Four Uniquely Awesome Books Found On The Shelves At “The Paper Hound”

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Read This is a new Scout column that details book selections by authorities, luminaries, institutions, and locals that share deep affections for the written word. This week, we asked Kim Koch and Rod Clarke of Paper Hound, one of our favourite bookstores (334 West Pender at Homer). Selling new, used, and rare books, from classic to eccentric, with a strong focus on literature, poetry, philosophy and the arts, they see their shop as a street-level expression of Vancouver as a city of letters and lectors: brick and mortar, ink and paper. Say hi for us the next time you go in, but in the meantime, read this…

Gourds: Decorative and Edible for Garden, Craftwork & Table | by John Organ | The Garden Book Club, 1963

“What you don’t know about gourds could fill a book. This is that book. From the somehow appropriately-monikered John Organ, whose other work Rare Vegetables is surely equally necessary, this treatment will cultivate in any reader an appreciation for its botanical protagonist’s myriad culinary and technological applications. I’m ashamed to report that before reading this book, I assumed that a loofah was some sort of sea creature. I was incorrect: it is a gourd. The season of squash and pumpkins approaches. Co-ordinate your non-fiction reading accordingly.”

Face-Off of the Century: The New Era | Gilles Terroux | Collier Macmillan, 1972

“This was the era of detente, a relaxing of relations between the Soviets and the West. September 1972. An eight game tournament featuring our boys against the best the god-less communists had to offer. This was like Fischer/Spassky on ice! Our way of life v. theirs. ‘What’s happening here?’, asked Frank Mahovolich, rhetorically, ‘we’re not playing against politicians, our opponents are the Red Army’. No ads on the boards, no logos on the ice, hell the players names aren’t even on their sweaters yet, just CANADA / CCCP. How refreshing is that?”

Handmade Houses: The Woodbutcher’s Art | Art Boericke & Barry Shapiro | A&W Press, 1973

“A paean to off-the-grid craftsmanship. I’m not one for libertarian manifestos or interior design books, but this one is both at once and I like it. With dense, warm interior shots of less than spotless dwellings, dimly lit, this book is anathema to the Architectural Digest fare. Lofty treehouses, barns built by consulting the I Ching, and cedar-shingled sauna shacks in the woods. Magical fairy-tale homesteads. Escapist fantasy literature for condo dwellers.”

The Pumpkin Eater | Penelope Mortimer | Penguin, 1962

“Speculation as to the true identity of pseudonymous Italian literary sensation Elena Ferrante has so far managed to avoid the (absurd and impossible, but still) possibility that she is Penelope Mortimer (d.1999) reincarnated. Mortimer’s pre-feminist masterpiece The Pumpkin Eater is a compulsive and harrowing portrait of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown (like Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment) after her husband leaves her (again, like The Days of Abandonment), which doesn’t sound like a pleasurable read, but Mortimer’s sharp, deftly semi-autobiographical prose is fantastic. Just like Ferrante! And if you don’t want to take my word for it, it’s been reissued recently by NYRB Classics, always a reliable endorsement.”

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