4 October 2009

bookish, with cockatoos


It's the last day of the school holidays. Term 4 starts tomorrow, announced the littlest child this morning when he came and snuggled in bed with me. He wishes he could stay at home and read read read all day long, interspersed with the odd walk down to the river for ice cream and duck-watching, of course.

We can't keep up with Son #3's demand for books these days. He recently re-read the entire Harry Potter series, then moved on to re-reading all five Rowan of Rin books in two days flat. The mister took him to the library for some new reading material on one of my work days, and came home with four new books (names and authors forgotten, sorry) which he read the next day and then it was back to the library for more. The good thing about being the youngest child is that there are lots of books in the house ready for him to move onto, but honestly we just can't keep up so he's re-reading lots of his old favourites. He started re-reading the Lemony Snicket series, which he originally read a few years ago, but we don't have all thirteen books on our shelf so he came to a halt while we put the next few on hold at the library. In the meantime he picked up the Narnia series (which he also read a couple of years ago) and within two days has finished the first three. (He's 10. Is this normal?)

He started the fourth book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, this morning, and is already a third of the way through. By happy coincidence, my parents, who live in Queensland, announced this morning during their regular Sunday morning phone call that there's a Narnia film being made very close to them right now, on the water, which Wikipedia later confirmed for us is indeed Dawn Treader. Son #3 is very pleased to hear this.

As for me, I've read some beauties these holidays. First up was thirdcat's book Black Dust Dancing which was as readers of her wonderful blog would expect, spare, thoughtful, elegant and simply lovely. Even though I've never "met" Tracy, I count her as a friend (which all of you will understand but people who don't read blogs do not) and it was lovely to be able to read something written by a friend, and know it to be beautiful and successful. Also just to hold the book as a physical object, see it in bookshops and libraries, and feel pride and pleasure for that friend - love it. Squee!

Moving on now because I'm getting a bit squishy am I not?

The Elegance of the Hedgehog was next. Apparently every bookgroup in Australia is currently reading this French book (translated into English only last year so still new on the circuit), and library waiting lists are up to the 70s. I bought it instead, thoroughly enjoyed it, and handed it straight to Mr Soup who started it last night. It's another thought-provoking book, and quite unusual, and I can recommend that you read it. You might cry at the end too. I did. It's touching and funny and any book that can combine Russian literature, philosophy, manga, kairos and music and make it flow seamlessly together in one elegant narrative has got to be worth $27.95.

Which brings me to a brief rant about how expensive books are here. On the way to the Pancake Parlour on Friday I dragged Son #3 sideways into Dymocks quickly to see if I could find a certain book mentioned earlier (I couldn't - it is obviously Only Available in All Good Bookshops) to send to a certain friend in the US because she can't get it there, and saw two new books I'd also love to buy - the new Philippa Gregory book which was only available in hardback at $35.00, and the new Sarah Dunant which was $32.95 in paperback! I don't know about you but I can't casually walk into a bookshop and drop nearly seventy bucks on two books. It makes me cross. Particularly as there is also the new A S Byatt to buy too, and the new Audrey Niffenegger although I didn't see either of those. Good thing too as I was wanty enough by then. Ok, [/ end rant] and thank heavens for public libraries.

And just quickly because really, is anybody still reading this ramble? I read Ann Patchett's Run this week and although slower to sink its hooks into me than her masterpiece Bel Canto, by the middle of the book I couldn't put it down. Patchett's characters always live right alongside me in my daily life when I am reading her books and this was no exception. I am eternally grateful to another dear friend whom I've never "met" but who I seriously think of as one of my closest pals these days, for putting me onto Ann Patchett (and many other amazing authors).

And to bookend this ramble, I bring you two photos of some of the seven cockatoos who flew in yesterday to lark about and raid the parrots' bird feeder and generally behave like larrikins for a while before conducting a similar search and destroy mission three doors up where the two great danes live.



dancingmorganmouse said...

I can only agree re the price of books, I'm too frightened to total up book spending figures, I suspect it would shock me.
And voracious reading by a 10-year-old? Perfectly normal, and commendable.

sooz said...

My mother used to despair when my brother would announce in the car on the way home from the library that he had finished all the books just now borrowed and could we turn around and go back? He was born a speed reader and could read as fast as he turned pages. I adored reading but was always slow. Has he read the Madaleine L'Engle series? The most famous is a wrinkle in time, another is called a swiftly tilting planet. Marvelous rich characters and a very homey, earthy kind of fantasy/science fiction story line which tackles big themes. At least that's how I remember them...

sooz said...


