20 July 2015


Do you save books or do you discard them the minute they're read?  I used to save all my books but limited space in the bungalow forced me to dispose of quite a lot. These days the arthritic fingers refuse to hold a hardback so I bought paperbacks instead. And a Kindle. I have read all the books on the Kindle so today I searched the bookshelf for something else to lose myself in. Nothing, except books already read.

I’m one of those silly people who doesn’t read books twice. I guess it’s because I like something new, something different, and ‘used’ books don’t fulfil that preference. Thankfully, since starting to write this post I have acquired three novels picked up at a charity shop. I love charity shops for that reason, and I always return the books to them so they can make more money.

My WI has just started a book borrowing scheme which is going well. If there’s a book I fancy I can borrow it for just a few pence which all helps the financial situation of the institute.  

I have my treasures, though, that I will never get rid of, I have blogged about them before. However, there are some who won’t have seen it so I’m tempted to repost. Oh, what the heck, I WILL repost. Read on, my friends, and see what treasures I have.

Inside the book The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, there is an inscription that I don’t believe I mentioned before. It reads thus:

To My Youngest Son GRENVILLE ARTHUR and to all other good little boys.
Come , read me my riddle, each good little man, if YOU cannot read it, no grown-up can.

This is what I found on Wikipedia:

The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby is a children's novel by the Reverend Charles Kingsley. Written in 1862–63 as a serial for Macmillan's Magazine it was first published in its entirety in 1863. It was written as part satire in support of Charles Darwin;s The Origin of Species. The book was extremely popular in England, and was a mainstay of British children's literature for many decades, but eventually fell out of favour in part due to its prejudices (common at the time) against Irish, Jews, Americans, and the poor.

Chapter 1 starts with this short poem
I heard a thousand blended notes
While in a grove I sat reclined
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Maybe one day I will read it again.

Of course, I have posted about my books before, in 2011 to be exact. Dare I repost it, I wonder, or should I merely provide a link to the page? Okay, I've decided... a repost it is - as follows.

The above books are the oldest on my bookshelf. I keep thinking I should dispose of them but they have a firm hold on me. It would be like removing memories and that’s a very difficult thing to do. Apart from one book, which was given to me by my father, all of them came from the parents’ bookcase. I’m not sure how I got them but get them I did. There were other books that I would have liked to keep but they didn’t come my way. My guess is my mother gave a lot away before she emigrated to Australia, or maybe they were sold in the final auction on the house.

I remember how much I loved the story about Babar the Elephant (Jean De Brunhoff, 1931) and the books about Widgery Winks and his friends (Rodney Bennett, 1901) kept me enthralled for hours. However, I did get to keep the Karik and Valya book – see below. I had hoped my own children would get to read those that I loved but sadly it wasn’t to be.

These are the ones that will stay on the bookshelf until I visit that huge library in the sky.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a novel by Mark Twain, was first published in England in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. However, my version is dated 1924. Old enough!
Inside is a Notice, which reads:
Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persona attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
By order of the Author (per G.G., Chief of Ordnance)
The story:
Huck Finn, the protagonist and narrator of the novel, is around thirteen or fourteen years of age. He is being raised by Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas, both of whom blindly accept the hypocritical religious and moral nature of their society and try to help Huck understand its codes and customs. They represent an artificial life that Huck wishes to escape. Huck's attempt to help Jim, a runaway slave, reunite with his family makes it difficult for him to understand what is right and wrong. The book follows Huck and Jim's adventures rafting down the Mississippi River, where Huck gradually rejects the values of the dominant society, especially its views on slavery.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll. Published 1929. My reprinted edition, dated 1939, arrived in the family bookcase in 1941.

It is Lewis Carroll’s ‘very own book’ containing stories, poems, and pictures, all his own inventon. When long ago youngsters read Alice in Wonderland it was in the belief that the story was his but the pictures were the invention of his friend, that rare artist, Tenniel. It was not until much later years that the Lewis Carroll Picture Book and the facsimile of the story of Alice, as he wrote it out in his clear handwriting and illustrated it with his own hand, showed what a double magician he was with pen and pencil.

We all know the story of Alice in Wonderland. Don’t we?

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF KARIK AND VALYA by Yan Larry. Translated from the Russian by John P Manderville.
There is no publishing date inside the book but it is thought it was written in 1944

The book was given to me by my father. 

In the first episode a boy name Karik and his siter Valya are in the apartment of professor Ivan Germogenovich Enotov. Without permission they take the ‘delicious’ pills invented by the professor and become so small that on a dragonfly’s back they fly away from the room. The professor also takes the pills and goes to find them. The incredible adventures and amazing discoveries in the world plants and insects are waiting for them.

THE WATER BABIES by Charles Kingsley
Written in 1862. No date in the book but it is so old the pages are yellowing.

The hero is Tom, a young chimney sweep, who falls into a river after encountering an upper-class girl named Ellie and being chased out of her house. There he drowns and is transformed into a "water baby", as he is told by a caddis fly (an insect that sheds its skin) and begins his moral education.

The story is thematically concerned with Christian redemption, though Kingsley also uses the book to argue that England treats its poor badly and to question child labour, among other themes.

Tom embarks on a series of adventures and lessons, and enjoys the community of other water babies once he proves himself a moral creature. The major spiritual leaders in his new world are the fairies Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, and Mother Carey. Weekly, Tom is allowed the company of Ellie, who had fallen into the river after he did.

