books, books, books

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Yesterday I took Lalie to the Library for the first time. Although she has a pretty impressive collection of books for a two-year-old, the current trend of four to five bedtime stories per night (in addition to daytime reading sessions) means the rotation is reaching mind-numbing heights. I simply cannot bring myself to read 'Maisy, Charley and the Wobbly tooth' (a random op-shop purchase that has her completely besotted) one more time.

After a play with the toys and a flick through endless tubs of picture books, we came away with a whopping thirteen children's titles.

And yet, not a single book for me.

I dawdled around the adult fiction isles with absolutely no clue what I was looking for. It's been so long since I've read a proper book. Even longer since I've been a member of a local library (shamefully long, in fact). When did I let pretty blogs and design magazines supersede the irreplaceable experience of truly getting lost in a proper story?

I really believe that reading to your kids is so, so important. But lately I've been thinking that creating a family culture of reading - ultimately, leading by example - should also be right up there on the priority list.

So, I'm kindly asking for your help. Point me in the right direction, folks... tell me about some recent standouts and/or your all-time favourite reads. Where should I start? (feel free to include some toddler suggestions, too. It was six books tonight - A Maisy marathon!)

P.S - The shoes finally fit!


  1. I've definitely got a few book recommendations for you! If you like books that are slightly haunting and lyrical, you'll love these...

    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
    The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Sutterfield

    And some young adult books definitely worth a read...
    A Great & Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (first in a series)
    The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

  2. I just read - the longest trip home by John Grogan and loved it.

    Also, I'm not sure if your local library does this, but at my local you can put books on hold on their website and then when you go to the library they're in a little section with your name on them ... Might make it easier with a toddler (and soon another bebe) in tow.

  3. anything by joy dettman...especially the earlier stuff "goose girl"..."henrys daughter"...a great aussie talent. my kids cant go past the hairy mclary books...a lot of fun x

  4. We've just started frequenting our local library too. I limit us to five loans at a time though as my unorganised ways typically result in late fines!

    As for adult fiction... I love Kate Morton too. I recently finished The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paulina Simmons. So beautiful. And if you are a romantic at heart with a soft spot for historical drama, it will be just your cup of tea (it certainly was mine).

    Some other favourites:

    Dirt Music by Tim Winton
    The Riders by Tim Winton
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    Fortune Cookie by Bryce Courtney
    One Day by David Nichols

    Happy Reading!

  5. I am completely the same with choosing books, whether it's in the library or book store - you'd think being a book designer I would have a better idea of what's out there but I generally pick a book by its cover (and like you most of the books I have purchased lately are picture books!)
    Some great books I've read that may interest you:

    Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
    Year of wonders - Geraldine Brooks
    The sad tale of the brothers Grossbart - Jesse Bullington (Not for the faint hearted!)
    Wicked, the life and times of the wicked witch of the west - Gregory Mcguire
    Soulless - Gail Carriger (for a bit of steampunk)
    A visit from the goon squad - Jennifer Egan

  6. Definitely anything by Kate Morton! The Poisonwood Bible, The Red Tent and anything by Geraldine Brooks.

  7. The Conjuror's Bird by Martin Davies is a beautiful story and a gentle read!

    And anything by Laurie Graham - Gone with the Windsors, Mr Starlight, The Importance of Being Kennedy, etc! Books you can read and don't require a huge amount of concentration but still entertaining.


  8. Some of my favourites are:

    "The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society" (a book set during WWII based in a beautiful little community called Guernsey, it's sad but leaves you feeling completely besotted for the characters!) by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
    "The Book Thief" by Markus Zukak
    "The House of Special Purpose" by John Boyne
    "The Boy in Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne (a bit of a tear jerker!)

    I love reading and I definitely credit that to growing up in a house of books and reading, my mum even still now always starts her day by reading a novel while she has breakfast, it is a wonderful way to begin the day! (though I understand the logistics of that with a toddler are problematic!)

    Happy reading!

  9. Thanks for all the great suggestions so far!

    Interesting to see Kate Morton pop up three times... obviously worth a look at! x

  10. Some of my 'must-own' favorites: 'the book thief' by markus zusak and 'a thousand splendid sun' by khaled hosseini. And a favorite from my preteen years that still proves a sweet and endearing read 'a tree grows in brooklyn' by Betty smith.

  11. I love Oliver Jeffers' Stuck that you've borrowed for Lalie, it's one of our favourites.

    Have you thought about picking up some old classics and reading / rereading.
    I really enjoyed 1984 and Brave New World.

