Archive for August 2009
Other Great Books Lists
100 Most Influential Books Ever Written
By Martin Seymour Smith
This list is fascinating. I was stunned to discover I’ve actually read two of them. I’ve read bits and pieces of some and there are some books here that few people have read cover to cover. This would be a good starting place if you want to increase your knowledge of the older classics. The author of the website has created a number of lists for you to peruse.
How many have you read? Beat my total, not hard but have a go anyway.
1. The I Ching
2. The Old Testament
3. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
4. The Upanishads
5. The Way and Its Power, Lao-tzu
6. The Avesta
7. Analects, Confucius
8. History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides
9. Works, Hippocrates
10. Works, Aristotle
11. History, Herodotus
12. The Republic, Plato
13. Elements, Euclid
14. The Dhammapada
15. Aeneid, Virgil
16. On the Nature of Reality, Lucretius
17. Allegorical Expositions of the Holy Laws, Philo of Alexandria
18. The New Testament
19. Lives, Plutarch
20. Annals, from the Death of the Divine Augustus, Cornelius Tacitus
21. The Gospel of Truth
22. Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
23. Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Sextus Empiricus
24. Enneads, Plotinus
25. Confessions, Augustine of Hippo
26. The Koran
27. Guide for the Perplexed, Moses Maimonides
28. The Kabbalah
29. Summa Theologicae, Thomas Aquinas
30. The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
31. In Praise of Folly, Desiderius Erasmus
32. The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli
33. On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Martin Luther
34. Gargantua and Pantagruel, François Rabelais
35. Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin
36. On the Revolution of the Celestial Orbs, Nicolaus Copernicus
37. Essays, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
38. Don Quixote, Parts I and II, Miguel de Cervantes
39. The Harmony of the World, Johannes Kepler
40. Novum Organum, Francis Bacon
41. The First Folio [Works], William Shakespeare
42. Dialogue Concerning Two New Chief World Systems, Galileo Galilei
43. Discourse on Method, René Descartes
44. Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes
45. Works, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
46. Pensées, Blaise Pascal
47. Ethics, Baruch de Spinoza
48. Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan
49. Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Isaac Newton
50. Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke
51. The Principles of Human Knowledge, George Berkeley
52. The New Science, Giambattista Vico
53. A Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume
54. The Encyclopedia, Denis Diderot, ed.
55. A Dictionary of the English Language, Samuel Johnson
56. Candide, François-Marie de Voltaire
57. Common Sense, Thomas Paine
58. An Enquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
59. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon
60. Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant
61. Confessions, Jean-Jacques Rousseau
62. Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke
63. Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft
64. An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, William Godwin
65. An Essay on the Principle of Population, Thomas Robert Malthus
66. Phenomenology of Spirit, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
67. The World as Will and Idea, Arthur Schopenhauer
68. Course in the Positivist Philosophy, Auguste Comte
69. On War, Carl Marie von Clausewitz
70. Either/Or, Søren Kierkegaard
71. The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
72. “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau
73. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Charles Darwin
74. On Liberty, John Stuart Mill
75. First Principles, Herbert Spencer
76. “Experiments with Plant Hybrids,” Gregor Mendel
77. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
78. Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, James Clerk Maxwell
79. Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
80. The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud
81. Pragmatism, William James
82. Relativity, Albert Einstein
83. The Mind and Society, Vilfredo Pareto
84. Psychological Types, Carl Gustav Jung
85. I and Thou, Martin Buber
86. The Trial, Franz Kafka
87. The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Karl Popper
88. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, John Maynard Keynes
89. Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre
90. The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich von Hayek
91. The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
92. Cybernetics, Norbert Wiener
93. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
94. Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff
95. Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein
96. Syntactic Structures, Noam Chomsky
97. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, T. S. Kuhn
98. The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
99. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung [The Little Red Book], Mao Zedong
100. Beyond Freedom and Dignity, B. F. Skinner
This lovely list was published by the The New York Public Library on their Recommended Reading List.
