Friday 22 October 2010

More books!

I love books of all sorts. I like the smell and the texture, the look of the print on the page, the quirky chapter headings or numbers in some of them. I like the footnotes, the references, the suggestions for further reading. Some authors have web pages and they are always interesting to visit. 

I enjoy buying books, particularly those intended for my grandchildren. I like reading children's books, too, and one of the things I most enjoyed about teaching was reading aloud stories to my class. I can't say whether they appreciated it - I think some did and I hope it may have encouraged them to lose themselves in books as I have always done.  I can't resist 'special offers' on novels so my pile of books to be read is ever-growing. This may be halted, temporarily at least, because Barry recently bought me a Kindle. 
It sits on one of our book shelves, resplendent in its bright pink 'Built' case, full of free downloads and one book about Dewey, the library cat, that I bought and have yet to read. At present I'm reading Rudyard Kipling's 'Puck of Pook's Hill.'

However splendid a Kindle may be - and it has a lot to recommend it - the technology is not yet advanced enough to render colour, or maybe it is but is not commercially viable at present. Thus, reference books are still a requisite. I look up lots of things on a daily basis. The internet is invaluable but nothing quite measures up to the pleasure of leafing through a book, cross-referencing and discovering fascinating information about this endlessly absorbing planet and its inhabitants. 

We have many reference books on a wide range of subjects and some of them are forty years old. Books inherited from my parents are often older, approaching one hundred years. Books become like old friends to be cherished and treasured but, just like older people, occasionally the information is a little outdated. Gardeners will recognise this fact as names are changed to reflect new discoveries. Historians, too, sometimes find that the 'facts' have been adjusted when new information has come to light. There is no area of life in which things remain immutable. 

This has been demonstrated to me recently when I have been trying to identify wild mushrooms. Some of the names have changed, perhaps more than once or twice, in the forty-three years since one of my favourite books was published.
This book has glorious illustrations by Beatrix Potter.
This is the Frontispiece, showing Amanita muscaria, Fly Agaric.
Seeking in vain to identify a fungus we saw on Sunday and drawing a blank everywhere I yesterday ordered from Amazon a comprehensive guide. It arrived today.
'Mushrooms' by Roger Phillips has over 1,250 colour photographs, showing fungi from every conceivable angle and I was quickly able to find what I was looking for.
This is The Miller (Clitopilus prunulus)
It is common, good to eat and found from summer to late autumn in grass in open woodland.The gills start white and turn pink. It has a strong mealy taste.
Although I have had this book only a matter of hours, it is already one that I know I will return to again and again. The illustrations are superb and the information first-class.

I bought another reference book, too, but have barely looked at it other than to ascertain that it too will surely become another well-used tome. More of that later!


  1. If you travel, near or far, Janice, the Kindle is very handy. I have a Sony eBook Reader, which I took with me when I went across Canada this year. It was great. It even has its own reading lamp, just enough to see the "page" when reading in a berth on a train. I'm looking forward to loading it up with more books for my next two trips with my husband.
    But at home I read "real" books! Can't have too many.

    Kay, Alberta

  2. I identify with your book obsession. We have shelves and shelves of them. No kindle yet, but I suppose we'll succumb eventually. Going to a book store is an expensive proposition for us, because we can't get out without a big pile of books.
    I've found the same thing with older reference books. Much as I love them, they do go out of date as genus/species names are changed.

  3. I was at Walmart yesterday with my daughter when she saw a book I had read to her when she was a little girl. It was a counting book. She bought it right away to read to her nephew and niece.
    She loved the Little People series and all the Dr. Seuss books. She bought those for her children. The love of books goes on generation after generation.

  4. I am really wanting to try the Kindle... after I get a bigger monitor and a camera. Sigh... Much as I like trying to help the economy, my purse is getting a little light.

  5. I wonder how you'll get along with your Kindle. My sister swears by hers whereas I feel sure I'd miss the feel of a real book with real pages to flick through.

    I have Roger Phillips' Wild Flowers. I found it great when I used to rummage in the woods with my sons.

  6. I read more children's book as a mum than when I was a child. I wanted to know what my kids were reading, so I read nacy Drew and hardy boys.

  7. I read the book about Dewey. It was good but needed a bit more 'meat' for my taste, but the fact that I remember parts of it must mean it was good because I read so many, then soon forget what I've read.

  8. I still prefer a book with paper pages

  9. I do like my kindle for many reasons, especially when traveling, but it does have its drawbacks and reference books is one. Also, browsing the kindle store will never compare to the joy and relaxation of a book store. That is a lovely illustration by Beatrix Potter.

  10. I love reading books too I never tried to smell them if I bought them on a flea market at least. Mushrooms are not so my cup of tea, but I love to eat them and so far I survived.
    Yesterday a group of Chinese (!!) tourists arrived ! Apparently a few are allowed now to travel. The trouble is they only speak Chinese I have to find out from where they are coming. Hotel gossips are so nice, especially when you have a blog ! lol !


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