Charity shop bargain books

I managed to buy some fantastic books from charity shops in Swansea today:

  • A hardback version of Michael Morpurgo’s “Arthur High King of Britain” with illustrations by Michael Foreman
  • “The Fantastic Kingdom” a collection of illustrations from the golden days of storytelling
  • A hard cover first edition of Ian Serraillier’s “The Challenge of the Green Knight” with illustrations by Victor G. Ambrus
  • A hard cover copy of Rosemary Sutcliff’s “Sword at Sunset”

Perhaps a bit too much Arthur in one day for me but what a wealth of great story tellers and illustrators!

Looking forward to reading.

I’m also currently reading and thoroughly enjoying Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio”

More Bradbury

Having finished reading Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, I’ve just begun his anthology “Summer Morning, Summer Night”. This set of stories contains one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever had the good fortune to read – “All On A Summer’s Night“. It seems quite autobiographical in nature when set against the interviews with Ray Bradbury that I’ve watched and read recently. Young Douglas Spaulding , who lives at his grandmother’s house with a varied set of boarders, makes a touching gesture to local librarian (and also another boarder) Miss Eleanora Welkes who mistakes the gesture for a romantic one from one of the male boarders. Everything about the story is delightful.

I bought my copy from Waterstones – a Harper voyager edition with a cover price of just £2.99. Really, a bargain!

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Picture of the cover of Ray Bradbury’s “Summer Morning, Summer Night”.

My bubble in Cyberspace

I have begun reading UKLG’s “The Wind’s Twelve Quarters” and this morning finished reading the story “April in Paris” and it illustrates perfectly (for me) the profundity of the author. Most other writers would have had the main characters  (who have used ancient magic to meet) die at the hands of the supernatural to ‘restore the cosmic balance’ but not Ursula K Le Guin. She has them all walk off together into the sunshine (dare I say, “Happily ever after”?). No lesson cruelly learned or any intervention of fate, just four lonely humans and an equally lonely dog enjoying the company of each other.

Daoist indeed.

Apologies for a title that has little or perhaps everything to do with the post.

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The Left Hand of Darkness

This is it (The Left Hand of Darkness), the book I’ve been waiting to read and the book generally regarded as “Ursula Le Guin’s masterpiece” – Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels. I bought it today in Foyles, Bristol along with Carlo Rovelli’s “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics“.  It was on the shelves at Waterstones too but I couldn’t find the Rovelli book there and wanted both. I know, I could have bought each from different stores but that would be alien to me. UKLG books are a puzzle, they seem to be either in all book shops at any given moment or in none at all in another given moment. I keep eyeing up Melvyn Peake’s “The Gormenghast Trilogy” but I’m too mean to pay the £18 cover price.

Looking forward to reading these – I may have to go to bed super-early!!

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Philippa Pearce

I’ve just begun re-reading “Tom’s Midnight Garden” after a forty-ish year gap. I love the economic  style of writing. Philippa Pearce has been one of my favourite authors for quite a while. I bought the book nearly a year ago and only now have had the chance to begin reading it.

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The Scream – Joan Aiken

I read Joan Aiken’s “The Scream” last night. I have to say that it was one of the most spooky / chilling stories that I have ever read. Most of the time I didn’t know where the narrative was heading next. The characters are quite disturbing – Gran, Lu-Lyn, the boys from the tower block and even David himself who seems to take everything that happens to him and others around him without even flinching.

Many years ago, I considered looking at the horror genre with my pupils. I thought about using Poe, Lovecraft or the better De Maupassant stories to pick apart and reconstruct. This would have been a so-much better resource.

Genuinely unsettling. Recommended!

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Jenny Nimmo – Snowspider

I finished reading the second of Jenny Nimmo’s “Snow Spider” trilogy mid week. “Emlyn’s Moon” turned out to be a well told and plotted novel, much darker and creepy than the “Snow Spider” novel itself. It helps that it has a female protagonist – Nia and the story is told very much from her point of view (but in the third person). The final book of the trilogy “The Chestnut Soldier” is even darker and more menacing. Nina is once again the main character and Gwyn (from the first book) takes very much a back seat.For me it’s suitable for children a little older than the other two novels although I’m sure that my ‘adult’ reading of elements of the plot would go over the head of most child readers. Again, I’m looking forward to seeing how the plot resolves itself.

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Emlyn’s Moon

I’m currently reading the second book of the “Snow Spider” trilogy – “Emlyn’s Moon”. It’s a great read. It’s more about the character Nia than the titular Emlyn at the moment. There are some truly effective passages that I know I’ll use in the future with my class(es) as exemplar of descriptive writing. There’s a kind of spiritual awakening for the main character Nia through the book and I’m looking forward to reading the resolution of her personal problems. The book is much more about the characters than the first in the trilogy. The narrative is less linear than “The Snow Spider” too.

Apologies for my ‘lumpy’ expressions in this post but it’s difficult to express my enthusiasm for this book in the trilogy.

Edit: just to explain and to clear up any misunderstanding, I love this book!

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The Snow Spider

I’m currently reading Jenny Nimmo’s “Snow Spider Trilogy” and I’m part way through “Emlyn’s Moon“.  A change from Joan Aiken and “The Wolves of Willoughby Chase” sequence.  It’s a very enjoyable piece of fantasy and well told. It’s very “Welsh” in character as are many of Jenny’s books. More of a children’s novel than the Joan Aiken and Ursula K LeGuin novels I have grown to love so much. It’s more linear in plot and less ‘themed’ than those novels. I’d be more likely to use the trilogy as class readers than the ‘chronicles’  of Dido and Sparrowhawk. Indeed I have used Jenny Nimmo’s “Griffin’s Castle” as a class reader and topic theme for school work.

I’m looking forward to reading how Gwyn’s story pans out and getting back to some Dido Twite.

A recommended set of novels for children and parents alike.

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Croopus! Limbo Lodge.

I finally finished Joan Aiken’s “Limbo Lodge” last night.  It’s a great adventure with Dido Twite at the ‘helm’.

So many ideas again, this time about respecting cultures and ways of life. About making decisions as individuals and living in harmony with the environment.

And again, Joan Aiken does not shy away from killing off a character that we have grown to like during the narrative. This time, a character who had the potential to make changes that would have benefitted others.

I have to take a break from Joan Aiken for a while but will be back to read “The Cuckoo Tree” and “Dido and Pa” when I have located copies.

Essential reading. You owe it to yourself to give the books in the “Wolves of Willoughby Chase” sequence time if you haven’t already read them.