I’ve marked the ones I’ve read in bold. My total is 6 books out of 100. Some of these I have for sale and I’ve linked to the listing if you’re interested in buying them. I recognise many of them and know the authors are really good with others books so I expect these books will be really good.
I’m really curious about other people’s reading habits. Please let me know either by comment or by email which ones you’ve read. If you just want to give me a number that’s fine.
ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY – Taylor, Sydney
BULL RUN – Fleischman, Paul
I, JUAN DE PAREJA – Trevino, Elizabeth Borton de
LETTERS FROM RIFKA – Hesse, Karen
LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS – Wilder, Laura Ingalls
THE MASTER PUPPETEER – Paterson, Katharine
THE MIDWIFE’S APPRENTICE – Cushman, Karen
MORNING GIRL – Dorris, Michael
Unreal! Eight Surprising Stories – Paul Jennings
THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND – Speare, Elizabeth George
BULLY FOR YOU, TEDDY ROOSEVELT! – Fritz, Jean
CHARLES A. LINDBERGH: A HUMAN HERO – Giblin, James Cross
THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL – Frank, Anne
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT: A LIFE OF DISCOVERY – Freedman, Russell
EZRA JACK KEATS – Engel, Dean
HOMESICK: MY OWN STORY – Fritz, Jean
LEONARDO DA VINCI – Stanley, Diane
LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY – Freedman, Russell
LITTLE BY LITTLE: A WRITER’S EDUCATION – Little, Jean
LIVES OF THE MUSICIANS – Krull, Kathleen
AND THE GREEN GRASS GREW ALL AROUND: FOLK POETRY FROM EVERYONE – Schwartz, Alvin
BRATS – Kennedy, X. J.
THE DREAM KEEPER AND OTHER POEMS – Hughes, Langston
I AM THE DARKER BROTHER – Adoff, Arnold
JOYFUL NOISE – Fleischman, Paul
A PIZZA THE SIZE OF THE SUN – Prelutsky, Jack
SINGING AMERICA: POEMS THAT DEFINE A NATION EDITED – selected by Philip, Neil
SOUL LOOKS BACK IN WONDER Anthology
WHAT TO DO WHEN A BUG CRAWLS IN YOUR MOUTH AND OTHER POEMS TO DRIVE YOU BUGGY – Walton, Rick
WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS – Silverstein, Shel
SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL – MacLachlan, Patricia
THE BOGGART – Cooper, Susan
THE BOOK OF THREE – Alexander, Lloyd
CHARLOTTE’S WEB – White, E. B.
THE DARK IS RISING – Cooper, Susan
FALCON’S EGG – Gray, Luli
THE HAUNTING – Mahy, Margaret
THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE – Lewis, C. S.
THE MOORCHILD – McGraw, Eloise
THE RETURN OF THE TWELVES – Clarke, Pauline
TUCK EVERLASTING – Babbitt, Natalie
ABEL’S ISLAND – Steig, William
BABE, THE GALLANT PIG – King-Smith, Dick
BUNNICULA – Howe, Deborah
THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE – Selden, George
THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY – Burnford, Sheila
MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH – O’Brien, Robert
POPPY – Avi
SHILOH – Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
SOUNDER – Armstrong, William
THE WAINSCOTT WEASEL – Seidler, Tor
FREAKY FRIDAY – Rodgers, Mary
HARRIS AND ME: A SUMMER REMEMBERED – Paulsen, Gary
HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS – Rockwell, Thomas
KNIGHTS OF THE KITCHEN TABLE – Scieszka, Jon
LIZARD MUSIC- Pinkwater, Daniel Manus
ORDINARY JACK – Cresswell, Helen
THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH – Juster, Norton
SQUASHED – Bauer, Joan
THE TWITS – Dahl, Roald
THE DOLLHOUSE MURDERS – Wright, Betty Ren
DOWN A DARK HALL – Duncan, Lois
THE EGYPT GAME – Snyder, Zilpha Keatley
ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN: BOY DETECTIVE – Sobol, Donald J.
FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER – Konigsburg, E. L.
THE HOUSE OF DIES DREAR – Hamilton, Virginia
THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS – Bellairs, John
THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE – Pullman, Phillip
THE VIEW FROM THE CHERRY TREE – Roberts, Willo Davis
THE WESTING GAME – Raskin, Ellen
ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER – Ames, Mildred
CHILDREN OF THE DUST – Lawrence, Louise
THE EAR, THE EYE, AND THE ARM – Farmer, Nancy
ENCHANTRESS FROM THE STARS – Engdahl, Sylvia
EVA – Dickinson, Peter
THE GIVER – Lowery, Lois
INTERSTELLAR PIG – Sleator, William
STINKER FROM SPACE – Service, Pamela
THE WHITE MOUNTAINS – Christopher, John
A WRINKLE IN TIME – L’Engle, Madeleine
A GIRL NAMED DISASTER – Farmer, Nancy
HATCHET – Paulsen, Gary
ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS – O’Dell, Scott
JULIE OF THE WOLVES – George, Jean Craighead
SAVE QUEEN OF SHEBA – Moeri, Louise
SLAKE’S LIMBO – Holman, Felice
STONE FOX – Gardiner, John Reynolds
THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE – Avi
THE WHIPPING BOY – Fleischman, Sid
Z FOR ZACHARIAH – O’Brien, Robert
ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME MARGARET – Blume, Judy
THE FRIENDS – Guy, Rosa
THE GOATS – Cole, Brock
HARRIET THE SPY – Fitzhugh, Louise
MANIAC MAGEE – Spinelli, Jerry
MOTOWN AND DIDI – Myers, Walter Dean
SHABANU: DAUGHTER OF THE WIND – Staples, Suzanne Fisher
TONING THE SWEEP – Johnson, Angela
WALK TWO MOONS – Creech, Sharon
WHAT JAMIE SAW – Coman, Carolyn
I’m going to spend a bit of time going over some book lists. I came across one on Facebook, completed it and was looking at other people’s anwers only to discover some of them were looking at different lists. It turns out there are lots of different lists. Some are Australian, some are from the US and some from the UK. I’ve found a number of them, completed them and will publish the results in over the next few days.
The lists are very interesting and I’ve noted that my reading tends to be more British than anything. It’s something I’ve suspected for a few months and it’s nice to have it clarified. Using these lists I’m able to look back at my life and realise I was very much a British reader when I was younger and now I’m more global but the majority of my preferred books are still British.
One striking point is the books that are on almost all the lists. They seem to bridge any cultural gap. There are other books I’d expect to be on one of the lists but aren’t. At the end I might compile my own list and I’ll see how many books I get.
The one thing that’s common to almost all of these books is that they are all in English. Some have been translated from other languages but the bulk of them were written in English. I’d like to issue a challenge for those people who read in another language as well as English. Show me your top books in your language of choice. It doesn’t have to be 100 books, but I’d like to see what books you consider to be the top. Either put a comment here or email me the list on sales @ suzs-space.com.
There are good things and bad things about working from home. I’ve had occasion to feel grateful and annoyed about it all the one week. This past week I’ve been unwell, it’s just a common or garden virus but never-the-less I had to take some time off to recover. This week my mother came to dinner and I had to move everything off the dining room table so we could all eat in a civilised fashion.
