Every so often the English Reading Room hosts a book sale to clean up the shelves of the Humanities building and raise money.  Last November, they did just that.  I’ve only noticed the sale twice while at UCLA, and I have no idea how regularly they hold the sale, so be on the watch.  If you’re on the ENGugrad mailing list, you’ll hear about it, or you can scan the calendar of events on the English Department website.  This past year I found six books for a total of $5, and although you can’t necessarily go to the ERR sale with a title in mind, there is a wide, if somewhat strange, selection of books…

(Read on for delicious terror, naughty baronets and crinolines.)

Earth, Moon, and Planets / 3rd Edition (1970), by Fred L. Whipple — with retro black and white photos of the universe and astronomical charts

The Erection Set, July 1972 (first edition reprint of hardcover), by Mickey Spillane “His newest, biggest, and best!” Why not?


I was so excited to find this one (Hart Crane and Yvor Winters: Their Literary correspondence, by Thomas Parkinson – First paperback printing 1982), just as my interest in Hart Crane peaked.

“He liked to dance — aggresively, acrobatically, without much
knowledge of steps, but with an unerring sense of rhythm;
he swept his partner off her feet and usually she followed him
with a look of delicious terror.”
—Malcolm Cowley, of Hart Crane

And then there’s the oldest book of the bunch:

The Savoy Operas by Sir W. S. Gilbert (March 1926), sadly missing its library check-out card.  It’s fairly beat up but for nearly 90 years of floating through multiple library systems, it’s not in too bad of shape.

When a man has been a naughty baronet,
and expresses his repentence and regret,
you should help him, if you’re able,
like the mousie in the fable,
that’s the teaching of the book of etiquette.
(Act II, Ruddigore, or The Witches Curse)

Speaking of which, the highlight of my last haul is a first edition of Etiquette for Moderns by Gloria Goddard (1941).  Have you ever wondered “How to Eat Difficult Foods,” what to do with “The Guest Who Won’t Leave,”  or maybe you’ve wanted a list of “Unconventional Ways to Make Friends”?

Look no further.  Manners never go out of style, and Etiquette for Moderns is just the ticket.  Here’s some of the best moments in the book:

From “A List of Imperative Don’ts” (when dining) –

  • Don’t make a wall around your plate with your left arm, as if you feared somebody were going to snatch it from you.
  • Don’t lean back in the chair, when you are finished eating, as if about to take a siesta.  If you have placed the knife and fork properly, the fact is obvious.  Don’t make comments on the amount of food you have eaten or its quality.
  • Don’t tuck the napkin under the chin or into any available crevice in the attire.  It belongs on the lap.
  • Don’t mix up all your food in a mess on your plate; even if you are a cement mixer by trade, don’t bring your trade to the table.

On Promptness:

  • It is the women who are the real offenders against promptness.  It is supposed to be sweetly feminine to ignore time.  The dear young thing will say, ‘Oh, I never have any idea what time it is!’  She might better say, ‘Oh, I never have any idea,’ and stop right there.

On Conversation:

  • Don’t spout words as Old Faithful spouts water.
  • Don’t talk about the obvious as if it were something you had discovered.  For instance, you say, in the tone of a professor propounding a theorem in calculus, “Have you noticed how few horses one sees on the streets of New York?”  There is very little one can say in answer to this profound wisdom.
  • A woman may compliment a man’s achievements, but not his appearance.
  • “A voice ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.” This was true in the sixteenth century when Shakespeare wrote it, and it is true today.

As for “Unconventional Ways to Make Friends”:

  • Young children or a dog are a help in becoming acquainted with the neighbors.  Of course the children must be well-bred, and the dog well trained.

On Men and Women:

  • It is no longer correct for the lady to helplessly lean on a man’s arm, as if she were incapable of standing on her own two feet.  The clinging female disappeared with crinolines.
  • A well-bred girl does not expect a man to pay for everything for her.  Unless she knows he can well afford it, she doesn’t permit him to.

The next time the ERR hosts a book sale, go see what’s there…