Monday, January 25, 2016

New-old books


Hello! Happy Monday. I hope your week is getting off to a good start. I want to talk about books today, specifically old favorites. I've always had a large book collection. I'm the kind of person who can read beloved books over and over again, without growing tired of them. It's good to have lots of books around the house, I think; you can always find something to do when you have a good assortment of books. They look nice too; I've always loved having bookshelves in the main areas of my home. We have three main ones for the Bear's books and my own, as well as another large one for children's books. They each have a bookcase in their bedrooms too, but those are more for board games and toys than books. The books stay out in the family room so they can both enjoy them whenever they want. I'm proud to say that both of my children are avid readers and both learned to read early. They read a lot and often want to discuss their books, which makes me really glad.

As much as I love reading and having lots of books around me, there have been many times in my adult life where I've had to unload some of my books, whether because of a move (our cross-country move in 2006 hit my book collection very hard), or because I really wanted to make room for some new books, clearing out the ones I didn't love so much anymore. I don't often buy brand-new books; I'd rather save money with a used copy if I can. There's also something about a book that someone else has written in; I like to read old notes and see what another person highlighted or underlined, what they found important as they read. In college, I bought used books as often as I could, to save money mostly, but I always found it interesting to see what previous users had found noteworthy. Sometimes it helped my studies too. I was a good student, not a perfect one.


Over the past few months, I've had the urge to replace some of the books I've jettisoned along the way. Not everything (I'll never have the room for it all; the whole place would be lined with bookcases along every wall), but a few really special books that I missed having in the collection. I started with Silas Marner last fall; I'd read it in high school and fell in love. It wasn't light reading, and in fact, I still find it slightly slow going even today, but I enjoy it very much. I re-read it as the seasons changed, as I normally do when I re-read it (large portions of the story take place around Christmastime and I like the feeling of reading a story in its season, if you will). For Christmas, I asked the Bear to replace a couple of other beloved books as gifts for me: Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag, and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Both are books I loved since I first read them in high school. I re-read them many times after that, but somewhere along the way, I needed to let go and they were donated.

I felt it was okay to replace them now; I've cycled through some of the other books I'd since acquired, there was more room on the bookshelves, and I was in the mood to re-read them both. But more than all of this, I just felt like having them again. I'm not a particularly acquisitive person; I actually quite enjoy paring down and having less, and I don't splurge very often. In fact, both of these are used books. I specified to the Bear that if at all possible, I'd rather have used copies. I like dog-eared pages, soft, floppy covers and loosened spines. He came through; there must be hundreds of copies of the Steinbeck book available used on Amazon. The Rolvaag was harder to find, and a bit more expensive, but we tracked one down. It's a less popular book than the Steinbeck, but it's fantastic. Have you read it? The story is about Norwegian pioneers on the American prairie and the trials they faced in their rugged life. It's gritty and wonderful. Both of these editions are decades newer than the ones I gave away, but they've been well-loved.


The Bear also gifted me with a third new-old book, The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky and Peter Spier. This was a favorite book when I was very little. Unfortunately, I was not able to take it with me when I moved away as a young adult (too many siblings, too many feelings, etc.), and I missed my cow book. I knew my children would enjoy reading it and really wanted to add it to our library. I thought about it for several years but never made a move to replace it. The Bear did, though, and I'm so happy to have this book again! Oh, I can't even tell you. My new copy is paperback, like my old one, but this new one is much smaller. It's a newer edition, 1997, versus my old one from the 70's (I believe this book is now out of print in the US). It came all the way from England, where the seller is located. You know how much I love foreign mail; so much the better if it's an unexpected surprise.


I want to show you a few pages from this sweet little book. It's a simple story, about a cow named Hendrika. She lives in Holland and she does the usual cow things: she eats grass, gives lots of creamy milk to make her farmer proud, and dreams of a life in the city, which she hears a lot about from her friend Pieter the horse.


One day, Hendrika is eating grass by the riverbank when she wades too far into the water and falls in. At length, she ends up floating aboard a raft all the way down the river to the city, where she is involved in a series of mishaps, which include running free in a marketplace, eating straw hats and cheese, and getting chased by market vendors. City life proves to be quite stressful for our friend Hendrika.



