One of my enforced stay-at-home projects is reorganizing our bookshelves of fiction and mysteries. This covers two almost full walls in our downstairs area. The books haven’t been moved at all, except for adding and removing for reading purposes, for years.
I started last week by shifting three shelves of music books, mostly hymnals and similar items to their new home on a free-standing shelf. Then I started on the rest. Moving the music had freed up three shelves, so I started moving my alphabetized fiction forward. I dusted the shelves as they became empty. I soon learned that my sinuses didn’t like the dust at all, so when I re-engage this process I’ll wear a mask! Masks protect us these days from many things.
Although I have culled these books from time to time, most of them are books I read and enjoyed, and some are yet to be read. It has been just delightful to pick up a book and say, “Oh, that is really good!” There are also those collections of books from a beloved author, or a series I especially enjoyed. So I thought that, during this time, I’ll write about my new discoveries of my old books, read and unread.
Barbara Pym (1913-1980), wrote charming and beautifully written novels about life in England in the mid twentieth century. These are great reads for a such a time as this, as her characters often reflect on how their lives were changed by World War II.
If you’ve never read Pym (named by one reviewer as the most underrated novelist of the 20th century) Excellent Women is a good place to start. It’s the book that gained her some notoriety. But they are all delightful.
Here’s the list, with my “Pym” shelf pictured below:
Some Tame Gazelle (1950)
Excellent Women (1952)
Jane and Prudence (1953)
Less than Angels (1955)
A Glass of Blessings (1958)
No Fond Return of Love (1961)
Quartet in Autumn (1977)
The Sweet Dove Died (1978)
A Few Green Leaves (1980)
An Unsuitable Attachment (written 1963; published posthumously, 1982)
Crampton Hodnet (completed circa 1940, published posthumously, 1985)
An Academic Question (written 1970–72; published posthumously, 1986)
Civil to Strangers (written 1936; published posthumously, 1987)