Thursday, 22 May 2008

Off the shelf



The other week when I was having my big sort out I tackled the piles of books on our shelves. We have books piled three deep at the moment and really need to get some more shelves fitted somewhere. I had fun rearranging them and pondering over forgotten titles. At the back of the bottom shelf was my pile of well worn and much loved Virago Press books.



You can see just by looking at this very dodgy picture of a few of them just how worn they are. These books are so special to me - the stories wonderful, the covers delicious - each edition brings back so many memories of when and where I read them. I think I first stumbled upon them while I was at University, they'd been around for a while but my head had been buried for such a long time in set texts that I really didn't have much time for reading books that were not on any given reading list.
After leaving University I lived in a really grotty flat in London that I shared with a friend. I have never had so little money and had so much fun! We seemed to spend an awful lot of time reading and sharing our books, it was such a joy to read a book without thinking about having to write an essay about it. Our reading tastes were very similar and I remember passing the Virago books between us. A whole new world of women's fiction had opened up for us. It was about this time that the Women's Press books were being published and everybody was reading "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker.

One of the first Virago books that I remember reading was "The Edible Woman" by Margaret Atwood. I loved this book and quickly devoured anything else that the author had written.



My flat mate lent me "The Sugar House", oh dear I think this is her copy, which I loved and have put it beside my bed to reread again soon. I remember feeling like I was on some kind of mission trying to hunt down the earlier "Frost In May" and "The Lost Traveller". I remember where I sat and read them and being unemployed at the time I remember having the time to read them all in one go. I also remember being sucked into the trap of choosing books by their covers too.



On some other bookshelves were these books, chosen just for their covers! Aren't they lovely. I will get round to reading them one day too!



Fortunately M is as mad about old book jackets as I am so there's no fighting for shelf space for this lot.



I love this old Elizabeth David cook book that I found in a charity shop.



One of my favourite Virago Press books is "The Diary of a Provincial Lady" by E M Delafield. This and several other titles have recently been republished by the Virago Press to mark its 30th anniversary. It's such a warm and humorous book, I'm having lots of fun rereading it again every night. I love the domesticity of it and although it was written in 1930 I'm sure that if it were a blog, it would be on my favourites list and I'd be checking daily for new posts.. And if that wasn't enough to sway you, well the cover has been designed by Cath Kidston.

I read some of the Diary the other day with my cuppa and a few of these:




Fifteen minutes in a quiet sunny garden, nose buried in a book and eating biscuits that instantly remind me of days spent on a sandy beach in Normandy, watching Little Sister take her first tentative steps across the sand - it doesn't get much better!



Have a good weekend. I'm looking forward to this one ...

39 comments:

Thimbleanna said...

You're my kind of woman Kim! I'm surrounded by people who, when their books are three deep, get rid of some of them. But you get more shelves -- YAY! I LOVE your thinking!!! You always have such lovely reads!

She'sSewPretty said...

Oh! I love books too and I never quite can feel a real friendship for people who don't have books in their house. Isn't that kind of snooty of me?!

Sal said...

I love books too..especially ones with lovely covers!I have a house full of books,books and more books!
Yes ..you do have some lovely books.
Sal;-)

Cowboys & Custard said...

Books have played a large part in my life too Kim.. From my insatiable hunger for all Famous Five Books, The Treasure Seekers, Litte Grey Men etc etc .. to the full collection of Edna O Brien's novels.. I do share your need to escape into the pages of a good book. We have two floor to ceiling books shelves .. groaning under the weight of books 2 deep. Books, books glorious books .. you can never have enough!

Come rain or shine.. this is going to be a grand weekend..!

Michelexx

Ali said...

Lovely post. You've made me want to re-read The Edible Woman - loved it too.

Samantha said...

Hi KIm,
I buy books for their dust jackets too and just have them sitting in piles! Glad to hear it isn't just me that does this.

x

thriftymrs said...

Lovely books.

April said...

Books are floor to ceiling and three deep in many rooms in my house.

I love Margaret Atwood - first encountered her as an A Level text with The Handmaids Tale - could NOT put it down!

April xx

Heidi said...

I just did a post today about the joy of books and here is yours too Kim. You can never have too many books. :) Just let those shelves take over your room. It is wonderful to read about your flat in London and how you loved to read together with your flatmate. Do you have a special reading list ready for the summer? I just packed a book in my bag to take to Cranberry Cottage that I bought as I thought it sounded interesting and the cover was amazing. It is not as good as I had hoped though. Oh the lure of a good cover. LOL!

Have a wonderful weekend dear Kim. I hope your forecast for England is as good as Holland's is as we will both be reading in the garden.

Hugs ~
Heidi

Shirl said...

Yes, we're huge on books too. Yours have some really lovely covers.

Curlew Country said...

Wonderful collection Kim, your Persephone post inspired me a while back and I've bought A House in the Country ready to devour on holiday. Books really make a home I think and yours must be wonderful, what a treasure trove of adventures.
Have a lovely Bank Holiday.
Stephx

Lucy Bloom said...

Hi Kim, you have some wonderful books there, I haven't read many of those titles but I'll be looking out for them now - I read I Capture the Castle recently on your recommendation - almost in one sitting - and really loved it.
Hope your weekend is turning out great!
Lucy x

Mary said...

Sorry I havent visited fro a while. Another story! I choose books by their covers sometimes as well have a great read Mary

Simone said...

I like the look of the Elizabeth David book. The cover appeals to me!

Greentwinsmummy said...

I think I wrote before?on your Persephone post,how they reminded me of Virago,I used to work in a bookshop & my manager Jill introduced me to Virago & I never looked back! I adore Margaret Atwood,Oryx & Crake is terrifyingly becoming more of a reality.
Hope you have a nice weekend,we have some nice things planned hurrah!fngers crossed n the weather tho eh?!
GTM
x

LOUISE @ HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS said...

