There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Books

My family might disagree. They love to tease me about my ever-growing book collection. They roll their eyes every time a book shows up in the mail and they complain because I am taking over their bookshelves. My son jokes that I am just waiting for him to grow up and move out so I can turn his room into a library. The thing is, that isn't a joke. I have it all planned. I am going to line the walls with shelves, buy the world's most comfortable chair, and never leave the house. I am sure my husband will keep me supplied with tea and chocolate. Since I plan on having lots of shelves to fill I might as well start buying books now. That sounds eminently reasonable, doesn't it?

In all seriousness, I allow myself to spend a small amount on books every month. Since I buy most of my books secondhand I can make that small amount go quite far. Then I have the fun of waiting for them to show up in the mail. It takes some of them a while to arrive and I frequently can't remember what I purchased so it is a bit like getting a gift I gave myself. This month I bought a few extra books because I took a carload of stuff to Goodwill to donate. Of course, I had to look at the books while I was there. It would have been rude not to.

My non-fiction obsession seems to be continuing. I only bought two fiction books. One was an Agatha Christie novel I forgot to photograph. I already read it and stuck it on a shelf. The other was The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. I am trying to fill in the gaps in my Heyer collection and was very pleased when this arrived. It has been a while since I have read it. Most of the time, I am successful with my secondhand purchases. However, while this copy looked pristine when it arrived it fell to pieces as soon as I started reading it. I am reading it now and each page comes lose as I turn it. It won't go to waste though. I have a decorating project I want to do that requires book pages. I refuse to destroy a perfectly good book for a craft project but one that has already fallen apart is fair game.

West With the Night and The Siren Years were both books I read about on some blog or other. I am doing my usual abysmal job of keeping track of where I read about books. Churchill's Angels was a Goodwill find. I am fascinated by Churchill and it fits into my interest in WWII. The Only Way to Cross and The Big House were not books I had ever heard of but they looked interesting. I picked up Walden because my son had to read excerpts from it for school and said he wouldn't mind reading the rest.

Isn't this book pretty? It is a much nicer copy than I thought I was getting and I was very excited when I opened the package. Once again, my kids thought I was a little crazy. I have had several people on Instagram recommend this to me. I don't know why it has taken me such a long time to get around to buying it. I love wartime diaries and people speak highly of this.

I do realize my house is getting a bit overrun with books. Occasionally, I wonder if I really need to buy any more right now. Then I tell myself not to be silly. There is no such thing as too many books.

Reasons Why Winter Is Not That Bad

You are overwhelmed by my enthusiasm and positive attitude, aren't you? I don't blame you. However, on yet another grey and gloomy day I give you a list of things to enjoy about winter.

Tree branches outlined against the sky. Or, in this case, against the clouds. Either way, aren't they pretty?

The satisfying crunch when you step on a patch of crackly ice on your way to the car. Plus, the few extra minutes you spend crunching all the other icy patches in your driveway. Just me?

Afghans. Blankets. Cosy spots on the couch.

Being able to drink tea without feeling like you are going to melt into a puddle.

The wonderful muffled silence of a snowy day.

The joy of a child who wakes up to find out school has been canceled.

My joy when I wake up and find out the roads are too bad to drive anywhere.




Hot chocolate. Preferably overflowing with marshmallows and drunk after coming in from a vigorous snowball fight.

Fires in the fireplace.

Layers. Lots of layers. No one can tell where the layers end and you begin.

The cold, the dark, and the snowy roads provide the perfect excuse for refusing invitations. Yes, I can be slightly anti-social.

Spending an entire afternoon in the kitchen baking bread and cookies. Enjoying the warm blast of air every time you open the oven.

Marveling at the intricate beauty of the snowflakes that land on your coat sleeve.

Long winter evenings spent playing board games as a family.

Long winter evenings reading all the books. Yes, all of them. One right after another.

Hearty winter food like chili and shepherd's pie.

If it is winter where you live, what makes it bearable?

In My Reading Life

Portland Leather Goods

It is still winter. Yes, I am going to complain about the weather again. Right now, we have freezing rain. School was canceled yet again. My kids will probably be going to school until the end of time to make up for all the snow days they have been having. The sun never shines so it is impossible to take decent photos. Of course, it doesn't help that the only days I have to take pictures and write blog posts are the ones where I am snowed in and the light is terrible. Oh, the hardships of being me.

But, on the plus side, look at my gorgeous leather tote bag. It is even nicer in real life but that photo was the best I could manage. It smells lovely and makes me happy every time I look at it. I should have caved in and purchased it months ago.