While she's on the lam, she encounters her farmer, Mr. Hofstra, who is not necessarily pleased to see her, especially as she decimates the cheese displays and gobbles hats. The city people are amused, but Hendrika soon realizes that the city is no place for a cow. The illustrations are so charming. I've never been to Holland, but I thought about it a lot when I was little. I loved the way the houses looked, and like Hendrika who had heard about them from Pieter the horse, I was fascinated by the idea of staircases on the roofs of Dutch houses. I also liked the wooden shoes and the round red and yellow cheeses. I've always been a fan of cheese.


Back home on the farm, Mr. Hofstra tightens security and Hendrika reminisces about her adventure. She has gained a lovely straw hat of her own, which she wears while she eats grass in the pasture. She has realized that the farm is just the right place for her and she is happy once again. Gosh, I just love this book. I'm so glad I can share it with my kids, who have also enjoyed it over the past few weeks. Yay for new-old books!

I saved a lot of the books I read in college; as an English major, I had great exposure to a wide variety of works, both classics and new literature. I kept most of them because I went on to be an English teacher and knew they'd be useful, which they were. They'll be useful here at home eventually too. I have a fair number of picture books from my childhood, which has been very nice, but I wish I had more of the "chapter" books I loved in childhood. I'd like to replace some of them, including:

All-of-a-Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor (and subsequent books from the series, which I loved in elementary school).
Veronica Ganz and Peter and Veronica, both by Marilyn Sachs
The Root Cellar, by Janet Lunn (my favorite book in fifth grade).
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (the LB would like this now and I just saw it at Costco last week, so I may need to pick up a copy next time I go).
The Story of Holly and Ivy, by Rumer Godden
Mitch and Amy, by Beverly Cleary (we have all the Ramona books, and I love them, but Cleary's non-Ramona books are terrific too).

How about you? Are there beloved books you would like to restore to your library?

34 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post Jennifer, Thankyou so much for writing it! I too am an avid reader, well I was, maybe not so much now (unless you count blogs ...), but I read all the time before I had children. In my fantasy home I have a library with a ladder to get to the up high books and a chaise longue to lay on while I read. My bookshelves would be full of pretty much everything I've ever read, I'd dearly love to re-acquire practically everything by Enid Blyton - I still have all the Famous Five books, but I'd want St Clare's and Mallory Towers too. I'd also want everything by John Wyndham, The Chrysalids was my introduction to science fiction and I adored it. But then I'd also have Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Just William, Black Besuty, everything by the Bronte Sisters, oh I could go on all day! Jillxo

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  2. Yes, what a great post. I love rereading certain books too - luckily, my kids are at the perfect age I can read my rereaders to them.
    Funny, I was inspired to write a blog post just last month about our book loving family too - http://theplaceunderthepine.blogspot.ca/2015/12/what-are-we-reading.html
    We are in a small house, but, have books in every room, in every nook an cranny we can squish them in.
    I'm a big Farley Mowat fan and find myself rereading his books a lot, and strangely enough only in the fall? I have this one copy of Lost in The Barrens that I write the year I reread it on the back of the front cover. It's neat to see, and remember, when and where I was the numerous times I read it.
    Oh, and Harry Potter, I've been through them a few times so far and still haven't tired of them.

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  3. What an interesting topic, and I love your cow book. I too was interested in Holland as a child - clogs and dykes, dutch hats and windmills...I went to school with a few Dutch immigrants to Australia. In recent years I have done the same thing, and we replaced our missing Treasure Island and Wuthering Heights with used books. Just yesterday I was attempting to find some books to move on as the bookcases are overfilled (again!). So hard to do. I realised that Pride and Prejudice is missing - must amend that too :)

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  4. I started requiring the Betsy-Tacy-Tib books by Maude Hart Lovelace. Loved them as a young teenager and now I have them again.

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  5. I love books too and enjoyed reading about your work to replace some favorites! I remember reading the Cow who fell in the canal, and I love that Bear got it for you. What a romantic!

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  6. Oh if buying clothes was as easy as buying books I'd be such a fashionista! Sadly I'm a boarder line fashion disaster with my nose in a book. I enjoyed reading about some of your favorites. One of my childhood favorites was "Little Plum" by Rumor Godden. I ordered it from the scholastic book form we were given at school. I struggled to learn to read. This was one of the first books I fell completely in love with the story.

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  7. Oh, I forgot about so many of those books. I'll have to get to the library soon. Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog. Hope all is well for you.