    I honestly can't remember the last time I read which is terrible, but I think it will have to wait until my Uni work calms down, then I'll be coming back here to check out other people's suggestions.

  12. For little kids one of my current favourites is Ruby Red Shoes, the pictures are just so lovely. Press Here and anything by Herve Tullet is also good to mix things up and be less parent focused.

    I am currenlty reading Liane Moriarty The Husbands Secret, it is pretty good but not as funny as The Boy who fell from Earth by Kathy Lette that I just finished. Everyone else is raving about The Rosie Project too. I am yet to read it but apparently it is a great one.

  13. I found myself in a really similar position to you re: personal reading... the internet just takes up so much time! I forced myself to get reading again by joining a bookclub with a couple of friends (and their friends whom I didn't know). It's a great format for me because we all read what (and how much) we want and then meet once a month to gossip, discuss books and then swap titles.

    Recently I have read Ian McEwan's, Sweet Tooth, Caitlin Moran's, How to be a Woman and (a book I didn't really enjoy), Simon Ings, The Weight of Numbers.

    My all time kidlet favourites are Where the Forest Meets the Sea and The Princess who Hated it.

    Also, I take my daughter (she's a few months younger than Eulalie) to story time at the local library on a weekly basis... she LOVES it as there's singing and dancing (as well as storytelling) and it gives me a chance to sit at the back and have a break (I am 23ish weeks pregnant too and exhausted!)

    1. I am planning on joining a book club with my sister-in-law... really looking forward to it. At least, until the new baby arrives... when I expect books might start collecting dust again!

  14. I just ordered a new pile of books. The Snow Child was recommended over and over again, as was The Rosie Project. I've read some fabulous reviews about Siri Hustvedt's latest collection of essays: Living, Thinking, Looking. I find when I need to get back into reading, non-fiction is always the best place to start. Try, if you can, to get your hands on Lily Brett's New's a collection of her newspaper columns and it is so brilliant. Your library may have it and, of it doesn't, I'll send you my copy.


    1. I didn't give non-fiction much thought, but you're probably right. I think something a bit more 'real' would ease me into reading again... I don't want to be overwhelmed with complex, hard to follow plots!

  15. Ha...I just wrote an almost identical post!
    The only books I have been reading lately are toddler books and cookbooks!
    I love our local library...there is a playground right outside...and I too need to start using it as a resource for myself as well as for Toddler C!
    Happy reading!

    Oh and some books that I have read recently that I loved are Cutting For Stone and Sarah's Key.

    1. hehe... must be the time of year to start reading again!

  16. All time favorites:
    Bel Canto - Ann Patchett
    Eva Luna - Isabel Allende
    Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
    To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

    Recent good reads:
    Astrid and Veronika - Linda Olsson
    The Art of Fielding - Chad Harbach
    The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
    Without a Map - Meredith Hall

  17. 'shantaram' gregory david roberts. my fav book from what i read last year xx

  18. Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones.

    After finding it hard to read since having babies (concentrating on one thing for more than 5 minutes) mr pip lured me back to the adventure of a great read.

  19. I recently just got around to joining the local library, after living in our town for a year. I don't have a toddler, but from time to time, find myself drawn back to Roald Dahl books that I read when I was younger.
    My latest favourite reads have be, 'Lola Bensky' by Lily Brett, 'A Moveable Feast' by Ernest Hemingway and 'The Sense of an Ending' by Julian Barnes.
    Happy Reading!

    1. Funny, I was just thinking I should start back with old favourites from my childhood. I was a massive Roald Dahl fan!

  20. Lovely first trip to library. Been an avid goer since my school days. Hope she loves them with passion. Cute shoes! ^.^ Got my eye on your next posts.

  21. I devoured May we Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes this weekend. It's been a long time since I was so gripped by a book.

  22. I can't resist a book post! I've just started back at work and finally have the time - on the bus (!) - to read, and sink my teeth into, a book. I've read The Snow Child which was a gentle ease back into reading - and paints an unreal picture of the beauty of Alaskan seasons (which might feel so 'world's away' to you). I'm now about halfway through Gone Girl which is a fun read. A friend at work with great book taste just lent me Out Stealing Horses (Per Petterson) and I know not a thing about it, but I trust her taste. If you're looking to borrow from the library, I'm sure you'd be able to get your hands on these oldies but goodies, some of my all time faves: Middlesex (Jefrey Eugenides), Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) or The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy).

    I can't even start on books for toddlers....I wouldn't stop! x

    1. I'm hearing a lot about The Snow Child and Gone Girl... they must be popular because there's about 50 reserves on both at the library!

