Posts Tagged ‘one shelf at a time’

Four daughters, four dolls

December 3, 2012 @ 4:50 pm | Filed under:

The other end of the doll shelf.


This morning I glanced out my bedroom window and thought for a moment that someone had put Christmas lights up in the big pine tree behind our back fence–a string of large orange lights, so pretty. Then I realized I was just seeing the blossoms of the Cape honeysuckle in front of the pine. (“Just.”) Now when I look, I can’t not see the lights. Guess our yard is going to do its own decorating this year.


Books we read today:

Big Bad Bunny
Hanna’s Christmas (Rilla picked it, I swear)
The Christmas Trolls
Backseat A-B-See
As the Crow Flies (love this book so much—crows, our favorite!)

Next shelf down

December 2, 2012 @ 5:14 pm | Filed under: , ,

My sweet friend Erica left flowers on my doorstep this morning. I brought them in here to keep me company while I’m working.

I’m given to understand a list of titles is mandatory for these shelf posts! :) From right to left, starting with the ones hidden by the flowers:

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark. Odd and wonderful. Mentioned here.

Carney’s House Party / Winona’s Pony Cart by Maud Hart Lovelace, in an edition extra-special to me

Apple of My Eye by Helene Hanff. Delicious.

The Betsy-Tacy Companion, a biography of Maud Hart Lovelace by Sharla Scannell Whalen. One of my treasures.

Tune: A Vanishing Point, a graphic novel by Derek Kirk Kim. (TBR.)

A Reader’s Delight and A Child’s Delight by Noel Perrin. I wrote about them here.

Housekeeping vs. The Dirt by Nick Hornby. Brought us much mirth here. Gift from Scott.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbary. I never did finish it.

The Essays of E.B. White. Happy sigh. Another gift from Scott.

Working copies of a couple of my own books—they wind up all over the place.

Linnets and Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge. I see you’ve heard about most of these from me before. There are certain books I like to keep close at hand.

Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett.

Coleman by Monica Furlong, a sequel to Wise Child. I only made it about a third of the way through before life overtook me. Will finish eventually.

The sideways book with the red spine is a lovely little thing called Something for Christmas, a sweet mouse tale by Palmer Brown. The kind librarian who asked me to do a reading at her school fundraiser gave me two of Brown’s books, along with some other goodies, as a thank-you gift. I’d never seen them before—she said they were old favorites of hers, recently reissued by the New York Review Children’s Collection. Rilla and I enjoyed the other one, Cheerful, but we’ve been saving this one for Christmas.

And atop it, a tiny blank journal from To Boldy Fold, part of a subscription box I reviewed. I’m pondering how best to use it.

One Shelf at a Time: Fourth Shelf

October 21, 2008 @ 2:13 pm | Filed under:

Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Hardly needs annotating: the comparative mythology classic, massively influential on literary analysis. I’ve only read chunks of it, never the whole thing. I took a college course called “Men’s Images in Literature” which examined different roles and types of male protagonists, and it was one of the best classes I ever took. We read Hamlet, Goldfinger (yes, a James Bond book!), The Maltese Falcon, Bill Bradley’s autobiography, Malcolm X, and I’m trying to remember what else. I remember how disappointed I was the following year when, after a transfer to another college, I took a women’s lit course and it was nothing like the Men’s Images class. Instead of unpacking archetypes and discussing the nature of the hero (or heroine), the professor took us on a bitter, angry stroll through the Norton’s Anthology of Women’s Lit (which is full of amazing reading, by the way), expostulating upon the way in which each and every piece in the anthology demonstrated the oppression of women through the ages.

I have digressed. Anyway, my point was that my primary experience with the Joseph Campbell book was in the men’s images class, as we examined how the various heroes in our texts did or did not bear out Campbell’s ideas on the journey of the hero. I think we own the book because I always meant to read the whole thing at some point.

How the Irish Saved Civilization. I remember picking up this one as a freebie choice in a book club. Had heard much about it, and have continued to hear much about it over the years. And haven’t read it yet.

Don’t Know Much about History by Kenneth C. Davis. Scott brought this one to the party, if I recall correctly. Like the book above, I think it’s been on my TBR list for about fifteen years. Sheesh.

