Memories are made of …. books

I packed away my bookcase of books about 6 months ago in preparation for some decorating. My sister’s kids school was having a Christmas sale with a book stall so I thought it was a good time to have a good clear out of books while, at the same time, putting books back onto our newly painted 7 foot six inch high bookcase. Even though I must have given away close to 200 books, most of the shelves still have 2 rows of books on them – so many books that I just might read again, someday. Once, I’ve read the books that I haven’t had a chance to read yet of course!

Last August-September, I read the Harry Potter series to the children, I’d never read them before and we all loved every page. We’ll never forget reading the last chapters of ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ for almost 4 hours, finishing it at almost ten o’clock on a school night as neither I nor the kids could bear to stop reading. Will then read the 7 Harry Potter books himself during the summer. He now has such a love of reading, I’m delighted.? He will never be lonely or bored.? Kate is getting there, she tends to fall asleep quickly whereas Will will read for an hour or so when he goes to bed.

Chatting about reading books to a client recently, she told me that reading aloud to children is so good for them so I have the excuse that spending hours reading aloud is time well spent, even though they are now 8 and 10!? It gets harder to find time when they have activities during the week so reading the Famous Five took longer than we’d planned!

I read and reread the Famous Five as a kid and we found all but two of the books in the attic. My memories of the Famous Five books include sitting in a comfy brown armchair beside my bookcase in the living room and lying on the hearthrug in front of the fire. I would spend hours in the woods with the dog acting out Famous Five adventures. Like most kids, I always wanted to be George but Kate likes to imagine herself as Anne!? I have to admit that I edited it somewhat when reading aloud – leaving out some of the more sexist bits. Indeed, I was sick of reading ‘George is almost as good as any boy’, and Anne’s love of keeping house!? We had to read them in numerical order, 1 through to 21. Will likes things to be in order!? We also found lots of other Enid Blyton books in the attic, the Sea of Adventure et al, the Five Find Outers, some Malory Towers, some St Clare’s (no Chalet School though, I must have given them away or sold them!) and lots more adventure ones – remember Barnaby and his monkey?

I discovered that the Famous Five programmes from 1978 were made available on DVD at the end of the summer – perfect timing! So the kids watched each DVD as we finished each book. We’d read about 12 when they arrived so they had the fun of watching a good few in one go. They found it hard to understand that I had to wait a week between each episode when I saw them as a kid!

I also found all my Laura Ingalls books and just had to reread them (to myself). I loved reading them as a child and wanted to be called Laura instead of Lorna!? Rereading them now made me see just how brave Ma and Pa were, heading off west with 3 young children with all they owned in a covered wagon, facing death by sudden blizzards, wolves, severe cold and Indian attacks. The First Four Years is apparently unedited and is a much more realist version of events, less romanticised than the earlier books and hence, more sombre. The earlier books make even the hardship of the Long Winter seem reasonably comfortable and of course, Pa’s fiddle always provided entertainment and joy.? One thing that comes through too is the educational knowledge of the girls, even though their education was somewhat haphazard and education wasn’t compulsory – their knowledge of bible texts, even their ability to spell, puts our current educational system to shame in some ways although I’m sure much of it was rote learning and goodness help any poor child who wasn’t intelligent or had learning difficulties.

In ‘The First Four Years’ I noticed a couple of paragraphs that I don’t remember noticing before. Almanzo and Laura visited Mr & Mrs Boast with their baby Rose. Mr Boast offered them his best horse in the stable if they would leave Rose with them, arguing that they could have more children.? It was the first sign of real unhappiness in the series.? Although Laura had a baby brother at one stage who died at 9 months, this isn’t mentioned in the books and yet must have been devastating to the family.

Wondering what had happened to Laura’s family, I googled it to discover that Rose was the only grandchild of Charles and Caroline. Mary died unmarried. Carrie married in her early 40s and had 2 stepchildren. Grace married but didn’t have children.? There is a museum and shop dedicated to the Ingalls and Wilders.

Books like Middlemarch and Ulysses reminded me of time in college. Not sure I’ll ever have time to reread them but I’d never give them away.? I also found about 40 Agatha Christies, I used to pick them up secondhand and enjoy an hour of light hearted crime when the? person killed was usually poisoned and the social classes were clearly defined!

I also found a few self-help books! I don’t think I’d read more than a few chapters of each but they reminded me of a time in 2009/early 2010 when I was trying hard to be positive, even chanting positive mantras to myself in the mornings!? I may not have the energy to jump out of bed in the mornings even now but it’s great to be cheerful all the time!? Having experienced a bit of depression, I’ll always appreciate having the ability to be back to my ‘cheerful, matter of fact, happy go lucky, don’t care what anyone thinks’ normal self. I doubt I’ll ever read them again but I’m not giving them away – just in case! I tend to be a tad superstitious!

One ‘self-help’ book I do reread parts of now and then is Owen Fitzpatrick’s ‘Not Enough Hours’. I don’t think I’ll ever get time management totally sussed or ever be totally realistic about how long things take but this book gets me back on the straight and narrow every now and then.? It reminds me too of the fun we had when filming it.

Brian and I had to do many challenges together such as crossing a muddy stretch without touching the ground and putting a jigsaw together with me blind-folded and Brian telling me where to put the pieces. To say I got a tad frustrated is putting it mildly but it was a great laugh.? The archery was good fun too! Yes, my time management improved and so did so many other things! More on that another time – it’s getting late and Christmas is around the corner ie cards need writing!

7 thoughts on “Memories are made of …. books

  • Donna OShaughnessy

    I read often to my grandkids, mostly books about animals and the older gorls now 8 and 10 are great readers and the 5 year old grandson is catching up quickly. Keep it up Lorna, it’s a wonderful gift for your children.

    PS some of your Little House books look quite old and I’ll bet are very valuable!

    • Lorna

      I think they were new when I bought them Donna and I was probably about ten. I think I just read them many times which is why they are so dogeared. One even had a nice pattern through some of the pages where woodworm had nibbled when stored in the attic!

  • All things nice...

    Oh I had a nice long comment that wouldnt post for me. Looks like all of those books have brought back lots of memories. I too have all of the Famous Five and Secret Seven books. I bought them second hand after I sold lots of Barbie dolls years ago. Last Christmas I came across Animal Farm and read it again- it is one of those classics. Hope your Christmas preparations are coming along well. I am on holidays so I’m enjoying myself.

    All things nice…

    • Lorna

      Oh, I’m sorry. Hate when that happens that you write a long comment and it disappears! They read the secret Seven on their own and loved them too. We’re making slow headway with the Hobbit, partly cos it is such a busy week! Merry Christmas 🙂



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