Sunday, July 28, 2013

Other peoples books

I suspect my father won't really appreciate this post (and perhaps I should have asked if he would mind) because he'll think I've been rummaging and if he can't find something he wants I'll be blamed for moving things around and hiding them (I swear everything went back exactly where it was dad...) but this is a lightning tour around some of my father and stepmothers books.

Other people's books are fascinating (and quite revealing) in this house it was my stepmother and sister who were the readers, my sister has moved out now but a few books I know I've passed on to her over the years pepper the shelves so we've both contributed to their unique character. I've never lived in a house that didn't have a lot of books in it. When I was very young we lived in a house that had been built by my great great uncle in the late 1880's, it still had his library (which in the best Victorian manner was an actual, albeit small, library) as well as boxes of book club choices mouldering in odd attic corners that must have been the reading choice of his successor, it's thanks to her old books that I discovered 'Gentleman Prefer Blondes' and had I been less fastidious about mould I might have found lots of 
I love this cover and wish I'd found time to read it
other gems too. All I really remember about my parents reading matter from those very early days were lots of copies of The Reader's Digest.

In the next house we lived in my mother had one whole wall of the sitting room turned over to books but I was to engrossed in Enid Blyton to pay much attention to them. Father and Stepmother's current bookshelves are an interesting mix of odds and ends that came out of both these houses including notebooks that his great uncle must have inherited from previous generations, more readers digest stuff, my stepmother's cookbooks (she's a chef so she has a lot of those, I have newer paperback versions of all the same Jane Grigson and Elizabeth David titles) her taste in fiction. There are a mass of Shetland specific books and a collection of tatty paperbacks that reflect the years when they ran a hotel/guest house - I can't tell if they reflect Bo's taste particularly or if they're the sort of books
that accumulate when a lot of people come and go.

I will take a better look at this one next time
It's a very friendly collection of books, mine are somewhat more curated - I ran out of space a while back so a book needs to earn it's shelf spot, this lot reflect an extended family rather than a single person and don't seem to have any sort of door policy. I like finding familiar things amongst this lot, and was especially delighted to find some crumbling Victorian books that feel like real treasures. I remember finding the moth book as a child and thinking it was the most beautiful thing I'd
ever seen. There is also an old recipe book from the first half of the 19th century which is fascinating. It's hard to read but Bo did once make a butter and almond tart out of it. It called for an obscene amount of butter and tasted pretty good as I recall. Sadly there isn't very much in that book, but it's interesting to see that it had been used by at least 3 different people and for well over a century.    


  1. Love this, really stimulating stuff x

  2. I don't suppose Life of Pee and Golden Deeds have anything in common?

    1. I don't suppose they do, and Thomas, I think Charlotte M Yonge would be horrified at the suggestion ;)

  3. This was a really interesting post, and loved the large quirky looking shelves full of books.

    I was raised in a home of non-readers, but from an early age I loved books, libraries etc.

  4. My father is just like that with books - he can tell if one has moved a millimetre. Yet he's also keen for all his children to read... (Incidentally, I have that exact Destination Unknown wrapper on my copy - it is lovely bit of vintage imagery and reminds me how unglamourously I travel!).

  5. What lovely books, how nice to have proper bibliophiles in the family!