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My Favourites Shelf

My Favourites Shelf

Bookseller Anne Haas shares her shelf of favourite books and asks what do you keep on yours?

Posted on 7th October 2015 by Anne Haas
I like the smell of old books, their yellowed pages, even the tatters and stains - every bit of wear tells its own story…

Book 1: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald published by Arcturus (2013). This is a slip case edition that I managed to get my hands on from a charity shop in Leicester last year.

Book 2: 2010 - Grimm’s Fairy Tales Collection illustrated by Arthur Rackham. A clothbound gift edition translated by Mrs Edgar Lucas originally published in 1909. It was printed in the USA and has really thick pages. I love this beautifully illustrated collection given to me to me as a Christmas present by my mum.

I love finding copies with inscriptions of previous owners too: a little personality and history as to where the book has been...

Book 3: 2003 - Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens published by GE Fabbri LTD. A pristine, brown, leather-bound edition with illustrations.

Book4: 2002 – The Golden Age of Verse, slip case limited edition, 932 out of 3000 and published by Past Times. I found this one in an Oxfam shop in Sheffield during a walk through the city.

Book 5: 1966 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen published by J. M. Dent and Sons Ltd.

My favourites shelf is occupied mostly by second hand, dated classics. I like to order them in size to avoid the smaller editions being overlooked and to show them off…

Book 6: 1932 - The Kings Treasuries of literature. Selected Longer Poems edited by Guy N. Pocock.

Book 7: 1992 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes published by Reader’s Digest. This one came from a car-boot sale in South Yorkshire for fifty pence! Still, to date, the best bargain I have ever had!

They are all beautiful hardbacks, cloth or leather bound, that I have collected over a number of years and they are my treasures…

Book 8: 1982 - The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Cambridge University Press, leather bound. Another amazing car-boot sale purchase!

Book 9: 1966 - Paradise Lost Books I and II published George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. I got this from a small charity shop in Chippenham, Wiltshire … I spend my lunch in charity shops looking at more books!

I don’t know a huge amount about first editions and collectability - my purchases have been made through taste rather than value…

Book 10. 1959 - English Literature for Boys and Girls by H. E. Marshall, illustrated by Robert Hodgson, and published by Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd. This is a huge leather-bound collection of excerpts from classic literature. It is one that had been passed down in the family and I ‘borrowed’ from my Gran before I went to study English at University.

Book 11: 1920s (I think) - Moby Dick by Herman Melville published by Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd. My other half picked this beauty up for me at a car-boot sale (of course!).

With a little research, however, I’ve found that I have at least one first edition (a first edition of this year actually - a first print, clothbound hardback of J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan).

Book 12: 1900s - Saved from the Sea by W. H. G. Kingston published by Thomas Nelson and Sons. There does not appear to be a publication date but the inscription is a message to my Great Grandad from the head teacher of his school dated 30th April 1908.

Book 13: 1903 - The Lyrical Ballads 1798-1805 Wordsworth and Coleridge published by Mathuen & CO. Found in and old bookshop in Soho in London.

Book 14: 1899 – Black Beauty by Anna Sewell published by Jarrold & Sons. This is a stunning leather-bound edition given to me as a gift. A lot of research went into finding this and I’ve never seen another like it. It is a forty-eighth edition and has a couple of inscriptions in the front. Its age fascinates me as it is in brilliant condition and still all in one piece!

Now, there are a few books on my favourites shelf that I know nothing about!  Some have missing pages where the publication notes would have been printed, so there is no date or publisher, but, I like that about them, they hold mysteries of their own.

So, we want to know what is on the favourites shelf of your bookcase and why? Do you collect first editions?  Is there a space you are saving for something special or does it hold the books you refer to most?