Hello and welcome to the latest in Other People’s Bookshelves, a regular series of posts where you get to have a nosey at other book lovers bookshelves. This week we head over to Tasmania, apt for ANZ Literary Month, to join the delightful blogger Pamela Parks (for more violet crumbles, Tim Tam’s and jarra tea) to have a gander through her shelves which have a theme… Pamela really, really, really likes Penguin Books. So without further ado let us find out more about Pamela and then have a route around her bookshelves.
I am retired, collect vintage first published Penguin books from 1935 – 1970 and ride through Tasmania on a 350 cc Italian Scooter. I grew up in Michigan where I learned to read during long winters and have since moved to Tasmania, Australia because they had a shortage of speech pathologists. Working for 40 years in that field I retired to collect books, rescue injured wildlife of where there is no end for a sanctuary and ride with a motorbike club. I am ageing disgracefully. I have spent the last several years collecting Penguin books in USA, England and South America. My husband and I have 3 dogs and 2 cats though they don’t know they are animals. We haven’t told them.
Any book can live on my shelves. People give them to me, I buy too many, mainly because their covers appeal and the stories look good. I converted a bedroom into the Penguin room. There are probably 4500 books in that room. There is Penguin ephemera tacked to the closet doors and a Penguin art deco reading chair and lamp. I have no system except a bit of overkill.
Do you organise your shelves in a certain way? For example do you have them in alphabetical order of author, or colour coded? Do you have different bookshelves for different books (for example, I have all my read books on one shelf, crime on another and my TBR on even more shelves) or systems of separating them/spreading them out? Do you cull your bookshelves ever?
As you walk in the Penguins are on the left wall floor to ceiling. On the right wall the non Penguins live alphabetised by title. The boxed sets live on the very top shelves. The reference books (books about books, literature and reading) live in the bookcase in the bedroom. The John Steinbeck, Jack London and Ernest Hemingway first editions live in the hallway out of the light on their own bookcase.
What was the first book you ever bought with your own money and does it reside on your shelves now?
The first book I ever bought was a 59 cent copy of Trixie Belden who I adored when I was about 9 or 10 years old in the late 1950’s. There was a little section of children’s books in the 5 & 10 cent store in mid-Michigan where I grew up. I had to spend a lot of time talking my mother into it. After that I would steal quarters from my mother’s purse to buy sequels that came out in that series. Then I branched out in Nancy Drew. The town I lived in was very small (5000 people) and books were in short supply.
Are there any guilty pleasures on your bookshelves you would be embarrassed people might see, or like me do you have a hidden shelf for those somewhere else in the house?
No I would not be embarrassed by types of books but I am embarrassed by how many books I have that are not read. It really is shameful and I keep buying more, both Penguins and non Penguins (mainly reference books about books and literature). I really do need to lock myself into my house with locks on the outside of the doors and not go out until I read them and move them on.
Which book on the shelves is your most prized, mine would be a collection of Conan Doyle stories my Great Uncle Derrick memorised and retold me on long walks and then gave me when I was older? Which books would you try and save if (heaven forbid) there was a fire?
I have a copy of The Night Before Christmas that belonged to my mother in the 1930’s, a few first editions of John Steinbeck which I love and a very large two volume set of first edition books by Jack London’s wife. I also keep a collection of old dog adventure stories from the 1800’s to 1950 with illustrations by Albert Payson-Terhune and Cecil Aldin. I collect them for the art work in them of dogs, horses and cats. I also have about 2400 vintage Penguin books from various series before 1970 when Allen Lane (the publisher) died. If this house catches fire I probably will be too busy getting my pets out to worry about books. I love the books but the furry balls of love come first.
What is the first ‘grown up’, and I don’t mean in a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ way, that you remember on your parent’s shelves or at the library, you really wanted to read? Did you ever get around to it and are they on your shelves now?
We didn’t have many books in our home and once I’d read everything I could in the town children’s library we weren’t allowed to check out adult books. We had librarians that never married and ruled the books with a hickory stick. You couldn’t touch adult books if you were a child. It’s too bad really because I would be a lot better read if I could have read more books by American authors. It was the midwest America and censorship was rife. Now I have many classics on my shelves, the Penguin books which are a real social history of many authors and is probably why I collect so many books. I couldn’t get many as a child.
If you love a book but have borrowed the copy do you find you have to then buy the book and have it on your bookshelves or do you just buy every book you want to read?
No, once I read a book from a friend I seldom feel the need to revisit it. There are some reference books though that I will buy if I see something I like in a bookshop.
What was the last book that you added to your bookshelves?
Outside of a Russian Penguin book (all in Russian in the main series) it would have to be a couple of art journal books. Wonderful books about journaling your trips or you daily life with lots of drawings and sketches through them. They are called An Illustrated Journey and An Illustrated Life. Every page is crammed with drawings by pencil, pens and paints. Great fun.
Are there any books that you wish you had on your bookshelves that you don’t currently?
There sure are. Mainly a book of birds by James Audubon or John Gould. I love those early exploring natural history books from the 1800’s. Sadly I can’t afford them unless I hit the lottery. All the books I really love cost tens of thousands of dollars. Oh to be rich. I would also like a copy of every John Steinbeck American first published book ever published. Already they have become too expensive especially Grapes of Wrath. (While I’m dreaming I’d have them all signed too.)
What do you think someone perusing your shelves would think of your reading taste, or what would you like them to think?
They’d absolutely think I was the most well read person in the world and be awestruck and inspired. They wouldn’t know that so many of them have not yet been read. I won’t tell them though.
A huge thanks to Pamela for taking part in Other People’s Bookshelves. If you would like to find out more about her and the books she loves make sure you head to her blog Travelling Penguin. To find out more about ANZ Literature Month head here. If you would like to catch up with the other posts in the series of Other People’s Bookshelves have a gander here. Don’t forgot if you would like to participate (and I would love you to – hint, hint, hint) in the series then drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Other People’s Bookshelves, thanks in advance. In the meantime… what do you think of Pamela’s responses and/or any of the books and authors that she mentions?