That entertaining and learned blogger Litlove, over on Tales from the Reading Room, shares my love of the occasional meme. She posted this one the other day and I couldn't help myself. Here are my answers. If you fancy doing it yourself, please do.
The book that’s been on your shelves the longest.
I have got one book that I have had since I was a child. It is an early twentieth-century story collection called Greek Myths and Legends, and it has an inscription inside saying it was won as a school prize by my mother's older brother Norman in 1912. This is especially poignant as Norman was sent soon afterwards to Dartmouth Naval College, and when the First World War broke out he and his fellow pupils were called up as midshipmen. But he never saw the war as he and many of the rest of the crew died in a tragic accident -- a explosion -- while the ship was still in port.
A book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time).
This has to be my ancient and battered edition of Wordsworth's verse autobiography The Prelude, because it reminds me of the time when, as a final year student, I took this book on a train journey. The train broke down and stayed stranded for a long time, during which, with nothing else to do to pass the time, I started to really study the text of this poem in a very detailed way. This not only resulted in my finding a subject for my undergraduate dissertation but also formed the basis of a later M.Phil thesis.
A book you acquired in some interesting way.
That would be my first edition (1922) of Katherine Mansfield's The Garden Party. When I was in France a few years ago I went to a 'vide grenier' (attic sale) in a nearby village. There were loads of tables and stalls and also a few people just sitting on the ground with some bits and pieces spread out on a blanket. One such was a young French girl who had a small pile of books which, when I looked at them, turned out to be in English. She was selling them for 10 francs (£1) each, so I bought them all, the Mansfield among them. I had no idea it was a first ed. till later, but it is, completely genuine and not in bad condition, so worth several hundred pounds if I cared to sell it, which I don't.
The book that’s been with you to the most places.
This is hard. I suppose anything I've had since I was a student will have been in two different houses in London, two different houses in Oxford, and two different houses in Lancashire where I now live, and several probably on holiday with me as well. Let's go for Bleak House, which I certainly remember carting around with me a lot.
The most recent addition to your shelves.
That's Margery Allingham's classic crime novel Hide my Eyes, which arrived a couple of days ago via Bookmooch.
Your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next.
I'm just finishing Henning Mankell's first Wallander novel, Faceless Killers. Before that I read Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger. I think my next read might be Olivia Manning's The Doves of Venus, bought in a charity shop last week.