Let me paint you a mental picture of my dining room. It has a table as one would expect and six chairs which go with it. It also has a computer chair and a laptop desk complete with laptop. The table generally has one box which is being filled with books that have just been listed on the website and a pile of books that are in the process of being listed. There is generally another box or two of books hanging around on the floor or on chairs waiting to be put into the process of being listed or waiting to be put with the rest of the listed stock. One chair is taken up with a black bag overflowing with various sizes of envelopes, plastic bags, tape and the tablecloth I use as my backdrop for photographs of the stock. Another chair is taken up with my concertina file which holds most of my working papers. I said most, as some of them are scattered on my half of the dining room table waiting to be dealt with or filed. I also have my nice purple scales which I use to weigh books so I can accurately list the weight and don’t forget my book box which I use for competitions when I’m having a stall somewhere. In the middle of the table I have a pencil tin made by the youngest at school, it’s overfull and I generally have a couple of pens hanging around close by because I can’t be bothered putting them away, add some more general stationery items and it’s starting to look a little cluttered. I musn’t forget the phones, my mobile and the home phone, my distance glasses, drink bottle and any munchies I have lying around that I really shouldn’t be eating. I did say ‘my half of the dining room table’ and I said that with purpose as I generally share the table with my eldest. Her current work is in the planning stages at the moment so I can’t say anything more than it’s for Continuum 6 in February next year. Her most recent creation was for Continuum 5 last week and it was a light-up Dalek on a head band as well as a jacket with the Torchwood logo on the back. I try to remember I have to share this room and leave half of the table for other people. She generally uses it for her computer or creations or for sewing or generally just giving me a hard time.
The thing that gets me is that everything has to be moved out when we have people over to dinner, Doctor Who meetings or just generally over. All of that has to go somewhere and that place is my bed so you can imagine all the boxes, bags and general stuff takes up half of the queen bed while the larger stuff goes on the floor. After they go the table has to be completely cleared so I can move everything back so the bed is available for sleeping in. Doesn’t matter what it is it all has to be done.
As usual this blog has morphed. It was going to be all the good and bad points about working from home and has ended up being much too long and almost totally about my dining room table. I was going to talk about having to be fairly disciplined with time and having a schedule to enable the housework to get done and all sorts of stuff like that but I think I won’t presume on your patience.
Altar of Shulaani – Margaret Pearce
This is a corker of a science fiction book. It rattles along at a great pace and I had great trouble taking my eyes off the page. The cover bills it as a science fiction adventure and it’s certainly that. With mentions of space travel and episodes of time travel it qualifies. Anyway, here’s the blurb from the back cover:
Mike welcomed the chance to spend his holidays with his father on an archaeological dig. Tracing the ancient caravan routes across the baking desert turned into a completely different kind of adventure, however, when Mike stumbled through a time warp into ancient world.
Skiffy- William Mayne
Skiffy is no 49 in the spacecraft team. They’ve just landed on a new world and now have to fully evaluate and settle on it. Skiffy is young and doesn’t yet know his talent so he has no duties assigned to him. On this mission everyone is useful so Skiffy works hard to find out about himself. In the end he finds he is a very good team member and works well with Autumn.
I thought this a very sweet book. It teaches a lot about team work, communication and consideration for others. It’s short with short chapters. The cover illustration being by Nicholas Fisk is a bonus. His books are really lovely. My favourite is Trillions, a delightful story about a young boy who learns to communicate with aliens.
I remember Rumer Godden from my childhood. The one I remember the most is An Episode of Sparrows but I always knew she was a wonderful writer. She wrote a number of fabulous books some of which were co-authored with her sister, Jon Godden. She was born Margaret Rumer Godden and wrote under her pen name of Rumer Godden.
I’ve managed to pick up a few of her books including their autobiographical novel Two Under the Indian Sun. I’ve seen a few copies of The Diddakoi which was televised as Kizzy about a young girl who is half gypsy finding herself an orphan at the age of 7. Only one copy is available on the website as the other two have been totally wrecked by much reading and some enterprising person had stapled the pages together making it very challenging to read the inner edge of many of the pages. I’m not keen on throwing books out but at times it’s necessary such as when they’re mouldy or totally soaked or stapled together along the edge or even when someone has cut out the innards. I’ve seen all four problems and put these books carefully into the recycling.
