Saturday, 30 January 2010

Good Books and Happy Thoughts!

I finished another book this week - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It was gentle, humourous, slightly old fashioned and full of wonderful quirky characters but by the time I reached the end I felt as though I'd read something quite powerful that told the story of the German occupation of Guernsey during World War II. The unusual feature of the book is that it is written entirely as a series of letters between author Juliet Ashton and various members of the Literary Society and other friends. It is a charming book... do read it if you get a chance!

It immediately brought to mind another delightful book that is largely a series of letters - 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I read this years ago but fortunately still have my copy and so I've been reading this again this week too and it is just as good as I remember it. The true story unfolds through a series of letters written by the author Helene Hanff to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross road... wonderful stuff!

It did get me thinking how sad it is in these days of email, text messages and various other forms of instant communication that the art of letter writing seems to have virtually died out. Will historians of the future be able to put together such vivid pictures of the past without these wonderful personal accounts and little snapshots of lives that are contained in letters? And what about diaries... how many of us keep hand written diaries now that we have blogs? With this in mind I sat and wrote a letter to a friend yesterday...

Which brings to mind a tag I was given recently by Pink Cat to list 10 things that make me happy and so top of the list (and then rather randomly):


  • Receiving a hand written letter or note
  • Reading a good book
  • Finishing a current knitting project and deciding what to make next
  • Waking up and noticing the mornings are actually getting lighter at last
  • Waking up on a Saturday morning and realising that I don't have to work this weekend
  • Waking up on a Saturday morning, realising that I don't have to work this weekend AND discovering that the sun is shining... and being brought a cuppa in bed!
  • Finding a warm egg in the hens' nesting box
  • Eating that egg, poached on toast, for my lunch
  • Having a walk in the sunshine after lunch
  • Receiving parcels in the post... which is good news because Pink Cat and I have both posted each others seven days of specialness swap parcels which should arrive at the beginning of next week.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and I hope the sun is shining where you are!

20 comments:

  1. the sun isn't shining here in western newfoundland, canada - but this post made my day seem a little brighter!

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  2. This is a lovely post. O think listing 10 happy things would be a great way to cheer up a dull day - though the weather is very pretty here and we're already cheerful!

    I have just finished the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for this month's book club - I think we're meeting one night this week and so far everyone has loved it so it should be a happy evening!

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  3. Oh Gina, thank you for that.... you see someone recommended '84 Charing Cross Road' a few years ago.... and I read and thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn't, however "get into" 'The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society'.... (I think I thought it was going to be too similar to '84 Charing Cross Road'). Having read your post I shall give it another "go".

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  4. I have finaly come round to reading 'The Guernsey........ Society', I have to, don't I - I live in Guernsey. I'm enjoying it, love the style.

    I have never read '84 Charing Cross Road', only heard it as an audiobook. And then there is the film, it's so lovely......... with Ann Bancroft playing Helene Hanff, Anthony Hopkins and Judy Dench as his wife. I'm inspirered to see it again.

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  5. I shall look out for both these books - they sound like very 'good reads'. I remember listening to Helen Hanffe on Woman's Hour many years ago and always enjoyed what she had to say. Love your list of 10 things to make you happy - I agree with all of them.

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  6. What a cheery post Gina - lovely. I read the Poptato Peel Pie Society about a year ago and absolutely loved it. I have only ever seen 84 Charing Cross Road on film though. Didn't it star Anthony Hopkins? Perhaps I should try the book too x

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  7. I like to read too ,and thebooks you mention are on my lookout for list ,I enjoyed reading your makes me happy list too Ican imagine my Grandchildrens children picking up a pen and saying 'Whats this '? ....love Jan xx

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  8. I'd buy those books on their covers alone!
    I need to get my swap parcel posted out on Monday...

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  9. i did look at that book but must admit am not keen on that sort of style - but i will give it another try! I think it will be good for me to get out of my comfort zone!

    xx

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  10. Gina, I also love both those books, and also ... fountain pens and writing letters. Even I have over the years cut back on my stamping of envelopes, and mailing of actual post office letters. Not totally over yet, though e-mail does present a challenge.

    I liked all of your list and kept nodding agreement, until I got the fresh egg bit. How I do wish to someday know what it might be to have a truly freshly laid egg for breakfast. Relish your good fortune. xo

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  11. Lovely happy things Gina! I'm a terrible letter writer - probably because I hate my handwriting so much.I think blogging is a fantastic way of recording minute detail that just wouldn't be remembered otherwise. Lucy xxx

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  12. My mother recommended The Guernesey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to me. Whgen she was on her third re-reading I realised that I was going to have to buy my own copy. It took me a little while to get into it (for similar reasons to Menopausal Musing's) but I was soon hooked. I recommend it to loads of customers in the bookshop where I work.

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  13. Ah, what lovely happy things! I too, worry about our lack of written communication. Maybe we should all get our blogs bound into book, so historians will have something to trace back to. And you've listed two of my favorite reads from the last few years. I have a copy of the 84 Charing Cross Road movie that I've been waiting to watch -- I was waiting until I finished the book, which I did about a year ago -- but still haven't watched the movie!

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  14. I have read both those books, Gina, and agree with you that they are very satisfying.
    I've thought the same thing about emails and blogs taking something away from the future. It's so nice to be able to hold thoughts in one's hand - either your own or a friend's in a letter.
    have a good day.

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  15. I might give up TV and knitting to read more!! That book sounds good. We still write letters and I have brought my son up too. Nothing beats a letter in the post.

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  16. That first book sounds good - and interesting. I loved 84 Charing Cross Road when I first read it too. Well done for writing a letter - I'm afraid with my writing, most people couldn't decipher a letter should I write one! x

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  17. Oh, and I forgot to tell that I have a dolls house baced on 84 Charing Cross Road........ always wanted my own bookshop!

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  18. Oh a handwritten letter is such a lovely thing to receive. When I went to University, many years ago, my friends and I kept in touch through prolific letter writing and it was such a thrill to see those envelopes plop through the letter box and to decipher the writing, guessing who it was from, before opening and enjoying. I guess that just doesn't happen nowadays.

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  19. thankyou for the recomendations I will give them a read. One of our briefs at college is communication and we were having the same conversation regarding letters or the lack of them, one of the students brought in very old letters belonging to her family they are so beautiful. Hope your degree is going well ~ Judy x

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  20. I have a friend who I've known since childhood and although I love email, she started sending me cards in the post, and it's been great fun. I love it when the post arrives and there is a handwritten envelope in the post from her.

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