Friday, August 26, 2011

Please Come In and Look Through My Bookshelves

Because if I ever come over to your place, that's what I'd like to do, if you don't mind, and yes please, a cup of tea while I'm being nosey would be very welcome indeed!

I took five books off the third shelf down in the lounge room bookcase, the one made in Gaza and given to us by friends of our neighbours, unknown to us, who were moving house and who intuited - in some freakish, The Secret-like way, that I was sitting in my house thinking "Oh how I need a new bookcase!" and knocked on our door and asked us "Would you like a bookcase ?"

Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson is first in the pile. It's set in a Britain that is moving from the rural to the urban, from superstition and folklore to science and modern communications. Flora writes of her new life working in Candleford Post Office with a wry voice and a sharp eye  On visits home to the hamlet of Lark Rise, she chronicles the poverty, the humour and the despair of lives still lived as tenants and craftsmen. The women are dignified and resourceful; the country side is full of meaning and Flora writes with a deep love of place.  My guilty secret is that I love the TV adaptation of Lark Rise somewhat more than I love the book, and this, I fear, means I am shallow.

Underneath is Ron Pretty's Creating Poetry. Ron is a distinguished poet and publisher; he was one of my two lecturers at University. This was the textbook he sometimes taught from. I was young and arrogant and full of disdain for such things as lessons in poetry. Now, of course, I read with relish and have used ideas from his book to teach poetry myself.

Ah, the creative family by Amanda Blake Soule. No photo in case you are having a not very crafty and competent day and the cover - a well groomed mother teaching one child to knit while her baby explores the pencils  and her other child, in cute and quirky homemade clothes, draws - makes you weep...Ideas for family projects that bring crafting, connections and imagination into family life. Completely gorgeous -and useful for me, at one time. I was most successful with incorporating her ideas for 'Family Drawing Time' into our homeschool. We did our fair share of felting and knitting inspired by this book too.  The trouble with me is that I procrastinate. I bought this book at least four years ago and raced out to get a sewing machine so we could make some of the fabulous toys and clothes in the book. I used my sewing machine to make something 'crafty' for the first time this week. There is a problem with this book, and that's that Mrs Blake Soule has a life so crafty, so colourful, so nurturing, so perfect. If you are having a bad day, week, month or year, this book is less likely to inspire you to acts of gentle creativity than it is to cause you to self harm. It's only gotten worse. More children, more books, more  lovely projects on her website. I avoid it these days for mental health reasons, but, you know, if your health and ego are robust, I'd recommend this book with minimal hesitation.

Alice's Cookbook - a culinary diversion by John Fisher. Sentimental reasons only. It was given to me by my Grandma in 1978. I've never cooked from it, though how hard can 'Owl and Panther Pie' be ? Given how long it took me to get to the sewing machine, there's still hope. I may one day just up and cook Lewis Carroll's Oxford Marmalade. The Tenniel illustrations are a bonus.

My girls weren't as keen on this next book as I was. I bought The Turtle and the Universe by Stephen Whitt from the UNSW bookstore, the same day I bought my beloved Wolf Hall. It's straightforward really. It tells the story of the universe by linking the life of the turtle with the life of the universe. It uses analogy as a teaching tool and analogy is what I like best in science books. That's how my brain works, comparing one thing to another. I thought the girls would feel the same way. The girls don't feel the same way. Nevertheless, they have a science journal with diagrams of supernova explosions and narrations about radioactivity to show for the hours they spent listening to me read this enthusiastically. They did beg me to give them a break from living science books afterwards, but that's a reflection on my poor science teaching, not the book. The book is fab and I think you should buy it!

I'd love to know what's on your bookshelves, hint, hint and a jolly big hint. Next time I'll get back to proper homeschooling mama blogging and show you what's on my school shelves.

1 comment:

  1. Melissa, I love this idea! I'll come back and comment if I get around to pulling a few books from my shelves, as well.

    RE: Lark Rise--I love the tv series, but couldn't manage to get into the book at all, so you should feel virtuous, not shallow!