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Thursday, 3 March 2005
All About Books
Topic: Special Days
It's World Book Day! What do you like to read?

Last Thursday, I asked my Grandchildren what was their favourite book. Elliot didn't hesitate, "The Cat In The Hat", (by Dr. Seuss), he said. Stephanie smiled and then said, "Pants". No, not a childish imprecation but apparently the name of a book showing animals wearing all sorts of coloured pants. When I went upstairs, I had a peek at all the books on the shelf in their bedroom. Couldn't see it. Mentioned it to my daughter when she came home. "Pants?", she looked puzzled, "No she hasn't got a book called that - must be a book in the school library." So, my curiosity aroused , I searched the Internet and found this book by Giles Andreae. Must be the same one!

When I was a small child, I loved a book called "Mr. Tumpy and his Caravan", by Enid Blyton, about a caravan that could fly. There were lots of little pictures telling the story - a bit like a comic book, I suppose. As I got older, I read avidly all the Tarzan books I could find and then all the other books by the same author (Edgar Rice Burroughs) on Mars, Venus and Pelucidar, that strange world in the centre of our own planet Earth. I remember reading about the 'purple sward' on Mars and rushing to the dictionary to find out what 'sward' was. The late Dr. Carl Sagan, scientist and astronomer, also grew up reading the Mars stories. He once admitted to standing with outstretched arms towards the Red Planet as had John Carter (the fictional hero of these Martian tales) who was transported through space to wake up on the planet. Silly stuff? Maybe, but it certainly awoke an interest in astronomy in the young boy and set him on his path through life.

A bit older still and I was borrowing all the books I could find by Jules Verne from our local library. He was probably one of the first science fiction writers to 'invent' things which were ahead of his time and which we take for granted today. I also liked reading poetry and I remember coming home from the Church summer fête clutching two old and tattered poetry books I had found - both with pencilled additions and comments and obviously much loved by their previous owners. My mother did not seem to be too impressed by my 'grubby' purchases but I still have those books today. In one of them, I discovered "Horatius" an epic poem by Lord Macaulay - one of my favourite poems. Talking of epic poems, my father once gave me an old and beautifully illustrated book of Longfellow's poems which had belonged to his adopted mother and I loved reading, "The Song of Hiawatha". Never lend anyone a book you treasure. I took it to school when we were studying poetry and stupidly lent it to another girl. A few weeks later, it was the end of the summer term and I was leaving. I never saw that book again.

More recently, I have enjoyed reading the Earth's Children books by Jean M. Auel, particularly the first of the five books, "The Clan of the Cave Bear" (which I couldn't put down). The other books are: "The Valley of the Horses", "The Mammoth Hunters", "The Plains of Passage" and "The Shelters of Stone". Although these stories are fiction set in the twilight days of Neanderthal Man and the dawn of Cro-Magnon Man, Jean Auel has woven into them many real archaeological sites dating back to the Ice Age and has described artefacts and ornaments which can be seen in museums today. She also meticulously researched plants and fauna living at the time and this enormous attention to detail really brought the stories to life for me. I am looking forward to the sixth book which is currently being written.

I can't leave non-fiction books out in the cold. If, like me, you are interested in genetics and the mysteries of life on Earth, I can highly recommend, "Almost Like A Whale - The Origin of Species Updated", by Steve Jones. It is thoughtful, brilliant and witty and very interesting indeed without being too scientific (if you know what I mean!).

Why don't you visit your library or your local bookshop today and find an interesting book. It will make a change from some of those boring old programmes on television!

Posted by Noviomagus at 00:01 GMT Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Friday, 4 March 2005 - 19:52 GMT

Name: doubledog

One of the best things about being human is the ability to enjoy a rich and juicy new book. Animals have to slog along from day to day with just what happens in their immediate environment while we humans can anytime access all of time and space and every living creature, real and imagined. Cheaply, too. Books aren't really inexpensive, but they cost less than travel. Also, books are a safe place to meet people whom it might be inconvenient to know in person but who are interesting nevertheless. Speaking of safe, books are a safe place in which to enjoy being frightened by ghosts, criminals, and impending disaster of every kind. Unlike TV, the pace of a story in a book is entirely under one's control. Gallop through it, slowly savor each detail, or go back and re-read some especially tasty part. Yay for books!

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