Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Praise Of Words

The first thing I do when arriving at an acquaintance's house for the first time is look around for the books, the books, where do they keep the books? Once I find them, I can relax a little in the knowledge that our relationship has a future.
(A very few of my books)

I don't care what people read, I just care that they read. It's of vital importance, actually. I don't really trust a person who doesn't read. (Do you?)

I'm not a size queen: I don't care if they have a massive library full of books or one little treasured pile next to their beds. Not everyone likes to hang on to their books as I do; some people prefer to have their way with them and then dispatch them into the wide, wide world to be treasured by someone else. I think that's lovely.

As for me, frequent moves across the Atlantic Ocean have forced me to part with countless treasured volumes, but I keep a list of all the ones I've given away so that, in effect, they are still with me. If I ever have a fire and lose everything, it comforts to me know that at least I can recreate my library.

When my family encamped to the flatlands of the Midwest in the 1970's, books became my all-important passport to a enchanted childhood spent in Europe. Through them, I could still hunt for trolls in the Swedish countryside (Tove Jannsen, The Moomin Books), tuck into a midnight feast at an English boarding school (Enid Blyton, Mallory Towers) or help save Tintin from an encounter with a gorilla in Scotland (Hergé, The Black Island). They were more than just books to me: they were places I knew as intimately as I knew my own neighborhood and visited every chance I could get.

One summer day when I was about nine, I vividly remember my father begging me to at least take my book outside so I could get a little fresh air and sunshine. "Please," he said. "You're so pale." I protested, then conceded. Slamming the screen door behind me, I entered a nightmarish world of blinding sunlight and stifling humidity. Was there no refuge to be found in this strange land? In a burst of inspiration, I climbed a tree and spent the next several hours reading in shaded splendor while below me, my four rough-and-tumble younger siblings, none the wiser, played and argued and laughed and fought.

I still remember what I was reading that day.

Everyone has one book in their life that changed them from being a passive reader into a proselytizer of the written word. This is that book for me.

It perfectly captured my longing to escape from Michigan, spinning a tale of faraway lands and fanciful creatures and magical thinking caps that hit me with such force that I was propelled into sharing author Julie Edwards' (aka Julie Andrews) world with others. I embarked on a feverish campaign to get all my friends to read it. No one did.

But Google "Pax amor et lepos in iocando" ("Peace, love and a sense of fun") and you'll see that I'm not the only Whangdoodle worshipper out there.
(My "Whangdoodle" bookplate)

Tell me, please, what book changed everything for you? I am so curious.

P.S. Have you seen this? My friend Jenny alerted me to it. Available here. I don't even own a laptop and I want to get one.


Anna/Quilted Giraffe said...

The Chronicles of Narnia...I spent many happy hours reading and re-reading them as a child, and I love them every bit as much today.

Also, Anne of Green Gables.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Anna/Quilted Giraffe: Yes, yes, Narnia is so good! I still want to wallpaper the back wall of my hall closet with snowy trees in homage to that book... :)

Jane said...

Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden - a story of two Japanese dolls given to a little girl Nona who has moved back to England from India. The book contains full instructions for making a Japanese tea - doll house. Completely divine and started me off on a loving all things Japan kick which has lasted forever.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a book I also loved. I think I was an abandoned orphan in a previous life as I really relate to these books!

I love checking out people's books too. I feel a bit like I am seeing into their soul so I do it sparingly!! xoxo

Belle Isle Home said...

Swallows and favorite English childhood. I am going to look for your favorite, I thought I had read just about everything, 'cause I still love these kinds of books, especially on a slushy grey Michigan afternoon.

And I have emailed a link to the BookBook to anyone who I thought might buy me a present.

Amy said...

Oh Lisa, by outward appearances, if anyone were to compare us, they would say we couldn't be more different but post after post I find that is just not true! I LOVED The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles--so much that I didn't want my younger sister to read it because I wanted it to be all mine. But I think I loved Mandy just a little bit more. My Anglophilia was apparent even at a young age and my dissatisfaction with my mother made me desperate to become very sick and be adopted by a lovely English family who just happened to have a manor house. Magic for Marigold was wonderful too.

Laura said...

The Dark is was all so mystical and foreign to me...

Hels said...

You sounded like the child I would have loved to have been/had :)

When my younger son was leaving home after university, I eyed off his room as a potential library for me. In fact I couldn't get him out into his own flat fast enough!

Within 48 hours of him closing the front door, I took out his bed, clothing and sporting equipment, and gathered up all my books from every room in the house.

A cabinet maker installed a timber floor-to-ceiling shelving system along the length of one wall, and my beautiful books had a home at last. They are divided into "books I refer to all the time" in the bottom 5 shelves and "books I rarely need" on the top two shelves.

Gaby said...

T.H. White's Mistress Masham's Repose. I spent many an afternoon searching for a secret colony of Lilliputians in a nearby park's pavilion...

Toad said...

I clearly remember "The Wind in the Willows" was the first book I read. I've treasured it since.

littlebyrd said...

What a fantastic post! There is little I love or enjoy more than reading. Let's see, for me it was the Chronicles of Narnia, Nancy Drew, and the Little House of the Prairie series. I just started reading The Wind in the Willows to my son and he is in love, wanting one more chapter, and then another.

Dandy said...

Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies and Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Magical places, both.

Kim said...

I've loved books since I was in first grade and my Dad brought home stacks of books from the library each week for me to read.

But what really clinched it for me was reading, "Rebecca" in the 7th grade. I loved the creepiness, could feel the sea spray and smell the flames of Manderley by the end of the story.

Unknown said...

Oh, I read and read, just like you, in the sunny garden at my grandmother's house, on a woolen blanket and the dry grass beneath poking me, or in a tree or under the covers with a flash light, which needed to be pumped to give light...I read German children's books and many fairy tales, Russian, Swedish and African.
Later in West Germany as a young mother I discovered with my boys Enid Blyton, Astrid Lindgren and later...well that is another story, since I came to read in English and again I started literarly from scratch and with my children discovered American children's books!
I speak book, like you!

Virginia said...

I read so much, so often I cannot recall being without a book. Like you, Lisa, I was chastised TO GO OUTSIDE! So, pooh! I toted my reading with me: yes, in trees, in the stable, in the woods by that babbling brook. Like Amy, I was dissatisfied with my mother and dreamed about another life. The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland, Wuthering Heights. I cannot wait to read YOUR book mentioned and become a Whangdoodle fan. Much thanks!

Anonymous said...

