Aug 2014 AVAAFirst things, first, I’m doing *beautifully* with my AV/AA challenge, with my last Persephone book picked off from my TBR and devoured gleefully. It’s been lovely wallowing in all of these very different books – I’m glad that I have had a real range to get my teeth into. After the review, look for some pics from my latest book shuffling exercise. I’d started this a while ago, and got about half way (i.e. there were piles of books all over the back coffee table), but earmarked some time yesterday, on Bank Holiday Monday, to finish the shuffling. I fear I may be giving a few of you other bibliophiles an Idea or two, though.

“The Persephone Book of Short Stories”

(14 March 2014 – from Verity)

This was part of a Not So Secret Santa parcel which delivered its goodies throughout the first part of the year as well as on Christmas Day – what a lovely treat! This is an excellent collection of short stories which was published to mark Persephone Book No. 10o – an excellent idea. I’m not the biggest fan of the short story, as regular readers of this blog will know (or will have guessed, given the dearth of such things in the reviews). However, I do like a good classic one (think Hardy …) and that’s what we have here, in the main, with Whipple and Wharton providing familiar enjoyment, and a new favourite found in Mollie Panter-Downes, who is the only author to appear in this volume twice (but we forgive her, and I will be adding her volumes of stories to my Persephone wishlist!).

The last story, by Georgina Hammick, is quite a graphic description of a visit to what we will euphemistically call a women’s hospital, and the procedures undergone therein, however, its portrayal of its subject-matter shows on the one hand how far we’ve come since the more (literally) buttoned-up days of the Edwardian story that starts the volume, in terms of the overt detail discussed, but also highlighting that almost a century on, the female experience is still found to be shocking, especially when the female in question is reclaiming her own experience.

So, an intelligent and deeply enjoyable collection with, of course, good biographical notes to accompany it (but no introduction, which is a shame). Highly recommended, even (especially?) if you don’t think you care for short stories. Oh, and it’s the final book (chronologically) in Reading a Century of Books, too!

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Books by the bathroom doorA while back, I admitted in a guest post I did for someone’s blog that I had a Pile of books on the landing. OK, the two short walls either side of the bathroom door are ideally placed and sized for my small bookcases which hold my “nice-looking books” on one side and (held) language, literature, books about reading and books about books on the other. You can’t see the other side in this “before” pic, but it was a bit piled up, too, and because our floorboards are quite … springy … there were occasions when the books on that side leapt down the stairs, while the pile shown here was always apt to catch the hoover as it was lifted from the cupboard on the right (don’t ask about the reason for the curtain – we had to hack that door down, honest: there was nothing else for it).

They've gone underA little while ago, while pondering the state of the downstairs shelves (hardbacks / non-fiction), I came to the conclusion that I had Too Many Encyclopedias. Yes, that is A Thing. I have some nice ones I’ve inherited, and I went through a phase a (good) few years ago of collecting nice-looking ones that were used to help display bookshelves in charity shops – Arthur Mee’s “Children’s Encyclopaedia” and the like. Now, encyclopaedias are lovely, but they are bulky. However, if I was to give them to a charity shop, I don’t know that anyone else would take them. So, I hit upon this plan – put them UNDER the bookcases. Can you see? Under! Stroke of genius.

No pile by the bathroomThey’re perfectly safe there, no damp or anything (I’ll move them when we mop the floor). You can still see them and get to them, but with those and some more over to the side, there is SO MUCH SPACE. Erm, there was so much space. The bathroom pile is gone. Don’t worry – “Howard’s End is on the Landing” is still on the landing, but this is now Language and Books About Reading. And no pile! The pile has been redistributed around the spaces downstairs (and on Biography and Memoir and Travel, not pictured, where some of them may still be horizontal in front of the other books). No books to catch the unwary hooverer. No books lost at the bottom of the pile. It’s amazing!

Books on BirminghamMost excitingly, where a row of uniform volumes once sat (top left in the picture of the three bookcases above), with various papers and things roosting on top of them, I now have space for a Birmingham bookshelf – these were previously languishing on a low shelf and double-stacked. There’s room for the ones our friend Bridget kindly passed to us, and there’s room for a few more, as indeed there’s bagginess in the whole set of three bookcases (although not on the top, as the cat does like to wander around up there, so they need to be reasonably firm.

Fun, eh. Have you ever Gone Under with your shelving (as opposed to Gone Under, submerged in a wave of books?)