The Child That Books Built (INT BOOK RING)

by Francis Spufford | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 0571214673 Global Overview for this book
Registered by UrbanSpaceman of Kingston upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on 6/18/2005
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
9 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by UrbanSpaceman from Kingston upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, June 18, 2005
Welcome to The Child That Books Built International Book Ring

This ring started 25 June 2005.

If you wish to join the ring, please PM me and I will add you.

Francis Spufford

Francis Spufford is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster. As well as The Child that Books Built he is author of two acclaimed works of non-fiction: I May Be Some Time, a cultural history of the British fascination with polar exploration, which won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and The Backroom Boys a series of essays looking a British post-war technological progress.


Caro1, Nottingham
DaemonWolf, Leeds
Nice-cup-of-tea, Zurich, Switzerland
TramGirl, Melbourne, Australia
Katie1980, Poole, Dorset
WistfulDragon, Streatham, London
Loopy1, Herne Bay, Kent
Hey-Miki, London
Barelm, Alberta, Canada
Booknhand, San Jose, USA
Sqdancer, Alberta, Canada

... and then back to me.

How it works

- If you wish to be added to the list, please PM me with your details.
- We will kick off once we have 5(ish) members.
- You will be sending the book to the person who appears after you in the list, so you need to PM them to get their address.
- It's not a race, but please read and send the book on as speedily as you can, other people are dying to read it too.
- Please journal the book once you have received it (so we all know where it currently is) and again when you have read it (so we know what you thought of it).
- If you're the last person on the list, then please send it back to me.

Journal Entry 2 by UrbanSpaceman from Kingston upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on Monday, June 20, 2005
The title of the first chapter of this book is Confessions of an English Fiction Eater. This sets the tone for the rest of the book - part personal biography, part paean to children’s literature and part academic examination of the effects reading and stories on child development.

To investigate the hold that fiction has on both him and other readers, Spufford returns to the books of his childhood and late adolescence, including classics such as The Narnia Chronicles, The Little House on the Prairie, and The Left Hand of Darkness.

Spufford shows the force of fiction in shaping a child: how stories allow for mastery of the world and escape from pain, how they shift our boundaries of the knowable, how they stretch us in a process analogous to "a seed crystal, dropped into our minds when they were exactly ready for it, like a supersaturated solution, and suddenly we changed. Suddenly a thousand crystals of perception of our own formed, the original insight of the story ordering whole arrays of discoveries inside us, into winking accuracy."

This is a slim, dense and rare book, written with passion and often surprising honesty. Very rewarding.

Journal Entry 3 by UrbanSpaceman from Kingston upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, June 25, 2005
Given to Caro1 at London Mini-Meet, Stamford Arms.

Journal Entry 4 by Caro1 from Newark On Trent, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Sunday, June 26, 2005
Passed to me by UrbanSpaceman at a London mini-meet. I have 3 rings ahead of this one, including a 600 page doorstopper also belonging to Chris. This one is slim enough to slip into my bag, so it might jump the queue and be taken to read on my journey to the Unconvention.

An alternative cover that brings back memories of childhood

Journal Entry 5 by Caro1 from Newark On Trent, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Not actually me, but my favourite reading position, then and now
This was my reading matter on the journey to and from the Unconvention and I couldn't have picked anything better, returning home determined to revisit my childhood favourites. I recognised with nostalgia many of the books and experiences of childhood reading described. I'm not as clear as the author about exactly when I was first introduced to my personal favourites but other titles, not mentioned, that leapt into my mind included: The Borrowers by Mary Norton, Worzel Gummidge by Barbara Euphan Todd (first heard, I think, on the radio), Stig of the Dump by Clive King, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, What Katy Did and What Katy Did Next by Susan M. Coolidge and a huge number of books by Enid Blyton, particularly, The Malory Towers series and The Famous Five (of course).
Spufford's description of 'reading catatonically' was definitely something that my family knew all about, once my head was in a book I was aware of nothing until I'd finished reading. I have to confess that I still continued reading, unaware of the world around me, right into adulthood and it wasn't really until the birth of my daughter that I was forced to grow out of it.
A really interesting and thought provoking read. Thanks US/C for sharing.

Journal Entry 6 by DYI-991976 on Friday, July 08, 2005
Arrived this morning, many thanks. :)

EDIT: Just found the bar of choc stashed in the envelope.... mmmmm!