Mystery and Manners by Flannery O’Connor. This was required reading in one of my college creative writing classes, and I was blown away by it. It’s a collection of Flannery’s essays on writing and other topics. I think I like her essays better than her stories, to be perfectly honest.

Amo, Amas, Amat, and More. A collection of Latin words and phrases often used in English discourse, with succinct explanations of their meaning. A useful resource for those of us who did not study Latin in our youth.

Storybook Travels: From Eloise’s New York to Harry Potter’s London, Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children’s Literature.

Socrates Cafe.

The American Sign Language Phrase Book. Spine much creased from frequent use.

Women’s Work. I picked this up as a reference during the early days of my Martha & Charlotte research, then later met the author at a friend’s dinner party.

Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Fun collection of commonly used phrases which come from the Bard.

The Big Little Book of Irish Wit & Wisdom.

Little Book of Gaelic Proverbs. “A cat in mittens won’t catch mice.” “A ‘thank you’ doesn’t pay the fiddler.” “Beauty won’t boil the pot.”

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Love, love, love.

BBC Music Guide: Mendelssohn Chamber Music. Say, this must be a Scott book!

Phantastes by George MacDonald, and next to it my ancient, raggedy copy of his The Golden Key and Other Stories. Ah yes, now we’re coming into a section of favorite children’s classics (interspersed with other odds and ends). Gosh, I loved The Golden Key. I see it in frequent circulation among the kids these days, too.

Black Beauty. Copy from used book store: I’ve never read it.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. Board book version: what’s it doing on that shelf? Too high for little people to reach.

Mitten Strings for God. Newish, haven’t read it yet.

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves. Lots of fun.

On the Back of the North Wind, George MacDonald.

The Light Princess, George MacDonald. Detect a theme?

What do you know! The Complete Fairy Tales of…George MacDonald!

Now comes a full set of Little House books. Laura’s, that is. This is the fancypants edition with the nice slick paper and the (sob) colorized Garth Williams art. My sweet editor used to send me a new set every time Harper came out with a reissue. We have a good many sets scattered around this house…

The Iliad for Boys and Girls by Alfred Church. You can read it for free at The Baldwin Project.

The Odyssey for Boys and Girls by Alfred Church. Ditto.

Drawing Textbook by Bruce McIntyre. Terrific little paperback how-to-draw manual.

An unnamed songbook full of hymns and folk song lyrics with chord changes.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

Stray hardcover copy of The Road from Roxbury.

My Father’s Dragon and Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Favorite series of every six-year-old to grow up in this family so far.

The Story of the Greeks by H. A. Guerber. Another Baldwin Project book.

Chesterton’s Heretics.

Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield.

And a lovely hardcover copy of The Wind in the Willows. Phew. That was quite a shelf.

Click the “one shelf at a time” tag for the first three shelves.

Next Shelf

September 26, 2008 @ 8:35 am | Filed under:

The kids will be awake soon, so I won’t have time to do a whole shelf, but Scott (of all people! he sees these shelves every day) has been clamoring for another bookshelf post, so here goes.

Same bookcase, third shelf down:

My Charlotte Mason series: her six books, shelved here for easy access. I return to these over and over again.

A boxed set of Edward Eager novels: Half Magic, Knight’s Castle, Magic by the Lake, The Time Garden.

Not that I can actually see any of the above right now, since Scott has a bunch of music CDs stacked in front of them. But I know they’re there.

Then comes one of the several Lord of the Rings sets we own. Scott and I both brought copies into the marriage, but I think this set is much newer, a Christmas gift to one of the girls a couple of years ago.

An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott.

And then my favorite Alcott, Little Men.

Mystery Train by Greil Marcus, “generally considered the first truly scholarly exploration of rock and roll, its history, its importance, and its uniquely American properties,” says my husband. I haven’t read this one, can you tell?

A biography of Richard Wagner by Robert W. Gutman. Scott’s read it, I haven’t.

Elvissey by Jack Womack. Has a library sticker on the spine so must be something Scott picked up on the discard pile. He reads a lot about music, as you can see.

Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda, the first book in a favorite series of my girls.

The Brownie and the Princess, a collection of stories by Louisa May Alcott. I’ve not read it yet. Jane enjoyed it. She says a couple of the stories are set during the Revolutionary War. The title story, she says, is very sweet.

