av Helene Hanff (Limelite)
    Limelite: Similar evocative memoir that revolves around a bookstore and books. But at a distance.
  3. 10
    Nattens bibliotek av Alberto Manguel (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: A meditation on books, reading, library-design, modes of cataloging, etc.
  4. 10
    Books: A Memoir av Larry McMurtry (Bjace)
    Bjace: McMurtry's life as a bibliophile. Tries to create a "town of books" in Texas comparable to Hay.
  5. 00
    Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. av Jeremy Mercer (Fliss88)
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» Se även 132 omnämnanden

engelska (53)  italienska (1)  Alla språk (54)
Visa 1-5 av 54 (nästa | visa alla)
Author's reminiscences of his short spree in England. I enjoyed the perspective of an American on the quaint town and inhabitants (although he never used that adjective). I was disappointed he and his family never settled there. Two memorable quotes I particularly felt rang true: "To look for a specific book in Hay is a hopeless task: you can only find the books that are looking for you...", and "The sheer weight of so many books has created its own gravitational pull, and we are caught in its orbit." ( )
  AChild | Feb 26, 2021 |
Not quite what I expected. I wanted more of a memoir on being a bookseller. However, this was more about living in Hay-on-Wye, the odd characters who live there, and antiquarian book collectors, sprinkled with quote from old books. Perfectly fine, but not my cup of tea.
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
I think this book could have been better, which is the reason I only "liked it" (thus the 3 star rating). It has a lot of good going for it, but it also has a couple of things that honestly irritated me. Let's start with the not so good:

* The whole quest to find a home in the town. For the most part, for some reason, Collins and his wife were set on living on an old home, even if it was an ancient piece of shit that was literally falling apart. The titular house, Sixpence House, was basically a home with a flooded basement, cracks all over, the house next door was collapsing onto it, and a myriad of other problems. He went ahead and paid to have a survey of the house done (an inspection) for a house that was obvious by a simple look was not worth it, and anyone in their right mind would have fled.

*The whole process of buying a house. Apparently the Brits pretty much favor the sellers when it comes to house buying, so he was already at a disadvantage. However, there were moments when his wife and him really needed to grow a spine and walk away from deals. They did walk away from some, given some of the residents of Hay are pretty delusional in terms of what they think they can get for their old houses that, in many cases, look like they should be condemned. And this would not bother me as much were it not for the fact they have a child. You are adults and want to play DIY on rickety house, go for it. You have a child, be the adult, do the responsible thing and move into a safe, well built home. It is not like you did not have options. They chose to ignore any good options to try to live in the charming town. In the end, not able to find a home, they have to return to the U.S. So, all that effort and nothing to really show for it, aside from the experience.

Now, the book has a lot more good stuff to it:

* The descriptions and details of the town of Hay itself. If you are a book lover or bibliophile in any way, shape, or form, you should add this place to the list of places you must visit. I don't think you have to be into book collecting or the antiquarian trade to enjoy the place. If you are, you will likely enjoy the place a lot more.

*The insights on the antiquarian book trade.

* The book trivia and excerpts from old books. Collins picks out these at various points to illustrate points he is making or to expand on a particular experience. These are definitely one of the best parts of the book, and they make the book worth reading. In fact, it may make some folks want to hunt down some of the obscure items he picks out.

*His commentaries on British versus American living. There are the good things like National Health Care, which means, for instance, that when their boy gets his foot hurt, they don't have to lose their life savings to get health care. And there are the not so good things like the whole housing situation. The commentary on American news versus British news is spot on, and for that alone makes one want to move to Great Britain (though I would move to one of the cities if it was me).

As an aside, he is writing a book during his time on Hay, Banvard's Folly, so we get to read a bit about the process between writers and publishing as well. By the way, I did read his other book, which I did find very interesting as it is a collection of tales of inventors and geniuses who never really made it big. I have to add it to GoodReads sometime if I can recall around when I read it. Overall, I do recommend both books, but for this one, keep in mind the reservations I have.
( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
Wales's little town of Hay-on-Wye, or just "Hay," is known as the "Town of Books." With 1,500 residences and forty bookstores, what better place for a writer to move from Manhattan? Collins writes about his time in the village as a writer, as a house hunter, and as a new father in a whimsical manner; lacing the prose with mini lectures on long-dead writers, dust jackets not doing their one job, and what it means when an author's color photograph occupies the entire cover of a book. Collins has a sense of humor that is self-deprecating (just try not to giggle when he shares the story of inadvertently peeing on his manuscript of Banvard's Folly). You find yourself wanting to have a cup of coffee with him just to hear more. My only complaint? No photographs.
Confessional: I love a book that makes mention of Wallace and Gromit! ( )
  SeriousGrace | Apr 15, 2019 |
3 1/2 stars: Good

From the back cover: Paul Collins and his family abandoned the hills of San Francisco to move to the Welsh countryside-- to move in fact, to the little cobblestone village of Hay-on-Wye, the "Town of Books" boasting 1500 inhabitants, and 40 bookstores. Antiquarian bookstores, no less.