I read The Diddakoi with much interest as I’m totally fascinated by gypsies and know so little about them. I found myself being very sympathetic towards them. They have customs which are rather alien to the regular housedweller and in the past this meant something to make fun of and be mean about. At the age of 7 Kizzy was sent to school. She had never been there before and didn’t know how to fit in, nor did she want to. One day she was taken to her grandmother’s wagon to be told of her Gran’s death. Poor Kizzy, her whole life turned upside down, Gran’s wagon burnt and her things broken or distributed and she herself was not wanted. She did what so many people have done in the past, she ran away only she ended up in Admiral Twiss’ house being nursed with pneumonia. Anyway, after many trials and tribulations she finds herself with family and friends. During the course of the book we learn many things about gypsies and I found myself re-evaluating some of the things I do.
It’s meant to be a book for children but I would recommend it to people of any age as it’s always good to see how other people live.
Selling pre-loved books online can be a solitary occupation. Yes, I do have to go out to find the books and I can interact with people at those times, but there comes a time when I just have to bite the bullet, go home and start taking photos of all the books so I can list them. I have quite a backlog of books from bulk buys and other times when I’ve done a lot of buying and not a lot of listing so I’ve been spending quite a bit of time at home by myself working hard. Very solitary.
Some time ago I figured I needed to get out and speak to people. I had just shaved my head for the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave and was feeling very bold so while I was in the op shop I asked them about volunteering. I chose them carefully, they have a great pricing policy and I was encouraged to speak to people. I’ve now been there for two years and am considered trained. We are a very low-tech shop. All our sales are written, by hand, into a book and added up at the end of the day. A lot of our volunteers are in the latter part of their lives. The op shop around the corner has recently upgraded from a fairly old, but easy to learn, till to a computer with a fairly complicated programme. For someone in my age group who has used computers almost every day for 20+ years it’s reasonably straightforward with quite a few things to remember but for someone in the older age group who is starting to slow down and having trouble learning more complicated things it’s going to be much harder to learn. The person using it today is probably 30 years younger than the people I’ve previously been served by.
Those of you who are regular op shop attendees may have noticed a tendency towards younger staff members. Until recently they have been run by the older generations and in many cases it’s given them something to do, somewhere to go and people contact. I know from my op shop that this can be vital. We have some people who are starting to need a lot more supervision than they used to and everyone is rallying around to ensure they receive the proper supervision to keep them on rather than ‘retiring them’. Many of the larger op shops are now run by paid managers and they have targets they must reach. In order to do this they’ve increased their prices to such an extent that many people I know buy very little at them. These managers are younger and are quite comfortable with up-to-date technology. So many of the older people will not be able to cope with this technology and may just retire from the op shop thus reducing their outings and in some cases the op shop is the only time they get out. I’m sure there are people out there who will be able to discuss this on a personal basis or a society basis, I’m just giving my observations. I don’t have a problem with younger people coming in to help out in an op shop, I just object to having the older generations shoved out in this way. I feel we should be valuing their age and experience rather than devaluing it.
What does all this have to do with books? When op shops increase their prices it becomes unprofitable for people like me to buy there for selling. So many people I know refuse to shop at op shops any more as the prices have been raised too high, in some cases secondhand goods are equal to or cost more than the same brand new item. I ask the question, what is going to happen to op shops when people stop buying there as they feel they may as well have new goods for the same price? Another question, if op shops close what will happen to all those goods people would normally donate? Will they just go to landfill?
I’m getting more and more frustrated with my reading. As I get older and busier I find I have less and less time to read while I find I have more and more things to read. One of the reasons is my wide reading habits. I am prepared to read almost anything, I draw the line at romance as it just doesn’t interest me. One of the things I’ve always done is to read the listings of books in the back of the book I’d just finished and then follow up some of that list later on. I’ll write some more on this in another blog. Another reason is that I’m trying to read more books so I can review them here to provide information for other people, but some of this is to re-read books from my childhood. Suffice to say my To Be Read Pile is growing much faster than I can read despite me being a fairly fast reader.
