Friday, 30 October 2009

Book memories meme

Stolen from Kirsty at Other Stories

The book that’s been on your shelves the longest.

I think that is probably The House at Pooh Corner, an ancient hardback copy formerly owned by someone called Quainton from Harrow, who crossed out another dedication on the inside cover: "To Peter, from Audrey". Most of my early childhood books are at my parents' house, for some reason, including a full set of Beatrix Potter that I really ought to liberate from them.

A book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time).

Barbara Trapido's Brother of the More Famous Jack was tremendously important to me when I was seventeen and working Saturdays in my local bookshop. My colleagues there were all women of about my mother's age but with very different experiences, attitudes and approaches to life. Like the Goldmans do for the young Katherine in the novel, these women opened my eyes to ways of living that my unsophisticated rural upbringing hadn't encompassed. I read the novel again and again and still know chunks of it by heart.

I read What a Carve Up! during a godawful storm while staying in an equally godawful holiday complex on Rhodes, just next to the airport. I remember the circumstances better than the book, but Jonathan Coe's name still makes me want to check that the windows are firmly shut.

A book you acquired in some interesting way.

Most of my books have been acquired in the usual way by handing over cash in a bookshop. I have a copy of The Importance of Being Earnest which dates from 1919 and is in the Lancing College binding, with a College bookplate inside, but no "Withdrawn" stamps or similar. I like to think one of the Lancing boys stole it. I also have a couple of books that were dished out to me at school, and that I never returned - a Macmillan edition of Hardy's poems is one. Sorry, nameless West Oxfordshire secondary school; I do still read them, if that makes it any better. I worked for a while at a Well-Known London Bookshop, where, it was rumoured, staff used to pilfer the books when the working conditions got overly irksome. I couldn't possibly comment on that.

The book that’s been with you to the most places.

I have a Penguin Classics copy of Pride and Prejudice that I got one Christmas as a teenager which has probably been with me everywhere I've ever lived.

Your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next.

Currently halfway through Ivy Compton-Burnett's Manservant and Maidservant; the last book was The Dark Tide; and I have Sheila Rowbotham's biography of Edward Carpenter to look forward to.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny you should say that about What a Carve Up!. I remember reading very clearly reading a large chunk of that while sitting in a departure lounge at Heathrow airport waiting for a stupendously-delayed flight. Airports really should make their seats more comfortable.

    I did very much enjoy the book, but I wonder if Jonathan Coe knows his books tend to be read in deeply uncomfortable situations?