Find 10000 catalogued books for sale: I00 many- sided topics.

Almost all  reflective bookseller  Barry Long's  books are now for sale after 65 years' book collecting. They are displayed in ABE Books as catalogs at: - bookseller - Banfield House Booksellers - booksellers catalogs .

The Reflective Bookseller carries a  book by hand at airports and in flight as a talking point. His newsletter is  in the carry-on bag for any unsuspecting passenger who expresses the slightest interest in the book . 

The following thoughts have arisen from some of the catalogues curated on Abebooks.

America: escalator of time. 

Once in mid west USA I encountered a 19th century hotel, with an escalator seemingly as old as the building. The sound of the rumbling escalator resembled the noise of a conveyor belt. Seated in the foyer, you could hear it slapping and thumping upwards from a lower street floor. 

Aroused by the hypnotic affect of  continuous motion, my imagination conjured a procession of hotel guests gradually coming up on the escalator.  Emerging from another era, they resembled people from the nineteenth century. Rising upwards on the escalator are bonneted women lifting full skirts, armed cowboys, congressmen in Lincolnesque top hats, card sharps,  ranchers and prospectors. 

One by one they step slowly and gracefully off the escalator. Exceptionally polite and well mannered by today’s standards, they check in at reception. Their faces are weathered, so they seem older than they really are. My guess is their pace was slower and sense of urgency less.  

 Ancient history: a remarkable talent of  2200 years ago.

Have you seen the  Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Quin Shihuang?   Perhaps as I do, you aspire to visit the  Warriors one day at Linton, Xian. In the meanwhile,  you do  not have to leave your  living room to be entertained or enlightened. At home on  bookshelves, or in libraries or bookshops some of Asia's most interesting people are already within our grasp. To meet them we only have to read  first hand accounts of their experiences.

When we meet the terracotta warriors, our imagination will be put to the test. Gazing into their eyes and studying their resolute faces we will marvel at what their real life models might have encountered as soldiers. But no matter how well we empathise, we will come away not knowing what they had seen or what they had done. Unless, that is, we  read more of the Emperor who had them built to guard him.

Australian literary history : personifying Australian character and heritage 

Biographies and autobiographies of Australian writers cast light on creativity. They also demonstrate something personal - the human side of a writer’s life and work.

Trawling books catalogued under this topic uncovers hidden gems. The Bulletin’s publication and David Adams’ editing of the letters of Rachel Henning (“…in Queensland she has at last stepped out of the pages of Pride and Prejudice into the Australian outdoors which she has taken to her heart…”) is just one example.

Book after book shows writers struggling to get into print. Book after book demonstrates how Australian writers contended with the ups and downs of everyday living to achieve fulfillment.  

Automobiles: driving with ancestors

I am driving my ageing 20 year old Honda ( almost 400 000 kilometres on the odometer) along Queensland's MI . In my imagination my father, grandfather and great grandfather are  accompanying me.  As we breeze onward,  I recall some of my automobile experiences with each one of these fine passengers.  

Great grandfather was over 90 when I was dispatched at the age of five to report to his nearby house.  Once a week  I would eagerly climb up  into his Chevrolet Tourer and sit on the front seat. Great grandfather  cranked the powerful engine by hand, amidst a flurry of chicken feathers and squawking fowls. Sedately driving this chugging vehicle, he was fully outfitted in suit, waistcoat and watch chain. My memory is of a tall, seemingly ramrod figure, dignified and upright as he steered  confidently onto the roadway.

About 13 years later,  my grandfather  would rescue me whenever I brought home old bombs of cars. As a youth, I was surely the delight of used car dealers. They could see me coming. Grandfather, in his sixties, would spend weekends underneath the body of whatever wheels I acquired. It mattered not that my newly acquired unseemly wreck was parked dangerously over the road and footpath. Together we would dismantle and reassemble whatever needed attention. Old Fords were our specialty.

A further 45 years on, after his 85th birthday,  escorting my father in his 20 year old Commodore to his annual driving test was almost like riding shotgun. Dad would be tense with his teeth gritted in steely mood.  As he aged,  each test became  more rigorous and his behaviour  obstreperous. The final straw came when he turned ninety.  A brave examiner restricted him to driving within a 12 kilometre radius from his home.  At that point, dad meekly handed over his licence and retired from driving.


Whenever he could get away with it, dad made home brewed beer in my mother’s laundry. Mum angrily claimed it was an illegal distillery. I remember,  when a child, surreptitiously lifting up the heavy wooden lid over the laundry tub and smelling the hops. A murky cauldron of malt and yeast would be slowly frothing and bubbling away. In fear of a police raid, I looked in vain for ways of destroying the evidence. The brew was exceptionally strong. Unable to escape mum’s wrath, dad stored his bottled product in a basement cellar under the house. Tolerant and peaceful as she was, mum’s patience was strained whenever bottles exploded at night. 

