diamond geezer

 Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Early readers

I keep a box of old paperback books in my spare room, each book a childhood favourite. Yesterday I dug through the box searching for my Fighting Fantasy books (I only had three of them, I wasn't obsessed or anything). And I also came across lots of other books I'd almost forgotten I owned, so here's a list of some of my choicest volumes. A car boot sale's too good for them.

Now We Are Six (1966, 2s 6d): Reading back through, these poems anew, with tales of queens, and playtime it seems, that unspoilt childhood, has vanished for good. Nostalge here.
Ladybird books (1969, 2s 6d): These mini marvels allowed any child to build up a reference library on diverse subjects at pocket money cost. How else could you become an expert on The Weather, Tricks and Magic or The story of Football in 50 pages flat, with full colour illustrations? Nostalge here.
I-SPY books (6d-12p): I've got 30 of these little spotter books for the trainee anorak. Of course, I realise now that if I hadn't written in them they might be worth more than 12p today. Nostalge here.
Silly Verse For Kids (1972, 20p): One of Spike Milligan's many works of genius. "There are holes in the sky where the rain gets in, but they're ever so small that's why rain is thin." Nostalge here.
Secret of the Seventh Star (1973, 30p): "Will you be able to follow the clues, or will the murderer escape and the house retain its secrets?" A decade before Fighting Fantasy books there were Tracker Books, 40-page 'you decide' novels, which were quite possibly where the whole 'branching stories' phenomenon first began. I used to draw little network diagrams to show how all the pages linked together. Seems like only yesterday I last did that... Nostalge here.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1974, 20p): Classic, and no sign of Gene Wilder either. I still have a Puffin Club bookplate stuck inside the cover of this book. Ahh, the Puffin Club, I still have my badge somewhere too. Nostalge here.
Swallows and Amazons (1974, 40p): A book from a bygone age where children went sailing without adult supervision, camped it up in the Lake District and had distinctly un-PC names like Nancy and Titty. Nostalge here.
Crazy But True (1975, 35p): The favourite amongst my many books of useless information. "The elephant is the only animal that cannot jump. It is also the only animal with four kneecaps." Honest. Modern version here.
Number Games and Puzzles (1976, 35p): You'll not be surprised to hear that I own lots of books like this. But you might be surprised to hear that this particular volume was written by Gyles Brandreth, then an unknown but prolific author of quiz-type books. Nostalge here.
Star Wars (1977, 95p): Written by George Lucas himself, apparently, from the days when you had to buy the paperback novel of a film because nobody had yet invented videos, let alone DVD special editions. Nostalge here.


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