With the shops reopening in England and Wales this week I am back working hard in the bookshop. It is good to talk to people about books again – and of course it is lovely to see all the books themselves and find new ones I want to read. Opening the boxes of new books just before we opened felt like Christmas!
However, it is still pretty stressful and I think it will take me a while to get used to actually meeting people again. I am developing ways to cope though and my favourite of course involves books.
I have never been great at getting up early so my breakfast is usually eaten in rushed mouthfuls while I’m also getting dressed. Not very relaxing! Now though I am making the effort to get up just ten minutes earlier so that once I’ve done all my stable chores I still have time to sit down with my breakfast and a book. It has become one of the best parts of my day and naturally makes me wonder why I didn’t make more time for it before!
Currently my breakfast reading is Pink Sugar by O Douglas and I am loving it. I haven’t read any of her books for some time now so I am almost rediscovering her all over again. I couldn’t be happier.
As with many small girls, I was completely pony mad. In fact, I never grew out of that pony phase. As a child, I was desperate for a pony of my own – I was one of those annoying children who frequently presented my parents with detailed charts showing all the things I could give up to fund said pony.
In lieu of the pony, I read every single pony book I could get my hands on. I read the ones from the library many times and I was constantly searching for new titles. There is something about the pony book which shows every pony mad girl to herself – I particularly identified with red-headed Jinny and for years my dream horse was a beautiful chestnut mare just like Shantih.
Although I now have my own pony (who, incidentally, I got largely because of my time volunteering at the Moorland Mousie Trust and one of the most exciting things I got to do there was helping with the publishing of a new edition of Moorland Mousie – if you like Black Beauty you should definitely read it!) this is another thing I haven’t grown out of and there are so many pony books out there that I can still find brand new (to me) titles to enjoy.
My favourites are mainly those set in Britain in the forties and fifties (although I do love others – I’ve already mentioned Patricia Leitch’s Jinny series) – Ruby Ferguson, the Pullein-Thompson sisters and Gillian Baxter are some of my favourites. As most of my childhood reading of them was from the library I am still trying to fill the many, many gaps.
Unfortunately, most of these books are out of print and many of them are rare (or at least very expensive) even second hand. I have a suspicion that this is partly because they are children’s books which tend to get more damaged than books for adults. I also know from experience that some second hand book dealers can dismiss children’s books as not worth selling which is terrribly sad.
My current obsession is the Romney Marsh and Punchbowl Farm series by Monica Edwards. I read a couple of them as a teenager but couldn’t get hold of any more. I recently discovered that Girls Gone By Publishers have been reprinting them and I have slowly been building up my collection. I have been having a wonderful time reading them and the ponies seem to enjoy it too – Galahad wasn’t too sure at first but Cookster was very enthusiastic!
With the re-opening of shops this week, I have been called back in to work. I spent a long time thinking about the perfect book to take with me – it needed to be nice and cosy but not too gripping because I wanted to be able to leave it at work when I went home.
In the end I decided on Pat of Silver Bush. L M Montgomery is always the best comfort read for me and, although I remember thinking that Pat was very similar in character to me, I haven’t read it for quite some time. I hoped that would mean I would be drawn into the story and it would be a distraction if things got too stressful at work.
In fact, I have hardly read at all over the past few days. We are working shorter days which means we get less time for lunch and I only get through a few pages. Then when I get home I am completely drained and just want to collapse on the sofa in front of the television (I have been binge watching Miranda and it is just as wonderful as I remember).
Hopefully though I will settle back into work fairly quickly and I’ll soon be reading more again. I am very much looking forward to my day off and the extra hours of reading time that will bring!
I recently watched The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for the first time since seeing it (twice) in the cinema. I adored it when I first saw it and was very pleased to find that I still loved it just as much.
So much so that I immediately fetched the book off the shelf to read that again too. I haven’t read it for several years, beyond a quick flick through to remind me of the main points before I first saw the film.
As I expected, I still loved the book too. It is such a comfort read for me and it was wonderfully cosy to come back to it. I had forgotten though just how many changes the film had made – I knew there were quite a few differences but it was only reading the book properly which reminded me just how many. Some of them made practical sense but there were some things which I just couldn’t understand.
However, it is interesting to find that I do love both the book and the film, despite those differences. I think the film keeps the same spirit as the book and of course the main plot is more or less the same. They are both beautiful stories and I cannot help loving them. I need more like them please!
I have posted before about my love of tiny bookshops and I have a new one to share today!
