Favourite Christmas Books

For our neighbours to the south, the day after Thanksgiving marks the official start of the Christmas season. So in honour of our American friends, I thought I would do a post about Christmas memories. And since this blog focuses on books… You know where this is going.

One book that makes me pause and leaf through it every time I see it, is The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. I’m always a little sad at the end, but can’t help but get lost in the story again and again.

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Another one that recalls my earliest Christmas memories is The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden. This book is so heart-warming, that I guarantee you will enjoy it if you haven’t read it. And if you have already read it, I know you will agree.

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And so, with that nod to the start of the Christmas Season, once again I put the question to you, my readers. What are your favorite Christmas books? They don’t have to be children’s books, like the ones I just listed, but please do share whatever they are!

Keeping Your Books Healthy

If your bookshelf is overflowing, and it’s time to get another one, read this first. Did you know that your bookcase could be emitting acidic gases that damage your books? This post is likely a little intense for the average person who just wants to put their books somewhere off the floor. But if you have some precious old books, or if you want to take your love for books to the next level, you might find this information helpful.

Fresh wood and wood-like substances (plywood, particle board, some laminates) that contain formaldehyde should be avoided due to the acids they emit. Formaldehyde emits formic acid, which can lead to fading pigments and weakened paper. Paper that is stored near something that contains formaldehyde can then absorb the acid it emits, and we all know what happens with acidic paper: it becomes weak and brittle (see picture below).

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The paper in the images shown here has acid in it. The yellow colour and brittleness was not caused purely from being on a wood shelf. But the acids from unsealed storage can exacerbate problems in paper that is already acidic, and it can accelerate deterioration. If you have an old wooden bookcase, then the off-gassing has already occurred and it is okay for your books to be stored there. Just remember to keep the collection well ventilated. If your wooden bookcase is not old, however, you can seal the wood so it will not emit any gases. DO NOT use oil-based anything, as the oil will emit corrosive gases. But latex paint, or air-drying enamels are okay.

More information on the subject can be found in the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s pamphlet on Storage and Handling.

A Bookbinder Near You

Does anyone out there have a book (or books) that looks like this?

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As you can probably guess, I do! Well, I did. The two books pictured above were my mother’s, and they were published in 1908. Clearly, they suffered a lot over the years, and I decided to take them to my local bookbinder, Don Taylor, so they could get a new lease on life.

Restoration specialist Kate Murdoch worked on my book, and we discussed what should be done. I wanted the two books bound into one, since the one volume was missing both covers, and we hoped that the remaining covers could be salvaged. Kate resewed the pages, making the binding tight again (shown below). The beautiful endpapers were lifted from the original covers, but alas, the covers themselves were too weak and could not be restored.

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The end result (shown below) is a beautifully tight, crisp new volume that will be around for the next hundred years.

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Thank you Kate Murdoch and Don Taylor Bookbinder! If you’re in the area and have a book or two that could benefit from a skillful restoration, here’s where to go:

Don Taylor – Bookbinder 
176 John Street, Unit 511
Toronto, Ontario
M5T 1X5
Phone: 416.591.8801
Email: dstbook@gmail.com

High School Books

In high school English class, we all had various books assigned to us. In grade 9 I read The Chrysalids and Lord of the Flies, both of which I thoroughly unenjoyed.

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In grade 10 it was To Kill a Mockingbird, and I honestly don’t remember any books from grades 11 or 12. My last year went out with a bang, featuring a spectacularly depressing book by a Canadian author, The Stone Angel. (Yes, that was back when there were 5 years of high school here. But that’s for another post. Or even another blog.)

So now I ask you, dear readers, what did you read in high school English (aside from Shakespeare)? Please share! A synopsis and your opinions would be lovely, but I don’t ask you to invest a lot of time. Just some titles and comments. I’m looking forward to comparing our experiences!

 

A Feast for Your Eyes

I just came across my new favorite website: http://bookshelfporn.com  The name is a tiny bit on the provocative side, but the pictures are safe for all ages. Fair warning, you may spend several minutes staring, followed by several hours daydreaming. If you love books, and if you have always wanted walls lined with books in your home, click here. You will not be disappointed!

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That was just a tease. Now, go. See for yourself!

Toronto International Book Fair!

If you are near Toronto next weekend, don’t miss INSPIRE! at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building. (255 Front St., West) from November 13-16, 2014.

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Thursday, November 13: 7pm-11pm

Friday, November 14: 10am-8pm

Saturday, November 15: 10am-8pm

Sunday, November 16: 10am-6pm

Click here for hours and ticket prices. Click here for the list of exhibitors!

See you there! Follow the book fair on Twitter @InspireTIBF

Delightful YA Books from Days of Yore

These books gave me many hours of joy when I was young, and I hope that this post brings back some happy memories. May it even  cause you to break out that old box of books in the attic so you can read them again. Or, maybe it will motivate you to  find a copy so you can see what you’ve been missing out on for all these years! Here’s fair warning that they are not necessarily readily available, though. If they aren’t on Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com, try Abebooks.com and keep an eye out at community books sales.

Gone-Away Lake (1957) by Elizabeth Enright

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  • A brother and sister go to the country to visit their cousin, and while they are there, they discover a ghost town! A Victorian resort that has long been abandoned sets the stage for new friendships and adventures.

The Minnow on the Say (1955) by Philippa Pearce

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  • Two friends spend the summer together, and with an old riddle to guide them, search for treasure buried in the banks of the river Say. Adventure, mystery and suspense all wrapped into one wonderful story.

Tom’s Midnight Garden (1958) by Philippa Pearce

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  • As with all the books in this post, this one also stayed with me over the years. When the clock strikes thirteen, Tom steps out the back door of the house and goes back in time to the Victorian era. A ghostly friend and himself invisible, this book is charming and thoroughly entertaining.

The Trouble With Jenny’s Ear (1960) by Oliver Butterworth

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  • After an experiment with her brothers gone awry, Jenny can read people’s thoughts. Funny, endearing, and with a delightful ending.

The Twelve and the Genii (1962) by Pauline Clarke

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  • In this story, twelve wooden soldiers come alive and 8-year old Max must keep them safe, with the whole town against him. Had they once belonged to the Bronte children? Another delightful read!