Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Revisiting the past - Karen Bush

After twenty years in the US, my uncle finally returned to the country of his birth for a visit. He spent a lot of time grumbling: the cars were smaller and the roads narrower than he remembered them, the pubs more crowded, the beer warmer, and far from enjoying the traditional white Christmas which the weather had laid on, even the snow was apparently far colder than in days gone by!
But worst of all for him was how much the places he so fondly remembered from his youth had changed and in some cases vanished entirely...

JLS
Happily, you can revisit a book and it won't have changed at all.
The problem is that while the book will be the same, you may not be ... I recently picked up my battered copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. As an angst-ridden teenager I thought this was just the coolest, the most profound book ever: as an adult, I found it ... well, let's not go there. No longer to my tastes, shall we say?

The same has happened with other books I've revisited, although I'm glad to say, with relatively few. But my biggest problem though, is not that I am no longer the same person I was five, ten or twenty years ago: it's actually gettting hold of some of the books in the first place. While many classics have been digitised (sadly, not always very well -  often with more enthusiasm than skill or care) there are many, many more old favourites which still deserve to be read and enjoyed, but won't be because they aren't available as e-books and can be difficult to lay hands on in their paper incarnations.
          Even where the paper editions are still readily available, when they've been out of print for some time, it's not always easy to give them as gifts if the only copies you can find are a bit dog-eared and tatty. Over the last few years I've been having fun sharing and comparing notes with my godson on books which I loved as a child. He's currently having a whale of a time with The Phantom Tollbooth - celebrating its 52nd anniversary this year, and evidently none the worse for it. Happily it's available as a both a new paper edition and an e-book, so on this occasion at least it didn't look as though I was being a cheapskate.

Land of Green Ginger
Some stories he is just going to have to wait for though. 'Battered' politely describes the copy I recently acquired of Carol Kendall's The Firelings. The story is still just as fresh as when I first read it - unlike the yellowing, crispy and fragile paper pages it was printed on: but at nearly £20 it wasn't a cheap purchase, so I'm afraid I'm not going to be loaning it to him.
Little Grey Men
Happily the world of digital publishing finally appears to be waking up to the possibilities, and I was happy to see that a couple of other old-time favourites, Noel Langley's The Land of Green Ginger, (although I've heard worrying rumours that it is a sadly mutilated version of the original 60's tale ...) Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and The Little Grey Men by 'BB' are now finally available as e-books. Sadly, still no sign yet of The Firelings though...

Wolves of Willoughby Chase





So lets hear it for the e-book, which will stay in print, at an affordable price, for as long as an author
wants it to!

What favourite books not yet available as an e-book would you like to see digitised?



The Great Rosette Robbery and other stories
Haunting Hounds
It Only Happens in Stories
The Principles of Teaching Riding

Visit my website at: www.karenbush.jimdo.com

2 comments:

Sue Purkiss said...

The book I borrowed from the library time after time when I was a kid was The Amazing Mr Whisper, by Brenda Macrow. A few years ago, I managed to track down a copy - and it seemed so dated, so obvious! But it certainly did its job at the time - and I think it must really have been a forerunner of lots of recent books where children encounter faeries, goblins, elves, trolls etc. And I still loved the Scottish setting.

Joan Lennon said...

Jonathan Livingston Seagull! Blimey, I haven't thought of that in years, and yet, at the time ... we were very young, after all!