NEVER LET ME GO
We all have books we simply can’t bear to part with because, like the old friends they are, they’ve stuck with us through thick and thin.
The oldest book in my collection is Clarendon’s History of the Great Rebellion (1858) followed by The Wild Bird – Margaret Stuart Lane, (1933) The Scarlet Pimpernel (1927), The Prisoner of Zenda and its sequel, Rupert of Henzua (1930).
My other ‘keepers’ are the books which saw me through from girlhood to womanhood: Greengage Summer, I Capture the Castle, Bonjour Tristesse and The Dud Avocado.
With the fickleness of youth I abandoned these when I discovered Jilly Cooper’s novels (1976). My love of rom coms developing within their pages before coming full circle with Bridget Jones in 1996.
I can’t let go any of my penguin classics or historical romances by the likes of Georgette Heyer, Daphne Du Maurier, Jean Plaidy, Margaret Irwin, and Anya Seaton. My particular favourite – Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine.
When I want to remind myself how to write humorously, I re-visit Wodehouse, Terry Pratchet, Tom Sharpe – and the anarchic Catch 22.
I also treasure my poetry books . . . John Donne, W.B.Yeats, The War Poets, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin.
And in particular, The Mersey Sound – Adrien Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten which reminds me of when I was recovering after an appendectomy in Grantham General (1970). I was reading poems to the other patients in my ward and causing such hilarity that it was confiscated by the ward sister until I was discharged. Honestly . . .
I have two comfort reads Tristan and Isuelt by Rosemary Sutcliffe, (so beautifully written) and Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford which is great fun. I want to spend the afternoon with the Mitford gels in the Hons Cupboard discussing topics considered unfit for young ladies.
Want to come with me?
So come on, trade – what’s your favourite book?
THE ONE YOU’LL NEVER LET GO.
Posted on April 14, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged book, favourite book, humour, novels, poetry, reading, romance. Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.
Bongo Man reporting in – I know all about Lizzie’s book fetish. I’ve carted the same books in and out of rental vans through five house moves over forty years. Luckily she hasn’t mentioned any of my yellowing Hank Jansen’s, Nick Carter’s or James Hadlieigh Chases – – – classics.
Mine is Spiderweb for Two, a children’s book by American author Elizabeth Enright (hard to choose from the loaded bookshelves and this one is in a series, so counts as four really!)
It’s about the Melandy family, and this one is a treaure hunt set by the older brothers and sisters for their younger siblings when the bigger ones are sent away to school. It’s just magical, I know it by heart and I’ve shamelessly pinched the theme for my second romance, ‘Little Boxes’. Now going to have to re-read it for the millionthe time – thanks Lizzie!
Celia xx 🙂
Its a bit like me and Tristan and Iseult – any Rosemary Sutcliffe really. I’ve read that novel to legions of 10 year old and the boys and girls loved it in equal numbers. It has everything – was a bit disappointed in the movie they made of it a few years back. But it’s a theme I have certainly considered re-using for one of my future novels: how the hero has an adulterous affair with his best friend’s/uncle’s wife but we don;t turn against him. Don;t know the Spiderweb books – will check them out.
Hi Lizzie, Sorry this post is late, I had to take hubby to doctors. Long story.
I enjoyed reading your blog. Love the layout and the book pictures. Your reading material has certainly influenced your writing.No wonder you can write such good humourous stories.
I’m a horder of books. And I could spend all day telling you the books I love and the ones I would never part with. My tastes vary enormously.
Daphne Du Mourier’s Rebecca,what I’d call a romantic suspense. Maeve Binchy’s, Light a Penny Candle and Dublin 4.I used to
live in Dublin 4. Dublin Voices by Kevin Kearns, The First Five chapters by Noah Lukeman and my all time favourite John Bayley’s Good Companions. I’m also a horder of Plays written by Irish authors Synge and Beckett. I’d better stop there. These are just a few of the books I’d never part with.
