Shopping (the bookish kind)

Hello, friends. It will probably not surprise you to know that when I go on holiday, I like to bring home books as souvenirs. I love plucking a book from the shelf and remembering both the book and the place where I bought it. For me, the combined memory becomes that much more precious, and I seem to remember more details about the holiday when they’re paired with a book.

Here’s our family’s shopping list from a recent jaunt to Victoria, B.C., where we spent a weekend with old friends. We were walking down the street in Oak Bay, looking for the marina, when we were pulled, as if by magnets, into Ivy’s Bookshop. Ivy’s is a friendly and beautifully curated neighbourhood bookstore that inspires you with confidence in the power of reading. Highly recommended!

Catharine Arnold, Underworld London: Crime and Punishment in the Capital City

Nick plucked this one from the shelf before I’d even spotted it, and I was transfixed. It’s best read in small snatches (for me, at least), as I find the gleeful descriptions of gore and human perfidy a bit too much after a few minutes. It’s a popular history and thus only lightly endnoted, and if I were using any of this as source material I’d double-check it all. However, it’s a pretty delicious snack of a book.

Lorraine Harrison, Latin for Gardeners: Over 3000 Plant Names Explained and Explored

Is this a retired person’s book or what? As we lurch gracelessly towards middle age, Nick and I find ourselves reading more and more non-fiction, and developing a taste for botanical illustrations. (Actually, that’s untrue: I’ve always be transfixed by delicate botanical illustrations.) But we have been gardening more, and this seemed rather inevitable.

Bill Peet, The Caboose Who Got Loose

Our five-year-old chose this because it’s about a train, and I really like the illustrations. I’m ambivalent about the seemingly endless doggerel rhyme, but I do love the subversive ending. If this were a book in the Thomas the Tank Engine franchise, Katy Caboose would learn about Duty and Being Useful, and end up knowing her place in the English class system.  I love that in this new world train story, Katy actually escapes.

Emily Gravett, Matilda’s Cat

And this one’s for our two-year-old. We love Emily Gravett’s artwork and her wry way with narrative. It’s really quite perfect.

So that’s what we’ve been reading for the past few days. What have you been reading?

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7 Responses to “Shopping (the bookish kind)”

  1. PreRaphHobbit says:

    I love getting books as souvenirs. My mom used to read The Caboose That Got Loose to me when I was a little kid! I haven’t seen it for ages… I’ve been reading a lot about the Pre-Raphaelites (which I do all the time, lol), including a book about John Millais and his wife Effie that I got as a souvenir from Ottawa. Also ‘The Reinvention of Love’ by Helen Humphries, and ‘The Imposter Wife’, both of which are excellent, and a book of poetry by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I love spending the summer just reading.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ying says:

    These all sound like great books, PreRaphHobbit! I’ve been meaning to read The Reinvention of Love; thanks for the reminder. :)

  3. Joanna says:

    All of these books you mentioned sound awesome! The children’s books in particular seem adorable. Currently, I’m in the middle of “The Tale Of The Body Thief” by Anne Rice, which- while hardly light reading material- is wonderful. There’s nothing quite like losing yourself in a novel.

  4. Shannon says:

    When I read non-fiction its always biographies. Anyhow I just finished reading Leon Uris’ Exodus which was simply phenomenal, although dated and extremely biased (and a bit politically incorrect), you cannot expect a well rounded account on the formation of Israel written in the fifties by a pro-Israel author. Any way I just logged onto the internet to put another of Uris’ books on hold. Until I get it from the library I was planning on re-reading Anne of Green Gables, I need something light.

  5. Ying says:

    I have to admit that I’ve never read Anne Rice, Joanna! Maybe it’s time to rectify that. And Shannon, I found a copy of Exodus at a relative’s house as a child and read it. Yeah, it took me a while to sort out the politics. :) It was swashbuckling good fun, though. Have you read the Emily Starr trilogy by L.M. Montgomery? It’s great.

  6. Harriet says:

    I (nearly!) always read fact interwoven with fiction- history!!! Love the Tudors and Victorians ! I would recommend phillippa Gregory ( the other Boleyn girl- film is rubbish!!) book brilliant! Edward marston bracewell mysteries( more tudor history!) Elizabeth Chadwick and Alison weir- more history! Can you recommend any Victorian books- I’ve only read yours!!

  7. Ying says:

    Hi Harriet, and sorry for this slow reply! Thanks for the recs – I have been meaning to read Philippa Gregory for ages, and you’ve just tipped me over the edge. Did you read Wolf Hall? For neo-Victorian books: you can’t go wrong with Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart novels, or Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy. And I adored A. S. Byatt’s Possession, which is set partly in the 1980s and partly in Victorian England. If you like a little steampunk/sci-fi edge, Tiffany Trent’s The Unnaturalists is very interesting, too.

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