“Yesterday all day long I lay on the grass in front of the door and watched the white clouds slowly passing one after the other at long, lazy intervals over the tops of the delphiniums I planted all those years ago. I didn’t think of anything; I just lay there in the hot sun, blinking up and counting the intervals between one spike being reached and the next. I was conscious of the colour of the delphiniums, jabbing up stark into the sky, and of how blue they were; and yet not so blue, so deeply and radiantly blue, as the sky. Behind them was the great basin of space filled with that other blue of the air, that lovely blue with violet shades in it; for the mountain I am on drops sharply away from the edge of my tiny terrace-garden, and the whole of the space between it and the mountains opposite brims all day long with blue and violet light…”
from In The Mountains by Elizabeth Von Arnim
Lovely to read on a grey showery day in Cornwall!
Ali inspired me to start re-reading Elizabeth Von Arnim and, as well as pulling a book out of my Virago bookcase, I checked the library catalogue, just in case they had a book tucked away that I didn’t have. They did, and Into The Mountains looks wonderful. I shall read more just as soon as I have finished one or two of the silly number of books I have part-read.
And that brings me to the plea. Please check your library catalogue for interesting books that might be in stock but not on the shelves.
You may just find some gems, and in these days of service cuts those older books that wise librarians tucked away for future generations would be terribly easy to sell without too many people noticing or making a fuss.
I suspect that might already be happening in Cornwall.
But a copy of Faster! Faster! by E M Delafield has disappeared from the catalogue. And I’m sure that there used to be more Ann Bridge titles than there are now.
Of course I might just be a little paranoid. But there are some wonderful books in stock that should be kept for future generations of readers to borrow.
I love Slightly Foxed Editions, but so many of them had already sold out by the time I had a job and could think of making the investment. But I started checking the library catalogue and I’ve ordered in Blue Remembered Hills by Rosemary Sutcliffe and My Grandmother and I by Diana Holman-Hunt. There are a couple more in stock, but I have to hold off ordering until I have a little more space on my ticket.
A few days ago, when I was in the mood to browse, I spotted Ooty Preserved by Mollie Panter-Downes. I knew nothing at all about the book, but I was happy to take anything by such a wonderful, wonderful writer on trust.
I spotted a copy of White Ladies by Francis Brett Young in a bookshop, and it looked rather interesting. But I couldn’t justify the cost – it was a signed first edition – and so I checked the library catalogue. There was a copy in the fiction reserve!
The name Pamela Hansford Johnson rang a bell when I saw it in the Bello Books catalogue. Her books were on the shelf when I first moved from the junior library to the adult shelves; back then they looked rather serious and grown-up and so I didn’t pick them up. And now I’m curious, but a little wary of investing in new books by an author I’m not quite sure about. So I checked the library catalogue, invested 50p for a reservation and the novel that caught my eye – Catherine Carter – has just arrived.
So it really is worth taking a good look around your library’s catalogue …