Hi Cathy, no need to apologise. Writers never have any spare time, do they? Hope Dennis is OK. So glad you like our blog, it takes a little while to get everything together but I think the effort is worth it. And I only have to do it once a month, too!! I love anything by Daphne du Maurier and I can see that the late, great Maeve Binchy would be an excellent role model for any Irish writer. I had lots of plays but had a massive clear out a few years back and gave them all away to LOROS. They were well received as they were plays I’d studied for my degree. Have a great evening and thanks for popping by.
Hi Celia, was just checking through the blog and I see that my reply to you has disappeared. So here it is again. But you know all about the vagaries of blog posts, don’t you? LOL. I have never heard of the Spiderweb books, so I’ll have to check them out. Oh, I love anything that involves treasure hunts, mystery and quests. I didn’t mention that I loved all the Alan Garner novels as I was growing up, too. Especially The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. One of my teaching colleagues had been in the same class at primary school as Alan garner, too.
Oh! Ooooh. Comfort reading is one of my favourite topics. Cold Comfort Farm for some reason is one of my absolute favourite beach reads. Anything Jilly, but particularly The Common Years and Rivals because of the Taggie-Rupert romance. A Village Affair by Joanna Trollope is another. The Anne books, by LM Montgomery (particularly Anne of Ingleside). And yes, Yeats. And…oh, I could go on for HOURS!
Rachel – CCF’s on my ‘penguin’ shelf. The first time I read it, I didn’t get it. Then I read it when I was a bit older and found it hilarious – I suppose I didn’t understand that the characters weren’t meant to be taken literally. Love the TV adaptation with Rufus Sewell as Seth, too; I watched it recently and he was lush! Love Taggie-Rupert, too. Someone borrowed my copy of the Common Years and never returned it. I also loved all the JT Aga Sagas – maybe I’m stuck in a time warp. LOL.
What a wonderful selection, Lizzie – revealing, too. The elements in those books – the passion, intelligence and humour jump off the page in your own writing.
As your beta reader ( tough job, no pay but someone’s gotta do it) – those things are leaping out from pages of Boot Camp Bride. Loving it.
June, thanks for dropping in. Its amazing what an influence those early books have on us as mature writers – I swear I probably quote some of them without meaning to. I will buy you a coffee on the train n Tuesday and thank you for reading Boot Camp Bride, so glad you’re enjoying it. No dead bodies, alas, for Maggeeeeee.
What a lovely post, Lizzie. I have a core of keepers too and nothing would induce me to part with them. Like you I loved the early Jilly Cooper novels and have read and re-read until they’re falling apart. I’m really enjoying the New Romantics4 blog entries.
Thanks, Liz for commenting. I know that those early Jilly Cooper’s have a place in most romance writer’s affections. They were so well written, witty and not too long. I still re-read them from time to time. Thanks for your kind words about our blog, I suppose writing a post once a month isn;t too hard – but we need to build up our stock of photos to keep them bright and interesting.
Gosh, I’m really struck by how similar your keepers are to mine – we’ve got lots of books in common, but maybe they’re good examples of how we treasure evocative, beautifully-written books. My copy of The Mersey Sound is only just about holding together!
His Chris, thanks for stopping by. Oh, that Mersey Sound book is the best, I wish I could have quoted some of it without infringing copy write. Suffice to say that my favourite is Adrien Henri’s Talking After Christmas Blues. I suppose one day some of the books will simply cruble to dust but for now they’re staying right where they are.
