Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More fun reading

Have you ever read A.A. Milne? No, not those books, but anything else? I don't think he is really remembered for anything but Winnie the Pooh, and that's legacy enough for anyone. However, he did, apparently write a great deal of material that appeared in magazines and journals on both sides of the Atlantic. Also plays, novels, and more poetry than appears in Now We Are Six. I had not read any of that material, however, and was not actually aware that it ever existed.

I've been scouring my bookshelves, gathering materials for J. and E. to read for new school terms. At the same time (surprise, surprise), I ran across quite a few non-fiction books that I had wanted to read, but stashed and forgot. Among them, I found Year In, Year Out by Milne. I remember that I bought this because I was intrigued to read anything by Milne besides the ubiquitous Pooh books.

I've had the book sitting around on my desk for a few days, and I've been puzzling over just where I acquired it. It's a hardcover ex-library book, stamped "Free Public Library, Springfield, N.J." But where did I buy it? At Half-Price books? At a library sale (where? Not New Jersey, certainly.) At a garage sale? Finally, I found the clue in the penciled price inside the cover--22,00. I did not pay $22 for this book, and anyway, we mark our prices with a decimal point, not a comma in the US. Problem solved! I bought this book here in Krakow, of all places, and there is only one place that might have been--Massolit, the used bookstore on Ulica Felipianek (in case anyone reading this blog wants to find the only bookstore in Krakow specializing in used English books).

I put the book away when I bought it, because it is arranged by months, and I thought it would be fun to read each month throughout the year. Too bad I forgot to start it in January. However, that means I can catch up on those months, and it is very fun light reading. I've been missing the little touch of comic relief afforded by Diary of a Nobody ever since I finished it, and this will fill its place nicely.

This is a book of miscellaneous essays which the author admits just didn't fit anywhere else. For example, on writing thank-you notes:
It may happen that, being yourself newly betrothed, you will receive from an absent-minded married friend the identical ornamental match-box which you chose so carefully for her own wedding present two years before. How shall you thank her for it? You don't want to be rude--at least, you do want to, naturally, but you think it would be inadvisable--and yet you don't want her to get away with it altogether.


Darling Sheila,
How sweet of you, I simply love it. I saw one exactly like it at Peter Jones two years ago, and positively yearned for it, but had to give it to a friend who was getting married, and have been regretting it ever since. How I have really got it for myself, and you can imagine how pleased I am.


There are loads of tongue-in-cheek references to rationing, communism, Alice In Wonderland, Shakespeare, sundials, horse racing, and who knows what more? This is a purely eclectic collection and nothing is sacred.

This is going to be fun.


At 11:25 PM , Blogger Scott Hughes said...

It looks like an interesting read, but I haven't read it yet.

You might like the Book & Reading Forums.

At 5:08 PM , Blogger Margaret said...

I have just finished Milne's The Red House Mystery. Not being a mystery fan, I don't know if it was a good mystery, but I enjoyed the book. I bought it because I'd had no idea he had written anything other than Pooh.

At 1:07 PM , Blogger Phyllis said...

Ooo! Please share more if/when you have time. I've had his non-Pooh books on my list to search for next time we're in the USA for a while now, but I haven't had a chance yet.


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