For over twenty years, there has been a book fair in the small city of Deventer, located in the middle of the Netherlands. I have wanted to visit the Deventer Book Fair for years, but always forgot about it. This year, my boyfriend reminded me in time and so I finally got to see the largest book fair of Europe, which consists of over 6 kilometers of book stalls.
Deventer is a wonderful town of itself and I could happily walk around the town all day, but of course books very much improved the experience.
My absolute favourite part of the fair was this promotion, by a local tapas restaurant. If you ordered a cup of coffee, you were allowed to pick out a book from their book shelves and keep it. So “Koffie met een koek” (coffee with cake) became “koffie met een boek” (coffee with a book). I chose to take “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan and “Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter” by Simone de Beauvoir (the latter one because it comes highly recommended by Emily, and because it seems fitting now that I’m reading The Second Sex). If you are wondering why I got to choose two books, my mom accompanied me and so I got to pick a second book for her cup of coffee.
The weather was not perfect, but well enough. And while I did not get to see more than half of all the stalls, I came home with quite a lot of books. I bought 28 in total, for less than 50 euro’s. I had hoped to find more VMC’s, but apparently those are very rare in the Netherlands (I found two and bought one, the other was very much torn apart and over 10 euro’s while the story did not look that interesting). Of course, finding English books proved more difficult than finding Dutch books, but there were some very nice stalls. Did you ever notice that some stall holders are the worst at organising their own wares? I wonder how anyone could find anything at some of them.
All in all, I had a wonderful day & I would really like to visit again.
As for the books I bought? Here they are:
One of the stalls sold new books for 4 euro’s. I bought Uglies by Scott Westerfield there, as well as The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. I was not sure about Uglies, but bought it anyway. I could always give it to my sister as a new YA read. Pictured too are the two books I picked at at the “coffee with a book” promotion. Furthermore, I bought Wise Children by Angela Carter at the one stall that was listed as specialising in English lit. There were many more stalls that had great selections of English lit, and the one listed was very disappointing: they asked way too much for most of the books they had on offer. This will be my first Angela Carter though. I hope I chose well because I’d like to join Claire in her praise of the author.
One of the stalls that had a great choice of second-hand English books was one that offered you 6 books for either 5 or 10 euro’s. In the end, I bought 18 books for 20 euro (and so received a few for free).
First of all, I bought a number of Penguin Classics. Basically, I picked up anything that sounded familiar through other book blogs and that I did not own already:
- Friends and Relations – Elizabeth Bowen
- The Du Mauriers - Daphne Du Maurier
- Tortilla Flat – John Steinbeck (Rob told me this is the Steinbeck to try first)
- Night – Edna O’Brien
- A Handful of Dust – Evelyn Waugh
- The Loved One – Evelyn Waugh
- The Go-Between – L.P. Hartley
- Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
- The Diary of a Nobody - George and Weedon Grossmith
Apart from the Penguin’s, there also a random mix of “oh, this looks interesting!”
- Red Earth & Pouring Rain - Vikran Chandra (my mother picked this out for me and it looked quite good)
- The Chestnut Tree – Charlotte Bingham (again, my mother suggested this. The cover looks hideous and made me suspect it is a bad romance novel. But the cover reads that it is about women who want to take matters into their own hands and help out during the Second World War which made it look appealing)
- The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi (my mother sure picked out a lot of books)
- The Land of Oz – L. Frank Baum (same)
- Sprig Muslin - Georgette Heyer (I could not not buy a Georgette Heyer, though the one book I read by her was not one I thoroughly loved – I know all of you do and so I am hoping to change my mind)
- The Other One – Colette
- Down Among the Women – Fay Weldon
- The Shooting Party - Isabel Colegate
- The Girls of Slender Means – Muriel Spark
And ALL of those for 20 euro’s, it has made me very happy. However, my most exciting find is surely to be found among the last of the pictured books. A Virago Modern Classic, for 1 euro! Plus, all the others for 1,50.
- The Echoing Grove – Rosamond Lehmann (another Rosamond Lehmann – I had better like her writing)
- Rosamond Lehmann – Selina Hastings (when I saw this biography of Lehmann for one euro, I felt I had to buy it)
- The Age of Orphans - Laleh Khadivi (I am convinced I read about this book somewhere, but cannot recall where)
- The Crimson Petal and the White – Michel Faber (One of those books that I always feel I should own and have looked at for forever. I think this started when Rory in Gilmore Girls mentioned it once – or did I make that up?)
- A Circle of Sisters - Judith Flanders (this seems a biographic novel about the Macdonald sisters, the wives of Rudyard Kipling, Stanley Baldwin, Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Poynter. The back cover promises a display of ‘the fluidity of Victorian society’ and ‘an exploration of the life of the family in the nineteenth century’. This book seemed to scream Ana, which is why I bought it since it sounds so very interesting.
Do you have a specific strategy when visiting book fairs? I find that browsing instead of arriving predetermined to find one specific book works a lot better and is much more fun, but I can imagine that a list of books you own could come in handy if you have a large library of books at home.