Thursday, March 29, 2007


I am feeling rather excited. I am about to become reacquainted with someone for the first time in almost two decades. Her name is Prue Sarn and she appears in the pages of Mary Webb’s Precious Bane. I first read this novel when I was at university. I remember going to the bookshop with my friend; she bought Precious Bane and I bought EM Forster’s Maurice. Once we’d read our own books, we swapped. I hadn’t thought about Precious Bane for years until something put it into my mind last week. I looked on eBay; there it was and it arrived today. A small, navy blue hardback volume dating from 1927, three years after the novel was first published.

I adore books. I read in bed, I read in the bath, I read on journeys when I am not driving. I was banned from reading at the table when I was a child, so as soon as I left home, I started doing that too. I read all sorts – I have shelves full of racing thrillers and I have helped add to JK Rowling’s fortune, as well as reading ‘proper books’. My all time favourite is Brideshead Revisited. It always makes me laugh - and cry.

There will always be so many books and so little time, but I do enjoy re-reading certain volumes. A fleeting thought, the weather, the time of year – any of these can send me to the shelf looking for a particular book. I keep promising myself that I will read 1984 again soon. I read it in 1984 because I thought I ought to; I think I’ll get more out of it this time around.

My brother hates old books that have already been owned by someone. I think that’s part of the charm. My copy of Rebecca had a paper dust jacket (which I have managed to lose) that said ‘Price Held in Spite of War’. On the flyleaf, it says ‘Nora E Holdforth. October holiday 1940’. I hope she had a good holiday and I hope she enjoyed Rebecca as much as I did.

Anyway, I have to dash: I have a book to read.


Gill said...

I haven't read Precious Bane for ages either. Must get around to it sometime. Gone to Earth was another good one.

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

That's one of the problems with blogging; less time to read books.

I don't think my father has ever read a book in his life. I cannot understand that, How can one not read when perfectly able to do so?

Anonymous said...

No time for a proper post but will do so tomorrow. But isobelmagsbuchan [very long name - what did your father call you if you'd been a naughty girl ? you were never naughty ? okay] is right, one of the banes of modern life is that people move to reading short articles / magazines / newspapers and books seem to be left on the shelf.

But we can help rectify this with a little help from Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, and their book selecting dog, Vlashka, of which more tomorrow...Night night..

Sarnia said...

So many books; so little time to read them.

Coincidentally, I was thinking earlier about writing a post about books and what people are currently reading.

There are a few books I enjoy going back to; and then there are a few I give up on (and I always feel so guilty about it).

After a couple of people mentioned it on Gavin's Board recently I have just started reading Peter Ackroyd's Dan Leno & The Limehouse Golem which already has me gripped (and scared).

Anonymous said...

I have a number of books 'on the go', which is code for saying that as a bloke I am doing the literary channel surfing that you women really hate if you give the remote to your partner..

An updated dossier - Bremner, Bird and Fortune - full of delightful insights into the shenanigans of New Labour, Tony Blair and George Bush.
Hysterically funny and terrifying in equal measure.

The best democracy that money can buy - Greg Palast - similar stuff, but from over the pond. How Bush nicked the election by purging potential felons [i.e. mainly black people] from the electoral roll.

How to lose friends and alienate people - Toby Young [ok, a bit of a fib, as I've read this already]. No literary masterpiece, but an insight into 'blokeworld' where to be a show-off and pushy is vital to get on, but can lead to becoming unstuck in the dog eat dog world of 'Conde Nasty' American publishing.

'How to be free'- by Tom Hodgkinson who gives an insight on how to tune out of the rat race and regain our health, spritual wealth & happiness without turning into a bunch of old dullards. Ten years ahead of his time - inspirational. Typical quote 'Use candles - people won't see the dust, so you'll save on housework'.
[Anthea Turner this is NOT..]

And for light relief, a couple of volumes of 'Crap Towns' [priceless] which gives an indication of how our lovely old towns are turned into concrete monocultures filled by feral kids and binge drinkers to feed the capitalist growth monster.

