Sunday, 25 January 2009

Literary loveliness in London

I made a slight detour last week on my trip to London to go to a little shop. A website I’ve visited on numerous occasions and poured over its titles. Pretty endpapers that would make the perfect summer tea dress with a slice of Victoria sponge and a cup of tea. With the ring of a bell as I opened the door, I had finally arrived in the wonderful world of Persephone Books. A tiny shop with piles of books and packing boxes, purchase orders and plants – I could imagine that somewhere at the back a cat was lounging on a battered cushion. They have a fantastic philosophy and I must confess to finding out about them from Jane Brocket’s blog. I can’t quite tell you just how thrilled I am to be in possession of my very own Persephone book. It is currently sitting on the mantelpiece in the bedroom looking magnificent in all its pigeon grey glory. I hope it is the first of many, because they would look super above my shelf of old penguins. Oh to be lucky enough to have a Persephone subscription.

Now, with my new purchase I did have to make an exception to my rule for 2009 of not buying any more books this year (unless it’s for my book club) as we are fit to bursting – the bookshelves are full and little termite book mounds are springing up all over the flat. This is always a bad sign because it means that I need to start speed reading before they take over key pieces of furniture such as the sofa, armchair and bed and that you can’t walk through the flat with the lights off for fear of stubbed toes. We did try the nightclub policy of one in, one out last year and that just resulted in bookcase stagnation.

I have always loved books – it comes from having a bookshop in the family, one with low ceilings, creaky floorboards and a maze of bookshelves. The musty smell of old books conjures up such lovely childhood memories. I scour charity shops for the
m and my heart always skips a beat when I find a name and date scrawled inside – the oldest I have is 1908. I dream of having a room lined with bookshelves from floor to ceiling. We nearly did that to one end of our sitting room but decided that it would take away too much of our precious space. One day.

A couple of years ago I started to make a note of the books that I'd read - mainly because there is nothing more disappointing than starting a 'new' book only to realise by the 3rd page that you've already read it and had been fooled by the new sparkly cover. I thought I’d pop my 09 list on the blog as an incentive to read faster! Here are the books that I read in 2008 – I thought there would be more, which perhaps explains the book termites...
  1. Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. Fragrant Harbour - John Lanchester
  3. Goodbye Jimmy Choo - Annie Sanders
  4. The other side of the story - Marian Keyes
  5. Hunting Unicorns - Bella Pollen
  6. The Unnumbered - Sam North
  7. The Virgin Blue - Tracy Chevalier
  8. Salmon Fishing in Yemen - Paul Torday
  9. The Scapegoat - Daphne du Maurier
  10. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
  11. Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
  12. The Colour - Rose Tremain
  13. I am Legend - Richard Matheson
  14. The Interpretation of Murder - Jed Reubenfeld
  15. Notting Hell - Rachel Johnson
  16. Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones
  17. The Savage Garden - Mark Mills
  18. Set in Stone - Linda Newbery
  19. The Outcast - Sadie Jones
  20. Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes
  21. Sepulchre - Kate Mosse
  22. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
  23. The Rose of Sebastopol - Katharine McMahon
  24. East of the Sun - Julia Gregory
  25. Last Voyage of the Valentina - Santa Montefiore
  26. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
So, what did you read in 2008? My top five would have to be - 1, 7, 10, 13, 20.

Have a lovely Sunday, I'm off to limber up for a spot of speed reading and perhaps some hoovering.


  1. I,ve put a reading list on my blog too, along with films. At the minute I'm reading a lot of 'chick lit' not my normal style at all - maybe because it's such easy reading before I go to bed !! Hub loves Neil Gaiman - have you read his online journal?
    lisa x

  2. What a good idea to make a note of books read. I can't remember many of the ones I got through although The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Carson McCullers)was memorable.

  3. Hi, I love the inside sleeves of Peresphone books, such a lovely contrast to the covers. You have reminded me I have a copy of, hostages of fortune, that I'd had tucked away. I'm going to dig it out tonight. Happy reading.
    Bertie x.