12 February 2007

Bargaining for Books

My mother has just started my recently-acquired copy of Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel. It’s the first book of a trilogy that’s divided between us: Kane and Abel (mine), The Prodigal Daughter (hers), and Shall We Tell the President? (mine). Tense negotiations are now underway to reunite the trilogy, and I’m faced with the choice of handing over both my books in exchange for the two Jane Austens I need to complete my set (tempting), or coming up with a suitable counter-offer for The Prodigal Daughter.

I started with my bulging TBR box (so much easier to contemplate parting with books when I haven’t had a chance to read them and become attached) and came up with pretty much nothing. It’s not easy to find something a. long enough to be considered a fair swap, b. she’d actually read, and c. I’d be willing to part with. There’s a good few books I’ve mentally labelled ‘not a chance’; and she can’t stand even a hint of longwindedness so all the classics are out. (On the plus side, dearly beloveds such as Possession are safe.) She also doesn’t like anything liable to keep her awake at night, so such volumes as Dracula and The Silence of the Lambs are definitely out.

I had a bit better luck with the overflow shelves in the spare bedroom; that’s where I shift books to whenever my section of the family room shelves get stuffed full. I always move the ones I figure I’m least likely to reread anytime soon (if ever). They currently hold a 3-in-1 volume of Mary Higgins Clark that someone gave me. Mum enjoys MHC and has assumed I do likewise; in reality the book’s earmarked for a trip to the secondhand book store at Garden City, once the overflow shelves start overflowing. My plan is to switch that for the Archer, or at the very least to lose no more than a couple of Jean Plaidy historicals. I’m quietly determined to get the better end of whatever deal is struck.

At the moment, though, we’re in a kind of Mexican standoff; she won’t say what she considers a fair exchange until she’s gone through all my books herself, and I won’t play any of my cards until I know what she has in mind. I’m optimistic, though, for the same reason why I always beat her at chess: I have by far the most devious mind.

Oh dear ... how very Machiavellian that sounds! The depths of depravity to which a book addict will sink ...


Anonymous said...

Oh my - almost makes me glad I'm the only reader in my family! But then again, it sounds like fun, too ...

And hurray! another Jean Plaidy fan!

Amat Libris said...

It is fun, actually! And there is an advantage to being related to another bibliophile: someone to share your enthusiasm with (over the books we agree on, at least).

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776