Also on the plus side, I made both my kids happy by making pancakes this morning. That meant two separate batches since my son has been put on a very restrictive diet and he can't eat normal ones. I felt like I was standing at the stove flipping pancakes forever but I am temporarily the favorite parent. I'll take what I can get.

My daughter has been sorting her books and putting ones she has outgrown in the attic. This has freed up one entire bookshelf in the family room. I promptly laid claim to it and packed it full of some of my non-fiction books. Many of them have been stacked next to bookshelves in the living room so it was nice to have a home for them. It has been suggested that I should renovate my attic and turn it into my own personal library. Isn't that a lovely idea? I can picture rows of bookshelves under the eaves, a colorful rug on the floor, and a huge comfy chair by the window. If only money was no object. In the meantime, I will have to be happy with my additional bookcase.

book shelf

I am about halfway through Fair Stood the Wind for France. It is one of those books I have always heard of but never read. Somehow, it is not what I expected. I knew it was published right around the time of WWII so I think I expected a much more patriotic, battle-filled book. Instead, it is the story of a man whose plane goes down in Occupied France and the French family that takes him in. There is a dream-like quality to the writing that I am enjoying.

I am also dipping in and out of Bound to Please by Michael Dirda. Dirda received the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism. Bound to Please is a collection of his thoughts on many of the world's writers and their books. He ranges from the Bible to P. G. Wodehouse to Emerson and those are just some of the names I recognize. He will definitely broaden my horizons. I have only read the first three chapters about Herodotus, the Bible, and Ovid. I like what he says about the Bible.

Like a grounding in the classics or a thorough knowledge of baseball, familiarity with the Bible invests life, whether one is a believer or not, with a kind of ballast, steadying one through moments of crisis, providing words or stories of such gravity and soul-shaking power that they become formative experiences, like running away from home or falling in love. Everyone will have his or her favorites: the aged, long-barren Sarah laughing to herself when told that she would bear a son. Abraham's near-sacrifice of his beloved Isaac ("Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" "My son, God will provide himself a lamb"). Saul, that tragic king, confronting the witch of Endor. David's seret order to place Bathsheba's husband at the head of the battle where he is sure to be killed. The lamentations of Jeremiah ("The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved"). The existential despair of Ecclesiastes. Job confronting the voice of God in the whirlwind. 

What is clear from the small amount I have read of this huge book is that Dirda has a deep love of literature and words. I can relate to a man like that. I am sure I will not run out and buy every book he talks about but he will make me appreciate it for what it is even if it isn't for me. That is the work of a true literary critic.

Winter also makes me want to re-read old favorites. I read The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer for the umpteenth time last week and I have been wanting to pick up This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart. I also read Miss Mapp by E. F. Benson. I know I read it years ago but I didn't remember much beyond the basic premise. I don't think I ever read the rest of the series. Obviously, I am now going to have to do something about that. After all, I cleared the stacks of books out of my living room so now it must be time to start accumulating new ones. That is how it works, isn't it?

For The Love Of Persephone

Persephone Books is one of my absolute favorite bookshops. Not only have I never been disappointed in a book I have bought from them but also, their books are gorgeous with their uniform grey covers and beautiful endpapers. Persephone Books reprints neglected (mostly) women authors, authors such as Dorothy Whipple, Monica Dickens, and Mollie Panter-Downes.

When I found out that Jessie at Dwell In Possibility was hosting a Persephone Readathon I knew I would have to join in at some point. Today, posts are supposed to show our Persephone collection, something I am always happy to do. I spent a little while collecting together all of them from the different shelves they were stashed on and tried to snap a few photos. The main thing I have taken away from this is that I really, really need to organize my bookshelves and that even if I do organize them I am still going to have stacks of books that won't fit. I am currently trying to decide what pieces of furniture we can eliminate in order to accommodate more bookshelves. Do we really need couches in the living room? We could just sit on the floor next to the bookshelves...

The first Persephone book I ever read was Greenery Street by Denis Mackail. (Interesting side point, he is the brother of Angela Thirkell.) It is the charming story of a newly-wed couple who are setting up housekeeping. Just look at the postcard that came with the book.

Since that first book I have purchased twenty-six more Persephone books. The photos below are missing one book because I found it stuffed into a bookshelf after I was all done and honestly couldn't be bothered to redo the photos. So, imagine there is also a copy of the biography of the writer, Elizabeth Taylor, in this stack.

I think I have about six that I haven't read yet and several that I would love to reread. Of course, there are also many more that I would love to buy. There are always books I would love to buy.

Are you a Persephone Book addict as well? What are your favorites?