I think my entire keeper shelf is made up from Terry Pratchett’s novels! Although, on closer examination, there’s a couple of Elizabeth Goudges in there too, and my wonderful battered copy of Roget’s Thesaurus – now, with my failing memory, the only book to stand between me and a novel written using only the word ‘just’…
Hi Jane,One of the books I didn’t mention is EG’s The Child from the Sea about Lucy Walter’s mistress to Charles II and mother to the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth. I’ve read that one time and again. As for using the word ‘just’, I think I can beat you there -but I’ll also mention my guilty secret word – suddenly – always looking for alternatives. I thought you might like Terry Pratchet, he’s so inventive and funny. Just like you xx
Hi Lizzie, another great blog post that really got me thinking and wallowing in nostalgia. I had never heard of The Common Years! I started browsing on Amazon and have now ended up ordering Harriet as I have never read any of the pre-Rupert Jilly Coopers, so thanks for that! I love Daphne Du Maurier and the Brontes. I will definitely have to try Tristan and Iseult. I will never part with To Kill a Mockingbird, which I read back in the dark ages when I was doing my ‘O’ levels at school. I loved that book and still do, and, for once, I think the film was pretty amazing, too. Have brought many of my childhood books through into adulthood with me – Enid Blytons, pony books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe…my transitional books were probably by KM Peyton, such as the Flambards books and the Pennington trilogy, and then I progressed to Catherine Cookson, which really opened my eyes!! Love Sue Townsend for humour – her Adrian Mole novels and The Queen and I made me cry with laughter. I still turn to them for cheering up. And Fay Weldon’s The Heart of the Country was a strange one that still appeals. I re-read it only last month. Really, I could write a whole essay on my favourite books and why I love them, but I’ll leave it at that for now! 🙂
Sharon, SNAP!! I had to cut this blog post drastically and had to jettison poor Sue Townsend (a Leicester girl like me) and lots of transition books, too. Loved Flambards and the tv series they made of it but I’ve never been Catherine Cookson fan I’m sad to say. I didn’t include my O and A level texts but if I did I would confess to hanging on The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I also love Rosamund Pilcher’s Wild Mountain Thyme – and another humorous novel I’d forgotten is 1066 and All That. I still think of the father of English history as The Venomous Bede. LOL. Thanks for stopping buy and commenting.
Sorry I’m late – interesting collection, Lizzie. My favourite book? Impossible to choose only one; but from my ‘transitional’ phase I still have three Orange Penguins of French author Colette, Claudine at School, Claudine in Paris, & Claudine Married. I was inspired to revisit these novels by Helen Simpson when she wrote in the Saturday Guardian 15.05.10, ‘My Hero Colette’ – I have this yellowing article with a photo of Colette, fag between her fingers, looking self-possessed and aloof pinned to my study wall. Simpson says at one point “Self-abnegation played no part in Colette’s world . . .” As for the Mersey poets – saw a brilliant version of Moliere’s Misanthrope by Roger McGough at Oxford Playhouse on Thursday, which McGough wrote in rhyming couplets. Whole shebang worked a treat.
Dear Mags, I’m sure you would have been a blue stocking in a previous existence. Thank you for your very erudite response. I used to read the Guardian in the 80s when it was printed/written in Manchester and was full of typos. Perhaps they employed me in my sleep. Colette sounds like a girl after my own heart. Though must confess I;ve never read any of hers, spent too much time on history books at College – or had a fag between my lips. Failed on both counts. Roger McGouch is such a talent – although sadly, I think one of the other two died recently. Adrian Henry? Bongo’s hanging onto his Micky Spillane’s in the hope they might become collectors’ items. Dream on, baby.
Lovely post! Personally, I couldn’t choose what books to keep, so I keep them all. I can’t let go of books that easily …I even hate lending them…even when I really want to. Because people tend to rarely return them. I remember loving The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, so much that I lent it out. Never got it back, so I bought myself another copy. Lent it out again, and never got it back. I had to buy a third copy.
Thanks for popping over Marilyn. Must admit I’ve had my fingers burned letting people borrow my books. One person begged to borrow my copy of Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer which I bought in the mid sixties with pocket money. You would not believe the state it came back in. Never Again!!
A fab book collection. Many of them I have read and loved. Favourite books from childhood, apart from Mallory Towers series, have to be Wind in the Willows and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. My early teen years were spent with Jean Plaidy and then I discovered DH Lawrence-The Rainbow being my favourite. Currently I’m rather hooked on thrillers and of course have much enjoyed the NR4! Keep the books coming girls. Can’t wait for the next ones. X
Thanks for dropping by Joan. I know you and Maggie long for my writing to be littered with corpses as you both like your thrillers !! Unlike me. Great list of books From your childhood, I must confess I never read Mallory Towers, I loved Angela Brazil and was desperate to attend boarding school. If we were attending the Chipping Norton Writers festival we could hear Val McDermid speak.
