The Book Shelf Meme: I’ve Been Tagged

Thank you Margot at Joyfully Retired for tagging me for the Bookshelf Meme.

Do visit Margot’s blog – it exudes a palpable love of life, family and books.

The meme has six question about the books and I have enjoyed thinking and writing about them.

Here are those questions and my answers:


The book that’s been on my shelf the longest:

 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott!

My copy is inscribed as a gift to my mother for Christmas 1944.

She and I both love it and have read it so many times between us that it is sadly beginning to fall apart.

I have another re-read scheduled soon for the Childhood Memories Reading Challenge and I’m really looking forward to it!

I’ve had to borrow a copy form the library though., to preserve my own!




A book that reminds me of something specific in my life (a person, a place, a time, etc.):

“The History of Mr Polly” by H G Wells.

It wasn’t the most obvious book for a class of 14 year old girls but Mr Pengelly, our new english teacher, made it sing. He died a while ago but I think of him whenever I see the book.

The power of a good English teacher is wonderful. My mother recalled things that her teacher, Miss Tranter, had spoken about sixty years ago when we watched the television adaptation of Cranford last year!



A book I acquired in some interesting way (gift,serendipity in a used bookstore, prize, etc.):

I collect Virago Modern Classics and came across a lovely green Virago edition of “The Perpetual Curate” by Mrs Oliphant in a second hand bookshop. I reluctantly walked away from it because it was rather expensive – that wasn’t due to the book itself, but because it was from the library of Ben Batten, a noted local teacher and author and contained a bookplate drawn for him by a local atrist. But Adrian, my fiancé snuck back when I wasn’t looking and bought it for me – aren’t I lucky?!


A book that’s been with me to the most places:

I have a good number of old books but not all of them have travelled. The best of my childhood books stayed in my parent’s home for many yearss while I lived in different places.

The book that has been with me the most would have to be Delia Smith’s cookery course.

I took it to  university with me and everywhere I have lived since.

I have built up a nice collection of cookery books over the years but this is still usually the book I turn to first.


 The most recent addition to my shelves:

As I said,  I collect Virago Modern Classics. I have just managed to track down a copy of one that has been on my wishlist for ages – “The People With The Dogs” by Christina Stead.

It’s photographed with Briar, my border terrier.

She’s gorgeous, but she doesn’t understand why people would sit and read when I could be playing with her!


A bonus book that I want to talk about but doesn’t fit into the other questions:

My desert island book – Skallagrig by William Horwood.

Skallagrigg isn’t a conventionally structured novel. It has two main characters, a multitude of secondary characters, two main stories running concurrently and a myriad of intricate sub plots, but it works brilliantly.

Key to the story is that the two main characters have cerebral palsy

In 1927 Arthur, aged seven, enters an institution. He has multiple physical handicaps and struggles to communicate. Labelled a congenital idiot he is abused by staff and inmates alike. Arthur is helped though by Frank, the one inmate who is able to understand his speech. And when Frank can’t help, Arthur gains strength from Skallagrigg, a seemingly mystical entity that gives him the strength to endure.

Years later Esther Marquand has had the advantages of changed views about the care and education of disabled children, but her life is not without trauma, throughout the book we see her struggle with the confinements of her disability, death, love, relationships and rejection.

These two stories come when Esther sets out to trace the source of the Skallagrigg stories and the resolution is stunning.

William Horwood is a wonderful writer and it is shameful that this book is out of print. The beauty, the pain, the injustice and the tragedy that unfold make this a truly illuminating story, and one that has moved me in a way no other book has.

Now I’m going to tag three people whose blogs I enjoy reading and who I think could well come up with some interesting answers:

Joy at Joy’s Blog
Jackie at Farm Lane Books
Laura at Musings

Oh, and here are the rules to this tagging meme:

1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!

2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair, so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.

3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.

4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…

5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.

6 responses

  1. Thanks for tagging me. I haven’t got access to a computer that I can upload photos with at the moment, so it will probably be a few days before I can complete this meme. It will give me a while to hopefully think up some good answers though.

  2. You did a fantastic job on your answers. Hearing about the background of your books makes me feel as if I know you a little bit better. And your pictures show well loved books and a well loved dog. Thanks for playing the game.

  3. What a great group of books and stories. And thanks for tagging me – this one looks like fun. But it’s really going to take some thought – so may take me a while to get a post up.

    Oh, and congrats on finding the Christina Stead – that really is a hard-to-find Virago.

  4. My late father, Ben Batten, was a teacher and author of books about Newlyn, not an artist. The bookplate with his name was commissioned from Michael Praed, a distinguished local artist.

    • I can but apologise for the inaccuarcy, which I have corrected. I was aware that your late father was a man of many talents and, as there was no artist’s name on the bookplate, I assumed, incorrectly, that it was his own work.

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