The virtual bookshelf

I came across this lovely blog on my world wide wanderings recently, described by author Blithe Spirit as ‘a virtual bookstore’, dedicated to books from the era of Virginia Woolf, 1882 to 1941.

It’s a great idea; like many people I have an idealised bookshop in my head (almost certainly uneconomic in these cruel times) where I could press my favourite novels onto browsing customers. However, as the last thing Bloomsbury needs is another bookshop, it’s most unlikely to happen.

On a smaller scale, I also have a virtual bookshelf, which I intend to install in my guest bedroom, just as soon as I have a flat big enough for one (guest bedroom, not shelf). Guests’ books, like guests’ visits, should be amusing, witty, light and not too long. Here’s my list:

  • Francois Sagan: Bonjour Tristesse.
  • Kingsley Amis: Lucky Jim.
  • Evelyn Waugh: Scoop!
  • Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own.
  • Winifred Watson: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.
  • Stella Gibbon: Cold Comfort Farm.
  • John Lanchester: The Debt to Pleasure.
  • Nancy Mitford: The Pursuit of Love.
  • Wendy Cope: Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis.
  • Genevieve Dariaux: A Guide to Elegance.
  • Henry James: The Europeans.
  • Dorothy Parker: Not So Deep As A Well.

Poetry to polemics, serial killers to lady killers, broad comedy to black humour. I’ve been seized by a sudden desire to take a week off and re-read all of these, fuelled by a constant supply of Darjeeling and macaroons. What would you be pleased to see on the bookshelf when you arrived for a vist?

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The virtual bookshelf

  1. Aw, thank-you for your lovely post. A virtual bookshelf in the guest room is a wonderful idea and I love that you have some poetry there – just the thing to dip into before bedtime. I’d also include some collections of short stories – by Lorrie Moore, Ray Bradbury, Chekhov, Alice Munro and Ian McEwan. And for the ultimate in comfort reading – a little Austen or Dickens.

  2. Parthenope

    If I’m not staying for long I would like to find some good short stories , such as ‘Good evening Mrs Craven’ by Mollie Panter-Downes, ‘The casino’ by Margaret Bonham (both published by Persephone; any collection by Jane Gardam, but maybe ‘Going into a dark house; ‘Mr Wrong’ by Elizabeth Jane Howard. The last two include some ghost stories too. Also an anthology of poetry for dipping into.

  3. Rosemary

    Definitely E M Delafield’s ‘Provincial Lady’ series. And ghost stories are a good idea – M R James for the really stout of heart.

  4. Fantastic ideas, both. You’ll be top of the guest list!

  5. Phil Lane

    What about ‘What Ho, Jeeves!’ by PG Wodehouse? That would seem to fit the criteria admirably.

  6. You have to have at least one horror/ ghost story in amongst the pile to scare your guest silly. Nothing like sleeping in a strange bed in the house of people whom you think are your friends and reading a ghoulish tale as you doze off, then hearing creaking noises in the middle of the night…. So, Edgar Alan Poe?

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