A treasured bookish history…

“The greatest gift is a passion for reading”

– Elizabeth Hardwick

As a child I was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by people who loved to read, none more so than my Nan. She was a truly remarkable person who had a passion for life and a great love for the written word. She taught me many wonderful things but her passion for reading is something I will carry with me forever. We had many, many conversations over the kitchen table about the books we loved; we shared our books and I think she loved Harry Potter nearly as much as I did. She was also quite fond of writing letters and one day she sent one off to the Herald Sun suggesting that the schools that were banning Harry Potter and anything magical were a little bit mad. She was the best!

A bookish history...

A bookish history…

When she died, I was lucky enough to inherit most of her books. I have many wonderful memories of our time together but those book chats were some of the best. Her memory is infused in the books we shared and it is a lovely reminder to be surrounded by what she loved. A couple of weeks ago I decided that I wanted to have some of her really old books up on my shelves. For the last four years they have been stored in boxes and I thought it was time to bring them out. After a trip to Ikea and returning with a new bookcase, I finally had some space to show them off. So last night mum went hunting for the boxes and we sat on the floor, opened them up and promptly burst into tears.

The books are beautiful. There is a little bit of her in all of them and it was so special to finally appreciate the beauty and the history of each one. My favourite is a very well loved hardcover edition of Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott. It’s missing part of the cover and it’s a little frayed around the edges but when you open up the front cover there is a message wishing my Nan a very Merry Christmas. It is dated 1939; she would have been nine years old!

There are a couple of books with plates inside the front cover which show they were awarded to my Nan for various achievements at school. There is also a copy of Kim by Rudyard Kipling from 1946 that has her English notes on the book written on the inside of the front cover!

These books will be treasured and I am hoping to have a couple of them framed in shadow boxes to preserve them for as long as possible!

Kim by Rudyard Kipling. A school text from 1946

Kim by Rudyard Kipling. A school text from 1946

English notes written on the inside of the book

English notes written on the inside of the book

The Shiralee by D'Arcy Niland

The Shiralee by D’Arcy Niland

Little Women by Louise M. Alcott

Little Women by Louise M. Alcott

A Christmas present from 1939...

A Christmas present from 1939…

A full colour image!

A full colour image!



10 thoughts on “A treasured bookish history…

  1. Oh BookKat she gave you my favourite novel of all time. Darcy Nilands “The Shiralee” and I a hard back. You are blessed with that novel. Please drop everything and read it you will love reading about an Australia long gone where a mans word was his bond and reputation. Its a story of a fathers love for his daughter, a daughter who was initially his burden (Shiralee) I go so far as told hold it as one of the greatest Australian novels of all our 226 years of white history.


    • Hi Patrick – I put that photo up especially for you – I knew you would love it! I am going to find a newer edition and add it to my reading pile! I think my Nan’s copy might fall apart completely if I try and read it!


        • It is my pleasure. Think of it as a thank you for all the time you have given my blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your points of view and your knowledge – its lovely to have like-minded book friends.


          • The joy of books is they create so much, not just thought and discussion but empowerment of us all. But best of all a book has the power to create a friendship.

            Ciao for now


  2. It’s always lovely to have someone to share a love of books with, and you do miss it when it’s gone. I finished a book a couple of weeks ago and thought “I should take this over for my mother-in-law to read”. She passed away earlier this year, and one of the things I really miss about her is talking about what we’ve been reading.


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