A Parenting Mistake Of Sorts

When my youngest daughter was transitioning from Primary to High School I made a massive mistake in gifting her the book, 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.

Why was this a mistake? Because both our lives became book-centric involving visits to book sales and secondhand outlets in search of the books on The List. It became our” thing”. My child is the one you see lugging a suitcase on the train to enable her to bring purchases home from the Lifeline Bookfest. Her greatest joy comes from spreading her purchases on the floor all around her, similar to how we emptied the contents of our Easter Showbags all those years ago and sat enthralled as we surveyed all that was on offer.

She’s been home these last few days and is still chasing books from The List. Plus, thanks to the ABC television program of late last year we are now also chasing the books from The Books That Made Us.

Cat Balou’s time in Qld went all too quickly and we’ve cooked together, chatted non stop, laughed, and drank coffee ( as well as lots of bubbly things). Walking home from a Cafe one morning she spotted a table on someone’s front lawn with a sign advertising Free Books. Move over Cathy Freeman – I’ve never seen anyone move so fast! Another twenty books for the Little Community Library. Excellent work.

We walked up to the Little Community Library one afternoon where she of course insisted on alphabetising the contents. She also located another entry from The Books That Made Us compilation which she celebrated like a medal winner on the Olympic podium.

The local Op Shop was another adventure (because Mo, I need a book for the plane ) where said child, 34 years of age, located yet another read from The List. WOW, this is turning into an exciting holiday, she says. Only 300 more books to locate.

This is one happy daughter.

Until she spots a lone book on a display shelf.

Mo, have you been donating any books here, she asks. Yes, Cat Balou, sometimes I do that. Books are meant to go round.

Mo, she says, Mo, is that my book that I lent you and asked you to return before Christmas? And is that my copy of the Booker Prize winner you were supposed to send to my sister for Christmas?

An expensive little visit to the charity store as I was required to buy back many of the books I had donated in recent months.

My payback came when reminding her that a new edition of the 1001 Books had been recently published adding almost an extra 100 newer novels since her copy was released twenty years ago. More books to collect, kiddo, said with a smirk from mother.

The house is quiet once again and we are living on pots of tea, cheese and biscuits, and left over San Choy Bow. Cat Balou has returned to her 1 bedroom, 1 reading room unit in a trendy pocket in the nation’s capital and my Wizard Of Oz jigsaw puzzle which scares the bejesus out of her is back on display.

Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”
– Clementine Paddleford

“Miss you heaps.”
– Mo

21 thoughts on “A Parenting Mistake Of Sorts

    1. The daughter picked up Peter Carey’s True History Of The Kelly Gang and I’m struggling. Hoping some cooler weather might make it easier to focus…..I’ve just finished the 18th book of your Street Library Book Challenge and am enjoying the different genres πŸ™‚ Experiencing a slight reading slump but that’s okay. Over rich food and white wine also. Back into a routine next weekπŸ€ͺ


  1. This is so much fun!πŸ˜ƒ My mom is a huge Agatha Christi fan. When I was growing up we d play games like name an Agatha Christie book that starts with A,B,C….it taught me the books for sure! We would also go on searches through old book stores, rummage sales and markets to complete the collection. I believe she s only missing 4 of the 88 or so books. Thanks for the great memories!😊

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    1. That is a great memory, and one to embrace when the days are a little tough. My partner collects the Sue Grafton A-Z murder mysteries and gets so excited when he can add to his collection. ( A little secret : I’ve been known to burst into tears when I come across a new Errol Flynn).
      Hope the tribe are all well and you have a beaut weekend πŸ™‚


  2. Fabulous post, May! I laughed, and understood, and shed a tear at the joys of family and the huge love of books which thankfully can never be extinguished. A few years back I donated my full set (second-hand) of Sue Grafton’s A-Z so apologies for that. With James Herriot’s ‘All Creatures Great And Small’ remake on TV I was pleased I still have my original paperbacks. We loved his books and my daughter says that’s why she became a vet. Well, that and the umpteen pets she cared for πŸ™‚

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  3. So sorry, May, I let my stupid typing fingers run away with me. The books probably went to a good home but if I had known you sooner, you would definitely have got the lot! My mission from now on will be to scour the city for Errol Flynn books and memorabilia in the hope I find something you don’t already possess… watch this space…

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  4. Lists are both good and bad. Good because we can all gain enormously from the recommendations of others, bad because (in the wrong hands) they can limit discovery, you know what I mean: “it’s not on The List, so it can’t be worth reading”. As a children’s librarian one of saddest things I ever encountered was the parent who wanted her daughter to read ONLY the books she herself had enjoyed as a child…such a waste. Brilliant new books are published every year, so best lists are those that updated regularly rather than the ones that are set in stone.

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    1. Totally agree. Lists as a guideline are a wonderful tool. Very thankful that my daughter has the curiosity to be continually led down the Rabbit Hole πŸ™‚ With the recent arrival of my first grand child – other than the Labrador- I have loved returning to children’s books, from both the past to the present. Have even set one as the read for Book Club later in the year. That should cause a flurry of activity with the old dears.πŸ˜‰ Enjoy your weekend.

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      1. I think it’s really good that you have named a children’s book as a set text for your Book Club. Many adults take a very condescending / patronising attitude towards children’s literature, assuming it is “babyish” or “beneath them.” In my view, however, the very best children’s writers have a talent equal to that of the best writers for adults. Your Book Club is in for a treat, and its less worldly members may have their eyes opened to a whole new world of literary possibilities. Oh dear, my apologies, I really must stop preaching! πŸ™‚

        Thank you for your good wishes…hope you have a lovely weekend too.

        Liked by 2 people

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