I found many familiar names in your interesting post, Lizzie. Anya Seton was a favourite of mine and Jean Plaidy, I enjoyed Mary Stewart too. As for The Prisoner of Zenda, just the title brings an image of Stewart Granger in the title role in the film! This isn’t the first time someone has mentioned Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine, and I really must get a copy.
I’m fond of poetry, but prefer the romantics to Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin. I have an anthology of the War Poets, but have to be feeling strong to dip into it, otherwise it’s reaching for the box of tissues!
Hi Margaret, thanks fir taking the trouble to leave a post. I’m a great Anya Seaton fan, especially Penmaric. I wonder what will be regarded as keepers in the future. If we could deconstruct our favourites and how they tick, we’d be on our way to knowing what readers really, really want. You must try Lady of Hay if you have time, I think you’d like it. I Didn’t mention MaryStewart All Mary Wesley both great writers. I suppose we could go on for ever.
What a really interesting post Lizzie. I still have a copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter on my book shelf. Also I have some old copies of the classics, published in the 1960’s that were left to me by a Great – Aunt. I have a soft spot for Enid Blyton books too. The same Great-Aunt would buy me a couple of Enid Blyton books every Christmas and Birthday. I think it is much to do with this very special lady, my big interest in reading and books and my Gran too who loved to read. I also always treasure books that have been sent to me personally by authors for review, signed and unsigned. These are very special to me and I would never part with them.
Morning Nikki, thanks you for taking the time to comment on our blog – I know what a busy lady you are. It was Enid Blyton who got me reading but I don’t have any of her books because I borrowed them from the library. I think the Famous Five were my favourites. I spent most of my early childhood reading comics and Rupert annuals and didn’t get into ‘books’ proper until I was about 1 and the girl across the way took me to the library and shoved me in the general direction of Enid Blyton. LOL. Haven’t looked back. I bet your author signed copies are extra special to you – look out for another winging its way to you about October this year when #2 is finished !!
Thank you Lizzie. I shall look forward to reading and reviewing!
Thank you, Nikki. Will try and get a copy to you as soon as I’ve published it this time !! Didn;t know that’s what one did 🙂
Ah. With my Irish roots (or root anyway) I wouldn’t be without James Stephens’ ‘The Crock of Gold’ – a triumphant leap of the imagination that mixes so many Irish Fairy Tales. Here we meet gods and philosophers, leprechauns and policemen, happiness and tragedy in a far off world where people dream as much as they do today. It is also a spectacularly funny book in a way that makes you think. It is a book like no other that manages seamlessly to blend human, animal and divine experience. Stephens use of the English language is also superb.
Hello, Fennie – nice to meet you on the pages of our blog. One of the other New Romantics is Irtish (Adrienne) and my great-grandfather was from Ulster. I love the whole Celtic vibe and that’s why I wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted last year. I don’t know the book you’ve mentioned but I’ll certainly check it out on amazon on your recommendation. Hope to see you on these pages one day soon.
Ohhh…there are so many books I wouldn’t wish to part with. Any book from my childhood: any book by Jane Austen: a wonderful Victorian book ‘THE BASKET OF FLOWERS’ – so evocative of the age – written by G. T. BEDELL: Jilly Cooper’s books: Catherine Gaskin…the list unfortunately is endless and that is why my bookshelves are bulging. How can you part with an old friend?
Hello Phyllis, thanks for dropping by. Oh, I’d forgotten about Catherine Gaskin, I loved her book. Did you ever read Property of a Gentleman/ Really spooky, must re-order it to read again one of these days. And as for dear Jilly – I think she set a lot of writers on the path, didn’t she?