Here is a partial list of my To Be Read Pile. Some books I’m in the middle of reading and might never finish but they will be leading me to further reading so I can verify their veracity, or not. The pile sits on my bookshelf in two stacks and instead of going down it’s actually getting higher. At present the two stacks reach the next shelf. Goodness knows if I’ll ever catch up in this life. I’d be interested in you listing your To Be Read Pile and if you want to give any explanation about them.
Owls Do Cry – Janet Frame
There’s a Bear in There – Merridy Eastman
Dream Dancer – Janet Morris
Edgar Cayce on the Dead Sea Scrolls – Glenn D. Kittler
Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Stories – Herman Melville
Gods of Riverworld – Philip Jose Farmer
Rabin Our Life, His Legacy – Leah Rabin
Eyeless in Gaza – Aldous Huxley
The Murray Whelan Trilogy – Shane Maloney
Assertiveness at Work – Ken Back and Kate Back
The Complete Autobiography – Dirk Bogarde
Widdershins – Charles de Lint
eBooks are become mainstream. They are something I’ve read about in science fiction and now they’re taking off. There’s a number of ways to read an eBook and some lovely person has created an entry in Wikipedia which includes the name of the device, who manufactured it and the date of manufacture. Linked from this page is this one which is a comparison of eBook formats.
I know some people are very upset about the loss of paper books, but there are some very good reasons we should stop printing them. They all have to do with the environment. Paper is made from trees and the more trees we cut down for paper the worse off the environment is. The more paper we use that gets thrown into the rubbish the worse things get. I’m not going to give a diatribe about this as there are plenty of people out there who are much more capable, but I will take a slight detour into the realms of science fiction and mention a book I have waiting for sale called Garbage World by Charles Platt. In this book there is a world which is just for rubbish. Every other world in the solar system brings their rubbish there and dumps it just like we dump our rubbish in the tip. I’m not saying that’s where we’re heading, but it certainly looks probable if we are not careful. So the fewer books we print then the less rubbish we’ll have. This does work for other items as well as books, but I don’t sell other items so I’ll just concentrate on books. Basically, I’m saying the eBooks are great as they greatly reduce the printing and therefore the rubbish.
When choosing your eBook reader think carefully about the types of books you read. If you read mostly modern books your choice will be different than if you mostly read books which are out of copyright. Any books which are out of copyright are being collated by Project Gutenberg and Google Books. Project Gutenberg are easily downloadable and free, Google Books are generally read in the browser but some titles are also available for mobile devices. Books written since 1955 are also easy to download, but do cost money to ensure the authors and publishers get paid. Google have been asked to stick to this ruling and this article makes this quite clear.
I heard about a device to me the other day and when I looked it up just now I was blown away by it. One of the books I plan on listing is Walk With Me by Kevin Hitchcock. It’s an autobiography detailing the accident which made him quadraplegic and his subsequent recovery. It’s a very moving story and helps give some ideas of the problems quadraplegics have. One of the challenges that struck me was because they have no use their arms they are at the mercy of whoever is with them and they have absolutely no control of anything around them. I’m sure they can learn to work the remote for the TV if someone is able to rig it up in a suitable spot and they are able to poke it with something. It would take great control though. If they wanted to read they would have to wait for someone to read to them or to turn the page for them or even to turn the cassette over. The device mentioned to me was born of sheer laziness and combined with some form of eBook reader would free up a quadraplegic to read at their own pace and to be able to load a new book. If you look here you can see what I mean. Basically, he’s made a cradle for his Kindle so he can lie in bed and only move one finger to turn the page. I’m not impressed by the laziness angle, but I just love the other possible uses. They’re just way cool.
I’ve been making my way through those children’s books I mentioned in a previous post. It’s been fun.
I started with Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams and found it totally different to my memory. Gobbolino is born a witch’s cat but wants to be a kitchen cat. He is left behind by his mum and has to find his own way in the world. He goes through many different situations before finally having his ability to do spells taken away from him and finding a position as a kitchen cat. It’s a lovely little book and one suitable for readers getting into slightly more advanced chapters. Gobbolino is really sweet and tries really hard to fit into every situation he finds himself in, sometimes he tries too hard and that causes him to be thrown out, other times it’s his ability to do spells and captivate people that gives him trouble, he doesn’t always know when to stay silent. It is a really sweet story and would be a good learning tool to help teach a child to fit into and make the best of every situation.