Exile on Main Street and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, two books in a series called 33 1/3, which is a collection of small books, each by a different author and about a single record album. Scott has really been enjoying these lately. I’m seeing them all over the house.

Latin for Children DVDs.

And then a sideways stack of craft and home arts books:

Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

Festivals, Family, and Food

Crafts Through the Year by Thomas and Petra Berger.

Knitted Animals

Magical Window Stars

The Nature Corner

Rose Windows

Of the craft books, Rose Windows and Magical Window Stars are the ones we’ve used the most. We made a ton of the stars last year for Advent decorations. As I mentioned in the comments below (I am adding this later), these days I am more likely to turn to the internet than to books for seasonal and liturgical craft and recipe ideas.

I’ll try to come back later and add authors and Goodreads links and maybe some commentary to these titles, but morning has broken* and I need to get a move on.

*Whoops, glanced at this hours later and see that I never hit ‘publish.’

The Next Shelf Down

September 23, 2008 @ 7:33 pm | Filed under: ,

This is another easy one, a kind of warm-up for the overloaded shelves to come. As I mentioned yesterday, I am short, so I tend not to crowd too much onto the higher shelves. So here again, one of the living-room bookcases, second shelf from the top.

First we have a stack of books lying flat on their sides. Working from the bottom up:

Our nice big family Bible, a beautiful wedding gift from one of Scott’s cousins.

The Mary Frances Housekeeper in hardcover. Why is that way up there where no child can possibly see it, much less use it to learn to keep house? Must remedy this.

Uh-oh, an overdue sign language instructional DVD from the Deaf Missions Video Library. Must get that packaged up for tomorrow’s post-office run.

Next to this stack, filling the remaining two thirds of the shelf:

A bunch of Math-U-See DVDs.

Our Maud Hart Lovelace collection, or most of it anyway. When the Betsy-Tacy books began to go out of print, sob, I rounded up our copies and shelved them here, up high, on purpose, to ensure that they will not be lost or scattered. This explains why the children’s bathroom stepstool is very often on the floor in front of this bookcase. These are some of our most beloved books, and it seems someone around here is nearly always in the middle of one of them. What’s on the shelf right now:


Betsy-Tacy and Tib

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill

Winona’s Pony Cart

Heaven to Betsy

Betsy in Spite of Herself

Betsy and Joe

Betsy and the Great World

Betsy’s Wedding

Emily of Deep Valley (my favorite; I posted about it here)

Carney’s House Party

Winona’s Pony Cart (yes, a second copy, this one in hardcover—my editor at Harper knew what a fangirl I am and sent me some extra copies she had lying around)

(So it looks like Betsy Was a Junior is in circulation somewhere.)

The first four are the “young Betsy” books—she starts out five years old and is, I think, about ten in the fourth book. (Isn’t Big Hill the one where they sing “O Betsy’s ten tomorrow and then all of us are ten! We will all be ten tomorrow; we will all be ladies then…” to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic?) The Winona book belongs in that time frame; the girls are around eight years old, I think; but it’s a stand-alone story and I like it better after Big Hill.)

Then come the four high-school books, which are a deep delight, and then Great World and Betsy’s Wedding. The books about Carney and Emily come before Betsy’s wedding in the Deep Valley chronology, but they were written later and once again I think it’s best not to break up the flow of Betsy’s own narrative. Carney is a fun treat afterward (especially the brief glimpse of her college life), because you get to go back in time a few years and see a summer of the gang’s life that wasn’t portrayed in detail in Betsy’s books, and then, well, there’s Emily of Deep Valley to put a soul-satisfying coda on the whole series.

Back to the shelf. Next to the Lovelace treasures there are some DVDs. Chris Rock, Monty Python collection, two Bruce Springsteen concerts (detect a trend?), The Office, Bob Newhart, Schoolhouse Rock. So that’s where Schoolhouse Rock is. I was looking for it.

That’s it for shelf #2. And now I’m in the mood to go read some Betsy-Tacy.