What a great post, Lizzie. Love the image of you reading poetry to the ward and patients laughing and trying not to pull on their surgery scars. I’m going for a favourite book from childhood – The Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse by Beatrix Potter. I knew it by heart and loved Mr Jackson saying ‘No teeth, Mrs Tittlemouse, no teeth.’
Hello Kate, thank you for finding time in your busy life to leave this message. I didn’t know Beatrix Potter existed until I saw friends buying mugs and stuff when they had babies. Then I went to her cottage High Tor (I think its called) and saw all the little nooks and crannies she used for her characters etc. to live in or play in.The only line I remember from BP is ‘ the effects of lettuce are said to be soporific.’ Very child-friendly, what?
What a great responses you’ve had Lizzie. Just had to come back to you on the ‘Blue Stocking’ dig ‘in a previous existence’. Am I not in this one? Or whatever the term is nowadays..
Ha Ha. Mags – I certainly don’t feel like the person I was before I became a published author. I think my life is divided into three phases – teaching and before and after publication. Or is that two phases? See what a mean? You can be a blue stocking and I’ll have the fishnet hold ups if I can get them past my knees.
So many books, so little time to go back and read some again, but I do manage it. Lost a lot of books in a move a while back – 40 years of clutter and the new place not as large – but managed to hang on to lots. I am sure I could have run my own library and book store! The number is creeping up again Lizzie, all these new authors to purchase. I cannot name any at the moment as they are still in boxes but I managed to keep a lot…on the quiet and so need to go and find how many and where to put them.
Hello Jane, thanks for finding the time to comment here and on Facebook. You’re not backwards yourself when it comes to writing a good blog, are you? I’ve got books up in the garage loft which have come with me through two house moves and have stayed in their boxes, time to pass them on on take them to the tip. Although the author in me shrinks at throwing books away. Wonder how Virginia Woolf and Georgette Heyer would have coped with all the social media stuff writers have to embrace nowadays??? Hope your book fetish doesn’t get you into trouble.
Dublin didn’t want to let me go yesterday – every red light and two trains holding us up at the crossing, so missed my plane, meaning I had three glorious hours to float around the airport. (I love airports). So not only had a chance to read Lizzie’s brilliant blog, but drifted through bookshops replenishing some of my favourites which have gone astray.
Still on the bookcase…I cull regularly…Dorothy Parker’s Biography What Fresh Hell is this? by Marion Meade, you gotta love the wit of the woman, tongue like a razor! Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole, The Prostrate Years, signed by the doyen herself. The Inimitable Jeeves by PG Wodehouse, only the third pressing, with the brilliant no nonsense blurb stating – WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT! (a neat marketing lesson there, I’d say) and one of my all time favourites Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, the story of a racehorse with the heart of a lion and the lives of the people he touched – made a great movie too, but the book was tons better.
Interestingly Dublin City Council is promoting One City One Book 2013, which they do every April; this year’s is Strumpet City by James Plunkett – considered his masterpiece, about the Lockout in 1913. Every library in the city has received new copies and there are dramatic readings taking place in libraries too! Shouldn’t all councils do this?!
Great blog Lizzie and really interesting comments too – me next, and I’ll be reporting on the real, life experiences of a Virgin Book Clubber. (God loves a trier!)
Ha ha and God knows, you’re very trying, Ade. Just kidding . . . Have been very pleased with the response to our blogs and the people who’ve taken the time and trouble to come over here and post. Many more have commented on facebook and Twitter, too. Nothing wrong with that. If I had time I’d add them on the end of this post but tempus fugit. Looking forward to your blog next week, Ade – always guaranteed to be entertaining and thought provoking. Looking forward to The London Book Fair tomorrow with you and the other New Romantics. Thank you.
