Friday, November 26, 2010

My Old Friends

I couldn't live very well without books.

I know this for a fact because I've actually tried to go for one week without reading.  (This was a punishment inflicted by my parents when I was younger. Obviously they knew I would suffer).

I shunned the bookcase, and instead found myself reading the backs of cereal boxes.  And the car manual.  And the instructions for the DVD player.

This was a few years ago, when I would read three or four novels a week.  Simple, easy classics by excellent authors.  Allow me to introduce you to my old friends.  I pulled them out the other day to have their portraits done.

I can't remember when I first picked up Anne of Green Gables, but I know I must have read it over thirty times since then.  The thing I love most about this series is the way you can grow up with Anne.  It seems that each year I've been introduced to the next book in the series, and matured as Anne matured.  It was only this year that I read Anne's House of Dreams!

  And people laugh at me because I use big words.  But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven't you? 
- Anne of Green Gables

Australia has its own distinct brand of fiction I've discovered.  Each of these books presents the Aussie ethos, the unique landscape, the historical tensions and events which shaped the nation.  That sentence sounded so intelligent.  Don't get scared off!  They're great stories, and all based on truth.  Can't get much better than that.   

Oh, how girls love this lot.  I just read Jo's Boys again the other day.  Did you know it existed?  I'd only ever had a trilogy of Little Women, Good Wives, and Little Men, until Mum picked up the fourth in an op shop.  Knowing how it all ended for the March family was faaaaantastic.
Jane Austen - what can I say that hasn't already been said about her?  Nothing, that's what.  And Elizabeth Gaskell is someone I will read forever and always.
"Wouldn't it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true and we could live in them?" 
- Jo March, Little Women

Trixie Belden the girl detective.  Oooh, I love a good mystery.  Especially one set in the hip 50s and 60s.  I have these old ones, but the series is just being re-released after years and years.  I believe the first one was written in 1948 - isn't that just swell!

“I have so got an ambition,” Trixie
told him with a toss of her head. “It’s 
all settled. Honey and I are going to 
be private detectives; aren’t we, 

Jim hooted with laughter. “And call 
your agency Schoolgirl Shamuses, Incorporated, 
I suppose. I can just see 
your business cards,” he went on gaily. 
“‘When the FBI gives up, we take over,’ 
printed in red.”

- (Trixie Belden and the Gatehouse Mystery, 1951)

Let's get a little adventurous now (and ignore My Fair Lady, I don't know how she got caught up in this crowd).   Grey Chieftain is a gem, especially if you like animal stories.  The Hound of the Baskervilles is a recent acquisition, and a spooky one at that. If you haven't read Ben Hur yet, then what are you waiting for?  Jules Verne was my first taste of science fiction a la 'ye olde style'.  And then The Adventures of Robin Hood brings action, romance and the medieval world together between two tattered covers.

"But one false statement was made by Barrymore at the inquest. He said that there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. But I did—some little distance off, but fresh and clear."
     "A man's or a woman's?"
     Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered:
     "Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!"
     The Hound of the Baskervilles, ch. 2 (1902)

Hurrah for the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, the Five Finder-Outers (or was it four?), the Six Cousins on Mistletoe Farm... etc. etc.  Enid Blyton was so 1940s-50s-60s.  She opened up a world of endless summer holidays, tiny islands, rowing through the rocks at midnight, home made 'ices', canned 'tongue' (um, gross?), lots of chocolate cake, ham sandwiches on thick slices of bread.  Just smashing.  Now I'm hungry. 

"It wasn't a bit of good fighting grown-ups. They could do exactly as they liked". 
(Julian in Five On a Treasure Island)

Some perennial favourites.  Did you know there are sequels to Heidi?  Yes, and they are just as good as the first.  Laura Ingalls Wilder introduced me to life on the prairie through blizzards and fires.  Who can't relate to What Katy Did?  And Black Beauty makes me cry.  Now, The Railway Children only made its way onto my shelves about a year ago.  Its such a precious little story!  

Speaking of precious stories...

What perfect illustrations.

And funny sentences.

Don't worry my old friends, you'll be safe with me forever.    


    They are all your books?

    I think I need to come and camp at your house for about five months.

    I am sooooo glad to see Winnie the(r) Pooh featured here, as well. If you love dear old Winnie, then I'm pretty sure you would enjoy the Muddle Headed Wombat.

    *sigh* just looking at your books is stirring up in me the need to go read some more...

    I also was given the same punishment of a ban on books...I nearly died I think. Then a few years later I did a self-imposed ban. It got so bad by the third day that I was sitting there with an open book in my hand (but not looking at it) just because I was craving the feeling so much.

    Sounds like an addiction...


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