Books That Aren't Allowed To Leave My House

As I typed out the title to this post, I had to giggle – sounds like I’m holding the books hostage.

I used to be fairly laid-back about allowing friends to borrow my books. Until I lost a whole collection of now-impossible-to-find comics. Swiftly followed by books being returned in bad condition.

While I don’t mind loaning out some of my books – but only to certain people whom I trust – there are some books that are not allowed to leave the house. At all.

Edmund Spenser’s ‘Faerie Queene’ – apart from being the oldest book I own (1859), the cover has come away from the rest of the book.

Cover of Spenser’s ‘Faerie Queene’
Title page of ‘Faerie Queene’

I can’t remember when I joined the Folio Society. The only reason I did was to get this collection of fairy tales, which were part of the introductory offer. Grimm’s Fairy Tales has illustrations by Arthur Rackham; the illustrations in the Hans Christian Andersen collection is by W Heath Robinson; and Perrault’s Fairy Tales has illustrations by Edmund Dulac.

Folio Society Fairy Tales
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales
Perrault’s Fairy Tales

I’ve managed to amass a fair-sized collection of Robert Vavra’s books. I love them all, but my favourite is ‘Unicorns I Have Known’.

Robert Vavra - ‘Unicorns I Have Known’

As I said in my review for ‘Circe’, the reason I bought it in hardback is because of the beautiful cover - dustjacket and the book itself.

Madeline Miller - ‘Circe’
‘Circe’ cover of book

Of all the covers I’ve seen over the years for different editions of ‘Dracula’, this is, in my opinion, the best.

Bram Stoker - ‘Dracula’

I found this edition of HP Lovecraft’s complete Cthulhu Mythos at the British Museum.

HP Lovecraft - Complete Cthulhu Mythos

General reference books like ‘Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend’ again, because they’re not easy to find/replace.

Funk & Wagnall - Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend

And my writing reference books, like ‘Emotion Thesaurus’ because I’d be lost without them, especially while editing.

The Emotion Thesaurus 2nd edition

What are your thoughts on lending people your books? Are you laid-back about it like I used to be? Or is it an absolutely no-no?

Fears and Phobias... and a Funny Story

I’m a self-confessed scaredy-cat. It doesn’t take much to make me nervous.

(Image by Alexas_Fotos - Pixabay)

(Image by Alexas_Fotos - Pixabay)

I get nervous when I’m out at night on my own.

I get nervous when I have to go somewhere new. I have to psych myself up to enter a room full of people I don’t know, especially if I’m on my own.

I get nervous when I’m about to travel, even if I’m going somewhere I’ve been before.

As for clowns, I don’t just get nervous, I’m scared of them. I struggle to even look at a picture of one. But I don’t think I have an actual phobia of clowns, called coulrophobia, by the way. I can still function; I either close my eyes or look away. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad experience with a clown. I think my problem with them is the contradiction they represent – they’re supposed to be bringers of happiness, yet they always have sad faces. It doesn’t make sense, I know, but then our fears never do.

As for actual phobias, I have two. The first, which isn’t as bad as it could be, is acrophobia – a fear of heights. I don’t know how high I have to be before I start feeling panicky as I’ve never given that any thought.

All I know is, at some point I start to feel dizzy, I have trouble breathing and I have to hold on to something. I struggle to glance over the edge, even if there’s a railing between me and open space. As for floor-to-ceiling windows, I can’t stand right in front of them and look out; I stay a few feet away and gaze into the distance.

(Image by Gerd Altmann - Pixabay)

(Image by Gerd Altmann - Pixabay)

But the real doozy, the phobia that makes me freeze up completely, is ‘katsaridaphobia’ – fear of cockroaches. I only found out recently that it was an actual phobia and that it had a name; I just thought I was weird, being terrified of something that can’t hurt me.

Growing up in Malaysia, the damned things were everywhere… or, at least, that’s what it seemed like to me. They usually tended to come out at night. Going to the toilet while half-asleep wasn’t fun as I always had to scope out the bathroom before setting foot in it.

Apparently, the advice to make cockroaches run from you is to stamp your feet. Because of the way they hear and, I guess, being so low to the ground, it’s deafening for them and they run in the opposite direction. Well, from my experience, that’s either a load of bull or cockroaches in Malaysia have the worst sense of direction – they’ve never run away from me; they run at me!

As if having them race around on the floor wasn’t bad enough, I then found out some of them could fly! Honestly, the first time I came across one, I bolted. I’m surprised there wasn’t a me-shaped hole in the wall. Back then, it was like being in my horror movie. But, looking back, those memories make me laugh.

Like this one. My sister and I were still up late as we’d been ‘volunteered’ to keep an eye on my cousin’s wedding cake and take it out of the oven when it had finished baking. We were in the lounge, either watching tv or just chatting, I can’t remember. When it came time to check on the cake, to our horror, there was a cockroach between us and the kitchen.

I remembered the handy can of bug spray and, with my sister cheering me on (quietly, as our parents were already in bed), I approached the beast. As I was about to spray it, it sprouted wings and flew! Squawking, we retreated. I tried to spray it while it was flying and failed miserably. Then it flew right at us. Brave me flung the can at it and we ran!

(Image by Gerd Altmann - Pixabay)

(Image by Gerd Altmann - Pixabay)

We couldn’t hide out in our bedroom as we still had to check on the pesky cake. So, we ventured back down… no sign of any cockroach. I’m sure that’s the fastest we’ve ever moved to get something out of the oven, shut up the kitchen and get back upstairs. I honestly can’t remember, but I think we took the cake with us… not to eat, but for it to cool down in the safety of our bedroom.

What about you? Do you have any phobias?