Hay's newest residents accordingly take up residence in a 16th century apartment over a bookstore, meeting the village's large population of misfits and bibliomaniacs by working for world class eccentric Richard Booth--the self declared King of Hay, owner of the local castle, and proprieter of the world's largest and most chaotic used book warren. A useless clerk, Paul delights in shifting dusty stacks of books around and sifting them for ancient gems. Meanwhile as he struggles with the final touches on his own first book, 'Banvard's Folly', he also duly fulfills his duty as a British citizen by simultaneously applying to be a peer in the House of Lords and attempting to buy Sixpence House , a beautiful and neglected old tumbledown pub for sale in the town's center. Inviting readers into a sanctuary for book lovers... Sixpence House is a wonderfully engaging meditation on what books mean to us, and how their meaning can resonate long after they have been abandoned by their public. For Paul Collins, there is a curious comfort to be found in his own book's future, rubbing bindings with the rest of the books that time forgot.

-------------

I found this book to be a solid "good"-- once I got past what the book is and what it is not. It is a book of observations regarding Britain, British history, Hay -on Wye , books, and book publishing. It is not a story of Hay-on-Wye and working in a bookstore, per se. It was a quick and easy read, probably 10 hours total. It was fun and I laughed regularly. Collins has a quick wit and I appreciated his outlook on life and ancient Britain.

Having said that, it's a fluffy read. There is a place for those of course, and this book fit me at the right time. However, it's not a reread or something that I found compelling enough to go back to. And that's ok. I'm glad I took the time for this volume.

-------------

Some quotes or parts that interested me:

"When you search for books online, you generally already know what you're looking for. To look for a specific book in Hay is a hopeless task; you can only find the books that are looking for you, the ones you didn't know to ask for in the first place. You come to Hay so that you can pick up a magazine you've never even heard of and read about Leibnitz's talking hound."

"While there is class resentment in America, the poor do not take it to a personal level: they vent at the mayor, at the police, at local businesses, at other poor people, at everyone but the rich themselves--because they want to be rich, too, and would do the same. If you have a million and win another million, Americans will not spit at you. They will say, 'Wow, you have two million.'"

[Discussing book covers] "Woe and alas to any who transgresses these laws. A number of reviewers railed against 'The Bridges of Madison County' because it used the diminutive hardcover size and muted color scheme of, say, an Annie Dillard book--thus cruelly tricking readers of Serious Literature into *buying crap*. Not to be outdone, the Harvard University Press issued Walter Benjamin's opus 'The Arcades Project' with gigantic raised metallic lettering. One can only imagine the disgust of blowhard fiftysomethings in bomber jackets as they slowly realised that the project they were reading about was a cultural analysis of 19th century Parisian bourgeoisie--and not, say, a tale involving renegade Russian scientists and a mad general aboard a nuclear submarine."

"Finally, on Serious Books and crap alike there will be a head shot of The Author sitting still while looking pensive or smiling faintly into the indeterminate distance--the one pose that has no existence in the author's actual daily life. The size of this photo will be in inverse proportion to the quality of the book. If this photo is rendered in color, it is not a Serious Book. If there is no author photo at all, then it is a SErious Book indeed--perhaps even a textbook."

"Welsh is a form of cipher, like German Enigma machines--none of the letters is pronounced the same as the letter would indicate to an English speaker, but is instead moved one over--thus an L pronounced K, and F is an E and an A is...whatever letter comes before A. Some sort of choking sound."

".... 'arnica pills. The arnica is homepathic.' For my readers outside of California and Vermont, or who do not subscribe to the 'Utne Reader', allow me to explain: homeopathic means that its active ingredient is absolutely not a goddamned thing."

"Americans do not know nostalgia for their country in the ways that Britons do, for they have not yet lots more than they've gained. ... Someday, when the United States is a has-been, then we too shall know that indescribable British feeling, except then it will be known as that indescribable American feeling. It is the sensation of being a fat bag of sand with a little hole in the bottom, slowly draining out. It has become impossible to live over here without being reminded of a past that is palpably gone; it creeps over you in the most ludicrously inconspicuous places." ( )
  PokPok | Jan 1, 2018 |
Visa 1-5 av 54 (nästa | visa alla)
Entertaining memoir....A treat for the bibliophile.
tillagd av jburlinson | ändraKirkus (Mar 1, 2003)
 

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"Paul Collins and his family abandoned the hills of San Francisco to move to the Welsh countryside - to move, in fact, to the little cobblestone village of Hay-on-Wye, the "Town of Books," boasting 1,500 inhabitants...and forty bookstores. Antiquarian bookstores, no less."."Hay's newest residents accordingly take up residence in a sixteenth-century apartment over a bookstore, meeting the village's large population of misfits and bibliomaniacs by working for world class eccentric Richard Booth - the self-declared King of Hay, owner of the local castle, and proprietor of the world's largest and most chaotic used book warren. A useless clerk, Paul delights in shifting dusty stacks of books around and sifting them for ancient gems like Robinson Crusoe in Words of One Syllable, Confession of an Author's Wife, and I Was Hitler's Maid. Meanwhile, as he struggles with the final touches on his own first book, Banvard's Folly, nearing publication in the United States, he also duly fulfills his duty as a British citizen by simultaneously applying to be a peer in the House of Lords and attempting to buy Sixpence House, a beautiful and neglected old tumbledown pub for sale in the town's center."."Sixpence House is an engaging meditation on what books mean to us, and how their meaning can resonate long after they have been abandoned by their public."--BOOK JACKET.

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