It is with great anticipation I write this next line. The sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird is coming out this summer. Fifty five years after the first book – imagine that! Many reasons to gush about this, firstly for a book geek like moi this is the best kind of news. Secondly it is serendipity that this manuscript (Go Set a Watchman) was even found as it was thought long lost by its author. And lastly I do not come from the ‘let well enough alone’ school of thought, out of all the characters I have gotten to know from the books I have read – what Scout did next is often something I pondered over and now come July I actually get to find out.
This week’s post is about books so Harper Lee has provided a most appropriate segue way.
Via this blog I get all kinds of requests. Requests to take part in surveys; to attend events like a tantric sexuality workshop (which I was unable to attend) or wine tasting (which I did attend); to trial products, skin whitening pills anyone? And occasionally I get a request for my guidance which is why I am writing today. Recently I was contacted by an expectant mother for my advice on how to build a library for her baby. This is the best kind of request for me, anything to do with books and I’m there. And no she didn’t actually mean a hammer and nails type of build (I did check just to make sure).
“The best candy shop a child can be left alone in, is the library.” Maya Angelou
It is not as easy as it seems, think about it – there are a plethora of books out there in any genre and the only direction I had was that the mum-to-be wanted to make sure her child read all the classics. I’ve taken my time compiling this list, even then I know there are plenty more gems out there I’ve forgotten or not had the good fortune to read; but in any case I see this list as a start, for the best part of growing up is discovering and a library, school or a book store are the perfect settings to be curiouser and curiouser.
So here’s the list(for under tens specifically but also for the inner child that lives in you): Barbar MEG AND MOG Alice Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass THE GRUFFALO Matilda PUSS IN BOOTS The Little Prince HARRY POTTER Charlotte’s Webb THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS Winnie the Pooh CURIOUS GEORGE WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE The Tiger who came to tea THE SECRET GARDEN Are you my mother? A BEAR CALLED PADDINGTON The little Engine that could FANTASTIC MR FOX Famous Five THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLER Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go THE VELVETEEN RABBIT Asterix MILLY MOLLY MANDY Guess How Much I Love You RAMONA THE BRAVE Chronicles of Narnia THE SILVER SWORD Five Children and It BLACK BEAUTY Secret Seven TREASURE ISLAND The Swiss Family Robinson MARY POPPINS The Wizard of Oz HEIDI The Jungle Book POLLYANNA Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytales WHAT KATY DID Just So Stories PETER PAN The Prince and The Pauper Grimm’s Fairytales TINTIN The Story of Doctor Doolittle Pippi Longstocking BALLET SHOES The Borrowers WATERSHIP DOWN The English Roses THE BERENSTEIN BEARS The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
And my absolute favourites:
oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss First of all anything by Dr. Seuss is golden, I love the playful and lyrical way his books are written, they leave me filled with wonderment and a smiling face.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
This book was published 1990 so it wasn’t a childhood book for me, instead I was gifted it when I first moved to London but I find myself referring to it every now and then when I’m feeling blue and in need of a smile.
“I’m afraid that some times, You’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win, ‘cause you’ll play against you.”
It is a book for children and yet is filled with an insight that is completely relevant for grown ups we become. By the by it makes for a great graduation or leaving present.
The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton The books of Enid Blyton (and Roald Dahl) spoke to the dreamer in me then and they still speak to the dreamer in me now. Some of their books might not be considered pc¹ anymore but I find a flaw in that line of thinking. Words only become good or bad by people making them so. These books fueled my imagination that’s it plain and simple.
“I don’t believe in things like that – fairies or brownies or magic or anything. It’s old-fashioned.’
‘Well, we must be jolly old-fashioned then,’ said Bessie. ‘Because we not only believe in the Faraway Tree and love our funny friends there, but we go to see them too – and we visit the lands at the top of the Tree as well!”
Even as recently as two weeks ago I was talking about this book with a dear friend, we shared our love for Fanny, Dick, Bessie & Jo, Moon-face, Silky, Saucepan Man, Dame Wash-a-lot and the Angry Pixie and we talked of our favourite lands (she was curious about Topsy Turvy, I quite fancied Do-As-You-Please). She related how it was her wish that her daughter read it some day. That to me makes a classic, something that holds fond memories, something you want to share with others.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery After Jane Eyre this book and the series that follow are my absolute favourite books. I have been asked why on many occasions and my answer is the same every time, ‘because they are delicious.’
“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?”
My attraction to books comes from a love of words (I’m the type of girl who has favourite words but that is a whole other post) so the way L.M. Montgomery weaves a sentence is sheer magic for me, I truly believe when people talk about richness in language they must be referring to her work.
“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”
Anne and I have friends since I was ten years old… that’s over thir well it’s been a very long time and as such it is not easy to describe my love for Anne so I will simply say Anne and I are kindred spirits and these books are filled with delicious sentences that make you fall in love with the English language.
And so ends what has been a labour of love for me but this is by no means a definitive list and I’m sure you readers will have your favourites (please continue the discussion in comments).
“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” Dr Seuss
¹ politically correct