August 26, 2013 @ 7:39 pm | Filed under:


She’ll perch on a stool and play with the wooden dolls on my shelves by the hour. This is how Sunday afternoon unfolds: her soft doll-chatter murmuring beside me while I’m reading, studying, or (as was the case this weekend) cleaning out closets.

I see Joanna Trollope’s Other People’s Children peeking out from one of the stacks; I read it on (I think it was) Lesley’s recommendation and found it wholly absorbing, thoughtful, vivid, a bit sad. I liked it very much. Those shelves are a jumble of things I’m eager to read but haven’t had a chance yet (Green Dolphin Street, borrowed from my friend Carmen; The Light Between Oceans, a gift from my publisher last Christmas; Brideshead Revisited, because I still—still! still!!1!!—haven’t, among others) and books I love so much I need to keep them close. (A Far Cry From Kensington; One Man’s Meat; Dear Genius; etc. etc. etc.)

Notable picture-book reads of late: The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse—a top-ten favorite of Rilla’s, and she’ll talk your ear off about the highlight colors in the paintings, if you like; Miss Suzy, back in frequent rotation; Open This Little Book, of which Huck cannot get enough; and to Huck for the very first time—oh! this particular milestone has been one of the most delightful I’ve experienced with each of the kids, one by one—Make Way for Ducklings. You can tell he’s the sixth child, not getting his full measure of McCloskey until the ancient age of four and a half. Scandal!

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11 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. sarah says:

    Ah, you are a wise woman, you know most of your readers will take one look at that photo, think “cute little girl” and then and start trying to read the book titles or authors stacked there 🙂

  2. Ellie says:

    But of course, what my daughter and I wish (fervently wish) to know is: the dolls? Whence they cometh?? Available somewhere or when??

    (Green Dolphin Street teen and young adult favorite of mine, though I always loved Gentian Hill better because the love story in GDS is a bit devastating. Let me know what you think of The Light Between Oceans? I’ve had it from the library twice and haven’t been able to get into it. The television series of Brideshead Revisited probably spoilt me for ever reading the book — never been tempted to try it. Funny).

  3. lesley austin says:

    Funny about the Joanna Trollope…I gave her books a try a few times but don’t remember really liking them very much. : ) But it is so interesting, all the stories associated with each book upon our shelves. It puts me in mind of this quote:”Books…are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with ’em, then we grow out of ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.” – Lord Peter Wimsey

    They are also evidence of so much else…hopes, intentions…

    How lovely to have a dear girl spending time with dolls next to all those shelves contain.

  4. Von Rupert says:

    A few months ago, I started putting sturdy nicknacks and small toys on my bookshelves because I saw a bookshelf picture you posted that had nicknacky stuff mingled with the books . 🙂 HUGE hit. Toys that I adored, but my big kids never played with have become a big hit with my little guys.

    Make Way for Ducklings is a favorite with my boys rights now. I’ve always had great sympathy for Mrs. Mallard making that final trip alone–been there, done that with far too many small “ducks” for comfort. Thank goodness for helpful strangers. 🙂

    LOL! I agree with Sarah–I twisted my head in a most unforgiving position in order to read the titles on your bookcase. Next time, you should just go ahead and post the picture twice–once the right way and once the easy-to-read-titles way. 😉

  5. Bethany C says:

    I just read The Light Between Oceans and enjoyed it! I will add Other People’s Children to my list on your recommendation.
    Also, my daughter just read _Fox and Crow Are Not Friends_ as one of the first real books she has read on her own. She has been a somewhat reluctant reader, but learning that the book was written by the author of the (much beloved in our house) Martha and Charlotte books enticed her to try. Thank you!! 🙂

  6. Melanie B says:

    Love this. Such a familiar sight at our house. Our living room book shelves are always being co-opted for dolls, animals, cars, blocks, or a combination of some of all of the above.

    Those are very cute little wooden dolls. I’m with Ellie, very curious.

    And so love the book lists!

  7. Melissa Wiley says:

    They’re called Momiji.
    The one she is holding was a birthday present to me several years ago from a friend who always knows how to make me squeal.

  8. selvi says:

    I love your book recommendations. I’ve discovered so much good reading through you. Thanks for sharing! I tried to read other Waugh after Brideshead, but could never get into it. Sometimes you read someone’s best book first and then, hoping for more you keep trying, but nothing matches it. It was sort of that way for me with Penelope Fitzgerald, except that I really liked her other stuff too, even though I thought nothing was quite a good as the Blue Flower.

  9. Lisa says:

    I just discovered Joanna Trollope and am in love! I reviewed The Rector’s Wife this month and am waiting for The Choir to arrive! Light Between Oceans I reviewed a few months ago–I’m a mom by adoption so it was quite a story! And Brideshead….well, how can you NOT like Brideshead! Don’t even get me started on the Ducklings………. Lovely post!!!

  10. Leslie in Springfield says:

    There is a book store in Make Way for Ducklings that really existed in Boston; it happens to be the place my maternal grandfather met the young woman who was destined to be his wife. He was from San Francisco and a student at Harvard Law; he brought silver dollar coins from California (where they were plentiful) to pay for his books so that he could catch the attention of the charming young woman who worked in the shop. Pointing out the book shop in the illustrations and telling the story of our own family’s link to the world of the ducklings has always been part of the joy for us!

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