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  8. What a lovely, inspiring post. We're big book fans too and I also prefer pre-loved books and request them as gifts. R has a Kindle which I haven't quite forgiven him for! It does make it easier for him to pop in his rucksack for the cycle/train journey into work though - proper books would often get crushed or turn to papier-mache if it rained! Love the cow book. xx

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  9. What a fantastic post. I love books and I love re-reading old favourites. I used to read my favourite childhood books over and over and never grow tired of them. I did manage to keep quite a few of my childhood books but there is one in particular I would love to find again but the problem is I cannot remember the title or the author just the characters and some of the things they got up to. I will keep looking but it is probably out of print by now. xx

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  10. I loved that you re-read old books, I do too. I would love to buy the full collection of the Peter Rabbit stories that were so loved when my girls were small to read to their children, when funds allow.

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  11. A lovely post, Jennifer, and one that struck a great chord with this British bookworm. We couldn't afford many books when I was a child and I still have most of mine and I was also an avid reader of library books. I find it very hard to get rid of books and our house is full of them, as I too love rereading old favourites.

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  12. I love pre-loved books too. The paper, even in a humble paperback, seems to me far better quality than the stock used nowadays. I regularly go through our bookcases (mine in the sitting room, my husband's in the study, the children's on the landing and my bookcase of poetry in the bedroom) and jettison books and yes, sometimes I find myself re-buying secondhand copies of favourites. But I am primarily a library borrower (did I tell you the mobile library comes through the hamlet where the cottage is situated once a fortnight and I'm already a borrower?) One of these days I will have to share the texts my daughter is reading for her Contemporary module as part of her English degree. It is so exciting discovering new authors and reminds me of the time when I was fortunate enough to be a student of Angela Carter in the early 80s and discovered a whole new genre of literature within the context of a traditional English Literature degree course. It tickles me this interest in Persephone books (part of the fashion for austerity/vintage/kitchen sink?) and I think yes, but I've already read that. That said my desert island books would be collections of short stories by Chekhov and Katherine Mansfield, the complete works of Jane Austen including her hilarious letters and early fragments and, of course, everything by George Eliot; I'm assuming Shakespeare and the Oxford Book of English Verse would be found in the hammock. Reading now: War & Peace, North and South (Gaskell) and Claire Tomalin's biography of Pepys. Thank you for such an interesting thought-provoking post Jennifer.

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  13. Such a lovely post. It is so interesting to see what other people have read growing up - I might steal your idea and do a similar post of my own - if that's okay :) I have a few books that my brother and I loved growing up, and others that hold memories of reading to my own children. I find it difficult to get rid of books, and sometimes have regretted giving some of them up so much that I go and buy them again!

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  14. How lovely that you've managed to track down these special books. I don't have any books from my childhood but I have replaced a few over the last few years. I read To Kill A Mockingbird whilst at school and have since reread it so after Daniel finished studying it for his GCSEs, I made sure I kept his copy, which has lots of notes written in pencil throughout it. I read Of Mice and Men and The Pearl at school, both by John Steinbeck but I've never read The Grapes of Wrath. My post today is about books too.

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  15. A lovely post! I prefer old books too with their sense of history. I'm busy collecting The Famous Five books which I really enjoyed as a child - half way there x

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  16. I think every home, every room?, should have books. I have a huge collection of books, some from my childhood, even the first book I bought when I was five from Weekly Reader.
    My most 'favoritest' book is a first year printing of Gone with the Wind that I picked up at a used book store for 5.oo!

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  17. What a fun post, Jennifer! I hadn't heard of the book about the Norwegian homesteaders, so thanks for that. The Cow Who Fell int he Canal looks very sweet. And I see you have All-of-a-Kind Family on your list to replace. It was one of our favourites when my children were young.

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  18. I loved reading this post. I am a book person, too. My daughter has always joked that she grew up in a library. But as I look to downsize, I've gotten rid of a LOT of books, and I do miss them.

    I was so excited to see Mitch and Amy on your list. That is one of my all-time favorite books, and it seems like no one else has even heard of it. I do think it is her very best.