Anne of Green Gables changed my world. I loved books before discovering the series, but once I encounted Anne, I became a devoted reader. I tried to convince my friends to love Anne as much as I did, but failed to even get them to try the books. I'm still smarting from their rejection actually, even 16 years later. How much they missed!

Anonymous said...

Hands down- the Betsy-Tacy series by Maude Hart Lovelace.

Julia said...

I just love your book posts!

When I first read The Giver and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry I was fairly young and they both made such a huge impression on me. I also just loved Little Women and all the Louisa May Alcott books, the Little House books, the Narnia books...I could go on and on! And the Anne of Green Gables series was great, but I loved LM Montgomery's Emily trilogy even more :-) Oh, this has been so fun to think back over old favorites!

My mom still has my entire pre-college library at her house 1,000 miles away from me, so every time I visit her I snag a few of my favorites because I just hate them being so far away!

Rosemary Q said...

The Betsy-Tacy series, Little House on the Prairie, Little Women and Christmas with the Savages. I am a childrens' librarian today because of my love for books. As a child I was sent outside to get some fresh air too. I took my books with me and read in the apricot tree in our backyard, eating the fruit and getting lost between the pages of a book. I thought at the time that I could live like this forever. I love the smell of libraries and old bookstores and I love the smell of the pages in a book I am about to delve into. I simply love books and am so happy when I meet someone who feels the same as me.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so many books! As a child, Winnie the Pooh (the original), The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time. As an adult A Gift from the Sea (it's pulled me back from the edge many times!), The Elements of Style, Nancy Lancaster -- Her Life...Her World...Her Art, The Secret Gardens of many books! I'll be moving soon and plan to send boxes upon boxes of my large-format design and art books to my daughter. But here's a question -- where can I donate books? I have so many that I've read and won't read again. Good, hardcover books in need of good homes. Any thoughts? I live in LA.

Anonymous said...

Richmal Crompton's William and the Outlaws and Enid Blyton-all of them especially the Five Find-Outers,the Famous Five, Mallory Towers. I think I can still recall the covers

L said...

All the books I read as a child (Ballet Shoes, The Secret Garden, Nancy Drew, Little Women, etc.) no doubt formed me along with many other conflicting cultural messages, but nothing came along to change me until I was a 24 year-old graduate student in Spanish Literature. I stumbled across The Selected Journals of L.M Montgomery vol. 1, realized what I wanted out of life, dropped Don Quixote and never looked back.

Now I will have to tell you some day about the book that led me to have lunch with Nigel Nicolson (for that one changed the entire course of my life in my 30's).

Anonymous said...

I agree. I find it really spooky when people have no books. The photos must be your books. They are totally you as far as I can tell from your posts.

Like another poster, I also preferred Julie Andrews' Mandy. The descriptions of her bringing the cottage back to life set me up for a lifetime of decorating!

L said...

I was reading Julie Andrews (Edwards) Mandy when I was 9. My mother was pregnant with my sister. My father saw me reading the book and said to my mom, "What about the name 'Mandy' if it's a girl?"

Oh, but I loved that book too. . .I think my whole life has been a search for that "place of one's own" to tend.

Joanna said...

I remember reading Little Women in a big olive tree. But it was The Little House on the Praire series that started my love of books.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Mr. Popper's Penquins! How I loved that one!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! Gosh, you've opened a floodgate of happy memories. I suppose if I had to whittle it down (but how to choose a favorite, they're all so special!), I'd go with Taran Wanderer and Tuck Everlasting. I also have a soft spot for the St Clare's series as my dad used to bring them back from business trips to the UK and I harbored secret fantasies of being a fifth former instead of a public school girl from the Midwest.

pve design said...

I'd pine for those spines!
If you came to my home, I would make sure all the books were pruned, primped, preened and plumped and full of pride knowing that you were coming.

JaneH said...

Harriet the Spy - and so began my lifelong love of chocolate egg creams, tomato sandwiches and evesdropping on interesting conversations!

Unknown said...

I recently was in a friends home and there was not one book to be found. Not one. And I know they read but I guess they don't keep them..? I found that their home, beautiful as it is, felt soulless.

Books comfort me - even when they threaten to crowd me out. When I first moved to Los Angeles it was with one suitcase full of clothes and four boxes full of books. Including The Real Mother Goose Treasury. It was a gift from my grandmother when I was three.

I can't wait to read The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles! I missed that one.

Room Temperature said...

Like you, I spent part of every scorching Midwestern summer reading, and like you, I hated heat--I still do--so I did my reading hidden in the swaying fronds of an old willow in our backyard, or on the damp, chilly screened-in sleeping porch on the north side of the house, to which the rest of my family happily gave me sole rights, finding it gross & creepy due to the large number of bugs that shared the place with me: wasps buzzing & hovering among the rafters above, stag beetles scuttling through the moldy leaf debris that lay in the corners.

Unlike you, I spent all the rest of my childhood, summer & winter, doing the exact same thing--no European jaunts for me: Danville & Clinton, Illinois were all the world I knew or, at that point, cared to know--and although I read constantly, I wasn't at all selective. Whatever was on the shelves, I read: the heavy Book of Knowledge set that still smelled of fresh ink, and that was a gift from one set of grandparents; the battered Junior Classics set that had belonged to my other grandmother when she was young; my dad's old Tom Swift books, my mother's old Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew books--the original editions, where Nancy drove a roadster & no one gave a thought to whatever was going on with her friends Bess & George. Basically, although there was a lot of it, none of it amounted to much, except for the Junior Classics whose wholesome adaptations of Homer & Virgil were edited with a ten year old in mind, but whose Brothers Grimm stories kept intact primal scenes of wicked children having their eyes pecked out by ravens, and whose retelling of Aesop's fables didn't spare any of the gore. The wolf ate the innocent lambkin, and the scorpion stung to death whoever it was that tried to help him. My folks didn't let me & my brothers watch scary movies so we never had bad dreams about monsters--or later, aliens or slashers or cannibal mutants--but there were never any limits put on us as to what we could read...


Room Temperature said...


...By the time I was twelve, I had progressed to Charles Dickens, Richard Halliburton (an autographed edition that had belonged to my mother), Agatha Christie & Henry Miller, although I have to admit I didn't find Tropic of Cancer on the shelves downstairs, but, rather, hidden away with a neat stack of Playboy magazines, lying below the zippered canvas bags that held our Hudson's Bay blankets safe from moths, in the cedar-lined recesses of the window seat in my parents' bedroom. Fifty years later, the smell of mothballs still conjures up images of Bettie Page & Candy Barr, and if you don't know who Candy Barr is, it's probably just as well. Let me just say this: if parents ever can't find some obscure item that they've misplaced & haven't seen in months, all they have to do is ask their kids where it is. Kids know every square inch of their parent's houses, from far-off linen cubpboards in unused attic servants' rooms to the bottom of the laundry chute in the basement to the bucket of rusty tools in the the old fruit cellar. ellar. Whether they're aware of it or not, parents have no secrets from their children. None. That 'innocent' look on the little darlings' faces is all a fake. Kids are masters of deceit. Or, anyway, so I've been told...


donna baker said...