One Shelf at a Time

September 22, 2008 @ 3:37 pm | Filed under:

In the comments of this post, Patience mentioned that she’d like to know what books were on the shelf behind Her Majesty. I have often thought it would be fun to do a whole series of posts that went shelf by shelf through the house, talking about the books on each one. Of course, an awful lot of migrating goes on, so that what’s on certain shelves in high-traffic areas of the house changes day by day.

Still, it strikes me as a fun (long-term) project. One of my favorite things about visiting a friend’s house is getting to explore her shelves. I don’t think you really know a person until you know her taste in books, do you?

I’m sitting on the living-room couch right now. There are three bookcases in this room (two big and one small), plus two more in the adjoining dining area. And a stack on the piano, but those are not supposed to be there. :::glares sternly at husband:::

Beyond the piano is the hallway that leads to the bedrooms. There are three more bookcases lining the wall there, making for a somewhat narrow squeeze when you need to take the vacuum cleaner out of the hall closet, opposite the bookshelves. There really isn’t any spare wall space at all in this house: we’ve got bookcases crammed everywhere one will fit, and sometimes where they don’t fit.

So this “one shelf at a time” project could take me a while.

But it’ll be fun. (And maybe I’ll finally get my Library Thing catalog finished while I’m at it.)

I’ll start at the top: there are seven shelves on the tall bookcase directly opposite me. The top one is easiest to catalog because only half of its contents are books. The rest of the shelf is taken up by cloth cases full of Signing Time DVDs, some Bruce Springsteen concert DVDs, and our Star Trek and Star Wars DVD collections. Important stuff, is what I’m saying. Also a funny little statue of a mandolin player (well, it looks like a mandolin, at least, but I bet it’s called something else) from Thailand, a gift from our world-traveling friend Keri; a bowl of rosaries; and Scott’s electric guitar tuner, which I stick up on that shelf because I am too short to see it lying there, so it’s handy for him but I don’t get grumpy about clutter. I suppose there are advantages to having a short wife.

Anyway, the books on that shelf:

The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, because you never know when you might need a dose of Eliot or Auden, and also because that was the textbook for one of Scott’s very best college courses, and I know firsthand how great it was because I sat in on it a few times even though I had graduated the previous spring. It was taught by the great Dr. Susan J. Hanna, whose booming voice and infectious enthusiasm for poetry made her one of our favorite professors ever. As a matter of fact, Rilla’s (real, not blog) middle name is Susanna in her honor. (Sue Hanna, get it?)

Home Comforts, the giant tome that compiles everything anybody ever needed to know about the practical art of housekeeping. This was a housewarming present from my friend Elizabeth when we moved to Virginia seven years ago. It taught me how to fold a fitted sheet nicely, which is a grand thing.

A threadbare copy of That’s Good, That’s Bad, a picture book by Joan M. Lexau, illustrated by Aliki. Long since out of print (it was published in 1963), this was Scott’s favorite book as a little boy. We keep it on this high shelf because it’s too rickety to stand up to everyday use and must be saved for special daddy-read-aloud occasions. It’s a charming little formula story: Tiger happens upon exhausted Boy slumped on a rock in the jungle. Tiger is puzzled because Boy does not spring up and run away. “I have no more run in me,” says Boy—a phrase which has become an integral part of our family lexicon, as in: “I should really put that laundry away, but I have no more run in me.” “That’s bad,” says Tiger, and so the back and forth begins. Boy recounts a tale of narrow escapes (“That’s good!”) and harrowing dangers (“That’s bad!) as he finds himself scrambling to stay a step ahead of a very cranky Rhino. And now he’s too tuckered out to run away from Tiger, who plans to eat him. That’s bad. Very, very bad. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it’s Good.

A fancy leatherbound edition of Douglas Adams’s The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Story, which I believe was a graduation present to Scott from a brother and sister-in-law. It is a thing of beauty.

And finally, the rest of the shelf is taken up by a boxed set of four mammoth leatherbound volumes: collections of the work of Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens (not his complete works, of course—that would take up the whole shelf), and The Complete Sherlock Holmes. That is, there’s a hole where the Holmes is supposed to go. Jane laid claim to Mr. Holmes two years ago and the book hasn’t been back in the box since.

So that was the easy shelf. Only eight books. It’s when I get to the picture book shelves that this becomes challenging. And I’m not even going to attempt the shelves full of comic books in the garage. Too skinny: too many.