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  19. It's fun looking back at books from my own childhood - and even our daughters' childhoods. There's just something about those books which makes you remember reading them at bedtime - and maybe trying to skip some pages so they'd go to sleep sooner. I always got into trouble for that! LOL

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  20. oh I had the Cow who fell in the canal - LOVED that book. x

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  21. I think you know how much we love books here too. So lovely to hear you talking about your favourites, and how nice that you have replaced some treasured ones. I am holding on to several of the children's books that they are outgrowing, but that I absolutely love. I hope they will be happy to see them again one day. CJ xx

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  22. I enjoyed your post about books and reading. I have to admit, I've read a lot of books over the last several months but all of them have been on my iPad. They don't take up much room, is one good thing. LOL! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  23. I don't normally replace books that I've read and have gotten rid of, though I did pick up Flowers for Algernon last year and To Kill a Mockingbird just a few days ago, both for just a couple of dollars. I think perhaps the only other book I'd like to have a copy of again is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Otherwise, I have hundreds of books already...five bookcases in the downstairs family room, two in my office, and then piled neatly in every room in the house except the bathrooms! ;-)

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  24. How inspiring that you are passing on your love of books to your kids! What a collection you have Jennifer!! And that cow book….one of our favorites! It is such a special book and the illustrations are fantastic! Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday! Nicole xoxo

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  25. Such a lovely post, Jennifer. I have far too many books because I find it very hard to get rid of them. I'm sure that Marie Kondo would have something to say about that! I absolutely love them - the feel, the look, the smell (hope that's not weird). I've kept favourite books from when my children were very small (Peepo, Each Peach Pear Plum and others) because they hold such happy memories. Books - magical things. Sam x

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  26. Hey Jennifer,
    As you know I am a book lover. I haven't heard of 'Ginats In The Earth' but it sounds right up my alley, so I shall look out for it. I'm afraid I'm not very good at the second hand book thing. I will buy them in charity shops if I see one I like. But there are current favourite authors that I have to buy new. One of them is Helen Dunmore. Have you heard of her? She has a new novel out at the end of the month, and I am waiting with baited breath to go to my local book shop in town, and buy a copy. My son Sam is very good at buying second hand books however, as a money saving exercise. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of yours and his book, so to speak.
    Happy reading.
    Leanne xx

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  27. I remember reading cannery Row by Steinbeck when I was in Monteray Bay and it really came to life when I was there. I don't read much anymore, it was a staple thing for me to do when I was young and travelling around - 9 hour Aus bus journeys just needed reading but I am currently reading Heidi grows up, a sequel to Heidi which I didn't know even existed. Jo x

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  28. Such a lovely post Jennifer, I really enjoyed reading it. I wrote about a favourite childhood book a while ago and bemoaned the fact that I didn't have it anymore. My mum found a copy and gifted it to me, what a nice gesture. I prefer crisp new books over second hand books but Richard is all second hand. We have lots of his childhood favourites that all of our children enjoy. My favourite is called Borka and is about a goose that has no feathers. It is by John Burningham and I love it a lot. I have not been reading much lately, I like being read to more just now. Happy Wednesday! x

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  29. Lovely post. Its a vaguely familiar book. I love reading about books that people read as children.

    Funny I was up in the loft this week looking for a book in the boxes up there. I came down empty handed. I think my mum must have been through my books when I was at uni and many have ended up on the shelves of the schools she taught in as I am sure I had more than I do now! I cant even remember what I was looking for now. I loved Noel Streatfield, E Nesbit and Laura Ingalls Wilder as a child.

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  30. Oh, I loved this post Jennifer! I just drank up every word. We had a huge book cull when we moved last year so I feel like the ones we have left are keepers. A while ago, I spent some time and money replacing a few favourite picture books from my childhood which had been lost along the way. (I have a feeling I blogged about these before, in a CC post I think.) I've never regretted the effort or the expense, and I've loved re-reading them and of course Bella and Angus have enjoyed a lot of them too. I'm now moving into a different phase of reading with the kids where we are sharing "chapter books" and that's just as nice.

    Happy reading. x

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  31. What a delight The Cow who Fell in the Cow is! I collect children's picture books and it's unlike any I've seen.

    I have favourite books I reread in season too ... reading about snow in midsummer or great heat in midwinter is just wrong isn't it. I also like to read books that have chapters for each month in the right months.

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    Replies
    1. Canal, canal ... not cow. I was distracted by a whippet jumping into my lap!

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  32. I've always loved to read since I was a kid and, to me, a house doesn't feel very warm or homey without shelves filled with books. But we didn't have children's books at home when I was growing up (I read lots of old Reader's Digests) so in the last five years I've been 'discovering' children's books and enjoying them as much as my kids. Luckily my parents in law are great at finding second hand books for the girls and I'm usually as excited as they are when we get some 'new' ones.

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  33. I loved reading about your favourite books Jennifer. Like you, I read and re-read books as well as reading new books. I also love bookcases full of books, and feel they make a home so homely. Gosh your blog is so good, so sustaining. If it was breakfast it would be a bowl of home-made granola. Just perfect X

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