 Sixty years later, after mum died, 87 year old dad expanded his brewing. Installing a small keg of beer inside the kitchen fridge, he drilled a hole through the fridge door. The keg was connected by a tube passing through the hole to a tap fastened outside onto the door.Dad’s consuming passion continued throughout his late eighties and early nineties. Almost all our family evaded his offers of such strong liquid hospitality. One grandson took to the beverage with relish. He inherited the equipment when dad died.

Business histories

Stories behind trade names are myriad. So many thousands of names from time immemorial have become household words over centuries. The right trade names, business names, brands and logos help transform business ideas into reality.

The name Stamina was promoted in the nineteen fifties in a format welcomed by its youthful customers. Australian schoolboys were each given a crisp new copy of a glossy 44 page book . Entitled "Australian Men of Stamina" it was distributed in schools with the compliments of the Stamina Clothing Company. The logo on each page was the trade name of school suits made from worsted cloth. The text and Walter Jardine illustrations were highly motivational.

Children's literature

Victorian children's books are characterised by hand coloured plates, colour printing wood engravings , chromolithography and other forms of book illustration. Distinguished by decorative covers, gilt lettering and embossed design, the literature reflects changing values  and attitudes. Demonstrating the childhood of their era, these books highlight school life, history exploration and discover over more than a century. 


By all accounts, Tuesday 5th November 1946 was a big day for the Melbourne Cup. Crowds pouring into Flemington racecourse packed the venue to capacity. Authorities worried about spectators climbing grandstand roofs for a better view. 

Flash Jim Bendrodt would have been watching the race with apprehension. Having discreetly shipped Spam, Ireland’s Leger champion out to Australia, he had carefully planned for a surprise win. Equally nervous were one particular group of punters.They  staked their bets on an elderly stable hand’s apparent dream of Spam winning,  but the horse lost.

Bendrodt’s account of what happened first appeared in True, a New York magazine. It later became one of an anthology of 15 stories written by Bendrodt and published by Angus& Robertson in 1966. The book was titled Irish Lad and other stories. It underscores how highly he rated his affection for horses in his occupation as a horse trainer.  Australia is a country whose sporting events are festivals of colourful account. The Story of Spam the Irish lad not only deserves a place in the annals of the Melbourne Cup. It has a place in the chronicles of life’s ups and downs.

Japan: dine out on crushed yams

Today’s visitors to Shizuoka Japan still enjoy lunching with locals at the ancient Mariko Restaurant. Its crushed yams were once lapped up by Matsuo Basho, the 17th century Japanese pilgrim poet. Basho could not stop dreaming of roaming. He was, he wrote in haiku “…drawn like blown cloud…” to journey on foot. Woodblock landscape artist Utagawa Hiroshige famously sketched the Mariko in the year 1832, some 150 years after Basho’s poetically diarised visit in 1684 .

Modern History: travel in time. Renew acquaintanceships 

Books printed during earlier centuries, their pages crisp and musty in original editions, pave the way for virtual time travel. Encountering writers in 18th  and 19th century England communicates something of their battles with life. It seems as if they are speaking to us directly of their struggles

Frances Burney, one of England’s best selling female novelists, describes her surgical procedure for cancer in the year 1811 without anaesthetic. Her brother James narrates his voyage on the Resolution and the Discovery which he commanded after the death of James Cook. Midshipman John Byron ( later to become grandfather of poet Lord Byron ) recounts in 1768 his grippingly strange epic of the ship Wager.

Music: Dvorak topped 100 symphonies. Paid to listen to pop singers. Music at Sydney's Coogee beach.

The year 2009 was a very good year indeed for those  who enjoy Anton Dvorak's music. It was the year Dvorak's ninth symphony - so aptly called From The New World - topped ABC radio's Classic FM 100 symphonies. If the United States of America is a paradox, Dvorak 's composition seems to me to capture  the essence of it.  My reasoning is the music 's capacity to convey  whatever drama or joy the listener  imagines about America. 

My mother was always talking about her radio days. Listening to crystal wireless as a child, she later grew up with the newly born ABC and other fledgling radio stations. On leaving school, she started as a sixteen year old typist in the Australian Performing Rights Association in Sydney. Her job was to listen to radio and  list  for royalty payment each recording of music broadcast. Mum said she had the best job in the world. I remember she knew the words of a lot of songs. When mum and dad first met it wasat a swimming club in Sydney's Coogee Aquarium. Dad and one of his brothers had just acquired (or assumed ) broadcasting rights for amplified music at Coogee beach.