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I am jealous of such a childhood too, as I was also left to my own reading devices. At least my mother loved reading, read to me, and created in me a true longing to be able to read for myself. One of the best gifts she ever gave me!

I will look for this book, as I already have Heidi's Alp on my TBR list.


I think that quest for imaginary / real landscapes continues with grownup literature. I remember reading the Little house in the prairie as a child and I'll probably still wonder a long while how a prairie really looks like. Whenever I had the chance to travel to Great Britain, I felt that I was partly searching a confirmation to what my mind imagined while reading books.

Joan Kyler

I've read both of these books and loved them, too. I'm glad I read whatever I felt like reading when I was a child. It was magical to discover so many exciting or interesting books rather than to have them all pointed out to me. I managed to find a lot of the children's classics on by myself. The library was like an enchanted castle to me.

Janet Gutierrez

I ordered How the Heather Looks, we'll be in England this summer and I thought what a great book to take with me.


Lovely post, Danielle. I like that first quote a lot. It's intersting to me because I write in English and sometimes when I get feedback from Americans I realize that it's not always clear - landscape and culture-wise that it's so different from the US.
I read an essay recently about the landscape that inspired Tolkien and I'm sure it would be great to visit and read the books at the same time.

vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

I meant to get a copy of this last time you mentioned it: and now... *really* keen! ;-) You find all the most tempting books. As a child I was encouraged to read but not necessarily guided - but perhaps I get more out of reading the things I should have read as a child as an adult anyway.


I read this book a couple of years ago and loved it; must get Heidi's Alps. Thanks, Danielle, for another great post.


What a gorgeous looking book! And it sounds just as good on the inside; lovely review, Danielle. I will have to look out for it. My childhood reading was wall to wall Enid Blyton. Oh with some Peanuts cartoons thrown in. I had to wait until my son was growing up to read children's books in any sort of decent way! I loved comics, too, and adored Jinty and goodness only knows what other comics for girls that existed at that time. I always say it doesn't matter what you read when young, it only matters that you enjoyed it.


This sounds amazing; I'm definitely going to look it up. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


My mom was always really good at taking us to the library and letting us pick out books and she brought home books, too. But I was always just left to choose on my own--not a bad thing at all, but I think that is how I missed out on some good books when I was young. I think you would like both of these books!


Someday I need to take a few photos of the Nebraska countryside since we are part of the Great Plains--and we have prairie land, too. Nebraska is mostly rural in any case. Those Little House books are truly magical and I need to get going on On the Banks of Plum Creek. Do you think you will ever get to travel to the US? Maybe see some of Laura Ingalls Wilder's homes? It is really fascinating to see the places that inspired writers!


Aren't they both lovely reads? I can see your point about leaving book choices up to the child. I always have loved reading and was never at a loss when it came to choosing books. There are many I remember very fondly (like Judy Blume books!). I wish I could see a list of all the books I especially loved--so many have faded away. I read authors like Phyllis Whitney--I guess that's where my love of mysteries and suspense novels first came about.


I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. If you have it in hand early it would be great fun to read some of the books she talks about (if you haven't already). Maybe you can see some of the places she saw and in turn the places that inspired the books--doubly nice! :) Where are you going in England? I am envious--but think it's cool you'll be going there!


Thanks Caroline. I feel like I didn't talk much about the books/locales she tried to 'discover', but there was so much (typical nonfiction--way too much to try and write about) in the book. I think landscape is vastly different between here and Europe, and too how we think of it as compared to Europeans. I think you must have a very unique perspective on it since you are European yet so comfortable writing, speaking and thinking in English, too. Yet, are you still surprised by comments Americans make on your post/towards your reading? I have never read Tolkien--I have not been strongly tempted but I think I should try at least one of his books someday. I wonder what his landscape (inward/outward) was like.


It is a wonderful book--I like, too, that it was written in the 1950s, yet it doesn't really feel dated--on the contrary it is an interesting perspective and a few nice details that set a scene (even though this is NF). I was lucky--this one came via another reader, or I might have missed it--though the Hardyment was long on my own shelves. I think I appreciate a lot of childrens classics far more now than I likely would have then--at least I think I understand them now and am not sure what I would have made of some of them as a child. Surely something would have filtered through, but . . . .


If you loved this, I think you would really enjoy the Hardyment. The latter has perhaps a bit more on family dynamics and the trials and tribulations of family travel, but lots of interest literarily, too. I loved both of them! Thanks for the kind words!


It is! I think I need to own a copy (though looking around my room right now, the last thing I need is another book to find a 'home' for). I really need to read Enid Blyton--I had not heard of her before chatting with readers from the UK--but surely her books were about here as well. I loved Peanuts, too, and was a great fan of comics--Archie and Jugghead and Betty and Veronica (Betty always being my favorite)--I had literally stacks of them. I have never heard of Jinty--must go and check her out now! What fun to think of much loved books we read as children. I read a lot of what would probably be considered now comfort reads (some things just don't change, do they?), but I am sure I loved just about everything I put my hands on--I have lots of fond memories, even if Jane Austen didn't come until Much later.


I am always happy to send a good book another reader's way! I really enjoyed this--it makes me want to go to England and search out some of the places, too! :)


What a fun book! I admit to being envious now and then of people who had guided reading when they were children. But at the same time I wouldn't change the adventure and discovery of my childhood reading, of choosing books on my own. I disagree with the quote about having a better understanding of Shakespeare if you read fairy tales and nursery rhymes as a kid. My fairy tale reading was pretty much Disney driven and nursery rhymes were the usual standards. But I had Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. And I think Little House on the Prairie and a number of other life in the woods/wild books I read helped me do just fine with Wordsworth and Wuthering Heights. I'm sure you can make similar claims with your own reading!


I know what you mean by being left alone to choose books--it definitely has it's good points and its bad ones. I wouldn't have wanted to miss the books I did read, but I wouldn't have minded reading a few others that I didn't get around to until just the past few years. I thought the quote was interesting, too. It made me feel a little left out and as if I really did miss something, but as you say there are other books that likely have filled the gaps. It's all so subjective in any case, though I expect it was thanks to her great enthusiasm for it all that she makes the claim. Besides, you are never too old to read those books now and make different kinds of connections!

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