Monday, April 6, 2009

Paper Beats Scissors

"Wear the old coat and buy the new book."
(Austen Phelps, 1820-1890)

When I was in London recently, I didn't buy anything that was cut, sewn or stitched, which I think is the first time ever that I've come home without indulging in some sort of sartorial fix. I did purchase some books, however. Thirteen, actually. And Luca bought twelve.

The night before we flew home to LA, the stack of tomes had grown to an alarming height on the desk in our hotel room. Using my expert packing tactics, I managed to cram most of them into my suitcase but when the zipper threatened to throw a fit, I buried the rest in Luca's.  The Divine Italian muttered something about bricks the next morning when he heaved the suitcases into the cab, but I busied myself with looking for my sunglasses and pretended not to hear.

Here are my new companions in their new Hollywood digs, with titles below...

1. Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner
2. Three Men and a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
3. Diary of a Pilgrimage, Jerome K. Jerome 
4. All Passion Spent, Vita Sackville West
5. The English, Jeremy Paxman
6. Craven House, Patrick Hamilton
7. Two People, A. A. Milne
8. Voices from Dicken's London, Michael Paterson
9. The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett
10. The House by the Churchyard, J. Sheridan Le Fanu 
11. Widow Barnaby, Fanny Trollope 
12. The Haunted Hotel, Wilkie Collins 
13. Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols 

And here are Luca's:

1. Read Me and Laugh, Gaby Morgan
2. Horrid Henry Robs the Bank, Francesca Simon
3. Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman, Francesca Simon
4. A Hat Trick for Horrid Henry, Francesca Simon
5. Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth, Eoin Colfer
6. Digory the Dragon Slayer, Angela McAllister
7. Secret Agent Jack Stalwart, Elizabeth Singer Hunt
8. Scream Street: Fang of the Vampire, Tommy Donbavand
9. Beast Quest: Torgor the Minotaur, Adam Blade
10. Beast Quest: Sepron the Sea Serpent, Adam Blade
11. Beast Quest: Epos the Flame Bird, Adam Blade
12. Beast Quest: Trillion the Three-Headed Lion, Adam Blade

I highly recommend this one. Luca begs me to read it aloud to him when he's in the bath, which of course I am more than happy to oblige. His favorite poem so far is "The Day I Got My Finger Stuck Up My Nose" by Brian Patten, which he can now recite by heart, complete with dramatic effects. Despite the cautionary message of the poem, his finger has yet to leave that particular refuge, but I'm still hoping.

Here's the reading nook I had built in his bedroom. 

I filled the little side shelves with some of my favorite childhood books like "The Phantom Tollbooth", "The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles" and "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase", but he hasn't reached for them yet. Maybe when he's exhausted his "Beast Quest" obsession, but I think they publish them as quickly as he devours them; at last count, there were 18 different titles on Amazon. 

I know I need to remind myself that half the adventure of reading is in the choosing -- the narrowing down of endless possibilities to the author whose story you want to discover. If I want Luca to love books as much as I do, he needs to embark on his own journey and I need to keep quiet and let him.

Ooh, but it's hard.


JMW said...

What a wonderful place for a child to read! I'll have to look for that book of poems - I'm sure our kids would love it.

Mrs. Blandings said...

The nook is wonderful and I love that the shelves are facing in toward it. I just finished reading the Phantom Tollbooth to my 3rd grader. While he would never pick it up himself, he will let me read nearly anything to him. My oldest and I have a deal, if I recommend a book to him, he must read it and vice versa. I've been discriminating to not ruin the concept. He, on the other hand, suggested the Deltora Quest series which was torturous dragons and goo. I did adore Alex Rider, however.

Also, the A.A. MIlne - would love to know if you enjoy it. I friend just lent me "The Sunny Side" and now I am on the hunt for a copy for myself. Delightful.

AlwaysMe said...

What a wonderful post today. I have just finished The Enchanted Places by Christopher Robin Milne and loved it. Your selection looks fabulous - it will be hard to decide what to open first!

I am heading out now to buy a Horrid Henry book for my 7 year old. It will make a nice change from the Speed Racer series!

You can never have enough books!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Mrs. Blandings: Such a great idea! I'll definitely have to try it. Thank you.

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa -

My now 21 year old son...LOVED The Phantom Tollbooth....I read to him like crazy when he was young and I KNOW that is when he developed his love of reading.

keep on book feeding

Habitually Chic said...

I love that quote! My parent's read to me when I was little which led to my love of reading and later buying books! I look forward to checking out your latest aquisitions!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Loved loved loved your blogs from London.
Museums, art, kids, playing, wandering, books and book shops--this is the ideal and most satisfying way to travel.
A note on books from London: if you subscribe to they will send you updates on new signed books and new important books--and if you order from this great Piccadilly bookshop, they'll air ship it fast, and include their newest catalog which often features great design/style/travel/architecture literature before it it pub in the US. A very great treat.
Bravo on your fabulous blog.

Mae said...

How wonderful to see a little boy buying so many books, although it's no wonder, look at his mother's stack ! Keep it up. Not only will it give him hours of the best kind of entertainment, but it will serve him well all throughout his school years.

Lee said...

Ah the joys of purchasing and reading books - you and Luca obviously know it so well. I'd take a book over a coat any day!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What a wonderful selection of books!! For both of you. I loved The Uncommon Reader and must have given away a dozen copies last year. Truly a delightful book. But, you have given me some intriguing new titles to check out. I have never even heard of that particular Wilkie Collins.

And, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase!! That does bring back memories!

LINDA from Each Little World said...

Finally read the "Wolves of Willoughby Chase" this past winter along with "Lolly Willowes." You might enjoy a spoof called "The Willoughbys" by Lois Lowry. I just wrote about "All Passion Spent" (book and film adaptation) last Friday. The older one gets, the better it is. No Persephone titles?

pve design said...

Oh, but the needle and thread shall come to life from all those tales. Love your book list, off to the Library.

Style Court said...

The Phelps quote is something to live by. You never disappoint! As always I love learning more about your library -- and Luca's -- with the bonus of seeing cozy spots in your house. Love your style.

StuckInABook said...

What a wonderful, wonderful selection of books! As you might have seen on my blog, I've recently re-read, and loved, Two People by AA Milne - I also love Lolly Willowes, All Passion Spent, Three Men In A Boat, and The Uncommon Reader - though haven't read the others you've bought, I'm sure they're great too. I've had Beverley Nichols on my shelves for ages and ages (The Thatched Roof, I think) so will wait to see what you think...

beauty comma said...

Just building such a gorgeous nook designated for reading is a lovely thing to do! And the most important thing is that he actually reads - there are so many children who don't. Reading skills is closely related to writing skills, so he'll benefit greatly from reading. We all choose differently. I must confess that I'm into chicklit - I've chosen not having a TV, but since I work with children and music I need something that doesn't demand anything from me in my spare time!

Sarah said...

Looks great. We have something similar, but have had trouble finding cushions for our bench. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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I've been reading a lot of books, specially if the author is Austen Phelps. He is one of the best in this category. According with the text, what you mean with "expert packing tactics"?


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