The Child That Books Built (INT BOOK RING)
9 journalers for this copy...
This ring started 25 June 2005.
If you wish to join the ring, please PM me and I will add you.
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.
Nice-cup-of-tea, Zurich, Switzerland
TramGirl, Melbourne, Australia
Katie1980, Poole, Dorset
WistfulDragon, Streatham, London
Loopy1, Herne Bay, Kent
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.
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.
An alternative cover that brings back memories of childhood
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.
EDIT: Just found the bar of choc stashed in the envelope.... mmmmm!
Many thanks for including me on the ring and I will swiftly post it on.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Posting onwards. :)
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!
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.
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!
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)
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
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.
I have two ring books ahead of this, but as they are MZBs, I should get to this one very soon. Thank you!
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.
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.
I'll be passing it on as soon as I can.