Saturday, 29 June 2013

Old Literature Fair - the joy of second-hand books

On Friday we packed ourselves, our jackets and umbrellas and the camera in the car and enjoyed a beautiful ride through Finnish countryside. You can look with me through the car windows, on the right one of the many lakes called Pyhäjärvi. My original home town is far back where the tower is.
The road was up and down small hills, some of them steep enough to have sand boxes by the roadside for icy winter weather.

Our destination was the old literature event in Vammala about 160 km/100 miles from home, but we had some spare time before they opened, so we went to the farmer's market first. They had not only potatoes, strawberries and flowers there, but also some book stalls. One stall caught my eye immediately, because this was standing in the back corner:

Hundreds of buttons sewn on fabric and framed! In the other back corner was another button picture on brown background. Strange but interesting.

There is a small park with a water theme and beautiful flowers between the market place and the parking lot.

Now it is time to go to the book fair at Sylvään koulu, a school for grades 7 to 9, empty for the summer holidays.
It was soon getting crowded there, but we always go to the big tent first because during the day the air there gets really hot, and the morning hours can be cooler. Our favourite second hand booksellers are in the tent.
Books are arranged by themes and the titles are usually visible, so you can see at a glance if a stall has your line of interest.

My favourites - children's books - are often placed on the bottom shelves. That can be very tiring for the back and the knees too.

There was also an exhibition of bookbinding. These were by experienced bookbinders, and on another table were the works of students. I could see the difference as the mother of a master bookbinder. My daughter studied in this town some years ago.

Do you want to see my loot? I bought six books this year, never before have I found so many I wanted and could afford.

The old editions often don't have the title of the original book in the front pages, but it was easy to find that the book on top right is Five Children and It by E. Nesbit. This is one of the books I know we had in the family, and I loved the Railway Children by her, so I wanted to read this other book too again. The book we had at home could even be from my mother as it was written in 1902. These two are the only ones of her 60 books for children that have been translated into Finnish. The top left book is one from my own childhood by a Finnish author Leena Härmä. She lived in my home town Tampere and set many of her books in surroundings I could have known.

The bottom row shows my must have classics, the second book about Heidi, and Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book I have "always" known about but never actually read.

This book just made my heart jump! Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome, about children living on their own during Summer holidays and experiencing great adventures, with their mother only occasionally coming to visit and maybe bringing some food supplies. Melanie introduced me to this charming series of books a couple of years ago, and it has brought me great joy. I bought all the books in English but have only been able to find the first, Swallows and Amazons, in a Finnish translation before this.


  1. Oh! what a wonderful adventure. I wondered as I read about the book binding "isn't that what your lovely daughter does?" Then you kindly answered my question and explained the reverence for old books. Looked like the weather was kind.

  2. Such a gorgeous drive, Ulla! If I had just gone for the drive I would have been happy! I love the "button art" - it's one way to display all those buttons we hoard, whoops, I mean keep! I'd say you made out quite well at the book fair. You have some lovely summer reading ahead!

  3. Great to be with you on this journey, Ulla.
    Love the old books, my mother- in-law worked in a small book binding place. Love th buttons:-)

  4. Sounds like a grand adventure. And a successful one too. To this day I still love children's books. My daughter took a book binding class in college it was quite interesting.

  5. P.S. I forgot to mention how much I love seeing the button art. :o)

  6. Ich war schon länger nicht mehr unterwegs in Blogland und nun sehe ich bei dir welch wunderbaren Ausflug du gemacht undwas du an Bücherschätzen gefunden bzw. eingekauft hast. Und sogar Heidi auf Finnisch :-) ! Ob du es lesen wirst? Auch heute noch kaufe ich mir Kinderbücher, jetzt aber eher Bilderbücher für meine Sammlung. Ich bin eine totale Büchernärrin :-) !
    Herzliche Sommergrüsse, Barbara


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