|The Little Bookroom|
I did sometimes pick less-famous titles by famous authors, because those are my special favorites. However, I'm trying to not repeat myself too often, so just take Diana Wynne Jones and Daniel Pinkwater and so on as too obvious to even mention, OK?
1. Going Solo, by Roald Dahl -- This autobiography of Dahl's years as a young man, working in Africa and World War II, is just great. The very first chapter is one of the funniest things I've ever read, and sometimes I just read that. The amazing thing is that after all the exciting things in this book, he doesn't even tell you that his next job was in the US as a spy!
2. The Little Bookroom, by Eleanor Farjeon -- Farjeon is a minor classic children's author, and I just love her books. The Little Bookroom is the one I read all the time when I was a kid; I didn't have any others then, but now I try to collect her.
3. My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell -- the greatest funny book about a dotty family and a boy's obsession with animals ever written.
4. The History of Everyday Things in England, by Marjorie and C. H. B. Quennell -- Now this one is pretty obscure. It's a whole series detailing everyday life--tools, building techniques, farming, clothing--from the Middle Ages through the Industrial Revolution. It was written for children 10+ but nowadays few kids would have the patience or reading level. I collect them. They are amazing.
5. Linnets and Valerians, by Elizabeth Goudge -- I've only recently discovered Goudge. This is one of her children's titles but she also wrote great books for grownups. I just like this one best out of all of them.
6. Friday's Tunnel, by John Verney -- No one seems to know this 4-book series any more, but I think it's great. They're funny and adventurous and very improbable, and they're really sort of like Tintin adventures in a novel format, featuring members of a large and chaotic family instead of a boy reporter.
7. The Discarded Image, by C. S. Lewis -- Lewis is mostly too famous to be forgotten, but his works of literary criticism are not too well-known. I think this book is wonderful because it gives us such a great picture of what the universe looked like to medieval people (who did not think the Earth was flat or that it was the most important thing in the universe or that they were the most important beings in the universe...yes, I do have a bee in my bonnet about this point!) before the heliocentric model was developed.
8. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman -- Just too much apocalyptic fun to miss.
9. Arabel's Raven, by Joan Aiken -- Aiken's Wolves Chronicles are the famous (and fabulous!) ones, but everyone should have the opportunity to read about charming little Arabel and her beloved, hideous, and misbehaving raven, Mortimer. I don't know why these books ever go out of print.
|Arabel and Mortimer|
10. The Little Tim books, by Edward Ardizzone -- Ardizzone is one of my all-time favorite illustrators, and he wrote some books of his own about Little Tim, a boy who is forever running off to sea and having adventures. Mostly his parents don't mind. And don't forget the stand-alone story, Peter the Wanderer!