Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Oct 12, 2005

Bookpost: EZ, Lindgren, Beskow

For some time now, I have wanted to start making at least a weekly post about books, both fiber arts-related and just-plain-favorite books. Books and reading have been more of a constant in my life than knitting, spinning, or writing. I have even spent the last nine years selling books, both online and in a shop I helped to open. So, I think perhaps I might have something useful or interesting to share in the realm of books.

When I try to find the perfect way to organize and manifest a new idea, I have been sort of paralyzed by that perfection-seeking and nothing comes into being but regret for not accomplishing something. It's the same sort of thinking that keeps that fabulous yarn languishing in the stash, instead of allowing it, helping it, to Become Something. So my new m.o. is to just plunge right in and DO. The results are not always perfect, but sometimes come close and at least there are results! Better an imperfect, heartfelt body of work rather than an imaginary one that no one but me can see.....

So here is my first Bookpost, unplanned and off the cuff, but at least in existence.

Up there, of course, is the beloved EZ - Elizabeth Zimmermann. I probably have 300 books in my fiber arts library, but if someone forced me to go to a desert island with only the books of one author from that library, it would be EZ's books. For me, she is to knitting books what MFK Fisher is to cooking books. There are the amazing and original knitting patterns and ideas, but throughout her work is the song of an amazing and original spirit. She inspires me - to be ME - to be my own independent opinionated knitting self.

How delighted I am then to find a "new" EZ book, The Opinionated Knitter, compiled and released years after her death. It's a selection of her Wool Gathering newsletters, along with some diary entries, and many nice pictures. I am savoring it bit by bit, making it last awhile.
I'm sharing the following three books for no particular reason other than that they just happen to be the newest acquisitions in my library - they arrived from Amazon yesterday and I haven't even read them yet.

Most Beloved Sister and Mirabelle are both by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. She is probably best known as the creator of the extraordinary Pippi Longstocking. I enjoy Pippi, but my real favorite books of Lindgren's are her less-famous books about less-extraordinary, but charming Swedish children and families. Lotta of Troublemaker Street is a particular favorite and there are several books about Lotta and her family. Then there are the Noisy Village books, and of course, The Tomten, which inspired me and the children to write a song about our own house gnome.

The third book is Uncle Blue's New Boat by Elsa Beskow - another Swedish author. Beskow, however, illustrated her lovely books, which are peopled with kind children, idealized nature and also a few gnomes and elfin types. The links I've posted compare the two authors, saying that Lindgren's books "....broke the tradition of Elsa Beskow's books, where children behaved well, and appealed to the little anarchist living inside every small child...."

In both author's hands, childhood, families, and the child perspective, are enjoyably, sweetly and vividly presented.

I really do love children's books and sometimes think I had children just so I could justify having the huge bookshelf full of books for them. If you look at my profile, you will see that every favorite book I mention (except for Neruda's poetry) is a children's picture book.


At 10/13/05, 11:13 PM, Blogger Luscious Gracious said...

OH, how I loved to see those beautiful European kids' books....Stephen and I had to have children just to justify the amount of shelving dedicated to the juvenile library at our house. Now, we have to have two copies of the good stuff, one for them, one for us.....
And EZ is really, really my favorite author. I am reading "Knitting Around" right now, and I feel like I am living her life somehow, which is quite nice. Her books are the only ones that I don't gobble up instantly. I read them slowly, one page at a time, knowing that there will be no more (even though there WAS one more, which made my Mother's Day this year).
Thanks so much for an inspiring and beautiful post, and for "diving in there" and getting it done. My favorite way to live...
much love,


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