December 2008

In this issue:

  • Second Floor Tresures
  • What is Mah-Jong?
  • New Acquisitions
  • Alice Munro, Very Rare
  • Book Review of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  • A Find!
  • Book Tips & Links
  • Charles van Sandwyk's Mr. Rabbit's Christmas Wish Book and Cards

    Christmas Store Hours
    Monday- Thursday: 10 am - 5:30 pm
    Friday: 10 am - 9 pm
    Saturday: 10 am - 5:30 pm
    Sunday (December 21st only): 11 am - 5 pm

  • Second Floor Treasures

    Upstairs at our store, you can find much more than fine books. We also have collections of strange and wonderful antiques, such as old board games, artwork, prints, maps, bookends, fountain pens and technical equipment like record players and telephones. Explore our curiosity cabinet!

    We have two Mah-Jong sets available at our shop.

    A four-player game developed in China, Mah-Jong or Mahjong is closely tied to stories of Confucius and his early travels. A birdwatcher, it is said that he named the game after his favourite bird, the sparrow, around 500 B.C. However, most historians say that the current game developed around 1850, a combination of several other games played at the time. The Communist government banned Mah-Jong in 1949, but it remained popular while hidden. The forbidden nature of the game leant to the growth of its mythology, as did marketing in the West.

    The first production of a Western version of the game was made by Abercrombie & Fitch in 1920. During the Roaring Twenties, it was incredibly popular in New York with members of society, especially among the ladies. This is where it gets its fancy reputation. Even Eddie Cantor recorded a song about the game, and swell gatherings where people met to play often reflected an overall North American fascination with all things Asian. A hostess would invite her guests to dress in Chinese garb, decorate her home and serve thematic food.

    A player’s turn begins with drawing a tile and ends with discarding one. You start with thirteen or sixteen tiles, and end with fourteen, comprising four or five “melds” and a pair or “head”. Part of the appeal of the game is the beauty of the tiles themselves and feel of them in your hand. Devotees play regularly, and you can find out more at

    New Acquisitions

    This HUGE dictionary can be yours for just $50.00. Bound in corduroy, it is one of the thickest books we’ve ever had come into stock. It’s so big, we can’t find a place to shelve it!

    Alice Munro, Very Rare

    Usually available only in libraries and museums, London Ontario is the most likely place to find this unlikely item. This is the first published material by Alice Munro -- and it came from our hometown university, UWO. There are

    probably fewer than 150 copies out there, and now our store makes it available to you.

    Munro’s short bio in the back reads: "Eighteen-year-old freshette, whose story in this issue is her first published material. Graduate of Wingham High School. Overly modest about her talents, but hopes to write the Great Canadian Novel some day. Has read little modern writing, has travelled scarcely at all, and belongs to no particular literary movement. Plans to major in Honours English, with emphasis on creative writing." This description was probably written by the author herself.

    The publication appeared during her first year at Western, the same year she met her husband, and is noted in the biography "Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives" by Robert Thacker. She is listed under her maiden name, Alice Laidlaw. This item represents a short but significant period in her development as a writer. A complete collection of Folio is available in some special collections, but pre-1960 editions are rare to find on the open market. Now available for $750.00.

    By Stephenie Meyer

    Reviewed by Vanessa Winters

    Twilight and its sequels by Stephenie Meyer are a hot commodity. The popular young-adult vampire novel has just been released as a film. Last summer the latest in the series knocked the seventh Harry Potter novel from its number one pedestal and took its place. Critical reception to the first book has been mixed, so I read it to find out for myself. My thirteen-year-old cousin thrust her copy upon me with fervour and an insistence that I would love it, I would adore it, I would read it in one sitting. Optimistically, and with an open mind, I gave it a shot.

    I agree with most critics of the book, especially Kirkus, in that the character Edward is truly overly Byronic and that Bella’s appeal is more magic than character. However, what these critics fail to take into account is that it’s a book for teenage girls! The prose is full of hyperbole, emotion, and drips with angst. The vampire is the ultimate outsider, exemplifying that teen sense of otherness. The main character, Bella, is put in situations where she can justifiably cry out “you just don’t understand!” to everyone around her. Much like The Notebook, this novel requires you to be in a particular mood, but if you know what it is going in, it’s much more enjoyable--you can forgo rolling your eyes and let yourself return to a time when true love really could happen at the age of seventeen. Cue the Carly Simon song. The detailed descriptions of our hero’s otherworldly physique don’t hurt either.

    If you are the parent of a teenage girl, this is great bonding material. And the prose is light enough that you can definitely whip through the first three in the next couple of weeks: to be accompanied by a candlelit bath and a goblet of red wine. You can follow that with a trip to the movie theatre. There were some aspects of the film I didn’t enjoy--SPOILER ALERT--like when Edward climbs a tree, and during the final scene when he saves Bella by sucking vampire poison out of her arm. He looks pretty silly in those scenes. But all is made well by the handsome Robert Pattinson, and Kristen Stewart’s endlessly captivating quirky mouth, which seems to make even the most vapid dialogue amusing.

    A Find!

    Look what someone dug up for us!
    Here is Marvin and his old pal, Tigger.

    Book Tips & Links

    The Elegant
    A great source for small press, book reviews and literary humour.
    As the name suggests, this site if for/by/about girls who will do anything for a good book.
    Check out their book related items. Support a small designer,
    buy something unique!
    Search for interesting items like bookplates, bookends and bookmarks.

    Charles van Sandwyk
    Mr.Rabbit's Christmas Wish
    Book and Cards

    Do not forget to come in for your chance to enter Attic Books' Christmas Box Draw. Receive a ballot for every $20.00 spent at Attic Books.
    Gift Box contains a $30.00 Attic Books gift certificate, The Thames by Richard Bain ($40.00 value), and an Attic Books Mug and Bag.
    A great prize to keep for yourself of give away as a gift to others.
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