Even the books are pretty in your house. I usually go for the covers too, although I only have non-fiction, I don't ever make time to read fiction. I also have the same trouble with too many books and not enough shelves. I do wish the DIY elf would pay a visit! x

Pondside said...

Hi there! It's so good to have some time to catch up - and lovely to read your three most recent blogs. I had an 'aha' moment when I saw your blue enamel jug - I have a beloved collection of Danish enamelware in exactly that shade - it has graced different rooms in our different houses and is now very happily displayed in the laundry room.
re books - like old friends, as many have said before me. I know all of the books you mention, but don't know that press. Have you read Alice Munro? I think you'd like her!

Lavender hearts said...

Gosh, that Cath Kidston-designed cover is so pretty and the book sounds like the sort of thing I'd like. I may have to invest in a copy! :-)

Rowan said...

Sorting out bookshelves is always a long process for me as I start reading all the books I'd forgotten I have:) E.M.Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady has been a favourite for many years - did you know that there are three more Provincial Lady books?

Louise said...

I am a more shelf kind of a girl too! I can never have enough books and my children are just slightly obsessed as well! I LOVE the old covers and often scour my parents shelves for stuff as they used to belong to book clubs when they were first married in the 60's. I would so love to get hands on your ones! I'll bet that Elizabeth David one's a good read too.

Garden girl said...

I love the new Virago book covers- I bought the same one as you as had never read it before (I was drawn to the CK fabric first, the book title second..)I love having piles of books everywhere, on all sorts of subjects. There is something very comforting about books.

meggie said...

Love the thought of more bookshelves to house the collection! We have overflowed into our garage to such an extent, we have to get rid of some!

Stacy said...

Your blog is adorable =) And your book collection is nice =) Those covers are really neat and it will be fun to display a few facing out on the shelf when you get them =) Fun fun =D

Alison Boon said...

I love books, the more the merrier, but live with a man who complains everytime a new one enters. We take to sneaking them in slowly in discreet piles.
Hope your weekend is ace.

~~ATTIC CLUTTER~~ said...

Love the BOOK COLLECTION post and the story behind them all ..
thanks for sharing..very fun..
hugs Patty

Mrs.Kwitty said...

Oh yes, a kindred spirit!! I am a bookaholic also, never have enough time to read all the ones on my waiting list! You have some fantastic ones to share and those covers are really wonderful!
Smiles, Karen

meghs said...

Not only a delightful post, thank you, Kim, but great comments. How lovely to think that there are so many other bookaholics around! I have a friend who keeps asking why we get more bookcases as "you only fill them then". She was quite puzzled when I pointed out that when it came to books, that was the whole idea, all those wonderful marvellous books, both old and new, out there, just waiting to be read and loved! And, yes, I remember finding the Virago Press books when I was at Uni also - I still have my collection of them, still much-read.

Cathy said...

I have a large collection of Virago too, though I have to confess that although she is one of my fave authors and I love all the other Margaret Atwood books I hated 'The Edible Woman'. I know it's controversial, but I really didn't like it. Your copy of EM Delafield is much prettier than mine - great book though whatever the cover is like!
Cathy XX

Jennie said...

You sound like me with all those books. I am often surprised when I find much loved books hidden behind other books.
You have some lovely books!

Tracy said...

So many delicious old books...You're a girl after my own heart, Kim! Diary of a Provincial Lady was an old one I had, but somehow went missing when we moved, sadly. Yours has a lovely cover. Those biscuits are making me hungry--LOL! Happy week, my friend ((HUGS))

Rosezilla said...

Now I know I'm among friends! I feel the same about books. Can't decide if I like a new one better, or the old ones I've read a million times. Both are delicious. Now that our sons are out, we are going to make one whole room in to a library! Plus there will be books in all the other rooms.

Elizabethd said...

My very first cookery book was an Elizabeth David, and over the years I managed to collect most of her books, wonderful to read even if not cooking.

gillie said...

I just did our books. Well it took me a week or more, so "just" is a bit of an exaggeration. But like you I found so many gems I forgot I had (and embarrassingly a few duplications) then I had to go out and buy the ones I thought I had but had gone missing so now I have to find space for them too!

You should read Artemis Cooper's biography of Elizabeth David - she was a complex women. I

silverpebble said...

Visiting your blog and flickr images for the first time - such lovely things, especially your cushions and vinatge tins.

Elizabeth David - inspiration for Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, River Cafe- the list is endless......what a top woman and a lovely book to own. Might have to hunt myself out a copy.

Gill at Lucy Locket said...

You have a great collection of books Kim (worth having just for the covers) and I've enjoyed the books you've recommended. I bought a couple of Persephone books recently after you wrote about them, I actually managed to finish one in a couple of days while I
was staying at my Mum's (The Saplings by Noel Streatfield)and would recommend it if you haven't read it yet.Hope Mr RR is feeling better, always happens to us too, we're ok as long as we keep working but the minute we stop and relax we're ill! Not fair!
Enjoy the half-term week.
Gill x

Katherines Dream said...

I have always had a great love for books...all sorts of books. As a small child I ran a little library from my bedroom!
Carol x
Ps. those biscuits were in the hamper that was provided at the cottage we rented for the bank hols...very yummy!

Linnea said...

Those book covers are delicious. I was just thinking in my head that that book cover looked like Cath Kidston...and then I read that it was! Makes sense!

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Juliet said...

The sight of those Virago books made my toes tingle! I've still got most of mine, despite several moves.

I can still remember the excitement of discovering there were books with women's voices shouting out loud and clear. I'm still haunted by 'Frost in May'.

Love the blog and the images!