Methinks we have a lot in common and I've been called eccentric. The book I remember really liking was Flowers For Algernon. Have you read it? I really liked fiction when I was younger, but now mostly non-fiction.

Room Temperature said...


Where was I? Something about books, I think. Anyway, all my early reading was the literary equivalent of junk food--empty calories. It filled me up, all right, but didn't satisy my hunger, although I didn't realize it at the time. That didn't happen for another decade, when I started collecting 20th century illustrated books--for the pictures--then started reading them just to occupy the long hours of forced indolence during the long Midwest summers, which were still hotter than hell.

The first thing I really read was The Bridge of San Luis Rey which I bought not because it had won a Pulitzer Prize but because it had a cool Rockwell Kent drawing on its paper cover. After that I read the Fritz Eichenberg edition of Jane Eyre, then I discovered--via Agnes Miller Parker--Thomas Hardy. Reading Tess of the Durbervilles is what made me realized that, basically, everybody's life sucked--not just mine--and that any freak coincidence that could, would end in utter disaster, and that it didn't make any difference how hard you tried, because you basically had no chance at lasting happiness. Or, as they used to say in the eighties, Life's a bitch and then you die.

Oddly, that knowledge was actually pretty comforting, since my life was merely dull & repetitive, not tragic & heartbreaking. Not yet, anyway.

Anyway, the lesson I got out of Thomas Hardy & Sherwood Anderson & Edgar Lee Masters & Charles Dickens--if you ignored Dickens' comedy & sly social commentary on the surface of his stories & looked at the squalor & despair it often covered--was that while I might think that my own life sucked, I actually had it pretty easy, and that, as Susan Jane said at the calm, fatalistic conclusion of The Mayor of Casterbridge, every day not spent in positive pain is good, since, as little as we might think we have, there are others who have much less than we do, who yet deserve far more--and who will never get it.

That's why, these days, I try to be nice to everyone. You never know what other people have go through just to get up every day & get on with life. Like i said, I've got it easy.

Apparently, the poet Philip Larkin was a bit of a cad, and I guess, he's a bit out of fashion, too. No matter. This poem says it all--at least to me.

Nothing to be Said

For nations vague as weed,
For nomads among stones,
Small-statured cross-faced tribes
And cobble-close families
In mill-towns on dark mornings
Life is slow dying.

So are their separate ways
Of building, benediction,
Measuring love and money
Ways of slow dying.
The day spent hunting pig
Or holding a garden-party,

Hours giving evidence
Or birth, advance
On death equally slowly.
And saying so to some
Means nothing; others it leaves
Nothing to be said.


Anonymous said...

I, too, look for books when I enter someone's home. You can tell so much from what they have on their bookshelves.

I was very young when I was given A Little Golden Book's Walt Disney's Mary Poppins. I was hooked.

My all time favorite book is Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

What a great post!


Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Where, oh where to begin?!!

All the books you ALL have mentioned are so, so wonderful. To recap, one by one:

Jane: Need to read Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden asap. Thank you.

Belle Isle: I've been looking at Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransom for years -- must buy it next time.

Amy: I wanted to be that little girl too! I loved Mandy -- who wouldn't? And you can imagine that with 4 brothers and sisters, I desperately wanted a little cottage of my own as well. I think that's where I got my sheet obsession -- remember when she woke up in the manor house to gentle voices and soft, soft bedlinen?!

Laura (What I Like): How can I have missed that book? Will investigate...

Hels: You are lovely. Lovely. And I love that organizing system of yours. I may have to implement it at my place, too. xx

Gaby: I missed that one too...thanks for sharing it. xx

Toad: Of COURSE you loved that book. It's you all over. Chic and posh and irreverent (I read your blog, you know). Now you've made me want to read that book again.

littlebyrd: I'm with you all the way. How old is your son? Maybe I should read "Wind in the Willows" to Luca...

Dandy: Those books are both sooo beautiful.

Kim: Ooh yes, "Rebecca" was shudderingly creepy. After that, I read every Gothic horror novel I could find. "The Sheltering Sands" still stands out in my brain.

VictoriaArt: What a beautiful comment...I can totally visualize your childhood. And all those books in all those are really something, my dear!

Virginia: We are birds of a feather. All your books have a special place in my heart, too.

thecaptivereader: I had to smile reading your comment, thinking of you trying to persuade your friends to read's their loss....

Anonymous: You have intrigued me...I will be googling "Betsy-Tacy" momentarily... :)

Julia: How wonderful that you still have all your childhood books! I don't know LM Montgomery's Emily trilogy...will look it up as well...

Romi: What a wonderful comment! There must have been a lot of us munching on fruit and reading in trees...I absolutely love knowing that. How wonderful that you are a librarian -- I'm sure your passion for books spills over into your students. And yes, the smell of books is quite enticing: I sometimes wear Penhaligon's "Blenheim Bouquet" (Winston Churchill's favorite cologne) because it smells of cigars and old libraries.

to be continued...

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Anonymous: Oh my goodness, yes, "A Wrinkle in Time". Unbelievable. And "A Gift from the Sea" is so so beautiful. I read it for the first time a few years ago on the urging of a good friend -- it's exquisite. Think I'll go look for it in the shelves again...

Anonymous: I read all the Famous Five books too. Do you remember the character of Dorcas the cook? She was always fussing over the children or baking something bready and delicious...lovely traits, those.

Lala: Lunch with Nigel Nicolson????!!!! Wha!? Hwa? I need EVERY DETAIL. Seriously, I really really need every detail. Comment again... or email me. Please!

Anonymous: Yes, those are my books. Good sleuthing! And I TOTALLY get what you mean about "Mandy" making a decorator out of you: reading about that little cottage coming to life was (is) quite inspiring.

Lala (again): Love that "Mandy" anecdote.

Joanna: More girls reading in funny! xx

Pamela Terry and Edward: I haven't thought about that book in years. Lovely illustrations, too, right?