Journal Entry 7 by DYI-991976 on Monday, July 11, 2005
Read and reviewed. :)

Many thanks for including me on the ring and I will swiftly post it on.

Released 14 yrs ago (7/21/2005 UTC) at book ring in Mailed to fellow bookcrosser, Postal Release -- Controlled Releases



Posting onwards. :)

Journal Entry 9 by nice-cup-of-tea from Zürich, Zürich Switzerland on Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Received in the post today. I have one (big) bookring ahead of it, but will read and journal as soon as possible. Thanks Nia for posting, and USC for organising!

Journal Entry 10 by nice-cup-of-tea from Zürich, Zürich Switzerland on Monday, August 01, 2005
“It is the story (I hope) of the reading my whole generation of bookworms did; and it is the story of my own relationship with books; both.” p.21

I have been trying to write this journal entry for days now and I think this JE will be part review, but mostly my own confessions of my childhood reading obsession! I loved this book and will definitely be finding my own copy, since I think it’s a book that deserves re-reading. I loved the fact that this book helps us to examine our own childhood and past.

Spufford has a lovely writing style, and there were many incidents which triggered off my own memories. I thought the idea of structuring the book around a central theme, such as “The Forest” worked well, and his use of Piaget’s four stages of development was also effective. There were some wonderful ideas, especially this one about the ‘intangible shoplifting’ of books:

“If your memory was OK you could descend upon on a bookshop – a big enough one so that the staff woulnd’t hassle a browser – and steal the contents of books by reading them. I drank down 1984 while loitering in the O section of the giant Heffers store in Cambridge. When I was full I carried the slopping vessel of my attention carefully out of the shop.” p4.

Many of the books he mentioned triggered memories in me. For example, “Where the wild things are” used to scare the living daylights out of me, whereas Maurice Sendak’s other book Micky in the Night Kitchen was a personal favourite! I was amazed that the first book he can remember reading was “The Hobbit”. I hated this book, and only read it when I was about 11, and that was under duress. I do remember reading “Heidi” as a child, and realising that I was ‘reading’ this book, in my eyes, this was an adult book and I was reading to myself! I shared his difficult in knowing how to jump from children’s literature to adult literature. I had a few difficult years (11-13) when I teetered precariously from Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie, before finally landing into adult literature.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter on “The Island” since I ws (and probably still am) a Narnia fan. I thought Spufford’s explanation of CS Lewis’ “Longing” and platonic ideas, was just spot on. Spufford describes the Narnia series as “the essence of book” and for me that was completely right. For me brother, the essence of book was Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings – we had a very divided household at one point!

I could really relate to him when he talks about moving schools, being a boarder and then becoming accepted, his intelligence being taken for granted, he fitted in rather than being the book reading freak. As a child I never really got over that. I wouldn’t play with other kids, I preferred sitting at the side reading! It wasn’t til I got to Uni, that reading became an accepted given. And now as an adult, bookcrossing has given me that same sense of identity. It’s ok to be a fast reader and a reader of many types of books, that it’s okay to be slightly obsessed by books! I just wish I’d kept lists of all the books and sources which shaped me as I grew up. There are seminal books, where I remember exactly the first time I read them. For example, I took “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” out of our local library and took it to Hannover, Germany on my first language trip abroad. I was 14, and that book blew me away!

What a fantastic book! Apologies to all bookring members before and after me for my rambling, thanks for the temporary therapists couch there :-) Thanks UrbanSpaceman for this ring!

Journal Entry 11 by nice-cup-of-tea from Zürich, Zürich Switzerland on Thursday, August 04, 2005
Sent to TramGirl, Melbourne, Australia yesterday (2nd August) via B Post

Journal Entry 12 by TramGirl from Ballarat, Victoria Australia on Sunday, August 21, 2005
Received this in the post and have started reading today. Shouldn't take too long before I send it on...

Journal Entry 13 by TramGirl from Ballarat, Victoria Australia on Sunday, October 16, 2005
Ok, firstly I'm so sorry that I've had the book for so long! Real life got in the way but I hope to have it sent on by the end of this week.

I enjoyed the book although it was written differently than I was anticipating, but still it was interesting to hear the authors thoughts on the different books (most of which I'd heard of, some of which I'd read) and how they impacted on his life at certain times.