Marg said...

Books are extortionately expensive here. I buy most of my books from Book Depository which is a UK company so you pay UK book prices, but they have free postage to Australia, so it is very much cheaper to buy from there than it is to physically walk into a bookstore here. And their delivery is pretty quick too.

Janet said...

I adore Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It has always been my favourite Narnia book (and I loved Narnia).

As for son #3, I'm sure it's normal to read like that, I did at that age.... I also started reading semi adult books about then... things like Gerald Durrell's My family and other Animals.

Ok back to the garden,

Psylova said...

You may enjoy a discovery I recently made: www.booko.com.au. You put in your book and it spits out where the cheapest place to get it online is including postage. You can also add items to your shopping cart and it will find the cheapest place to get all the items together. I love it!!! A very bad thing for me... I need Christmas to hurry up and come.

Emma said...

We went and had a look at the Dawn Treader a couple of weeks ago, as we live only about 25 minutes away. It was so beautifully intricate. There are a couple of photos on my blog if your son is interested in seeing them. I believe filming has finished and they are dismantling it to move it to Movie World at the moment.

I can relate to the book insatiability, I was the same. Still am, if I am honest about it.

Susan said...

I loved Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series at that age, has he read them already? (Probably :-) And Brian Jaques' Redwall series?

It always makes me a little sad that my children, who speak/read Dutch, probably won't be reading the books I grew up reading. The Little House and Black Stallion books are translated, and I can translate books when we read aloud, but it's not the same as letting them loose in a library and seeing them discover all the wonderful worlds where I also used to roam.

Fioleta said...

In UK book prices seem somewhat more reasonable, probably due to Amazon and big supermarket chains, though it could be only my impression since I very rarely buy new books and specially the books that were published recently.

I remember reading a good review regarding The Elegance of the Hedgehog - I think I read it, since you liked it as well.

I so can relate to your son - I wish I could just spend most of my time reading. To me it sounds normal that he reads so much.

Mookah said...

I know your post is about books (which I also love), but I'm guessing from the photos and the mere mention of a ramble to the river that maybe you live in Warrandyte? Am I correct?

Anonymous said...

My salutations to your book reading son - I was very much the same kind of child. In the days before computerisation it really messed up the library's system to have to take back the books they'd only issued a few hours earlier the same day. Serves them right for only letting me have four at a time I say! ( I used to get through one book just walking home from the library - not sure how I never ended up under a bus)

lisette said...

#3 sounds just like my daughter - sometimes i feel like buying her books by the kilo... and the price of books!!! luckily we have a few good second hand bookshops near us (that don't smell musty) and i am afraid i buy a lot of books from the book depository in the uk (no postage!!!)

ThirdCat said...

You are gorgeous. Thank you.

Has he read Watership Down?

peppermintpatcher said...

I also gave birth to a consumer of books. She made the decision about 15 to buy and read all the penguin classics with the orange on the cover. I may own a substantial part of penguin publishing now.

Have you looked at the Artemis Fowl series and the Keys to the Kingdom series (these day a week day in the name.)

Sarah said...

All I'm going to say is "like Mother, like son." Did you read "The Forgotten Garden?" That was one of my favorite summer books. We have similar issues at our house with Helen. I can't pass on any recommendations though because she's reading everything and anything on Elizabethan England. Not sure son #3 would relate :)

Kate said...

Oh, I LOVED the Rowan of Rin series as a kid.

Has he read much Victor Kelleher? I can't remember how old I was when I read them, but it'd be about that age. Some of them are a bit dark, but no more than Rowan of Rin, really. And he's aussie, which is nice. Oh, and Isobelle Carmody?

Does your library have any Tamora Pierce books? She writes lovely books with young female prtagonists who become knights and mages and have fantastical adventures.

My friend is going to lend me the Helegance of the Hedgehog, and I'm super excited.

Have you seen better world books? They sell second hand books and the postage is a fixed US$4. I've managed to find some stuff from there that I couldn't find here for love nor money, and for very reasonable prices. It makes me cross too, because I love to own books, physically, and I'd love to support authors more, which I know buying second hand doesn't. But I just can't justify it.

fifi said...

I had precisely the same reading appetite as Son#3, I used to read at the table and in the bath...
sadly my son is a very lazy reader, thiugh today he curled on the sofa and read for a about 2 hours.

I often buy books online at abebooks.com there are often cheap secondhand ones, postage isnt cheap from some places, but worth a try.

There seems to be such masses of cockies everywhere at the moment: aren't they SO naughty???

matty said...

