Monday, June 11, 2007

A Focus on Books

A 'vintage home' wouldn't be complete without a good selection of vintage books, would it? I thought it was high-time I shared some of my old books with you - and the subject of books is very appropriate for me at the moment as I collected my new 'reading glasses' last week and at long last can have the pleasure of reading a book again! I think I was in denial for a while but my love of reading eventually drove me to the opticians and now I can be found sporting a pair of lilac-coloured glasses at reading time - well they had to be feminine didn't they?! - and any other time I need to check the small print!

One of my favourite books for 'dipping into' now and then is entitled 'House into Home' and was written by Elizabeth Kendall in 1962 - although you'd be forgiven for thinking it was written in the 1940s instead of the swinging sixties! it is full of wonderful old-fashioned advice and tips for furnishing, decorating, managing and organising your home. Every now and then I dip into it for a flavour of a bygone era. In her introduction to the book, Elizabeth closes the Preface with these words: 'Above all, I should like to thank my husband for his kind forbearance in letting me try to do three jobs at once'. This excerpt lets you know you're in for a real treat! Chapter 2 is my particular favourite and starts thus: 'When tired to tears after a day with a paint pot and with the clearing up - the worst part - still to do, I always say; "never again, I'll save up, give up smoking, anything, and have an interior decorator do the whole thing." But I doubt I ever will. Not that they aren't splendid chaps and worth the money they earn. It's a matter of temperament. To begin with, it's a fallacy to assume that these nice young men - and I've yet to meet one who wasn't competent, cheerful and charming - will relieve you of the responsibility...' They don't write 'em like that any more!

Apart from the obvious reason for buying books, I cannot help being drawn to the beautifully decorative dust jackets that old books have. It's amazing so many survive in such good condition. Classic childrens books are a wonderful example and carry fantastic illustrations...

...gardening books will always please the eye with their colourful displays of flowers and plants...

...this set of 'doctor' books were made into films in the 1960s - I love these illustrations!

I certainly intend to catch up with some reading over the Summer months - let's just hope I get used to carrying glasses around with me!


  1. Ooooh I had abit of a giggle about that home book.

    Good housekeeping in 1955 is a bit of an eyebrow lifter too ..... one of the points on how to treat your husband goes ...

    'don't complain if he's late home for dinner or he stays out all night, count this as a minor compared to what he might have gone through that day' .... ah bless ..... poor dear.

    Thanks for sharing:)))
    Best wishes Ginny

  2. I always think that vintage books are like little works of art and you have shown yours beautifully.

  3. I, like twinkle pink had to have a giggle about that book, how funny!
    You've inspired me to seek out some lovely little vintage home books,
    Thankyou for this lovely post.
    Victoria x

  4. Same here on the glasses front but I now realise how much I can see with them! I draw a line at a string around my neck though! I love children's books too particularly the Margaret Tarrant fairy illustrations. Just lovely...


  5. I have alot of vintage books too some of which I find more thrilling and interesting than some of the ones written today. My favourite authors are Monica Dickens and Norah Lofts.

  6. Hi Clare

    I thought we might get to see a photo of the specs as well! Or, even better, you in them!!

    I must hunt for some of my old books (still in the store) as I know there are a few 'classic' lines in some of them.

    Sue x

  7. Woops! Sorry Clare, I think I'd better get my eyes tested - as you emailed me, the new specs are in the first photo!!

  8. Ooohh! I adore all of your books. I am a collector too - I don't mean that I collect expensive or rare books. I love the old ones that give us glimpses into the past and the pretty ones. Thanks so much for sharing. I am in love with the last photo in your post - the wallpaper is AMAZING. I would love to know more about the book pictured there - is it the Rose Book for Girls? I love it and want to track down a copy for myself... Thanks.

  9. Beautiful Blog.....I lived in the Cotswolds for 2 wonderful Little Rissington...found memories of doing needlepoint on a Summers days by the water at Bourton on The Water...I was a manageress for a shop in Stow on the Wold...oh how I miss England..
    Thanks for the taste of true English Beauty.
    WA. State USA

  10. You have a lovely vintage book collection Clare!
    Isn't it funny the way the English language has chnaged so much over such a short time - and not always for the better!
    The illustrations too have a wonderful innocent quality. One of my favourite children's books is the 'Water Babies' as I LOVE the pretty pictures!

    Hope you get on well with your new glasses (love the colour BTW!)and enjoy reading all of those gorgeous books again.
    See you soon,
    Niki x

  11. What lovely books and that cup and saucer is just gorgeous.
    Alison x

  12. They are lovely books, I love books. It was the first thing we had to do is build bookcases for our books and we still have more. Your garden is looking wonderful

  13. I love old books and I must say I love them for their dust jackets as much as (sometimes more) there content!! Love the old Elizabeth David books. The housekeeping books are very funny aren't they? By the way, I felt very self conscious when I first got my reading glasses but couldn't and wouldn't be without them now, unfortunately!!! Yours sound very pretty!
    Kim x

  14. Great post....and to your question on my blog...I`ll be honoured if you add me to your list of blogs!!!

  15. Your books are lovely! I love old books, sometimes just for their decorative value! My favorites have to be old children's books and old history books. =)

  16. Hi Clare,

    What a lovely post. I love books and you have a fine collection. One of my favourite haunts is, where I have found some gems.

    Marie x

  17. What lovely old books. A wonderful post.

  18. We have so many books in this house that I'm amazed the floor hasn't caved in!

    I love all your vintage ones, I've managed to get hold of a few over the years and they're so much more attractive than modern books, although I think our attitude towards men may have changed slightly!

    Julia x

  19. I have lots of vintage books - especially housekeeping ones, I've collected those for most of my life. I like the look of the Beverley Nicholls book too, he's very witty. I love the little vignette in the last photo, it could have been taken in the 1930s or 40s - very evocative.

  20. i love old books too - i tend to fall in love with the covers and not worry about what is inside.
    i am only now, whilst packing, beginning to realise how many books i actually have......
    tracy x

  21. Wellll I was born in '62 and have a child named Kendall...maybe I need that book. Let's talk about that chintz cup and saucer!

  22. You are so right, but unfortunately i only have new ones.
    I am not that good in reading either, more looking at beautiful pictures. That has everything to do with my patience i think, eh...
    They all looks so pretty and what you write do make it sounds more interesting i have to say. I recently found a blog, the writer loved old books written by Jane Austen. I searhed the internet and found out a lot about her, very interesting. I read a few words taken out of one book, and i loved it! And then i saw this movie the other day, guess who wrote the book? Jane Austen of course :) The movie is called Northanger Abbey. Loved it!
    I now want to buy one of her books :)

  23. Clare, I imagine you must have the most beautiful house on the planet. Even your books are beautiful! I love that you surround yourself with such beautiful, colorful stuff. It's a wonderful expression of life. Hugs.

  24. I love your book collection and how you so charmingly have them displayed! Very pretty and inspiring!! What a sweet post.

  25. Oh, we think so much alike...I have the most incredible collection of old books....and they bring such pleasure

  26. Gorgeous books! I love love love that last one with the red cover... roses for girls. OH MY!


  27. Love your book collection - I have a few Beverly Nichols books too. I'll have to look for "House Into Home". It sounds like something I'd enjoy reading. The dust jackets are just so amazing on the vintage books. So colorful and pretty. Thanks for sharing your collection!


  28. I am just the same with old dust jackets.I cannot resist them!

  29. I also love vintage books and always drift that way in an antique or consignment shop. The colors and drawings are marvelous.