Anonymous: I DID read St. Clare's books but didn't realize it until just this minute after I googled them and realized they were also Enid Blyton. I think I grouped them in my head with the Mallory Towers books. I totally remember Carlotta the crazy girl and Mamzelle, the French teacher.

PVE: Perchance you can be persuaded to make plans with me should I ever arrive preened and primped "par avion" to your part of town...! xx

JaneH: I too was a "Harriet the Spy" freak. I loved that book and kept a notebook until I got into trouble with my 3rd grade teacher over it -- she made me destroy it. And I went through a tomato sandwich phase as well. xx

Musings: "One suitcase and four boxes full of books..." You are a girl after my own heart and welcome at The Kenmore Arms anytime!

Magnaverde: Where do I even begin with you???!

First of all, I love that you traveled the entire world from that musty screened-in sleeping porch of yours -- I'm sure you gleaned more exotic and memorable tales than you would have via any airplane...

Second of all, Charles Dickens kind of defines me (I've read all of his novels, most of them twice or more) and I love your description of children knowing where everything in their parents' house is. So true. I found my mom's copy of "The Happy Hooker" by Xaviera Hollander and secretly read it whenever she went out to run errands (I hope she's not reading this because she doesn't know...)

Third, in your words (via Thomas Hardy's) -- "Every day not spent in positive pain is good, since, as little as we might think we have, there are others who have much less than we do, who yet deserve far more--and who will never get it" -- Man, that's powerful, heartbreaking and oh so true. And yes, being nice to everyone is tantamount to having a happy life. To act in any other way is to embark on a slow path to soul-crushing destruction. I'm very big on forgiveness too.

Finally, that Philip Larkin poem is beautiful. You must be familiar with "Lying in Bed", another of my favorites:

Talking in bed ought to be easiest
Lying together there goes back so far
An emblem of two people being honest.

Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside the wind's incomplete unrest
builds and disperses clouds about the sky.

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind
Or not untrue and not unkind.

To thank you for your comment doesn't begin to scratch the surface.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Donna Baker and Anonymous: Yes and YES. "Flowers for Algernon" was great. I worked with Cliff Robertson (he starred in the movie) when he did voiceovers for AT&T and we would spend many hours in the recording studio talking about the old movie days. He always said he had no idea that movie would end up being as big as it was.

And "Brideshead Revisited"?! I read it for the second time about four years ago and enjoyed it even more than the first time. It's an elegiacal hymn to young adulthood, lost innocence and the end of the Edwardian era. Love love LOVE that book.

Little Emma English Home said...

Loved this post so much. I totally agree with you, a person who doesn't read has something "wrong".
My book was Little Women, I was a child. I remember that at school we were obliged to read and I hated it. Only because teachers made me read awful books...then I discovered this one and since then I've never stopped. Mu house is full of books everywhere, I like to have PHYSICALLY around me!!

Hugs from Italy

edina monsoon said...

I gasp out loud when I saw the laptop protector. Absolutely brilliant idea. Now why didn't I think of that. I can't for the life of me pin point one single book which the MOST impact, but off the top of my head, my Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield was my favourtite for many many years. Posy Petrova and Pauline's suffering with saving was touching. The book had a happy ending ( v important for me ) and it showed perseverance in believing you can be a non-ballet dancer in petrova's case paid off when GUM reappears.

Aisha said...

OOh I love love this post :) a child i absolutely enjoyed reading....infact by the 5th grade i was given a special award by my school for finishing the entire junior library book collection ;)

I personally believe that 'one's childhood is incomplete if they have not read any of enid blytons book'(most ppl dont agree with me;p)...

my all time fav from enid blyton was the faraway tree-- i loved all the diff was as if i was being transported to diff magical lands :)...infact i liked the wishing chair as well...and another favourite was the anne of green gables series--from that book i learnt the true power of imagination and that it has no bounds...
hmmm there are sooo many fav's but i think a mention of my fav books without 'gone witht the wind' is not right :)
okk im rambling so will end the post on the note that i absolutely adore ur dining room wall paper :D

Thomas Hogglestock said...

I only get evangelical with other true believers. Sadly, to too many non- or casual readers, talking about books is an antagnostic act. At once boring them and seeming to point out their limitations and lameness for not reading. They tend to get defensive.

For the 17 years I was looking for my husband I always did the bookshelve litmus test with suitors. The most tragic were those with no books. But almost as bad are those who only have self-help books, or business books.

Debra said...

The book that made me into the reader that I am {never enough time though} was Diary of Anne Frank. I was in the eighth grade, at boarding school for one year. It was a gift from my Mother and Father. I still read it every few years or so. We can never have too many book cases- and there are cartons and cartons of books in our basement... fabulous post. Love your collection.

Emily said...

A book that truly changed everything for me was a short novel called Jane Emily by Patricia Clapp. I read it in 3rd grade. It was the first time I realized I had control to create what the characters looked like to me , in my head. I also remember envisioning what the whole home looked like, the gardens, the food. It opened my world to the excitement of reading. I could not put it down, and I missed the characters when I was finished. I was hooked on reading, and I still am hooked!

dana said...

The first book I remember was Nurse Nancy. It was a little golden book and had spot bandaids in the back of it. The turning point for me came in the 3rd grade when Mrs. Gwynn read a chapter of Footprints Under the Window (Hardy Boys/Frank Dixon) to us everyday. I had to learn to read well and quickly because the anticipation of waiting for another chapter was too hard. From there it was on to biographies- that many volume blue series that was in every school library in the 60s. Then Elswyth Thane's Virginia series and on and on until just this morning I looked at another (one of many) tiny bookcases purchased recently and thought, "there is nothing better than an empty bookcase because it means I don't have to make room on another, I can just fill it up". I have a one-woman show of watercolors in june that will be part of Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts and I've done a series of painting on books that I've loved in - the hardy boys, elswthy, a book on her church that my grandmother edited. I could paint these for the next 10year. Nothing is more transformative than a love of books.

Cashon&Co said...

okay, that Mac book cover is the coolest thing i have ever seen. i already went to the site and am purchasing it, so awesome!!!!!!!!!!
First book I remember reading was Nancy Drew....I read those in 3rd grade maybe? And in highschool I read every danielle steel book made. I used to listen to books on records in elementary school.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

As a child, for me it was either the chronicles of Narnia or the Anne of green gables series. I'm almost embaressed to admit that last part. But I too was moved to the midwest as a child (Nebraska) from Europe(Sweden) and read an awful lot - at least a book a day.
Because I still read a lot and have a tiny apartment, i have been 'honing' my library so to speak and only keep books that I classify as 'essential design library' books, 'fascinating biographies', or a 'must-have'. Too often though I add in an extra one or two for comfort and thats why I have mounds of books hidden (and not hidden) everywhere. It's a problem!