Great post, Lizzie. Plenty of books you’ve listed have now got me thinking, “Right – I’m gonna read that one, and that one, and that one…” As a child, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on, from Enid Blyton (absolutely devoured the St Clare’s series & the Malory Towers series) to Roald Dahl (adored his character names & quirky descriptions) to all the Ladybird books, one of my faves being The Elves & the Shoemaker. I used to want to be Rapunzel too 🙂 As for my ‘keepers’ – like you, I’d say Jilly Cooper novels, also Maeve Binchy (especially Tara Road). I’ve also kept two sagas by Susan Howatch that I remember being enthralled by, namely Penmarric & Cashelmara. When I want a good belly-laugh, I re-read any of Bill Bryson’s travel books – I particularly love ‘Neither Here, Nor There’ – tales of his travels around Europe. I can remember Mr B giving me “the look” for laughing too loud & so frequently, when I read it sitting round the pool one day on holiday. Bless! Loads more keepers, I could list, but I’d still be going at midnight, Lizzie. Xx
Hi Jan, thanks for sharing. As I was writing this post I took down NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND which I thought was hilarious – especially the bit about ‘do not put your feet on the eiderdown’. But I had to be disciplined. I bet you thought I couldn’t do that, did you ?! Isn’t funny how those Ladybird Fairy tales images stay with you, so clear and cleverly drawn. Jilly Cooper i a great fav of all of us romance writers – no surprises there! I LOVED Penmaric and Cashelmara, too. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore Or if they do I haven’t found them. I’m very much looking forward to reading your WIP one day – now that WILL be a keeper.
Lady of Hay – one of mine too!!! Along with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights – two of my absolute favourite books in the world and read about 10 times apiece. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley is often stroked reverentially too. I read it when I was about 19 and it kick-started an enormous appetite for Arthurian fiction that didn’t wane until my mid thirties (and that’s only because I exhausted everything out there). Other favourites include my entire Catherine Cookson collection and certain hardbacks by Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’ve got a first edition of Dicken’s Tales of Italy as well – although I haven’t read it yet, again it gets stroked revertentially every now and then!!! Great blog Lizzie xxx
Love anything historical and slightly spooky. Have you read any of the Mary Stewart novel built around the Arthurian Legends- The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills? Probably available on amazon. I also love another book of hers : Touch Not the Cat – for the title if nothing else !! I loved the Mists of Avalon, too. Never got into Stephen King, too chicken I guess. Not too keen on the Bronte books as we were ‘forced’ to read them at school but enjoyed the movies (I am such a cheap date!) Thank you for coming over to our little domain and commenting, Shani – you are a star 🙂
Yep, read all the Mary Stewart ones too! There’s hardly anything on the Arthurian legend I haven’t read (fiction-wise) – would love to write an arthurian book but alas, don’t think could better what is out there (Bradley, Stewart, Hollick, M K Hume and Bernard Cornwall et al) so will just leave it to the experts!!!! I’ll concentrate on more modern love dilemmas! xxx
You and me both, Shani. Good luck with your WIP. Let me know when its out there to buy.
Ooh, fabulous collection, Lizzie, I love it.
I hope everything goes well at the hospital. Sorry for delayed comment – I was at the London Book Fair. 🙂
Thanks, Lucy. We should go on the same day next time and have a good giggle afterwards. If we have the energy. Thanks for popping by, will be thinking about your blog over the next couple of days and what I’ll be writing on it . . .
Oh heavens, the idea of moving and packing up all my books – what a horrifying thought! Some interesting ‘keepers’ there, Lizzie.
I’d definitely keep all my du Mauriers, too, and my Kate Mosses, and my Mary Stewarts … and Jane Austens … and Sharon K Penmans … and probably Nora Roberts and Tom Clancys and Clive Cusslers … oh dear, we need another moving lorry!
I don’t have any childhood books as they got passed down to my younger siblings. But I’d have kept my Enid Blytons, especially The Faraway Tree, Secret Seven, and Famous Five!
Great post, and really made me nostalgic. 🙂
Thanks for commenting, Joanna. I think in a quite a recent survey the Faraway Tree came top of the list of favourite books. Wouldn’t it be great if someone said that OUR books were the ones they couldn’t bear to throw away? And, as you say – the thing is nev r to move house and be forced to make the choice of what to keep or not !! 🙂
That would be fabulous, to hear that someone said our books were priceless to them! Now I’m waiting for that special moment! 😉