Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Hidden Treasures

When I was a little girl, we lived in half a manor house on the Isle of Wight.  It was a huge, rambling place, and my parents had many bookcases scattered around, filled with both old and new books.  I used to spend many hours just sitting on the floor next to one of the bookshelves and poring through the oldest books - their yellowed pages, antiquated language and drawn illustrations fascinated me.  Sadly, most of the books are long gone and the few that are left live with my eldest brother up in Oxfordshire - he inherited the books, I got the artwork, a fair deal really.  However, when pottering around car boot sales or thrift shops, I always make a beeline for the books to see if I can find any of the old volumes that I loved as a child.  I also pick up other little treasures such as this one, a 1930's copy of Mr. Popper's Penguins.
The story is very funny and the illustrations are just wonderful.
I've had this volume for a couple of years and have since discovered there has been a film made of it starring Jim Carry which will be released later this year.  Will he look like this?

Definitely one to go and see!

A book that both terrified me and drew me like a magnet was a collection of Hans Christian Andersen fairytales.  Again, my copy is long gone, but I picked up a very old one with what I think must be the original illustrations, I'm not sure.  (I didn't colour in the picture - some previous owner did that!)  I do know that The Tinderbox with it's succession of dogs with bigger and bigger eyes frightened the pants off me...and yet I read it again and again.  Hands up if you remember the televised version of this story by some Eastern European country, possibly in the Singing Ringing Tree series.  The stuff of nightmares!

This is a little gem I found in a car boot sale - the title alone caught my eye.  The stories are hideously non-PC - they were written sometime around 1895 - but an intriguing glimpse into a bygone era.  And when it contains illustrations like this:

you can forgive it just about anything.

The reason I've re-visited these books is that I have been re-arranging my own bookcase to fit in the many new knitting books I seem to have acquired since Christmas.  In the process, I discovered that I have a copy of Tom Brown's Schooldays - a harrowing read, yet another of my favourites, as well as an ancient Diary of Samuel Pepys, which I am ashamed to say I have not attempted to read yet.  There was also a little collection of these:

prints of paintings by John James Audobon, a naturalist and ornithologist who lived in the 1800's and travelled the world painting the many species of birds he found.  Admittedly I think he accomplished this mainly by shooting them and arranging their corpses in the poses he wanted, but the results are superb.

I have seen some of his paintings at an exhibition held in Buckingham Palace, and they are truly incredible for their detail and jewel-like colours.

So that's a mini-tour of one of my bookcases - in our tiny house we probably have just as many books as were in my parents', maybe more.  I did commandeer all my mother's art books when she died as well as the remarkably useful collection of reference books on fossils, geology, birds and plants.  I just wish I had more time to read them all!


Gretel said...

Oh, I have that copy of Mr Popper, it is a wonderful story! Just a word of warning, it is terribly fragile - mine is falling apart now, sadly. (I bet the film version won't be as poignant as the book, especially not if it's got Jim Carrey starring).

Caroline B said...

I know Gretel, I have to handle this copy with great care, it wouldn't take much for it to disintegrate.

Sallie said...

Books are one of my weaknesses, that and yarn. Thank you for sharing a little of your personal library. The books are wonderful.

soggibottom said...

I would still be there sorting out the books. READING THEM :-) x x x

Magpie Magic said...

LOL Another thing we share amongst all others. I love books and I am the same - I always make a bee line for books at car boot sales, too. LOL However, I get silly things like poetry books and fairy tales and versions of Shakespeare's plays and anything with pretty illustrations. :-) I'll have to take some pictures of mine soon too. xo