Favourite books

My favourite books

I recently caught half of the movie version of From the mixed up files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler on TV, and was reminded how I loved this book as a teenager. It was suggested to my mother by a librarian at Mosman Library when I was home sick and it struck a chord.

I decided to gather a list of the books that have been extra special to me. One category is books by family members as we have quite a few writers of all sorts (fiction and non-fiction) in both branches of my family.

This is a work in progress. read more

Three-volume novels (3-deckers)

My great-great-aunt Alice M. Browne wrote three Victorian novels which I am collecting and reading. This has been great fun (when else do I get to read melodramatic love stories with happy endings?) and has also taught me a bit about the history of publishing.

The only copy of her novel ‘The Rector of Amesty’ (using the pseudonym John Ryce, and incorrectly catalogued as ‘Amnesty’) that I could trace in Australia is held in the rare books library at Sydney University. I took two days off in the holidays to sit there in scholarly silence reading it.

It was bought by Sydney University as part of a collection of triple-decker novels – of which the university has the best collection in the world.

Triple-decker novels are three-volume novels, but not just any three-volume novel. They were a popular publishing format throughout the 19th century. New novels were published in strong, elegant bindings in short runs for use by subscription libraries such as Mudie’s. The three-volume format meant that three borrowers could be reading the one book at the same time. The quality bindings – and the extra volumes – meant that publishers could make more money per book than with a one-volume novel, and this meant, apparently, that new authors who would not otherwise have been economically viable could be published. read more