According to second-hand booksellers our appetite to revisit the books we read as children is as strong as ever. However, we want the same edition we read first time around. If we read Stig of the Dump in 1973 we want the puffin edition that was out then, we do not want to read the very same book in the 1980 cover. How, ridiculous. But is it really?
I have kept many of my childhood books, but by no means all of them. I live in a huge house but even we would have had problems if we had to find homes for every book I had ever owned. During the seventies I lived in Notting Hill Gate, and on the corner of Hillgate Street and Uxbridge Street there was a cavernous second-hand book shop. It was more of a second-hand book shed but I loved it. Last time I looked it was a trendy delicatessen. I preferred it as a book shed.
The chap who owned it bought and sold books by the yard. I would pile up all my 2/6 (later 12 1/2 p) Puffin books, he’d give me a price and then I’d spend it buying more books from him or from a stall in the back of one of the covered markets halfway down the Portabello. Over the years I must have bought and sold several miles of books.
I kept a lot of childhood books, but every now and then I have a yen for one that slipped through the net. The Family from One End Street (plus the subsequent Further Adventures of … and The Holiday at Dew Drop Inn) by Eve Garnett and A Vicarage Family by Noel Streatfield were recent examples. I can buy all three books in their most recent incarnations, but I want the editions I read as a child.
As part of my leaving gift to the school I am leaving I have bought some books for the newly refurbished library. I asked for suggestions and had a fun morning with Eileen at The Bookcase choosing modern fiction for teenagers. Then I got home and thought over the books that were my go to books when I was young. There was not much in the way of books for teenagers in those days, we tended to leap from Noel Streatfield to John Wyndham and Morris West in one leap. As my father bought hundreds of books I just started on his library when I outgrew mine.
The more I flicked through Google, the more I realised how these books had shaped me, shaped my own preferred writing style. Some of them I still read. So, in addition to those above, here are a few of my childhood favorites. What are yours?
the entire series of
Not for reading – but this was a well-thumbed book as a child – and with my own children.
I had two of these too:
SNIFFUP! (I’ll send a prize, I’ve no idea what, to the first person to respond correctly to that!)