Last week I went to visit my Uncle and found this lovely little book shed outside a church. It was dark and we were too incompetent to be able to turn the light on but this is exactly why we have torches on our phones!
I spent a very happy time rummaging through the boxes and shelves – which were beautifully organised and far more user friendly than many I have seen. Of course, I couldn’t leave without actually buying a book so I bought three (because why not?) and marched happily along the road clutching them to me.
As I said, it was dark!
I was very pleased with my selection too – Mother Goose illustrated by Arthur Rackam, a copy of Dorothy L Sayers’ Unnatural Death to replace my falling apart copy and a signed(!) copy of Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson. I just read my first Atkinson – Transcription – and I loved it so I am very excited to have another to read!
I mentioned in my last post that Five by Hallie Rubenhold was one of my favourite books from last year. It is essentially a biography of the five women killed by Jack the Ripper and is very much a book about their lives and not their deaths – although those are covered too.
It is an utterly fascinating book and I was genuinely gripped by it. I wanted to know what happened to those women and how they ended up on the streets of Whitechapel.
Non-fiction can be a struggle for me. No matter how much I am interested in a subject and want to read the book, I do not tend to pick them up. Instead I go for stories. I can’t really explain it but I love to get lost in another world.
In the case of Five, it had been sitting on my shelf for months just waiting for me to pick it up. Every time I started a new book it was overlooked. Then I thought of audiobooks and borrowed a copy from the library.
It was a revelation. I was hooked and just couldn’t stop listening. Which was potentially awkward at times when I had forgotten my earphones – if someone had walked in on me and just heard snippets out of context it might have sounded odd!
Audiobooks are definitely a great tool and something I will remember the next time I want to read a non-fiction book but am putting off starting it. I should manage to learn much more this way!
I am sure that by now most of you will have heard of the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð or book flood on Christmas Eve. If you haven’t, in Iceland it is traditional to give each other books on Christmas Eve and then settle down to read them and eat chocolate.
For several years I have wanted to adopt this practice for myself and this year, finally, I managed it.
We actually had company for dinner so we couldn’t spend hours reading but once they had gone we shared our books and settled down to finish the day. I received a lovely copy of Dear Enemy – the sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. It is one I have read before but I wanted a nice vintage copy because my previous one had been print on demand and didn’t contain the pictures which add so much to the story.
I wasn’t disappointed either – I loved the pictures and was once again swept up by the story. It was the best way to wind down on Christmas Eve and I will definitely be hoping to do the same thing again many times in the future.
Christmas reading time is here! One of my favourite things about Christmas is the long, dark evenings which can be spent in front of the fire with a board game or a book. It is just so cosy and wonderful.
It has to be the right kind of books though and I have made a tentative stack of books I may read over the next few weeks. Or possibly not. The whole point is to read exactly what I want and what makes me happy.
Most Christmases I try to read lots of my favourite children’s Christmas stories but this year not all of the books are obviously Christmassy. Some of them do have hidden Christmas scenes – I am reading What Katy Did at School primarily for the wonderful Christmas box the girls receive – but what I really want right now are cosy comfort reads. In fact, I have been looking forward to these books for weeks – which makes me think that perhaps I should read more of them throughout the year!
I have just finished reading Daddy-Long-Legs (I still love it as much as I ever did) and have moved on to Katy which I have not read for years. I know I am going to thoroughly enjoy the next few weeks!
Do you have Christmas reading (or other) traditions? I would love to hear them.
Last Friday I went on a little excursion to Bath. Ostensibly this was to do a bit of Christmas shopping and look at pretty lights, with a quick stop off for a shoppers’ carol service in the Abbey. In reality I was mostly going so that I could visit Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights.
Mr B’s has been one of my favourite bookshops for years. It is always a joy to browse the shelves, hidden a little away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. When they were crowdfunding to expand into next door I knew that I had to contribute something. Apart from anything else, it meant that I got a tote bag, a bookmark (always things I want) and best of all my name actually on the ceiling in the shop! Of course I had to make a trip to see that.
The ceiling isn’t quite finished yet but I could still see my name under the film – and in a lovely font too. This room is the Imaginarium where you can go to be a writer in residence for the day. It looks like such a fun thing to do – I would be sorely tempted, although I’m not sure blog writing counts!
Of course, I had to also have a proper nosy around the shop and I spent a good deal of time there dithering over my purchases. In the end I bought a copy of Maddy Alone by Pamela Brown which looks right up my street. It had the added bonus of being in the new, wonderful children’s room which I loved. It even has flaps to lift on the wall!
As usual, I had a great time and I can’t wair to visit again and see the finished ceiling.