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Lisa, what a beautiful post and more so all the answers. I read each one-and I am thinking, how did I miss this one or that one? There will never be enough time to read them all, that is what really gathers Us bibliocrazed readers to your posts. It is a scraping of the surface of what we have missed but here we can collect the shards for a bit of knowledge to add to our own dust bins. Thank you for that. The book I can always return to is Little Women-I read it at age 9 and whenever I need to reconnect with the essence of what matters to me I read it- family, loyalty, individuality and following your own destiny, yes all from that simple book.Another-and no Southerner would be One without having read Gone with the Wind. I read that when I was about 11 in the sultry summer heat of Georgia on a river where my family was living for the summer. At that time I never once thought of the controversial topics of slavery, war etc- just about the fierceness of Scarlet and how she managed it all. I have encouraged my niece and nephew both to read and befriend the written word since they were small- and have given them books every year since them for birthday and Christmas.This Year For Liz- Ottoline Morrell and for JT- a copy of the Qur'an

Mrs. Blandings said...

Oh, my goodness, but I am late to the party. I had my book firmly in mind then got sidetracked by the Little House books and Toad's mention of Wind in the Willows. I have my mother's childhood copy and have read it to my boys. But, honestly, it was Little Women, that tender tale reaffirming that bookish girls have a place in the world. The next came later when Tender is the Night knocked me right off my feet.

A wonderful post.

littlebyrd said...

Hey Lisa~
This is so great reading all the comments. I am seeing books I had forgotten about reading. To answer your uqestions, my son is 4 1/2. I wasn't sure he would be interested in a chapter book with out pictures but he is!

Anonymous said...

Littlebyrd, my four year old listened enraptured to the first Harry Potter, and immediately, it had to be re-read. I followed with the next Harry Potter and then Swallows and Amazons, every Enid Blyton I could get my hands on (he was forever 'shadowing' suspects (family!)), more Harry Potter, discovered David Almond and Philip Pullman, and even Frank McCourt with Angela's Ashes. He is now 12, an avid reader in his own right...but still loves to be read to.

Unknown said...

Oh what a divine post! Books! I live for them!

froogal said...

My favorite childhood book that inspired me on another level was "Miss Hickory" by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey.

It is the story of a doll that had a hickory nut for a head and a twig for her body. I loved making dolls and doll clothes so this book really appealed to my imagination and soon my own Miss Hickory came to live in my hands.
Also it is a wonderful story with many interesting woodland characters.

Anonymous said...

It is so odd when you walk into a person's house and there are no books. Question: for your list of books, do you use a particular software system or program? KDM

Kate F. said...

Oh, oh, I feel exactly the same way. I'm creeped out by booklessness.

And this: "my all-important passport to a enchanted childhood spent in Europe"! I never thought to put it that way, but that rings so true, as well. I think I knew more British slang than American as a kid. I was terrified, the first time I visited the UK, that it would let me down. It didn't.

I was glad to see Jane, earlier, mention Rumer Godden. I read all of her books countless times and now I'm doing a decent job of collection nice editions of all of them. She deserves to be so much better-known in the U.S.!

home before dark said...

I'm not sure when it all started, my journey with books. My father planted four o'clocks outside my bedroom window so that when the flowers opened (around fourish), I was to put my book down and come help my mother with dinner. The singular book that turned my life into a new direction was Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. Along for the ride were the Scarlett Letter, Winesburg Ohio, Rappaccini's Daughter and House of Mirth.

My brother was a slow learner and my parents helped him endlessly with his homework and learning to read. I, three years younger, was not to interrupt these nightly lessons. Through their helping him try to read, I learned to read. I thought I was some kind of magician! I knew what words meant. I could READ! and I was freed. I didn't have to wait for someone to read me a book, I had the power. I still remember that time.

Living in an academic community, the reading of someone else's bookcase is a litmus test. That sideways tilt, the quick scanning of the shelves, the sanctimonious curl of the lip. Not being an academic, I don't give a flip about this competition thing. But I sure like to watch it in action! What Jane Austin could do with that book material.

DM said...

I had this obsession at about the same age with Victoria Holt. I found them in great quantity at the library and would read one a week. They were pretty much always the same (orphaned governess sent to exotic locale, marries mystery man, is he a murderer? does he have a secret life?) but they transported me on my pale summers...

Susan in TX said...

I, too, feel uncomfortable in a house without books (house, not home). I don't even know the name of the over-sized picture book that came out over and over at our house when we were small, but it was some sort of Mother Goose collection. I cannot remember a time when I wasn't reading. Funny, others have already mentioned it, but Mandy by Julie Edwards was one that stuck with me - I went looking all over the wood around my grandparents' house for that shell cottage. :) I discovered the Swallows and Amazons as an adult and am loving getting to know them with my children. We are half-way through the series on book 7/12. You really must read the Betsy-Tacy books. Trixie Belden was my go-to for mystery until I graduated to Agatha Christie. For whatever reason I didn't read Nancy Drew until I was an adult.
So many memories! Thanks for this post!

Eni said...

You mention Enid Blyton's Malory Towers as having been one of your great reads. In fact, I analyze a couple of Malory Towers books in my book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (
Stephen Isabirye

Anonymous said...

Wind in the Willows! Like a dear, old friend that I love to spend time with year after year. A few years ago I read another: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. Amazing.

Vanya Wilkinson said...

a life without books, is not kind of life at all!

Anonymous said...

When I die I want to have a Viking's funeral with my books as the fuel so we'll be together forever in valhalla. I love the sensitivity of your blog. God bless you. Happy life.

Laura McLaws Helms said...

Probably the books that had the greatest effect on me were 'The Secret Garden' and the 'Little House on the Prairie' series. While very different in style, they affected me very deeply and have influenced me to such a degree that I constantly vacillate between wanting to re-do my apartment in a dark gothic manner or in a rural country style!

A Super Dilettante said...

I love, love the books you have Lisa. You are a true Anglophile! What a lovely case for a laptop! Imagine carrying it on the tube - everyone will think you are taking a manuscript back to the British Library until you open it - then comes a laptop inside. The first story I love as a child is called "The Last Leaf" by O. Henry (I know you also love this writer). But the book that changed my life is by L. P. Hartley's The Go-Between. I read it when I was 10 years old and I still love it. Have a lovely weekend xxx

Marnie said...

