Monday, 23 March 2009

Dusty treasures

I'm not saying or showing another trivial thing about the staircase now. I've moved on to sorting bookshelves. And am rather perplexed at the state of my bookshelves, or at least their contents - there's an awful lot of rubbish in there! - but also some gems.

I have a few old books dating from my childhood, some of which still evoke the thrill of the day they arrived, brand new, stiff and shiny, and now peeling, stained and battered from many many readings. Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopaedia! - so many hours of pleasure, wonder and accumulated general knowledge, plus a strong dose of British imperialist patriotism that would be unthinkable in today's books for children. It was read secretly when we had measles and had to lie in a darkened bedroom, forbidden to open curtains or risk straining our eyes in any way. It's amazing that the childhood books have lasted; as Army children, we frequently moved house or even country, our belongings always pared to the bone at the time of packing, and much that was treasured had to be left behind.

There are some books that I've started and not finished for a variety of reasons, although it took me a long time to allow myself not to finish a book I wasn't enjoying. Even now, I feel a pang of guilty failure when I stop trying with a novel.

And there are some that should be there, but aren't. They are the books that were loaned out and not returned, and the sad thing is that they were loaned out precisely because I loved them so much that I wanted to share them, but as someone who will re-read favourite books, didn't expect to part with them for ever. But there are also some books on my shelves that I fear I may have borrowed and not returned, for exactly the same reason that I haven't reclaimed my own missing favourites - I forgot who gave me them. Very occasionally, an owner's name is written inside, but therein lies a hidden danger for one who is trying to dust, order and rationalise one's bookshelves - the danger of opening a book, and three hours later, to be found still sitting on the floor beside the bookshelf, reading, reading, lost to the world.

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Susan said...

Rachel, what a lovely blog you have and I would say that you & I are kindred spirits. I will be back when I have more time to read more thoroughly but must say quickly how much I love the Dulux white truffle and grape ash. Tres beau!

Hugs to the gang of furry ones and ...

'tis always true it seems -
the grass IS "always" greener.

your semi cosmopolitan life looks lovely.

laurie said...

oh, look at that shelf! look! the princess and the goblin! the princess and curdie!

go to bed
goblin do
help the queen
take off her shoe

if you do
it will disclose
a horrid set
of sprouting toes!

oh i loved those books.

mountainear said...

How dangerous it is to dust book shelves indeed....I read voraciously as a child but not one of those books survive. My family were not particularly 'bookish'. I wonder if all my reading matter came from the school library box - which really was a Box of Delights. I remember those Puffin editions too - so perhaps I did own some of those.

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