  23. I adored THE HELP (Kathryn Stockett), it was immensely addictive, once you start understanding what's going on.

    I'm currently reading ELEANOR RIGBY (Douglas Coupland) and I don't want to finish it (I'll have too though...) because I'm tricked into the humour and reality bomb it brings to my daily life.

    STARTER FOR TEN (David Nicholls) will make you pee your pants so much you'll laugh.

    I'd recommend THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy (Suzanne Collins), the books are written in a spirally plot and it actually makes you think about what could be.

    As for toddlers: The Giving Tree (Shel Silvertein), Looking at Lincoln (Maira Kalman), anything by Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss's collection. :)

    Hope you find something interesting in all those recommendations. :)

  24. It's so awesome to know that your little one is reading REAL books as opposed to one that is on the iphone or ipad. I used to be an avid reader.. until the modern distractions came along. Now I'm ashamed to say that I can't even give you A title. It's been that long. I blame my lack of reading on my schedule but in all honesty, I could be reading a book now! hahah! If you want magazines with pretty pictures, Kinfolk tops my list. Do check out a video on Ted by a book cover designer. It's such an interesting talk and it just reminded me of the good ol feeling of holding a book in my hands.

  25. I've just started reading again too!
    I've always been a massive reader being raised without a tv in the house (I know). But now I spend most my free time staring blankly at my computer or phone. And like you, I want Gus to see me reading (but it is a bit confusing for him as I've been reading on a Kindle!).

    I just read the Rosie Project - light-hearted, funny and a good one to ease back into reading.

    Otherwise my faves include: the Book Thief (who doesn't), The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Perfume by Patrick Suskind, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga) ...

  26. The Book Thief is wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time - a must read! :-)

  27. I agree with the Book Thief reccomendation. It's a beautiful book. I also recently finished The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman, which was fantastic.

    I agree with whoever suggested that you place holds on books and pick them up. Our library does that too, and it's very convenient, but they do charge you if you don't pick them up. It makes sense, since you've basically taken the book out of circulation, but just be aware and make sure you don't forget to pick them up! If you have a tablet or e-reader, you may also want to see if your library has a system for borrowing e-books.

    1. Thanks so much fir the tip... I'm currently making reservations in the next tab! :)

  28. So, on the book front I'm rubbish. Haven't read a novel since Josephine was born! However, I felt I had to comment on Lalie's beautiful shoes...they are perfection xx

  29. I've only just recently started reading adult fiction again - to be honest, it's nice to read something other than a parenting or self-help book! So I won't be of much help to you I'm afraid, but please don't mind me while I lurk about here reading other's comments for book recommendations ;)

  30. from memory, i'm pretty sure you had the classics covered from eulalie's room tour post eg. red riding hood, the gingerbread man etc. (i enjoy the details in your photos so much!). and good on you for considering some 'me-time' for yourself too x

  31. WILDWOOD! Written by Colin Meloy (lead singer of the Decemberists). And illustrated by his amazing wife Carson Ellis. It's technically a childrens book but the characters and storyline is lovely. A book for to read now and keep til Eulaie is old enough. It is a treasure. - think the Hobbit meets The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe meets The Folk of the Faraway tree. x

  32. The Book Thief is great, and I think Jaclyn said A thousand splendid suns which I also loved. Also People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is a really good read. We have Hairy Maclary high on Toddler rotation here at the moment and G's reading The Faraway Tree to Matilda for about the third time, she loves it (and it's really fun reading chapter books to kids when they get a bit older).

  33. what is it with maisy books that is so appealing? as i have always been the one choosing books at the library i go with ones that have beautiful illustrations but lately jess has started choosing some books too and last week she picked up a maisy book. oh my goodness, we have read it soooo many times. jess is so fascinated with it. pesrsonally i don't see the appeal at all but never say no to her many requests for me to read it.
    the snow child would be my number one recommendation, beautifully written, i am sure you would love it. x

  34. Book reading must be in the air as I've been craving a good book a lot lately too. In fact that's what I'm doing online tonight. I think I have my heart set on 'My Heart Wanders' by Pia Jane Bijkerk. I've been wanting to read it ever since it first came out, now feels like the right time. My boy is a five a night plus reader too, I can totally feel your pain on the high rotation front. On the look out for some new books for him too...looking into some longer stories and chapter books such as books by Enid Blyton. I find quick children's books don't give him enough time to relax into a reading trance, which is why I think it takes 5. xx


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