Some Book-Hunting Adventures: A Diversion by R.S. Garnett
Release Date: 1931
Publisher: William Blackwood & Sons Ltd.
Source: Library (but I wish to buy it soon!)
Summary: R.S. Garnett was asked to write stories about how he came to own some of the books in his collection.
I was in the stacks of my library, doing my job, when the title of this book caught my eye and I knew I had to read it. I kind of feel like no one else has read this book, mostly because I had to create its Goodreads page myself, but also because even though it is from the 30’s it is in great condition. I really like the idea of me being the only person to discover this book among the millions of books on our tiers. It also gave me an idea for a new feature on this blog that I will tell you all about at a later date.
This book is a collection of stories about how Garnett came to own some of his books. Some he bought for himself, some were given to him by various people, and some came to him in strange ways indeed. This book was surprisingly readable. What I mean to say is that it seems that this book was written like a very long letter to the man who asked him about his adventures. Indeed, sometimes I lost track of what was happening because of the inside jokes between Garnett and this man in a monkey hut to whom he dedicated the book to. And yet, despite, maybe even because of this intimacy I adored this book.
Some of the later tales in the book did not interest me, but the earlier ones caught my imagination and wouldn’t let go. His first Book Hunting Adventure is of a book he found in a small shop with a pretty girl. So pretty in fact that he forgot to pay for his find and when he went back the next day to right his wrong the shop and the girl had disappeared entirely. Then there is the adventure where he gained Trelawny’s “Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron” because of an act of kindness to a favorite bookseller who was out on his luck. Garnett tells humorous tales of how he gained a series of books by setting up a practical joke on his wife to countless encounters with odd booksellers and patrons alike. He even tells of his adventures that involve the meeting of a couple very strange poets. R.S. Garnett came by his books in such fantastic ways that it almost seems a fantasy.
Then perhaps my favorite is the tale of his cousin, the Guv’nor and the fishing trip. They talked of the books they enjoyed and the next morning the Guv’nor had sent along some of the books as well as a bag of Roman snails including, “one specially large snail, which I called ‘Dunstan,’ [that] I retained as a pet for several years. He knew me well, and was in every respect, for a snail, an intellectual monster.” (22). Throughout each tale there are witty one liners and great observations of the human character, as well as the whimsy of fortune that guides a booklover to attain his beloved books that made me love this book. If you can find it, I encourage you to read these “Adventures.”