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Books in 2010

February 4, 2011

Thumbeline illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

During the past year we added to our library ‘only’ 242 volumes, which some will consider too many books and others not enough. Those in the former camp may take some consolation in the fact that 242 is significantly less than our peak figure of over 600 volumes added in 2003, and that our annual number has been steadily declining. With dwindling shelf space, we’ve been forced to buy more carefully. But also, most of the books we need for reference or writing are already at hand. Because we’ve been travelling less, we’ve visited fewer bookshops (where there are bookshops left to visit). And the years of the Lord of the Rings films and the fiftieth anniversary of The Lord of the Rings are past, so for the moment – at least until the Hobbit films arrive with new hoopla – there are fewer new editions of Tolkien’s works, and new books about Tolkien, being published to tempt completist collectors.

In the end, it isn’t a question of having too many books or never enough, but whether the books are useful or entertaining. Following is a selection from our tally for 2010, in which we make no attempt at alphabetical or chronological order.

Tolkien, of course, was the part of our library with the most additions last year. These included twelve volumes by Tolkien, mostly new paperback editions: The Children of Húrin (Ballantine), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ballantine), Unfinished Tales with Ted Nasmith’s Blue Wizards on the cover (HarperCollins), the mass-market boxed set of  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings illustrated by Alan Lee (HarperCollins), and a print-on-demand Middle English Vocabulary. We replaced a reprint of the first part of Sigelwara Land (Medium Ævum for December 1932) with the original issue, and added an Allen & Unwin hardback Hobbit, 15th impression (1965, the end of the second edition). We also added forty-one translations of Tolkien into sixteen different languages. All but four of the eighteen books we acquired devoted wholly to Tolkien were new publications, including Tolkien Studies 7; Music in Middle-earth, edited by Heidi Steimel and Friedhelm Schneidewind; Middle-earth Minstrel: Essays on Music in Tolkien, edited by Bradford Lee Eden; The Power of Tolkien’s Prose: Middle-earth’s Magical Style by Steve Walker; and The Ring and the Cross: Christianity and The Lord of the Rings, edited by Paul E. Kerry. One 2010 book is a translation of a work first published in Danish in 2004, Where the Shadows Lie: A Jungian Interpretation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings by Pia Skogemann. Somehow we missed Neil Heims’ J.R.R. Tolkien when it was published in 2004, but have it now. We were given a copy of Jan Broberg’s 1985 I Fantasins Varldar together with an English translation of the Tolkien interview it contains, and bought a 1981 pamphlet, Teacher’s Guide to The Hobbit by Robert Foster. Finally, we acquired Martha Sammons’ War of the Fantasy Worlds: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on Art and Imagination – better on Lewis than Tolkien – as well as two books with only small sections on Tolkien.

Our Pauline Baynes collection grew by sixteen volumes. Among these, one item was entirely new to us, The Pony Club Book 7, published for the British Horse Society, with two black and white drawings by Pauline of Alexander the Great and his horse Bucephalus. We also managed to fill a known gap, The Salmon in the natural history series How Life Goes On, and acquired three later editions of works of which we already owned firsts, The Arabian Nights and Fairy Tales from the British Isles by Amabel Williams-Ellis and Sister Clare by Loretta Burroughs. Additions to our shelves of ‘Narnia’ books by C.S. Lewis, with which Pauline worked for some fifty years, were a copy of The Last Battle with a variant dust-jacket (whereas early editions had Pauline’s cover art in black, light brown, and blue-grey on white as a vignette against a blue-grey background, the 4th printing (1964) omitted the light brown), the new HarperCollins facsimile editions of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair, and the HarperCollins de luxe 60th anniversary edition of The Chronicles of Narnia in a slipcase.

Wayne added eight items to his Arthur Ransome collection: five by Ransome, A History of Story-Telling (1909), Rod and Line (a first of 1929, and the 1947 reprint with a variant title-leaf), Dispatches and Letter to America 1918 (a print-on-demand reissue), and Swallows and Amazons (a reprint of the first Puffin paperback), and three about Ransome, Arthur Ransome under Sail and Arthur Ransome: Master Storyteller by Roger Wardale, and the paperback edition of The Last Englishman by Roland Chambers.

In his blog post of 31 July, Wayne mentioned several recent purchases, including graphic novels (his total for the year was fifteen, among them Absolute DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke and The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures by the incomparable Dave Stevens) and volumes about book design and illustration. Other titles not mentioned in that post include Plants and Places by Angie Lewin and Leslie Geddes-Brown; Garden Wisdom compiled by Leslie Geddes-Brown and illustrated by Angie Lewin; The Bookplates and Badges of C.F.A. Voysey: Architect and Designer of the Arts and Crafts Movement by Karen Livingstone; Drawn Direct to Plate: Noel Carrington and the Puffin Picture Books by Joe Pearson; and Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay by George Ewart Evans, illustrated by David Gentleman.

