Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The reading house

Reading is incredibly important in our house, to all of us (well, maybe not the dog, though he did like eating books when he was puppy). We estimate (it would take a bit too long to count, though I may do it one day) that we have about 2000 books. Rosemary has over 100 just herself, and more if you count all those teeny little board books that are in a box in the basement, waiting to released when her baby brother or sister arrives. We have read to her since she was born and she has (almost – there was a period of a few months where she only let her Granny read to her, not us, which was a bit sad) always loved reading.

A lot of our books are waiting for proper homes at the moment, as they were lined up under our bed (all the way round, so we could see them), but then the bed broke and we are back to sleeping on a mattress on the floor, with a few hundred books piled up on the edges of the room instead. There are also a couple of boxes of books in the basement that we should really take to a charity shop. But we find giving books away, or selling them, really very difficult.

We have been planning a set of shelves in the other alcove in the living room (the one to the right of the fireplace has a set already). But we have come to realise that we need more, so there are going to be three or four shelves going the full width of one of the walls, as well. There are many people who would balk at such an invasion of books into a living space. People who would think it looked cluttered (Chris’ parents, for example, find it difficult to understand our need to have so many books) and would worry about the dust. We, on the other hand, cannot wait and will find our living room even more of a comforting space where we want to sit, when it has more books decorating it.

Since needing to become more frugal, we have been making more use of the library. We went with Rosemary at least once a week, usually twice, already, but didn’t always borrow books ourselves. Recently, though I’m reading about one book week, helped along by the library’s Fast Track system (new bestsellers that you can only have out for a week) and their Richard and Judy selection (which is also on a one-week loan). I’m quite a slow reader these days, compared to Chris (he can read often read one or two books a night and at least three or four a week). If I didn’t have anything else to do, I could get through a book a day. That would be a luxury indeed.

Here are some of the books I’ve been reading over the last few weeks:

Rosemary usually gets nine or ten books out a week, sometimes swapping a few of them in the middle of the week. These days, we go for bedtime reading books, usually a largish format and paperback, with big bright pictures and fun and interesting stories. Sometimes, she’ll also pick out a counting or alphabet book or a lift-the-flap book. She gets very excited when she has new library books to read at bedtime, though she’ll usually insist on reading two or three of her own books, as well. By the end of the week, we end up with a towering pile of books by the side of her bed and I have to tidy them back into their bookshelves. Her two favourite books at the moment (both from the library) are:

I can’t keep up with what Chris is reading, as he gets through so much, but I know he got this out of the library on Monday:

Is yours a reading house? What are you reading at the moment? Do your children have favourite books? Do you use your library or just buy books? Where do you buy books from? (I could talk for hours about reading and buying books, but I’d better go and do some work instead, as Rosemary has just gone off to my mum’s.)

[You may have noticed that I have given up on the whole initial thing. R = Rosemary; C = Chris; I’m Tasha, which you probably know already!]


  1. We are absolutely a book house. I can't borrow books for the children because they read them over and over and take them to school/nursery and then rediscover them again after a while.
    Their book collection is vast, but I'd much rather spend the money on them than on toys they will outgrow or get bored of or not get much value from.
    My son is reading now which is such a joy and I can't wait to share some of my childhood books with him.
    I'm afraid I'm a bit of a book nut too as I get all funny about lending them out incase they a. don't get returned b. have pages turned back or c. have their spines broken.
    I know it's nerdish but it's clearly my 'thing'.

  2. Tara: I can't wait for Rosemary to be reading, too. She pretend reads already, which is so sweet. I'll leave her in bed with a book while I go and get her milk and listen to her making up a story to it through the baby monitor.

    I'm afraid I'm a page folder and spine breaker, so don't ever lend me a book! Chris gets very annoyed about it. I like to be comfortable reading, and can't hold a paperback comfortably without breaking its spine. (I'm probably causing you all kinds of pain just describing it, aren't I? Sorry!) My pain is when people write in books. It took me a great deal effort to write with very light pencil in the books I was studying at university and I had to grit my teeth when I saw the woman opposite me getting out a highlighter pen and covering her book in it.

  3. Me and the girls love books i love nothing more than settling down to a good book. the girls love 'shark in the park' and 'tickly octopus' at the moment. none of my girls are of reading age yet so we love picture books. our 3year old gets one book a week from the school nursery library which is great and all 3girls settle themselves to bed looking at books (just like mummy!) x

  4. Yes, we are definitely a reading house! I'm about to start December, incidently.Luckily my love of books has been passed onto my 5 year old who seemed to enjoy books as much as me, thank goodness!

  5. I am an obsessive reader and often have several books on the go. I am a page folder, spine breaker and - sorry Tash - margin scribbler. I love the history that second hand books contain, when you see that someone has made notes - or even jotted down a telephone message - in the back. Husband made a fantastic book case in the playroom which holds all the children's books so that the front faces outwards and it's lovely to see them all standing in front of it choosing their books. I have not particularly cerebral in my reading, despite a literary background. I have just finished reading 'Slummy Mummy' for sheer hilarity, and also to get to grips with how to manage tenses and speech in my own fledgling novel.

  6. We read and then we read somemore!

    I have a tier system on my 'library' books I love are on the shelves in the dinning room; books I quite like were in the spare room, but as that is now Isobel's room there are on book shelves in the loft. Oh, there are some hardbacks piled under a candlabra on the stairs (you mean that isn't where you keep yours).

    And the shelves in Isobel's room are filling up fast too.

    I have, in a heart breaking attempt to raise cash been selling off some of my books on ebay. I used to take the 'disposables' to the charity shop, but now that is where I often by mine.

    Yep, so we read.

  7. Amy: I have this idyllic picture in my head, now, of three little girls cuddled up together reading books. Aw. Don't think we've come across those two books. Shall see if they have them at the library. I love the wide range of picture books they have these days. Some of them are amazingly inventive and beautiful.

    Rosie: December was brilliant. Hope you enjoy it, too. I think if with enthusiastic readers in the family, it's probably quite difficult for a child to grow up not liking reading. Hope so, anyway!

    MTJAM: You don't?! No! I like inscriptions at the start of books, actually. Love getting one from a charity shop or second-hand bookshop and trying to imagine the people who've read it before and what the inscription was about. Most of reading is what some people might term 'trash', but I prefer to call 'easy reading' or 'page turners'. Some of the Richard and Judy stuff I've been reading, though, is cerebral and page-turning, which is a pretty nice combination. Trying to remember if I loved Slummy Mummy or hated it. I know I have it here, somewhere, though.

    Surprised: Our shelves in the living room are what we call our 'eclectic' shelves. We have sections upstairs for classics, crime, sci-fi, fantasy, romance and chick lit and contemporary fiction, but the living room holds a mix of all of it, none of which we are embarassed to display (there are a fair few embarassments upstairs). I am pained by your need to sell some books. It must be hard. Though I have considered it ocassionally recently. Just can't bring myself to do it. Though there may well come a point when we actually run out of space of any kind for our books and will have to do so, or buy a new house! We have a fantastic charity shop locally that sells books for between 10p and 50p and has a whole room full of books. We pop in there a few times a week on the way back from the library!

  8. We are a semi - reading house . I love to read (Currently Reading Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult) and normally have a few on the go. My girls love to be read , there favourites change every day . My 2 year old has half her cot filled with books , i love it.
    Hubby does not read, think he has read maybe 2 or 3 books his whole life. I cannot imagine ...