Everyone has that book, or series of books, that defines their childhood and influences their future lives in some way. This is mine. What’s yours, and why?
When I first discovered ‘Flambards’ by K.M Peyton, I devoured the whole series, and returned to them again and again. They had everything; a strong heroine who was so real to me she was like a best friend, a hero who had his weaknesses but it still gives me pangs when I think of his sad fate, and a First World War setting – not on the front line, but on the home front – which pits the rise of automobiles and airplanes against the decline of horses and cavalry, and delves into women’s rights and the crumbling of social divisions. Cleverly, the house – ‘Flambards’ – is a mirror that reflects this era of change in Britain. Its fate is directly affected by all that is going on around it, and yet it is also a symbol for everything the heroine is experiencing. She is tied to it. It becomes her heart.
I admit it, I’m a page-corner turner-overer*. I know this crime is almost equivalent to murder in the eyes of dedicated bookmark users, but I have my reasons.
Books are such tactile things; they feel good in your hands and all those wonderful words you are holding up have a pleasing weight. I like my books to feel like they are being read. The books I read over and over again know they are loved because the edges of their pages don’t lie flat, and the spines are flexible and crooked with affection. There might be the ring of a tea-mug stain on the cover. Or a red circle from a wine glass. The crevices might be crackly with sand where I’ve read on the beach, or the pages warped with water where I’ve read in the bath.
My favourite books have a physical personality all of their own and bear the scars of my love. (The one shown above is my copy of ‘Northern Lights’ by Phillip Pullman.)
If there was a guy who, according to his doctor, suffered from arthritis, gout, a fatty liver, an enlarged heart, migraines, constipation and a colon swollen to twice its normal size, would you seriously consider buying his recipe book? It might make me think twice.
Flicking through Elvis’s favourite recipes you can see why he might have had a health problem or two. There are a few questionable entries, like the Fried Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich, and Biscuits with something called Red Eye Gravy – essentially bacon dripping mixed with a cup of coffee.
But at least the Elvis fans are happy with the recipe book, judging by the reviews:
“If Elvis thought it was good that’s all I need to know.”
“I love having it and used it on the altar honoring Elvis last year for my Day of the Dead party.”
“I‘ve tried several recipes and they are great, just like the King!“