The Whangdoodles was one of my daughter's favorite books from her childhood - and Sound of Music was one of her favorite movies - so when she discovered Julie Edwards and Julie Andrews were one in the same she was so excited - but her all time favorite is Harry Potter - she has read them at least 7 times each - and is currently listening to all the cds again (she is 17 now) - it is a wonderful relaxation for her - when she is really stressed out she loves to relax with the voices of Jim Dale. As for me, my favorite was Little Women - I had three sisters at the time and thought that each of us matched one of the march girls - I was Meg - later, touchstone books for me were Pride and Prejudice and A Gift From The Sea - which I reread every decade or so...Pride and Prejudice has been reread many times as well. love this post and the comments - the image of you and your books along with that wonderful house in brooklyn is wonderful -

Marnie said...

forgot to mention the hbd comment about four o'clocks - loved that - did not know what they were until i moved to nyc, of all places! what a wonderful reminder to help in the kitchen

Helen Marie said...

"Cat's Eye" by Margaret Atwood! I read an excerpt in Seventeen when I was thirteen and kept that issue (if I remember correctly, Niki Taylor was on the cover) until it was bloated from the bath, full of sand from the beach, and worn thin and round on the bottom corners from so much flipping. I felt as though Atwood's Elaine and I would have been friends if she was flesh and blood, with her penchant for the odd and its resultant bully magnetism, we would have helped each other figure things out. Later I bought a second hand hard cover which I, many years after, got signed by the author herself. Having been a writer myself for ages at that point and having been inspired by her on every occasion I opened one of her covers, I shakingly told her she was my hero, to which she politely replied with a smile "Oh how nice." I fled with awkward embarrassment. I imagine Elaine would have done the same.

Miss Cavendish said...

Growing up on Prince Edward Island, Anne of Green Gables did not *change* my life; it defined my existence. It was Jane Eyre's world of gothic romance and dark doubles that sparked this Island lassie's imagination.

helen tilston said...

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier..I dont think I took one deep breath as I read this book. My heart was pumping and I felt I was living at Jamaica Inn.Many years later I had the privilege of visiting Lyme Regis in UK and took a walk late one night and the memories of the story came flooding back.

Jodi said...

My parents first of all valued education and along with that naturally came learning through reading. My very small Lutheran day school had no library but they did have a Book Fair every year. What a magical experience for me to see all the those books beautifully set out on the tables. I can still remember seeing "Misty a Foul" and "Stormy" for the first time and the thrill of being able to own them. Like many little girls, I had my "horse phase". I was allowed to sign up for the Weekly Reader books and one that I adored was "The Pink Motel". I am holding on to them and hoping for a granddaughter.

Reading this post and the comments has made for a lovely Sunday morning. Thank you Lisa

ASL said...

this site.
this post.
these comments.

i remember sneaking
harold robbins books to bed...

lisa you should stitch your bookplate!


K. said...

I am in the middle of The Diana Chronicles right now! It's so makes me feel like a royal insider. Did you ever read "Gone-Away Lake"?

Couture said...

A bookcover for your laptop: how genius is that!


Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Little Emma: It's amazing how many of you have cited "Little Women" as the book that changed everything! Yes, surrounding oneselves with books means you can never be lonely. A big baci to you in Italia...xx

Edina Monsoon: So glad you liked that laptop protector. I wonder if I could use it for something other than a laptop? :) And love the books you quoted.

Aisha: I am smiling with you about the Enid Blyton comment. What is it about those books that is so completely rapturous? I loved them all too...
And I bought "The Faraway Tree" for my son and ended up reading it myself...also "The Wishing Well". Thanks so much for your comment! xx

Thomas at My Porch: I totally agree with you about the reading thing. They DO get defensive and then you sound like you're lecturing when you're really just spilling over with excitement and the whole thing's a disaster. And that is SO funny about the business/self-help books.

Debra: I love that you rereade TDOAF every few years. And "cartons and cartons of books" in your basement? Ooh, I'm sure there are long-lost goodies in there!

Emily: What a beautiful reflection on the awakening of a young mind. To miss the characters in a book after you've finished reading it is high praise indeed for an author.

Dana: I love your theory of an empty bookcase...I can see that you are definitely someone who sees the glass as half-full!

Cashon&Co: Yay, someone is buying it! Let me know how you like it... xx

Architect Design: I didn't know you lived in Sweden as a child too! I lived in Stocksund, just outside of Stockholm...where were you?

Little Augury: I so enjoyed reading your spectacular literary recollections! I almost felt as if I could see you as a young girl in Georgia reading GWTW. And your niece Liz is lucky: that biography of Ottoline Morrell is WONDERFUL. I read it years ago and have been smitten with her ever since.

Mrs. Blandings: Another "Little Women" lover! That book is leading the pack so far....
And oh, "Tender is the Night". I can't even think of it without almost crying. Read it for the first time about 5 years ago and was swept away by Fitzgerald's beautiful imagery and that sad tale of self-destruction. Of course you've read "Everybody Was So Young" by Amanda Vaill, the bio of Gerald and Sara Murphy, the fictionalized characters in TITN...that's a wonderful book as well.

Anonymous: How lucky your son is to have a mom like you! I don't know David Almond -- have to check him out...thank you!

Lynne: Me too. xx

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Kathy G: That sounds like the most precious book ever.

Anonymous: I just typed all my books into a Microsoft Word document and then alphabetized it. Old-school.

Kate F: I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read Rumer Godden, but I promise to remedy that asap. You're the second (or the thirs?) person to mention her.

home before dark: The phrase "Four-o-clocks outside my bedroom window" will get me through the I want them outside MY bedroom window! And what a wonderful tale of how you became an independent reader -- it IS magical when it happens. And I have to laugh at your description of "the sideways tilt, the sanctimonious curl of the lip...", etc. That is SO true. xx

Daniel Halifax: I haven't thought about Victoria Holt in YEARS. But I read them too. Do you remember "Bride of Pendorric"?! So funny.

Susan in TX: Another "Mandy" pleased to know you! xx

Eni: Thank you so much for telling all of us about your book -- I'll be sure to check it out!

Anonymous: That is so funny about "Kristin Lavrandsdatter." I'm in love with the cover art on that book and clipped it onto my computer desktop. I was wondering about the book as well. My father is Norwegian so it seemed like it would resonate with me. I'll order it on Amazon now. Thanks for your comment!

Vanya-Endless Inspiration: I agree totally.

Anonymous: I LOVE your idea of a Vikings funeral.

laurakitty: That is so funny about your childhood books leading to a schizophrenic design obsession...but I totally understand.

