The Silent Traveller

One of the benefits of having two good second hand bookshops in my town is that I know the areas of expertise of both shop owners... and even better those two areas overlap entirely into mine. Border books is obsessed with obsolete popular culture, so if I want to find old crime, old ghost stories and especially old children's books (particularly of the hoary old Billy Bunter school) I'm entirely spoilt for choice. As for art books though, it's a slightly disinterested pile of books stuffed willy nilly into a shelf between the two ground floor book rooms. And within that only the ones with sort of ties to Punch or Vanity Fair or the like are priced properly. Everything else is a sort of vain rummage for anything of interest.

Lyalls on the other hand is run by an artist. She either subsidises her art with her book selling or vice versa, depending on how well she's doing in either field at the time. She knows her stuff which means, yes, you have to pay on the nose for what you find... but dear god she also can spot a good purchase from a mile off. And today's? "The Silent Traveller in Oxford" and "The Silent Traveller in London" by writer/ artist Chiang Yee. I've never heard of the man and my heart skips with the thrill of the hunt to know that he was reasonably prolific. The books are a combination of travelogue and art - lovely full page watercolours (some of the ones in "Oxford" are *gorgeous*) and small pen and ink studies - and are entirely lovely things to behold.

I've always intended to look more at Chinese and Japanese art a bit more closely. Some of the blogs I follow frequently post artists whose names I always intend to follow up but, good lord, I literally have volumes of artists and books and comics and children's writers to follow up *at some point*. It's nice to wander into a shop and immediately see a possible new area of obsession almost waiting for me. I'm going to be poring over these volumes for some time I think...


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