I have RevCheryl, a regular visitor here and more recently to Devon, to thank for any suggestion of such a thing as a Roger Deakin Shelf and I think this all evolved after I may have mentioned either Notes From Walnut Tree Farm or something similar.
On the subject of Rev Cheryl I am very excited and grateful to have been invited up to the Parish and thence to Ely Cathedral to hear Margaret Atwood speak about The Year of the Flood on September 7th, the day of the book's UK publication and I'm hoping my copy will arrive any day soon. I'd love to have read it before I go and of course I'll be in the signing queue.
I think I may also get to step inside the wonderful Topping & Company Booksellers whilst I'm in the vicinity which is a treat I can hardly breath for thinking about.
I love the idea that these Roger Deakin-like books deserve a special place together in the midst of thousands of other books, a small oasis of calm to return to as if touching base with something important.
I think that 'something important' will be different for every single one of us.
For me, I can't tell by the look or the title of a book, it's all about the mood and feeling I have as I read, as I turn the final page and as I put the book down do I have that pang of regret over finishing it or having to cut off my reading. A sense of huge gain but a little sense of loss too, that I've had that first exhilarating read-through experience and discovered something special and that can never quite be repeated in exactly the same way. The books have an indefinable grace and a blessing about them and I suspect we each know it when we find them.
But it can of course all be repeated as often as I want and each return will connect me back to those first revelations, that elusive reading mood that defines these books and thus the book gains its place on that shelf.
In fact it hasn't quite been a real shelf because the books in question seemed to be all over the house, some by the bed, some by my desk, some on one of my reading tables by a sofa because I never quite know when the moment may come upon me and an RDS book will become instantly required reading, and so I thought it would be good to gather them in and do a little inventory and I've set up a virtual Roger Deakin Shelf over here<<<<<<
Suddenly seeing them together and they do exude a power that may well mean little to others.
Several of the books are still unfinished because it's not a race to get onto the RDS shelf. I pick them up and just know they belong there and will be reading just a few chapters at a time, The Great Western Beach by Emma Smith is one. I've just finished it but have made it last months and my thoughts about that soon. Currently I've loved it more than I can find the right words to express, perhaps for its child's eye view of Cornwall and life between the wars in a place I vaguely knew as a child too. It's a beautiful book with an innocence yet an unguarded wisdom to it, what a child sees but can't interpret, which is exactly what I love child's voice to be.
The English Year by Steve Roud is another treasure and a lovely book to pick up any day of the year and be instantly linked back to ancient tradition and always good to see where there's a bun race going on (Sandwich funnily enough) or when Plague Sunday is (last Sunday in August).
More about my new discovery, the inestimable Ronald Blythe and The Bookman's Tale tomorrow and I'm wondering what else you may add to a shelf like this, I'd love some more suggestions.