I then moved onto Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh. I seriously enjoyed this book. It is for older readers. The chapters are longer and the writing style is aimed at an older age group. In this book the people can only hear the cat talk if they are holding the broomstick, something I found more believable than Gobbolino whom everybody could hear speak. In fact, so much more believable I looked around the other day to find the broom to talk to my Mum’s cat. I only did it once and only briefly until I realised what I was doing. Carbonel is a royal cat who has been enslaved by a witch. The only way he can be made free is by being bought by the right person and then that person finding all the right things and undoing the spell. That is exactly what Rosemary does. She is a lovely, thoughtful child who generally does as she’s told and looks after the house nicely when her mother has to work. In the course of finding all the ingredients of the spell Rosemary makes friends and helps people out. There is a happy ending here as well for all involved but I won’t tell you as that way you won’t read the book. I couldn’t help comparing what Rosemary is allowed to do with what a child of 10 is allowed to do today. The book starts at the very beginning of the school holidays and Rosemary’s mother gets a job sewing for Mrs Pendlebury Parker and has to travel to her house everyday. Rosemary is then left on her own in their flat for the entire day. I know when my kids were that age I wouldn’t leave them alone for more than an hour or two at that age. I also know that people have been in trouble for leaving their kids home alone for that length of time. It’s an interesting point. Rosemary was also expected to cook, clean and allowed to travel around town by foot and public transport by herself, all at the age of 10. At that age I was only just trusting my kids to walk by themselves and starting to take public transport occasionally. The travelling is similar and I know many other kids who’d be expected to take themselves around town solo at that age, but the cooking and cleaning is another matter entirely. I’ll just finish with a ‘this is a fabulous book and I highly recommend it anyone’.
Just when you thought you had the theme I picked up Woof! by Allan Ahlberg. Eric is a 10 year old boy, fairly normal in every respect. He goes to school, has friends, is thinking about being interested in girls, gets into trouble…all the regular things a boy does. The only thing that isn’t regular is that one night he turns into a dog. After he enjoys it and eventually turns back into a boy he tries to tell his mother but doesn’t quite manage it, so instead he tells his best friend, Roy. Between them they try to figure out why it’s happening and somehow deal with it when it does happen. This book is a barrel of laughs, I really enjoyed it and laughed out loud on several occasions. The writing style and chapter length indicate it’s probably in between Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat and Carbonel. Eric was not able to talk as a dog so that fitted in with real life where animals generally are not able to speak as their mouths are the wrong shape and their vocal cords are the wrong shape among other things. The interaction between the boys and their friends as well as their acquaintances was just fabulous, the way they thought, they way they acted, all just seemed right. I know I have girls, but I have watched boys so I do have some idea and the boys just acted like boys. Really lovely.
The last book is The Mouse on the Moon by Rosemary Sage. This gorgeous little book is one in a series published by Little Owl Story Rhymes. The illustrations are delightful and the verses are a great segue between Dr Seuss and ‘adult’ poetry. The story is about a mouse called Marvin who visits Professor Potts the inventor and uses his books and gadgets to fly to the moon. While there he meets the Mouseking and is invited to a feast where he finds that the moon really is made of green cheese. Following this feast he has a speedy introduction to the Mooncats before he flys quickly away and lands in his own bed. This book is really sweet. It has nice bright illustrations which can be used by the parent (or older reader) to help the young reader understand the story if they don’t have the vocabulary at first. There are only one or two stanzas per page so there’s little distraction. All in all a very delightful little book.
All of these books will be available on the website despite my eldest’s protests that she just has to read them. I’m sure you’ve spotted the theme. I might try and make the next one a little harder. There will be more books to come, I’m in the middle of a science fiction one and it’s very exciting.