I recently posted the above pic on Twitter: these are some of my favourite books, which I hadn’t seen for a while.
I am currently at my parents’ house, enjoying a bit of family time and semi-normality in between stages of our house move. One of the hardest things for me about this year has been not seeing my parents, and I know they have missed me (a little bit) and the grandkids (loads). My parents’ house is a really special place. We travelled a lot growing up, as my Dad was a diplomat, but we always had this house to come back to. The memories here run deep, and it will always feel like coming home.
Every time I come back, I am surprised to remember that I still have shelves and shelves of books here. I’ve also moved a lot in my adult life, and my ‘permanent collection’ has remained in what is now the guest room. I like to visit them, scanning the titles and looking at the covers, each one bringing back memories. I thought I would just share a few with you here.
If we are going to go right back, yep, there are still plenty of our childhood books. It’s not hard to guess who my favourite author was as a child:
Another book I have always loved is The Little Prince. This drawing in particular means so much to me; as an imaginative child, I completely related to the narrator’s frustration at adults not understanding that the first picture was quite clearly an elephant inside a boa constrictor!
For a few years, my parents lived in Namibia, and for an animal lover like me, it was paradise. School holidays were spent in game parks, me with my Mammals of Southern Africa book, geekily correcting my family’s attempts to identify various boks and bucks. My favourite book at that time was Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens, as you can see by how “loved” my copy is!
At that time I fully believed I would grow up to become a park ranger or a zoologist. I’m already trying to instill a love of nature and animals in my kids so that I can live vicariously through them (isn’t that what we do?!).
A lot of my books at my parents’ are from university, with one or two possibly even left over from school. I studied literature, and read so many ‘classics’ in my first couple of years that I think my love of contemporary literature is probably a reaction against so much medieval, Renaissance and nineteenth century literature!
I also developed a William Golding obsession at university, probably because I never had to study Lord of the Flies at school!
Looking through my shelves is also a slightly regretful exercise, as it reminds me of knowledge I have lost. For some reason, I decided to do Ancient Greek A-level, and continued it a bit at university. My old Primer is quite literally all Greek to me now (sorry!). Similarly, I moved to Spain for a few years after university, working as an English teacher, and at one point I was almost completely fluent in Spanish. I would like to think that it is all still there, buried somewhere deep in my brain!
Just to finish up this rather rambling post, here are some of my parents’ shelves. I LOVE how much they reflect my Mum and Dad as people. My Mum is mad on history and biography, and has a surprising obsession with polar exploration! It is nothing if not appropriate that I can spot a book called Matriarch! And my Dad’s books are a wonderful illustration of the places he has lived and worked, and the many languages he speaks. I’m so proud of both of them, and so lucky to have this refuge to retreat to. I seem to have something in my eye, so I will leave it there for now.
Next time I am back, hopefully soon, I’ll pick out some more of my all time favourite books to share with you.
Ellie x x x