LLG Literature: The Books that Built Us. Part Two.

by Sasha Wilkins on January 14, 2013 · 24 comments

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During my last Books That Built Us afternoon tea for Wedgwood and Red magazine, I took copious notes so that I could publish the list of books that we had all discussed here on LLG. So, of course, when we held our second tea here at my flat, we put together another list of wonderful books to share with you.

Traditional English Afternoon Tea

I found the whole afternoon strangely moving: women share a lot when they talk about books, I think. So much about love and loss, and hope and expectation. Many of the books we talked about had played formative roles in making us the women we are today, and Rachel in particular held us spellbound as she talked about discovering her cultural roots through Vikram Seth’s writing. We also spoke about how good children’s literature teaches children resilience and gives them a place to explore boundaries, and both Helen & Jenny discussed how they were discovering new children’s writing through their offspring. I particularly liked Tamsin’s criteria for close friends: they needed to read Billy Liar and get it, because it was so important to her.

Helen & I have very similar taste in literature (it’s how we first met, talking about Georgette Heyer through the aegis of her blog three years or so ago), so many of our old favourites had already been discussed at the first tea. That was actually rather good, as it meant we came up with some slightly more unexpected choices this time around. Liz had recently been back at her childhood home, so had the luxury of being able to forage through her childhood books, a selection of which she brought with her. That meant we had a very wide range of subjects this time, from children’s fairytale classics to joyous gay love affairs in San Francisco, which was all to the good, frankly.

Helen’s books:
The Dark Is Rising
by Susan Cooper
Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder by Evelyn Waugh
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence

Tamsin’s books:
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
The Group by Mary McCarthy
The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard

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Jenny’s books:
The Collected Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Liz’s books:
I am David by Anne Holm
The Black Stallion Adventures! by Walter Farley
Stalky and Co by Rudyard Kipling
Coot Club by Arthur Ransome
The Stolen Lake by Joan Aiken

Rachel’s books:
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
The Complete Short Stories by Oscar Wilde

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Sasha’s books:

The Provincial Lady in London by E.M. Delafield
Tales Of The City by Armistead Maupin (Babycakes: Tales of the City Series, Vol. 4 & Sure of You: Tales of the City Series, Vol.6)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (My grandmother’s copy)
Backwards in High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female by Tania Kindersley & Sarah Vine
(I think BIHH should be a mandated text for ALL women.)

 And some other titles that we discussed:

The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Thursday’s Child by Noel Streatfeild
The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence by Joan Aiken
How to Train Your Dragon  by Cressida Cowell
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

MTFF January 14, 2013 at 20:55

I remember reading I am David when I was about 9 and being completely spellbound and utterly moved to tears by it. Incredible book. Many other of my faves here, but that was a childhood standout.

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kyzmet January 15, 2013 at 02:25

@MTFF: MTFF I was about to write the same comment…except I had completely forgotten about it until just this moment reading the title again. I seem to have read only books about refugees and concentration camps and dark stories of the future like Soylent Green etc between 9 and 12…what a dark little soul…heavy stuff for a young one.

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Hannah January 14, 2013 at 21:30

I love Vikram Seth, hopelessly! Were you talking about The Golden Gate when you mentioned, ‘joyous gay love affairs’? It is one of my favourite books!

I also loved the last post when you spoke about The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice, a book I have urged all my friends to read!

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Elizabeth January 15, 2013 at 03:35

I really enjoy these posts as they give me a new list of books to happily sift through and buy. The difference this time from last is that I have resolved to buy them from Waterstones rather than Amazon! Great post x

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LLG January 15, 2013 at 19:04

@Elizabeth: Good plan. I link to Amazon, because it’s easier than explaining all, but I too try to buy from my local bookshop. LLGxx

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Beautiful Things January 15, 2013 at 05:30

I was a very precocious child & had read all the expected childrens books by about 9. At the age of 12, I nicked a copy of ‘Valley of the Dolls’, (yup, the Jacqueline Susann one!) from my gran’s bookshelf and read it in a couple of days. As a very sheltered kid that was certainly an eye opener!!! It did make me realise that the world was far darker and more complex than the safe environment I was living in. It sparked a thirst in me to find out as much as I could about the world & my door to that was reading.

What an irritating brat I must have been, lol!

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Becky | lifestyleflash.com January 15, 2013 at 05:46

I’ve read so few of these! I am loving getting back into reading at the moment though, and luckily work in the building housing my local library which of course makes it very easy. I’ll definitely try some of these over the next few months.

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Fashion Follows Her January 15, 2013 at 06:21

Looks just lovely….I adore the china and I see you have been busy baking again, scrumptious!!

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LLG January 15, 2013 at 19:03

@Fashion Follows Her: Yup: it’s such a good excuse to get out those cake tins! LLGxx

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Fashion Follows Her January 19, 2013 at 07:59

Any excuse is fine by me! xx

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Ailsa January 15, 2013 at 06:41

I love that Joan Aiken gets such a look in! I’m with Helen though; Susan Cooper’s fantastic series was my absolute favourite as a child, and as an adult I’ve found so much more in it.

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Rebecca January 15, 2013 at 09:37

Just added a lot of books to my Amazon Wish List! Thanks for sharing.

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annie January 15, 2013 at 09:45

Oh I’m so envious again, this is just so wonderfully nurturing and female. Lovely xx

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LLG January 15, 2013 at 19:03

@annie: I am plotting and planning for more books and cake. Will keep you (especially) posted LLGxx

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annie January 17, 2013 at 05:00

@LLG: @LLG: Yeay yum yum!! xx

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Helen January 15, 2013 at 16:24

So many of my favourite books here. Three of my all time top reads are included – I love A Suitable Boy, The Group and Brideshead.

Sounds like a brilliant way to spend an afternoon. Books, cake and conversation. What’s not to like?

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LLG January 15, 2013 at 19:02

@Helen: You and I, my dear, clearly pour from the same jug. LLGxx

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