Reading is good.... Better than TV! LOL

Have you read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Club"? OMG. My friend read it ALOUD to me on a trip -- we openly wept on I95 outside Boston in Friday 5 p.m. traffic. I am certain the folks around us were saying "Look at those lovely Southern women. They are overcome by traffic jams."

Loved your book post. "Hedgehog" is on my list!

I have knit, hold your breath, seven acorns in two days! Lovely pattern!

K said...

More recommendations for son:

Going by his tastes, I would second "The Dark is Rising" sequence (it starts with "Over Sea, Under Stone"). Also Diana Wynne Jones's Chrestomanci series (good for Harry Potter fans). I also loved the Arthur Ransome "Swallows and Amazons" series, especially "We Didn't Mean to Go To Sea" and "Winter Holiday".

I felt the same about reading at his age, and got through about as many books. I'd still much rather read than do anything else, really.

Badger said...

I cannot bring myself to pay retail for books anymore. Sorry, authors! I buy your stuff for cheap at the library sale! And I'm not going to stop.

I second the recommendation of Brian Jacques' Redwall series for your youngest. They are wonderful and there are MANY books to keep him busy. My boy child also quite liked the Gregor the Overlander books. And Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series -- lots of Greek mythology there, if your boy likes that sort of thing.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Voracious reading is an excellent pastime at his age ! And probably fractionally cheaper than Polo , ballroom dancing , deep sea diving or anything else he could have taken up . Mind you , maybe not at Australian book prices .

kmkat said...

Hurrah for vocaciously reading children, and hurrah for the free libraries that keep their parents out of the poorhouse! #1 son here was such a reader. Lord of the Rings several times at your son's age, then Winston Churchill's 6-volume history of WWII (with lots of breaks for science fiction and other stuff). When he read Kafka and Kierkegaard just for fun one summer when he was in high school my mind was blown. Your boy has a long and interesting life ahead of him, thanks to books!

Heather said...

I can't get enough of reading new books. I think they'll cut me off soon though, I easily have 50 from the library right now! I'm adding yours to my list though, thanks for sharing them!

herhimnbryn said...

I finished 'Hedgehog' last week ( found it in the library). Oh, Soup Lady isn't it wonderful? I wept at the end and now I covet this book with an almost physical ache!
It resonated on so many levels. I shall have to buy it and add it to my crowded bookshelves.

Anonymous said...

Your post reminded me of my brother who'd read the entire childrens' section of our town library by the time he was ten. The very rigid librarian wouldn't let him borrow one single adult book.
Some authors the lad might like:
Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries, 13 titles I think, we're only up to number 7.
Phillip Pullman "His Dark materials" trilogy plus others.
William Mayne - Earthfasts, plus others.
Alan Garner - Elidor, plus others.
Philippa Pearce - A Dog So Small, others.
Michael Morpurgo - Best Mate, others.
Henry Treece - many titles, historical fiction, Vikings, Saxons etc.
JRR Tolkein
Zizou Corder - Lionboy
I can see a distinct bias towards English authors emerging...
Odo Hirsch - Hazel Green, others.
Kate DiCamillo - The Tale of Despereaux, others.
Patricia Wrightson - The Nargun and the Stars, others.
Christobel Mattingley - Tiger's Milk, others.
Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl series.
Ursula Durbosarsky.
Phew, no doubt there're many of these he's already read, being such a voracious reader and all.
Cheers, Sue M.

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

My eldest daughter, who is nine, is devouring anything by Emily Rodda. There are lots of books in her series, so it has been taking a while.

Currently we are doing a regional library tour. As she reaches the next book, we look up online which of our library chain has it on the shelf, and make a visit to the relevant library. Thank goodness you can look them up online.

You son might enjoy the kids books that Terry Pratchett has written.

Anonymous said...

My secret - live or work in an up-market suburb with a St Vinnie's (eg. Paddo in Sydney). Amazing what the wealthy throw away, unread. Cook books too. What to do about expensive books. At the end of the food chain sit the authors, scrabbling for grants, doing lowly paid work in between, etc.

Janice said...

I had heard that books were very expensive in Australia. I went on Amazon Canada and the Elegence of the Hedgehog was $13.51. The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory was $21.42 and Sacred Heart by Sarh Dunant was $20.16. An Australian dollar is worth about 94 cents Canadian so we're pretty close. We do a lot of complaining over here about the price of booksbecause they are quite qa bit cheaper in the U.S., which can be just a short drive away. Well, I've certainly added to your rant!!! lol

frog said...

