Tuesday, October 04, 2016

New book day!

(That was yesterday, actually, and I had to get off at the crack of dawn on the off chance my student desperate for tutoring showed up*, so no photos)

Anyway, my new Folio Society books came yesterday. I ordered these back early in September (maybe even late August), but because they come all the way from the UK, it takes a while. I had actually begun wondering when they would show - I mailed a check this time rather than having them charge my credit card because I figured I'd rather take the price-hit up front (it was just about $200, even with the discount I got for having been a loyal member).

Four books plus one nice little free book (Folio often does that; offers free items if you purchase some minimum - I think in this case it was two books?)

The freebee book was an anthology of short pieces on "Winter." (Last year's was "Autumn," so that makes sense). It's a pretty little book with woodblock type illustrations. Most of the pieces are a page or less (a few of the poems are longer). Some of them, but not all, reference Christmas, and some are from countries (China and Japan) where Christmas would not have been celebrated....There's a mix of old (I think there's a bit from one of Pepys' diaries in there) and fairly new (a passage from Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising" sequence, which I really need to sit down and read all through one day - I really loved "The Dark is Rising," which I think is the second book in the series).

I also bought "Rubicon," which is a partial history of the Roman empire. (I don't know why but ancient history - especially Roman - interests me. I suppose it's the idea that there were some "modern" ideas floating around 2000 years ago, and also trying to see parallels with the world today). I haven't looked very much at that book yet.

Another history book is "The Dam Busters," which refers to a campaign in World War II where British pilots undertook sorties to attack the Nazis' industrial base (they blew up dams that flooded the Ruhr valley). It was, by and large, a suicide mission, and the pilots knew that going in to it. Again, I find that kind of WWII history interesting. (And there's a whole movie about it - this book is actually the one the movie was largely based on. There's a march by Eric Coates that was written for the movie, which was actually what originally got me interested in the whole episode).

I also ordered the Science Fiction anthology. I'm not a BIG Sci-Fi reader but I enjoy some of the short stories (especially Ray Bradbury and Connie Willis), so I thought I'd look into this one. It's also just an interesting book in terms of design. (I probably SHOULD photograph these).

Finally, the one I wanted most of all: Andrew Lang's book of Nursery Rhymes - yes, the same person who put together the Fairy Books did one of nursery rhymes. I wanted it because I tend to be a completist (I want all the books that feel like a "series") but also because nursery rhymes are just intriguing - a lot of them have "hidden histories" (Elsie Marley was apparently originally a pub-keeper that borderline-bawdy songs were written about, which were then bowdlerized into nursery rhymes). I also wonder if some of that transmission is being lost. I dimly remember some from my childhood ("See saw, Margery Daw, Jacky shall have a new master....") that were not commonly known; I learned them from older female relatives. (I wonder how far back the transmission went; most of the relatives who taught me those were from the British side of the family, though removed by a couple hundred years, and most of the common rhymes seem to be British in origin). Also, a lot of the rhymes are pretty violent ("Tell-tale-tit, your tongue shall be slit...") and probably are not acceptable today (and some, not acceptable for other reasons...)

There's also a second on the good old rhyming riddles (like the ones Bilbo Baggins did in "The Hobbit,") which you rarely hear any more. (And which take genuine skill and wit to come up with).

Like one I remember my grandmother telling:

"Thirty white horses, upon a red hill/first they champ, then they stamp, then they stand still."

(The answer, of course, is teeth. Specifically HUMAN teeth, because other animals don't have thirty teeth - and I guess thirty-two is actually the more correct number for humans? But anyway)

And the various pacifying-games you play with children, like This Little Piggy. (And there's a variant of it, where each toe gets a name not related to pigs - I can't remember it now, darn it, but my mom knows it and she did it for my niece the last time we were all together). And also:

Knock on the door (gently knock on the kid's forehead)
Peep in the window (look in their eyes)
Lift up the latch (push up their nose)
Open the door (open their mouth)
and walk in (pantomime walking your fingers into their mouth - you have to be careful about this if you have a "biter")

Anyway, it's kind of fun to revisit those (and to read some of the ones that were not familiar when I was a child, like "The Grand old Duke of York") and the illustrations are just nice (they're either genuinely old ones that are reprinted in this edition, or it's an illustrator very consciously working in the Arts-and-Crafts-Movement-influenced style that was common in children's books at the end of the 19th century).

(*He did, finally, show up. And I think he's actually going to try, it's not just a case of "pass me because I want to pass." It sounds to me like he's frustrated because he has little time to study (that's one of my personal issues with the whole college-athletics system) and also there IS a lot of material in the class. Some things he asked for (extra-credit assignments) I cannot do, but I did offer some things that might help. So we'll see. I also had to sign a note for him indicating where he was so I don't know if that meant he had to leave a team-meeting to come to my office hours or what.)

1 comment:

Kucki68 said...

With your interest in Romans and mysteries you might like Lindsey Davis' Falco series, starting with Silver Pigs.