Almost half of the nineteen art books we bought in 2010 were published to accompany exhibitions, some of which we were able to visit (see Christina’s post of 26 December). For instance, we saw at the Eric Carle Museum an exhibition of children’s books illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, one of our favourite artists, and later bought the catalogue Lisbeth Zwerger: The World of Imagination. But there were also exhibitions we could not see, or discovered long after they closed, so have to be content with the accompanying books: these include Papermaking and the Art of Watercolour in Eighteenth Century England: Paul Sandby and the Whatman Paper Mill by Theresa Fairbanks Harris and Scott Wilcox; Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages by Melanie Holcomb; Imperishable Beauty: Art Nouveau Jewelry by Yvonne Markowitz and Elyse Zorn Karlin; George Barbier: The Birth of Art Deco, edited by Barbara Martorelli; and Rhythms of Modern Life: British Prints 1914–1939 by Clifford S. Ackley.

Other art books acquired included two on one of Wayne’s favourite artists, Eric Ravilious – Ravilious in Pictures: Sussex and the Downs and Ravilious in Pictures: The War Paintings, both by James Russell – and one on American art during the New Deal, When Art Worked by Roger G. Kennedy and David Larkin. Since we renewed membership in the Folio Society in 2010, we received a number of gift books, among them a special edition of The Nude by Kenneth Clark. We also bought two books on architecture: The Architecture of the Yale Center for British Art by Jules David Prown, and C.F.A. Voysey: An Architect of Individuality by Duncan Simpson. Christina was very impressed with a new addition to her books on early Netherlandish Art, The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden, edited by Stephan Kemperdick and Jochen Sandor. And there were two books in the category of interior design: the Sanderson book mentioned in Wayne’s post of 5 May, and Shipboard Style: Colin Anderson of the Orient Line by Ruth Artmonsky.

We bought fourteen children’s picture books in 2010. Inspired by a list in the Lisbeth Zwerger catalogue, and in part taking advantage of a special offer on Abebooks, we acquired eight books illustrated by Zwerger to fill gaps in our collection, including the early (1980) Thumbeline and her latest, The Pied Piper of Hamelin. We also bought three books illustrated by Gennady Spirin, whom we have mentioned several times: Life in the Boreal Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson; Jesus: His Life in Verses from the King James Holy Bible; and Little Red Riding Hood. Other titles which especially attracted us were Art & Max, written and illustrated by David Wiesner, and The House by J. Patrick Lewis with illustrations by Roberto Innocenti.

The Inheritance of Rome by Wickham

Christina is still wading through the large number of history books she bought in various Half Price Books stores in 2009, so her purchases in this field in 2010 were modest, only seven titles. Two of these were books she read several years ago and wanted her own copies: The Pursuit of the Millennium by Norman Cohn, first published in 1957, and Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeill, first published in 1976. Others included The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 by Chris Wickham; The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithridates by Adrienne Mayor (while listening to Mozart’s opera Mitridate Christina had often wondered what the real man was like); Travelling Heroes in the Epic Age of Homer by Robert Lane Fox; The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples by Nancy Goldstone; and Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens by Lisa Hilton. To these could be added an eighth work, which belongs partly to history and partly to language: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler.

We bought nineteen works of fiction (exclusive of graphic novels) last year. We both like Jasper Fforde, and welcomed his new Shades of Grey. We also both read the third book in the young adult ‘Tom Trueheart’ series (which we think has stretched far enough), Tom Trueheart and the Land of Myths and Legends. We bought The Magic Ring by de la Motte Fouquet after seeing suggested analogies with Tolkien on the Mythopoeic Society List, but neither of us has read it yet. Christina wanted several books by favourite authors, including Pegasus by Robin McKinley, Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones, and The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip, as well as Fortune’s Folly by Deva Fagan, The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker, and a boxed set from the Folio Society of three volumes of the ‘Jeeves’ short stories by P.G. Wodehouse: The Inimitable Jeeves, Carry On, Jeeves, and Very Good Jeeves. Among Wayne’s purchases were Turn Coat by Jim Butcher, Fever Crumb and A Web of Air by Philip Reeve, The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby, Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst, Runner by Thomas Perry, and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (reviewed in an earlier post).

Finally, to conclude a wide-ranging miscellany, we now have – among much else we haven’t named – Selected Writings by art historian A. Hyatt Mayor; The Trouble with Francis by poet Robert Francis; Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures by John Granger (with Tolkien references); The Order of Harry Potter by Colin Manlove; The Cambridge Companion to Children’s Literature, edited by M.O. Grenby and Andrea Immel; Another Country: A Guide to Children’s Books of the Lake District and Cumbria by James Mackenzie (with Ransome references); A Little Book of Language by David Crystal; The Natural Shade Garden by Ken Druse; The Great Naturalists, edited by Robert Huxley; The Great Explorers, edited by Robin Hanbury-Tenison; Blind Beasts: Chaucer’s Animal World by Beryl Rowland; Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky; and The Idea of North by Peter Davidson.

Images: dust-jackets for Thumbeline by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger (William Morrow, 1980), and The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 by Chris Wickham (Viking, 2009).

One Comment
  1. February 9, 2011 5:37 pm

    Hi there! Just wanted to let you know that we are currently finishing up our iPad app for Lisbeth Zwerger’s edition of The Little Mermaid. We’re really excited about making this book come to life and it should be in the app store in a couple of weeks. Def. check out if you have an iPad and are interested in seeing the app version of the book!

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