I suspect the voracious reading is probably not normal (relative to most ten yo boys) but it is a joy. Mine is not nearly so voracious but has read all of Dahl's books for kids and has started on Tolkien.

I vexed my mother at a similar age for picking up a book at the library just before lunch on Saturday and finishing just before tea. We'd had the book (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) on hold for six weeks!

Melanie said...

My eldest is a voracious reader too. We have trouble keeping up the supply of suitable books though, since he's not quite 7 yet. Most books for boys of his age focus on a) farts, or b) sports. (He's not a big fan of the latter, and I'm not a big fan of the former!) He is a big Roald Dahl fan, just rips through those books. I've also been hunting down favourite books from my childhood - Enid Blyton and Ruth Chew for him to read. When did your boys first read/hear the Harry Potter series? I think the first two books would probably be fine, but he's not really old enough for the others yet.

I noticed Susan and K mentioned The Dark is Rising series - I have those books, so if you'd like to borrow them for #3, let me know (I have to be kind of over your way the next 4 Friday mornings).

Stomper Girl said...

If I thought my 8yo would be reading like your 10yo in two years time I would be very happy. We are pestering the library for the Deltora sequence which I see as a good sign. someone just recommended The Floods to me, but maybe that's for younger children, I haven't investigated it yet.

victoria said...

I loved reading the Narnia books at the same age as your son.
Was also looking for the new Niffenegger last week - couldn't find it in town where I was staying. Have now added Ann Patchett to my look-up-at-the-library list. I love reading your book writings.

lucy said...

I have got a little reader too, my little girl had read the entire Narnia series before she was 7!

sue said...

My son who is 15 loves books too. I have to say that I buy them from Fishpond. There is a secret with them too, if you order and pay for your books, then go back online and match it to amazon they will refund the money into your account plus 10%. I only found out this little secret last week so I will be using this all the time now. My son has read the 4 Fablehaven books which are available from Fishpond too, and I read them also and really liked them. The next ones he wants to read are the Leven Thumps series and they sound great too. He also read Runemarks as well and really enjoyed it.

Naomi said...

Voyage of the Dawn Treader. My favourite!

Maureen said...

We buy books for an inner city boys school and the English teacher dreams of boys who read like your son. Occasionally some will blossom in that school and it's a little miracle. You are blessed to have this reader with his appetite, and God bless libraries.

Jolie said...

Wow, sounds like #3 is taking after his mum! I'm another who just can't beat a good book. As for the price - ugh! With the Philippa Gregory one, do you mean the White Queen? I am a few pages from the end of my hardback, shall I send it your way when I'm done? (So long as you don't mind my terrible habit of dogearing the corners - though only on books I own, I promise!) Just let me know!

Stacey said...

I'm often torn when it comes to the book buying dilemma.
I love local independent book stores. The one I frequent most is just divine and they are so helpful and wonderful. I love, love, love it.
Having said that, I don't like spending so much money on books either.
I have a second hand book store / exchange route that I frequent. Some stores are better than others, but it is well worth it if you are prepared to wait a few months for new releases.
My boys love them too as I let them buy whatever they want as each book only costs a few dollars.
I do tend to put in a big Amazon order before Christmas each year and the savings can be quite spectacular.
The 9 yo is reading the Golden Compass series at the moment, having just reread Artemis Fowl for the umpteenth time.
The 6 yo is loving Captain Underpants, being a lover of all things toilet related.
It warms my heart to see them curled up on their beds reading quietly. I hope a love of reading is something that stays with them all through their lives, as it as with me.

BabelBabe said...

Primo is currently reading some series about some chick named Molly Moon, and also Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. he recommends the first, not so much the second. He's a bit younger than your #3, though.

I saw the new Gregory, I think I will wait to buy it, as I just bought the new Niffenegger. and The Children's book comes out here tomorrow!!

I am glad you like Patchett. Now you have to check out Elizabeth Strout
: )


CatherineMarie said...

Has he tried the Christopher Paolini books? I was also going to suggest the Funke books. An author who is incredibly popular here (for kids) is Erin Hunter, who has written a few series, with cats as the heroes, and the newest one is polar bears.

Also Dave Barry wrote prequels to Peter Pan which are amazing, and there is a sequel by another author called Peter Pan in Scarlet, which was AMAZING.

Jo said...

I have one of those 10-year males in my house. Sitting naked in the middle of the floor of his room reading after he's been asked to get dressed is perfectly normal behavior in this house.

Anonymous said...

Go to...

it's much cheaper!!!! The only way I usually buy books (and our Aussie dollar is doing very well).

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed - so many beautiful birds that come to your yard :)
upper midwest-usa