Grimes, his old master, drowns as well, and in his final adventure Tom travels to the end of the world to attempt to help the man where he is being punished for his misdeeds. Tom helps Grimes to find repentance, and Grimes will be given a second chance if he can successfully perform a final penance. By proving his willingness to do things he does not like, if they are the right things to do, Tom earns himself a return to human form and becomes "a great man of science" who "can plan railways, and steam-engines, and electric telegraphs, and rifled guns, and so forth". He and Ellie are united, although the book claims that they never marry.

LONDON BELONGS TO ME written by Norman Collins in 1945

The story begins in 1938 and records the lives of a group of Londoners prior to WW2, though the story is not about the horrors of war. A diverse group of people struggle with daily life, mostly on paltry budgets. They live in the house of a lonely landlady. The group consists of an ageing glamour girl, newly retired Mr Josser, and other characters, all of them fascinating. The book can be likened to a Charles Dickens novel. I really must get round to seeing the film.

BLACK COUNTRY STORIES compiled by T H Gough in 1934.

It is an omnibus edition containing five complete volumes. The Black Country (I’ve mentioned this before) is an industrial area in the West Midlands. The name was derived in the mid-nineteenth century from the smoke from thousands of ironworking foundries and forges and from the abundance of coal and soot in the area.

There is humour in the Black Country. If you could hear a Black Country comedian you would agree.  They speak differently to my part of the West Midlands (which is lush with trees and parks and lakes) and some of the stories in the book have to be read with a translator. But they’re good fun once the art of translation is mastered. Here are a few ... my favourite is the last one, Proud Woman:

Did it well, too
A Bishop asked a country Rector why he wore a violet stole. He said: ‘A parson should always be ‘inviolate.’

A warning
‘What was the Vicar asayin’, last Sunday, about Lot’s wife?’ said one girl to another.
‘What did ‘e mean by ‘Remember Lot’s wife?’ ‘What did ‘er dew?’
‘O, ‘er looked back,’ said the other, ‘an’ ‘er was turned into a piller o’ salt, an’ serve ‘er right, the fast madam.’

A Threat
A man was being lowered down a well by the aid of a rope, and shouted to the man who held the rope that he wanted to come up again.
‘What for?’ said the man at the top.
‘Never yo’ mind. If yo’ doe stop lettin’ me down I’ll cut the ------ rope.’

Proud Woman
A woman was persuaded to go to Old Hill Church for the first time in her life. To cover a somewhat shabby dress she put on a white apron which was also very much worn. During the time that they were singing the well known hymn ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ she shouted out, ‘It may be ‘oly but it’s clane.’


  1. What a splendid collection of books you have, really great. I tend not to re-read my books as well-as I feel I should spend that time reading something new. I like the idea about the book borrowing scheme, hopefully you get to find nice titles for so little. Greetings!

  2. A lovely collection. I find it very hard to get rid of books but we are in the middle of doing just that. I will never be able to say goodbye to the ones given to me by family or friends though. They have inscriptions that are of too sentimental value.

  3. I keep the books I read, sometimes go back to them. But like you, I always want to read something new. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorites from your list.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  4. "I keep thinking I should dispose of them but they have a firm hold on me."

    And I can see why, Valerie. What an incredible collection of books! One of the things that impresses me about the books written many years ago, are the illustrations (both on the book cover and inside). They had no computer graphics back then, so it was all done by hand. What an art form!

    Like you, I don't usually hold onto books once I read them, therefore I have very few on my bookshelf. The only books I keep are reference books (books on essential oils, natural healing, and reflexology), so that I can go back and reread certain parts when I need to.

    I like the book borrowing scheme at the WI. Brilliant!

    Have a faaaaaaabulous Monday, dear lady!

    X to you and Joe

  5. I don't read much anymore but my daughter is a book hoarder. Her book case is stuffed with her favorites. There could be worse things for her to hoard I guess :)

  6. Hello Valerie, greetings and good wishes.

    I am thrilled to get in touch with you again.

    You have a wonderful collection of books. It is interesting to note you are a voracious reader.

    I have two books with me which you have listed.



    I also have books written by Leo Tolstoy -- WAR AND PEACE, ANNA KARENINA.

    I don't easily part with books. I have Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, books written by P G Wodehouse, a collection of poems written by William Wordsworth, a few books of Charles Dickens etc.

    However, I must admit that I have not read all these books completely. Whenever I get time I don't mind dusting them and keeping them back. I feel happy to have these books lying around. It is like being closeted with good friends.

    You will be surprised I still have some very old issues of Reader's Digest.

    Best wishes

  7. Blogoratti, I have great hopes for the book borrowing scheme. Who knows, a precious volume might appear.

  8. Denise, I couldn't part with inscribed books either. They are too precious and, I feel, an insult to the giver if passed on to someone else.

  9. Mersad, Alice was strange to me as a child, I think I needed to grow up to understand it fully.

  10. Good afternoon, Ron. I hadn't thought of the illustrations in that way and yet I do remember that they were clearly drawn. I imagine a lot more went into book publishing in the old days. I must keep an eye on the WI scheme in case a valuable turns up

  11. kden, you have a wise daughter. I agree, there could be a lot worse things to collect than books.

  12. Hi Joseph. It has been a long time, hasn't it? I think hubby has War and Peace (I must check) but I'm afraid that is a little over my head. My mother read P G Wodehouse books but I don't think any of them came my way.

  13. I have some old ones that I have collected because of the illustrations rather than the content of the book. Being artsy that is what happens. I have some old country school books from an era before I was born and they are a real jump back into history visually as well as what is written. Yes, my kids might throw them away depending if anyone turns into a historian and not a money grabber.

  14. Excellent collection, Val. I wish I had more time in the day to read books. My current pace right now is about 1 book a year, and that's nothing to be proud of. Maybe your post will inspire me to do better at my reading. Take care.


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