A Super Dilettante: I knew you'd like that laptop case. L.P. Hartley's "The Go-Between?" It sounds familiar...hang on while I Google it...(i'm back) I just ordered it on sounds beautiful. Thank you! xx

Marnie: Another "Gift from the Sea" lover! Need to reread it soon. My old roommate Jane is the one who recommended it.

Helen: What a wonderful story of you falling in love with "Cat's Eye" and then meeting Margaret Atwood. I think I would have been tongue-tied so at least you were able to get some words out..!

Miss Cavendish: Your comment made me tingle, I don't know why.

helen tilston: I read "Jamaica Inn" so long ago, but I too still remember the creeping horror that slowly surrounded me as I read it. It's funny what a lasting impression a horror book can make when you're young.

Jodi: How wonderful that you still have all those books! Your future granddaughter is going to be very lucky.

Lisa: Not a bad idea, that.

K.: Haven't read "Gone-Away Lake" but I just looked at it on Amazon and it sounds wonderful. Thank you for the recommendation! xx

Julie Anne Rhodes said...

I'm a hideously slow reader with the attention span of a nat. Completely lacking in your high brow tastes, it took an adventurous little girl called Nancy Drew to entice me enough to read from cover to cover.

I did receive one of my most prized gifts ever yesterday, and it happened to be a book... well a cookbook. A Tuscan in the Kitchen by Pino Luongo.

No matter how many more transcontinental moves I make... this book will never leave my grasp. It was given to the friend who generously shared it with me by the man who introduced us, but is sadly no longer with is... or is he? I know he is smiling as broadly as I am right now thanks to MG.

jezebel said...

More than any one book, my mother, not a reader herself, made me a reader. I'm not sure how she did it, but I hope if I am able to channel her loving, gentle & curious heart I, too, will raise readers of my own.

Purple Flowers said...

By the Light of the Study lamp was my first book, and it was a delight. It made me want to be a detective, of which I am not. However, this mystery book is great, and one to remember.

Jane said...

For me it was Nancy Drew and I am also a voyeur of others peoples libraries. Gives you a real insight into a person by what they read.

I just ordered a red book case for my MacBook and you have made my day!

Great post!

christina said...

i adore books, just adore them.

Rocio said...

I think it all started with Enid Blyton's famous five books: One of our ancient spinster great-aunts (tia Conchita) would take us to the brook that run close to the village where we spent our summers - up in the mountains in the north of Spain. While the youngest cousins were busy catching tad poles or making reed boats, I would spend hours reading on this particular group of stones that formed an arm-chair of sorts, with my feet in the water. I remember how fascinated I was by the fact the famous five would get to drink ginger ale, when all we were given was milk!!These british kids were so hip!!
That summer marked the birth of the reading bug, which has kept me company since.
From the on, it was the Malory Towers books, the St Claire's books, The puck series by Lisbeth Werner, the Asterix books, and on special occasions, my father's cherished hard back Tintins or Flash Gordons.
We also loved Michael Strogoff and other Jules Verne's stories, and of course, our beloved Emilio Salgari...Sandokan was the best!!
Later it was The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (which caused may sleepless nights with a torch under the covers), and then we moved into more "serious" reading.
Now I am reading my 3 year old "James and the Giant Peach" at night. I read 2 chapters while she listens enthralled, asking for more. And I LOVE every minute of it. I hope this is the prelude to a life filled with a love of reading

Everything is in the books, and I agree with you all, books turn a house into a home.
What a lovely post Lisa, and how wonderful to read everybody's comments.

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa -

As a young girl amidst 7 other siblings...I got lost in the shuffle, so it was not unusual that I could be found reading every Nancy Drew Mystery story I could check out of the library, borrow from a friend or on rare occasion, buy.

made time fly

Unknown said...

How is it possible that I have never heard of this Whangdoodle? I think I must get my hands on this at once, with the hopes of inspiring my 10 year old daughter...since the book that captured my heart, A Secret Garden...did not do the trick! Thanks.

Angie Muresan said...

Rumer Godden was a favorite childhood author. Later on, I loved the Anne of Green Gables series and later still, the Bronte sisters.
And I'm like you. I search for books upon entering a new friend's house.
When I make a purchase or receive a gift, I write the titles of these books down in my journals. When I'm done reading I make a note on how I liked it, a little about it, and then place it with the rest of the books on my bookshelves.

Anonymous said...

I feel as though I've stumbled across a kindred spirit in reading your blog. Let me share a sad story with you. Years ago when I was a "new" real estate agent, I would do the Sunday Open Houses. I would arrive bright-eyed and bushytailed but as was typical of the time, there were few if any people coming to the open houses. So I would look around for something to read. Imagine my horror to discover that people, seemingly normal people, had NOTHING to read in their home. Nary a magazine, newspaper, or book to be found. What?? How do these people survive? Suffice to say that after that eye-opening experience I never again held an open house without bringing my own books!! said...

Jane Eyre was earth shattering as was Tess of the D'Urbervilles.... and yes The Secret Garden and The Little Princess (must have the orphan thing too)
thanks for showing those laptop covers!

Helen James said...

I missed this post but wanted to add my tu'pence worth, Sorry I'm a bit late to the party. I loved the Narnia books but the first book that "belonged to me" captured me was a book called "Quest for the Faradawn" That was the first book where I wanted to be in the book more than in the real world. I am now enjoying my 10 and 8 yr old boys discovering Narnia and their own special Tome's which reminds me I must get them a copy of "Q F T F"
Thanks for another inspiring post

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I almost feel bad adding one more comment to read, but I love this post and books! Plus, just realized I had deleted you in error and now I've missed so much!
Please forgive me.

I did a post recently about the classics, specifically a series put out by Penquin in the last 6 mos. with exquisite covers illustrated by Coralie Bickman-Smith. They are perfect for any one who loves books!

Now on to your question. While living for 3 dry and dusty years in Oklahoma I read a book called Little Witch around age 8. Then came Little Women, The Hardy Boys,
Diary of Anne Frank, Wuthering Heights and everything and anything that ever peaks my interest.

As for people who don't is that humanly possible?

vicki archer said...

I am a little late to this party but Little Woman was my favourite. I couldn't agree more with your sentiments about books Lisa, xv.

Kate F. said...

Came back to read more of the responses and saw that you haven't read Gone Away Lake... You will love it! My very favorites by Elizabeth Enright, though, the ones I love so much I might use some of the names for my own children, are the Melendy Family books, beginning with The Saturdays and continuing though The Four Story Mistake, And Then There Were Five and Spiderweb for Two. Oooh, Lisa. Enright must have loved old houses, because in Gone-Away Lake and especially its sequel, Return to Gone Away, and in The Four Story Mistake, the houses play central roles.

