Nostalgia, books, puffins and even a competition

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.

This one

one end streetand this one

vicarage family  So I completely understand why people won’t just buy the current edition off the shelf.  It’s not just a book, it’s part of your history.

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?

Princess-and-the-Goblin and all the subsequent books

heidiand Heidi Grows up and Heidi’s children.  I wanted to marry Peter.


the entire series of


Not for reading – but this was a well-thumbed book as a child – and with my own children.


and finally

blackbeard  There are so many more, just a taste of my favorites.

I had two of these too:

BADGThe white one and a black one for being a member of the Puffin Club for four years.  I still have them both.

SNIFFUP! (I’ll send a prize, I’ve no idea what, to the first person to respond correctly to that!)



12 responses to “Nostalgia, books, puffins and even a competition

  1. Spotera! I had a gold founder member’s badge…Loved the Puffin Club sooo much as it proved that there were other children out there who shared my addiction.
    I remember those same editions – and absolutely agree. Disturbingly, my children TOO want the editions from my childhood – so we seem to spend an awful lot of money whenever we visit Hay-on-Wye. I didn’t have “Something to Make” – but “Something to Do” was wonderful…and I sort of hoped that my parents would let me have EVERY ONE of the pets of the month included therein…

  2. The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy,naughtiest girl in the school, My friend Flicka, all Beverly Clear, and Judy Blume books xxx happy memories

  3. heehee Spotera!!

    I loved Puffins but even better were the hard back Enid Blyton books my godmother would buy me at Christmas. I usually only had soft backs, for cost reasons, but loved those hard backs (the entire Twins at St Claires were definite favourites). Yes to Heidi, and to What Katy Did and Anne of Green Gables. Pollyanna I still love. Little Women and all the follow-ons. I had classical taste when I look back.

    But my favourite of all favourites, a book I had when I was about 9 I suppose, and still have and love is The Naughty Princess by Antony Armstrong (not he of Princess Margaret fame I don’t think). It isn’t really a children’s book I suppose, but I loved its humour. It isn’t readable anymore because then, as now, I loved reading in the bath and dropped this one in. Its varnished pages stuck together and it is now a cockled mess. But I love it and won’t let it go.

  4. Congratulations! I shall seek out a suitable prize. I loved all the boarding school books and Jill and her ponies as well. I still have the complete set of Sue Barton but I have yet to meet anyone else who read those!

  5. I loved Anne of Green Gables too (being Canadian) and remember going to Prince Edward Island when I was 8 to see the house and fictitious Avonlea, which was real (and still is!)…Diana, Matthew Marilla….! Forgot about Jill and her ponies. And yes, I loved Heidi as well,but thought Grandfather was probably the kindest person in the world. And who could forget Pippi Longstocking? I went through a phase of wanting red hair and a pet monkey. We had a collection of books we kept at our summer cottage, and the favourites were re-read summer after summer. I loved Anna and the Mini-Man, set in London, which made me homesick for a trip to England, but the Canadian summers were much warmer. But having a winter break from the books and the anticipation of being able to re-read them, snuggled in my top bunk bed with crisp cotton sheets, my Hudson Bay blanket, and the cool pine and sand scented breeze coming in from the open window, devouring every chapter by my little reading light clipped to the headboard, was pure nirvana! By the way, we went to the cottage last year and despite being happily married with a child, I still claimed the top bunk as mine, and re-read Anna and the Mini-Man alone, in the same position and the same accoutremonts as yesteryear, and still felt torn between the nostalgia and comfort of Canada, and realising that my childhood dream of living in England had come true. (I did read Anna and the Mini Man a second time with Maxima)…thank you so much for the memories xxxx

  6. Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation – I read that one over and over again. Luckily I never threw it out as I’ve just seen that it’s £20 to buy now! And I read Sue Barton one by one from the Clowne library when I went to stay with my grandparents!

    • If only I’d known you could have read mine …. I think I introduced you to Stephen King when we were in the library at St Luke’s Road. I seem to remember that I had control of the the light switch 🙂

  7. No prize necessary! just blow me a kiss 🙂

    and oh oh oh how did I forget the Moomins!!! I LOVED the Moomins, I had the whole set of paperbacks and read them until they fell apart..

    I MUST have had more than these though, I always had my nose stuck in a book, I was bereft when my dad forbade me from reading at the table at dinnertime..

  8. I was under a similar rule. Eldest daughter is the same, youngest two just dont get books at all. Very odd. I remember reading We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea and being completely caught up in the story, so much that I was there. I was at boarding school and reading early on a Sunday morning. I was sick (physically sick) with shock when Matron came round with the bell to wake us up because I really thought I was out on a boat in the middle of the sea.

    • I still hate putting a book down to do some work… sometimes I adore the fact that I have to wait a long time at the doctor’s or the blood testing lab, and can just get lost in the story knowing I’ll have an hour or so waiting/reading time.

      The Kindle is great for just reading then, good and light, but not having the book itself on the shelf is a real loss.

  9. Yes, yes and double-yes! The delight at finding, secondhand, the same edition you read as a child is priceless. My best find recently was a familiar looking paperback copy of “the Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm” by Norman Hunter – pure gold!

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