A little while ago my friend Suz made a comment to me that has stuck in my head. I can’t remember for the life of me which book it was but I had put a photo up on Facebook of a book and she said she “wished she’d read it as a kid”. I made a reply along the lines of us still being able to enjoy books as adults but she insisted there are some things she wish she had read then.
I had no particular plans for my book collection this year other than attempting to finish my American collection of Brian Jacques first editions and a reading set of the History of Middle Earth. But lately it seems a few Hobbits have been making their way to my bookcase. I recently read a wonderful article by Neil Gaiman where he discussed C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien and his much-loved and battered copies of books he’d had since childhood. I have no such creased and read-to-death copy of the Hobbit from my childhood. I actually can’t remember the first copy I read. But on exploring the contents of my bookcase and ever-growing collection of Tolkien I could easily remember where I bought or was given each copy. So this is my collection of Hobbits in the order I acquired them.
Heloise lives with her godmother in an isolated cottage. Next door is a sinister museum dedicated to the memory of Mary Child. Visitors enter it with a smile and depart with fear in their eyes. One day, Heloise finds a doll under the floorboards. Against her godmother’s wishes, she keeps it. And that’s when the delicate truce between Heloise and her godmother begins to unravel . . .
Heloise runs away. She journeys far, but one day she must return to uncover the secret at the heart of her being.…
Year of the Dragon indeed. City of Dragons the latest instalment in the Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb, is the book I am most looking forward to in 2012. I think all of her fans were longing for a return to Bingtown and the Rain Wilds (well actually we’re also all longing for a return to the Six Duchies but I’m sure it’s not going to happen) and what a return it was. They were nothing short of brilliant. Something akin to when you get to the end of an epic fantasy series and everything happens exactly as you want it to happen and fills you with all sorts of rampant glee. Only these were just the first two. It could be because they were originally intended to be just a two volume series (the thought fills me with horror) and the pace is a lot faster than her usual sort. With the world building long established the books plunge straight in, with a disparate host of new characters and a group of Dragons who you fall desperately in love with and almost forget about the humans.
I actually managed to knock over a whole lot of my reading list this year, at least two or three books a month, including re-reads. I am, quite frankly, surprised at myself (and insufferably pleased with myself I might add) that I not only managed to get through a large quantity, I branched out a lot and read a good variety. It is no mean feat that I get through a book that (if not an Enid Blyton) does not grace me with the presence of a dragon.
James and the Giant Peach was always my favourite Roald Dahl book when I was a kid. Yes, I liked it more than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Twits, and even a little more than Fantastic Mr. Fox. I must have read it at least 25 years ago for the first time. I read it over and over, a battered old Puffin copy that has long since disappeared, and been replaced, and read over and over again. And why James? It was the Peach. And Quentin Blake’s wonderful illustrations.
I’ve added a new book to my small collection of Golden Books, stumbling across this one last week, a 1961 first Colourtone printing of Chicken Little. This was always a favourite as a kid, mainly for the illustrations, not so much for the loss of my beloved heroes. It is decorated by the much-loved Golden book illustrator Richard Scarry.
Here our heroine Chicken Little is ambushed by the craven acorn….whereupon she sets off on her perilous quest to warn the King that the sky is falling….
Gathering champions along the way, she is joined by our good-wife Henny Penny…
Earlier in the year I read the continuations of St. Clare’s written by Pamela Cox, and I although I enjoyed them I was slightly disappointed. You can read my further ramblings on The Sixth Form at St. Clare’s here.
I ordered the Third Form at St. Clare’s and Kitty at St Clare’s recently. Sixth Form and Third Form were published in 2000, with Kitty at St. Clare’s published in 2008. I noticed Kitty at St. Clare’s seemed to return to a more traditional format rather than being slightly modernized. At the same time I ordered the first two in a six-part continuation of my beloved Malory Towers books. I read the first two in short order, ordered the next four, and have had a delightful week at Malory Towers as they have started arriving.
I just finished the Sixth Form at St Clare’s today, a continuation in the original St Clare’s series which finished, somewhat abruptly (for me anyway) with the Fifth Form. I was quite happy to see that had written some more books to fill gaps in the series and continue the story on. I found a second-hand copy a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t gotten around to buying them yet as the boxed set went out of print and I was waiting for them to do a new boxed set.
Bookseller lunches consist of myself and my bookseller friends usually taking over a large table in a cafe with no prior booking because we’re unorganised and proceeding to blather on for hours. They are always a lot of fun, and usually divided into small camps. Some of the girls sell romance, some sell a bit of everything, I’m the only one who reads kids books, Dave is the only comic book collector.
I watch one camp trying to recruit others to read their preferred genre, which is always outrageously amusing, while the other camp scoffs. I’ll sometimes tell the scoffers off for being snobs. After all, I read about magic, wizards and talking mice with legendary swords. Who am I to point fingers?
I am thoroughly ashamed of my reading efforts in 2010, I barely managed a book a month. Another year went by where I missed my annual re-reads (although I did squeeze in a Farseer Trilogy re-read after I read the new latest Robin Hobbs) So I will make a futile attempt at having a plan.
What I would like to try and get through this year
Books I have read every year for many years
Sometimes I am the world’s worst book collector. I’ll start on a collection with singular dedication, and then, well, I get distracted and forget (hence my current renewed obsession with Redwall)or I start another project. Therefore, it is endless.