There were a couple of quotes which I identified with (namely to do with reading and life in general) but I don't have the book in front of me so can't cite them!

This will be sent to Katie1080 next.

Journal Entry 14 by TramGirl from Ballarat, Victoria Australia on Sunday, October 23, 2005
Sent to Katie1980 on Saturday 22nd. It was small enough to qualify as a letter for postage so hopefully it doesn't take long to arrive.

Journal Entry 15 by katie1980 from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Saturday, November 05, 2005
This arrived while we were on holiday. Thanks for passing it on TramGirl, and I'll read it soon and send it on to WistfulDragon. The opening few pages are great, though - who could resist a book that talks about the world shutting off when you're reading? Certainly not me!

Journal Entry 16 by katie1980 from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Monday, November 21, 2005
Just to let you know that I'm struggling a bit with this at the moment - it's not quite what I thought it was, and is all very deep and meaningful. It's also quite confusing at the point where I currently am! But I will endeavour to read on, and if I continue to struggle, I will pass the book on part-read so that I do not hold up the ring.
Thanks for sharing, anyways, I just thought I'd let you know what was happening! It feels like I've been hanging onto this book for longer than I have!

Journal Entry 17 by katie1980 from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Nope, I'm going to have to admit defeat :o(
I'm avoiding the book because I am not enjoying it, and I have so many other books that I'd rather read! So, I'll pass this on to my dragon-y friend, and hope that she enjoys it more than me. Sorry for holding up the book, and for giving up. I hate doing that, but sometimes there's just nothing for it. Still, at least I'm only spending a bit of postage to find out I don't like it, instead of having bought the book! That's what's great about bookrings - I've found some books that I've loved that I would never have picked up on my own!
Thanks for sharing, anyway, Mr UrbanSpaceman :o)

Released 13 yrs ago (1/7/2006 UTC) at mailing to a fellow bookcrosser in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



To be sent to WistfulDragon tomorrow, I'll take it along with a bunch of other packages that I'm sending out to other people. I hope that you have more joy with it than I did.

Journal Entry 19 by WistfulDragon from Streatham, Greater London United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
This was waiting for me when I got home from the meeting last night - a lovely surprise, especially with the sweeties enclosed, thanks Katie! It's appropriate to have received this book of UrbanSpaceman's straight after a trip down the underpass with him and Semioticghost, although I have to report that he is getting greedy - not only did he take us both down the underpass, he then went back to 'escort' three more women the same way!!!
I have two ring books ahead of this, but as they are MZBs, I should get to this one very soon. Thank you!

Journal Entry 20 by WistfulDragon from Streatham, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, January 15, 2006
What a wonderful book! I don't tend to analyse my reading, but Francis' insight has made me do so, and I can relate to a lot of what he says. I have realised that a lot of what I read is still juvenile fiction, although on 'adult' themes, and that I read more slowly when I read a truly adult book - maybe I still have some growing to do. His opinions on Ursula leGuin's Left Hand of Darkness particularly made me think; neither at the time of reading it or since have I consciously objected to the essentially male-oriented basis of the story, and I am still not sure whether that is because I sublimated myself in the book as Book, or whether I have an inbred assumption (my parents are very old-fashioned in some respects) that this is 'right'. The book remains one of my favourites, although not revisited for many years.
There's one phrase in this book that I think I may use while raising my own children, and wish I had read at a much earlier age myself. That is where he talks of finding a partner where 'desire and affection and trust' come together. This is a good definition, in that it seems so obvious when heard, but I've never seen it phrased like this before.
I have been, and remain, a catatonic reader - like my mother who gave up books when she had children, as she knew she wouldn't hear the baby cry!
I think I'm seeing Loopy on Saturday, so will pass the book on then (assuming I'm right!) Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this fascinating book.

Journal Entry 21 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 01, 2006
This book arrived in the post this morning, along with a little heartshaped notebook.

I'm looking forward to reading it - I think it had better go up by the bed, as that's about the only regular reading slot I have.


Journal Entry 22 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Monday, April 17, 2006
Apologies for hanging on to this book for so long - I have finished it, and really enjoyed the insight into children's fiction and reading generally.

I'll be passing it on as soon as I can.

Journal Entry 23 by hey-miki from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 02, 2006
This book was waiting at home for me when I got back from my hols. I'll get stuck in!

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