Monday, 2 September 2013

Secondhand Book Jackpot

I went on holiday with my family - hence my brief silence.

We stayed in a cottage near Alnwick, Northumberland. While there we visited Barter Books, one of the biggest secondhand bookshops in the country. It was absolutely incredible! Barter Books is the home of the original 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster. Check out this video for more information about it:

I've never really been to a secondhand bookshop before - not if you exclude general charity shops. Barter Books is an amazing place. It's in a refurbished Victorian railway station, complete with a small cafe in the old waiting room, and a model train running through one of the rooms. If you ever go anywhere near the area, it is definitely worth a visit.

I bought three books - quite restrained considering just how many were actually available. I'll describe them to you in reverse-age order.

First is Snuff, by Terry Pratchett. Terry Pratchett is my favourite single author, by far. Snuff is one of his newer books that I haven't read yet, so it was great to pick it up for £3.20!

The next oldest is The Complete Plain Words. This one's pretty geeky. It's essentially a grammar rulebook for the entire English language. I've been vaguely wanting something like this for a really long time, but always half-assumed it wouldn't actually exist. Although it's a pretty old edition, language doesn't generally vary all that much so I doubt the age will be very noticeable.

But the last, oldest, and by far most exciting book is this: The Science, Raw Materials and Hygiene of Baking.

This is essentially the book I've been looking for - consciously or not - for my whole life. It has an entire section covering the basics of physics and chemistry as they apply to baking. Then sections on the general science of baking itself, chapters on individual ingredients, and a whole other section about hygiene and nutrition.

There's even a fold-out periodic table at the back. It has literally everything I've ever wanted to learn about baking, in just the way I hoped it would be presented, and all in one book.

Then flicked to the cover page and saw it is a first edition. And not only that, but it was published in 1952! A book 60 years old and it took me this long to find it. But I'm so glad I did.

I'm only a little way through it so far, but I've already given in to my obsessive side and started marking pages with post-its. Why not?

I will absolutely post further updates with things I learn from it, and probably be using the general information for pretty much everything I ever learn and bake from now on.

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