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Books!

This post leads on really from a great idea we saw and shared on our Facebook page (look for a post actually headed ‘Great idea!’ with a pic of a red telephone kiosk stuffed with books) for a book exchange that apparently some villages are setting up in their now redundant telephone kiosks.

We do keep both our barns well stocked with books as all guests will know. We keep adding to them – one way of reducing book overload in our house; the vital difference to this book exchange in a telephone kiosk idea is that many of our books are personal favourites so we don’t want to lose them. Anyone is welcome to take a book home to finish but we do appreciate them being returned.

It gives us enormous pleasure to know how much pleasure these books give to so many of our guests and we have had many a discussion outside or over the occasional glass of wine at the kitchen table and sometimes carried on in Facebook! I am very grateful to one of our guests who recommended the DoveGreyReader, to quote ‘a Devonshire based bookaholic, sock-knitting quilter who is a community nurse in her spare time’. I do recommend her blog: she writes so knowledgeably and well – just how she manages to fit in all she does every day beats me.

I belong to a small informal group of friends that meet once a month in each other’s homes to discuss a book we have all read the previous month, chosen by each of us in turn. It is a great way of reading books one might never otherwise have chosen or even come across and we all appreciate the discipline of ‘having’ to read a book that at first glance we would have instantly rejected. ‘You can’t tell a book by its cover’ is very true! I have hardly ever not enjoyed a book by the time i have finished it -I can think of two, over 20 years! But funnily enough, our best discussions are always when opinions vary and someone has really not enjoyed a book, or aspects of it, as much as others have.

We have a very varied reading list, including a graphic novel, poetry, classics and the latest ‘short listed best sellers’ (aren’t they all?). Occasionally we have decided on certain themes such as nothing newer than 50 years ago, and the Christmas choice is always a difficult one. We invite the spouses along to this, on the understanding that they must have read the book in return for a slap up meal which the five of us all produce. We find some of the men somewhat reluctant to branch out of their comfort zone, whether this be histories, action, biographies or advanced engineering manuals so we always hope to find something reasonably interesting to at least the majority – not easy.

After an unsuccessful choice we do find one or two instances of wise noddings, and ‘I agree’s which strangely are not often backed up by any original comments, amd that’s not just the men. Last Christmas we read ‘Parrot and Olivier in America’ by Peter Carey which should have catered for most needs but several of us had found it hard to appreciate. I think perhaps I should read it again. The year before, ‘Blood River’ by Tim Butcher was enjoyed by all, helped perhaps by the fact several of us know Tim! Much earlier on, ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbon provoked some interesting discussions/disagreements.

Recently we have found ourselves really loving the early 1900s era, including Nancy Mitford, Vita Sackville-West, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Elizabeth von Armin to name but a few. Over the years, perhaps ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt stands out as a favourite, and Madame Bovary.

The current read is ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ by Laura Esquivel.

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