And a delightful cartoon book by a genius called Steven Appleby, about how giant ants are taking away the currency of this trade, his ideas..
Lovely stuff for anyone who has had a senior moment and wondered 'now why did I go upstairs', gone down again, only to realise your phone is still on the charger upstairs.

Heigh-ho, time for lunch..

p.s. no time for a full update on the 'Mr B's bookshop, but here is a link - the piccies of the pooch are in there somewhere..

Karen said...

Anonymous - you should look up Cleator Moor in Crap Towns (volume 2 I think) - I went to school in that lovely place.

I'm currently reading Jane Eyre still - the version I have is a collector's library edition - hard back, bible paper with gold edges, it's own ribbon book mark, small so over 600 pages long. She's just about to not marry Mr Rochester and find out about Mrs Rochester...

The last book I read that I really enjoyed was the Magicians Guild trilogy by Trudi Canavan. Transported you to another world without being too heavy like LOTR. Highly recommeded - especially to you M&M.

I agree - if people leave their mark on a book it's much more interesting. I used to collect old 1960s/70s girls annuals like Bunty, Judy, Misty and the Beano too. I loved it when someone had written inside the cover.

I also had a poetry book with a gold foil nougat wrapper in and Vince found a letter someone had written inside My Education: A Book of Dreams by WS Burroughs and more recently a bus ticket inside Nausea by Satre.

I don't think I have an all time favourite book - I have read too many good ones!

Winchester whisperer said...

I'm very much enjoying the Barchester Chronicle: great character sketches! Have you read it?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

M&M! I've bowed to your demands and put some slimming food on my blog.

I had some for lunch and feel thinner already.

Bon appetit!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Loads of new recommendations to try...

Gill, I haven't come across Gone to Earth.

IMB, hello! Thanks for coming over. Neither of my parents bother reading books these days. Mum says she hasn't the time but she does read magazines.

Sarnia, I've not come across that one either, nor have I seen that trilogy Karen.

Anon, don't you read novels? Don't blokes read novels? Mr B looks fun - lady in the bath has the right idea!

Welcome Winchester Whisperer - I haven't read that one either.

Pig - I'm coming over for a look ...

Anonymous said...

karen - cleator moor does, as you point out, seem rather bleak if even Wainwright doesn't recommend going there. Few places in Wales are as bleak because it is a shrunk-down version of England, so despite having fewer people there aren't many big gaps between places to be bleak..

[if that makes any sense..]

eminem - blokes do read novels, I'm sure, but we have short attention spans... So a book like Craig Brown's 'The Tony Blair Years' does down a treat, as it is distilled from his newspaper articles and such like.

I did read a very good novel by Peter Carey called 'Jack Maggs' [a 'bolter' who had been 'transported' to Australia returns to London]. But then I tried to read 'Oscar and Lucinda' and gave up a after a few attempts to get through the early chapters. I did go through middle brow stuff by Louis de Berniere with relish however, especially 'Senor Viva and the Coca Lord'.

But maybe not a boy thing..

mountainear said...

You've reminded me to re-read Precious Bane again - and as I'm living in Mary Webbs Shropshire it will be even more poignant. There's parts of this gorgeous county that haven't changed at all....

Anonymous said...

One thing I didn't put in my earlier post was I am a bit of a fan of the auto/biography. Maggie Thatcher, Jon Snow, Greg Dyke [!] I've read 'em all...

And having completed 'Dare to be a Daniel' by Tony Benn I am now going to attempt the latest volume of his memoirs... - I am thinking of multi- tasking it with the 'Alan Clark Diaries' now 'compare and contrast' those two, if you will..

Stay at home dad said...

Hello M&M. I just bumped into you on another comments page and thought I would drop in. What should I find but you love secondhand books and I sell them. (Discounts offered to fellow bloggers...) Still working up the courage to contribute to the thread on children!

Have enjoyed myself and will be back.


mutterings and meanderings said...

Welcome SAHD - get stuck in, don't stand on ceremony!

Drunk Mummy said...

You probably don't need any more suggestions, but if you have already read 1984, why not try Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. His dystopian vision is far scarier and closer to where we are heading, even though it pre-dates Orwell by 16 years. Enjoy!