As an adult I've realized that my favorite scenes in books were all about interiors or house plans or food. The transformation in A Little Princess was all about the tufted silk comforter and rugs all over, along with piping hot muffins. There's that scene in The Horse and his Boy when Shasta comes over the mountain pass into Narnia and smells the breakfast the dwarves are cooking (eggs and mushrooms frying in one pan)... Oh, I have dozens.

As for Godden, start with Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, but don't miss The Diddakoi (which may make you cry) and Thursday's Children (which I'm fairly certain was ripped off wholesale for Billy Elliot). She wrote everything from picture books to adult novels (In This House of Brede is my favorite of those), all of which are wonderful.

I actually have a multi-page word document in which I've written down my bare-bones childhood reading list to pass on to people who have asked over the years. You'll love Bets-Tacy, too. (Great houses and amazing taffy-pulls in those! Plus lots of writing and great clothes.)

EE said...

I just discovered all these comments - so tempting to download them, save them, and launch an ambitious re-reading campaign. I was also an extreme reader, growing up in the Midwest. I remember going to libraries and bookstores by the time I was 11 or 12 and having trouble finding books I had NOT read (minus the few I had dismissed). I wholeheartedly second all of the Alcott and LM Montgomery, especially the Emily trilogy (bonus because it's my name).

To add... I strongly encourage LM Montgomery fans to read her short stories, if you haven't already. There are many, and they are really wonderful. And no one mentioned Gene Stratton-Porter's Girl of the Limberlost, which I adored more than anything. It is set in, of all places, the Indiana swamp... so the Midwesterners among us will appreciate that fantastic, romantic stories come from everywhere.

EE said...

And PS - I actually loved Alcott's Little Men much more than Little Women... A must-read for any Little Women fan, especially mothers of sons. I don't have children now, but always think if I have son(s), I'll want to return to it often.

Unknown said...

The Children of Noisy Village, Ronia the Robber's Daughter, and Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Little Women, and The Boxcar Children were all books that really sparked my imagination as a child.

Maria Speidel said...

Loved the post and all the comments. I was jotting down titles as I scrolled. I, too, look for the books in people's homes. My husband, also. How often have we been somewhere and he'll look at me and say, "And where were the books?" It's not a compliment. . .Love your blog.

CashmereLibrarian said...

"I don't really trust a person who doesn't read. (Do you?)"

Absolutely not.

I rarely get rid of books. Once when I moved cross-country and had a weight-limit, I threw out my sofa so I could move my books.

The comments above bring back so many memories: Chronicles of Narnia, Hardy Boys, Little Women...

But the first book that really hit me on the head was when I read "The Sun Also Rises" in high school. I didn't know a book could say so much, even if I didn't understand it all then.

Anonymous said...

I have been admonished for looking at bookcases rather than guests at a party. Guilty. But I felt that I needed to acknowledge the life in the books too!

I have moved nine times since Jan. of 2006, including three times across the Pacific (too crazy, I know, but one rides the life one gets) but now plan to be in this town for at least six years. But, during that time I had to shed and shed belongings, going from around 4,000 to 1,000 books. I did find some comfort in seeing the joy and excitement on people's faces when I gave them books. One very goth looking student of mine in Montana was near tears when I gave her a limp, leather bound, embossed copy of Tennyson. She just adored Tennyson.

Here (now in New Zealand), books are quite expensive. The library is always bustling and my book club has a sharing box; we all recommend and borrow. The last book I borrowed made me the 7th to read that copy in three months. I love summer here with people at the lakeside, turning pages, looking up at the mountains, down at the pages.

A quick recommendation for those with daughters and granddaughters: Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace (now being reprinted) and the Jennifer books by Eunice Young Smith (may be hard to track down). Both have young girls around the turn on the century, girls with imagination, humor, and joy in noticing the world about them.
NZ Expat

Jane said...

That's funny. My 9 year old daughter and I are in a mother / daughter book club and the Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles was chosen for this month. I had never heard of it until your blog mention and now I will be reading it along with my daughter. I hope she enjoys it as much as you did. (She probably will, she is like you in that she must be encouraged to play rather than read all the time.)

The Down East Dilettante said...

I know I'm late to this particular party, but I just caught up with this post, and oh, my how I enjoyed it. So spot on.

Joanna said...

I own that Peter Ackroyd biography on London! I think he's a genius. I read another book of his, Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination, which if you're a life-long English literature major to the core as I am, you would absolutely keel over with delight after reading this book. Reading it took me on a nostalgic, magical trip back in time to when I was a UCLA student (which isn't THAT long ago, but feels like ages) sitting in my English classes and feeling wonderfully enthralled with everything I was learning. Seriously, if you consider yourself an Anglophile and love literature (moi, in a nutshell), this book is right up your alley.

Nessje said...

Oh what a wonderful post... I aim to stuff my house with wonderful bookcases packed full. My first revelatory book was The Diggingest Dog, the first book I read to myself. Then Five to to Mystery Island by Enid Blyton (!) at age 6, Fantastic Mr Fox at around age 8 I think... and so it's been ever since

Books are my bling.

home before dark said...

Perhaps it is time for a Bloomsbury Book Club. Just a wee thought.

Malik Imran Awan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pitaprice said...

Just had to throw in my two cents! How about Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott - the scrumptious description of the dream bedroom Uncle Alec surprised young Rose with is the best part of the book. Also, The Little White Horse - magical and cozy with another "tower" bedroom that anyone would kill for. Also fell in love with The Prydain Chronicles and, of course, Narnia. Then there was the entire Oz collection to be discovered, all the Mary Poppins books, the Little Maid series; ie: Little Maid of Old New York, Little Maid of Philadelphia, etc. etc., and two more favorites - Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series and Dr. Doolittle series. I could go on and on - think I read every book in the children's section of both my local and school libraries... couldn't understand any of my friends who thought reading was boring! Thanks, Lisa, for the wonderful post.

Unknown said...

i'm gettin' one of them laptop cases so my laptop looks as smart & fancy as me! fabulous.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love to read as well (my favorites are Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged & The Fountainhead); however, I have a very dear relative who struggles with reading. She has dyslexia.
Books are not a respite for her like you and me. For all of those here who have mentioned the "creepiness" and "soullessness" of a home without books - please be kinder to those who are not gifted with the ability to easily read. There is nothing creepy or soulless about dyslexia.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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