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January 2019



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woman's magazine

Old Books are so Chic

Yesterday, yet another Cath Kidston catalogue appeared in the letter box. It’s been given a bookish theme, with photo shoots in Hay-on-Wye and some apparently randomly selected quotes scattered about. There are book recommendations (Cath Kidston’s favourite book is Frenchman’s Creek), advice on starting a book club and an interview with Jilly Cooper. “Now I’m 72, when it’s hot I type topless at the bottom of the garden.” Go Jilly!

There is rather a ‘books do furnish a room’ attitude in all this. Anyone who looks at books on eBay has seen some listed as ‘suitable for vintage décor’. What interests me is how little the content or even the condition of the book matter, so long as it’s old. On the many vintage or shabby chic sites on the net, you’ll soon notice that sellers there can get a higher price for a book (an old Ladybird, a children’s annual) than they would if they put it up on Amazon or eBay; it’s the age and the look which matter. Curious!


I was reading that over breakfast. I've never read any Jilly Cooper but she sounds like a very nice person (and obsessed by doggies).
I'd say obsessed by doggies is right! Some of her books are much better than others but they are a good romping read if you're in the right mood.
good for Jilly (and I wish I had a garden private enough to do that!)

I recognise that book stall in the catalogue picture! It's one of many honesty shops where you put 50p in a tin for the damp and dusty books no one else wants - things like 1978 Haynes manuals and old school text books. Sometimes you can be lucky and find a good one though.
She was saying that she *used* to write completely naked but now... I'd be overlooked, too.

I think Hay is probably one of those places you need to visit all the time if you want a bargain; a one-off visit might be a disappointment? I love the pictures of the bookshops but think the poor girl looks a fright in those long socks. I thought they went out with Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton!
there are a lot of 'proper' bookshops too, with some beautiful window displays so it's always worth a visit, even if you don't find anything. I can't help thinking what an unglamorous location that is - very damp and cold - so the socks are probably quite practical, if nothing else! They do look strange with the dress.
A lovely Christmas present! I was going to display it but I use it every day.

Brilliant! It's certainly distinctive and she never has that 'just been to the hairdresser's' look.


Old books

I have the catalogue, too, but where did you find that lovely mug you have perched on the top of it?
Margaret P

Re: Old books

The mug was a Christmas present, lucky me.
I find the idea of buying books for their covers (no pun intended) curious, too. I've even heard of people buying old books by the foot for library decor.
Yes, they really do. I've heard stories of people seeing a book they really wanted in a pub, where the books had been bought just for decoration. Then they had to try to buy the book!
I'd never heard of shabby chic before! I don't know if this isn't a trend in Australia or whether I just don't know anyone who has a shabby chic house. It does sound better than the current trend towards perfect, uncluttered, sterile houses, though I don't get people who use books as accessories. Books are for reading!
Shabby chic is *huge*. There's a whole younger generation indulging in everything retro. Most people joke that their houses are shabby without the chic. I was amazed when I was house hunting to see virtually empty houses: no books, no pictures, everything white. Chilly!
Well, you've inspired me! I'm going to move some of my old books and mags from the study to give our loungeroom that look. It's halfway there, anyway, lol!


I've only read (and really liked) The Common Years by her, but I've always had the sense of her as a feisty woman. Could you give links to some of these vintage or shabby sites? I've not seen any. I would rather someone (a non-reader) be honest and have no books than have them just for show. I have some friends who own hardly any books, but they read voraciously from the library stacks.
Definitely feisty!

You could try
Oh So Vintage
Cowboys and Custard
This Vintage Life (watch out for redundant apostrophes).

Those will give you plenty more links.


I think the whole vintage thing is becoming a bit of a cliche, now. Really wish I'd called my blog Retro Reads and not Vintage Reads. Cath Kidston for me is just a more expensive version of Laura Ashley. I adore Jilly Cooper, though. Not the 'bonk-busters' but the girl books she wrote in the late sixties/early seventies.
Oh, I like 'Vintage Reads'; it's like you're comparing books with wine. Retro implies 'trying to be old', not the real thing. Anyone can tell that you don't read books for fashionable reasons.