My friend Elaine, met through the LibraryThing Virago Group, was coming to the UK again from her home in Chicago. The Virago Group didn’t seem to have had a meetup for a while. So, with Elaine being in Stratford and Stratford being full of bookshops and tea shops, it seemed too good an opportunity to waste.  I had accepted a while ago that it’s not a bad thing to buy lots of books, but I was a bit worried about today, given my recent Christmas haul and Birthday haul, and I already knew from a trip to Stratford two years ago that Elaine is a very good “enabler” (sorry for the rather grainy pic in that post, but you get the idea. To be fair, she just took me to the shops and pointed things out. She’s very good at that!)

So, Ali and I got the train to Stratford, meeting new real-life but familiar online chum Genny on the train. We arrived in Stratford to meet Elaine, Julie, Claire and Luci, all arrived safely from London, Oxford and, well, Stratford for the week. We started off with a coffee at the White Swan (thanks again, Elaine, for the coffee, and Luci for the wonderful pile of books to pick through!), we definitely went to that cafe in the antiques centre (does it have a name?) for lunch, and I’m sure we went to the Shakespeare Hospice Shop and Oxfam, and some other places, too. It all blurs a bit.

Anyway, I came home with these …

Jan 2014 3

Charlotte Mendelson – “Almost English” – I read her “When we Were Bad” back in 2011 and really enjoyed it, this is a proof copy of her new one (thanks, Luci).

Dorothy Sheridan – “Wartime Women” – a Mass Observation book about women in WWII – what’s not to like? I do still count myself a MO participant, although I’m lagging woefully in returning my responses to them (thanks, again, Luci).

Victor Skipp – “The Making of Victorian Birmingham” – how can I resist a book about the history of my city?

Mary Webb – “The House in Dorner Forest” – I am a big Mary Webb fan now, so pleased to find a nice Virago Green.

Rachel Hewitt – “Map of a Nation” – the history of the Ordnance Survey. How did I not already have this one?

Gwen Raverat – “Period Piece” – her childhood memoir, plus charming illustrations.

Rosie Swale-Pope – “Just a Little Run Around the World” – her memoir of running thousands and thousands of miles – I’ve been vaguely looking out for this for ages.

Antonia White – “Frost in May” – the first Virago Modern Classic; of course I have it anyway, but this is for some young friends of mine.

After another cuppa at the station, it was time to wend our weary et ceteras. I’ve now put all of these and my birthday books on my TBR shelf, and was slightly horrified to find that this …

Jan 2014 recent acquisitions

… represents just my acquisitions from Christmas onwards. Oops. I’d better slow down (and up the reading) for a bit, hadn’t I. I think this represents something of a record, even for me. You will be able to see the full TBR on 1 February; all I can say is that you won’t see many of these behind the front layer when I’ve done that!

Have you read any of my new ones? Had any splurges yourselves …?