I collect a lot of mine from secondhand shops, occasionally cheating by ordering them secondhand online, from the great website AbeBooks, if I give up on finding the missing ones in op shops.
Here’s a few weird collections I will never ever give up:
The Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell (on every Aussie horse-mad girl’s bookshelf, beautiful imagery of the Australian Alps and wild horses – from the horses’ point of view).
The Billabong books by Mary Grant Bruce (written in the early 1900’s about Norah, growing up on a large Australian property with her dad, brother Jim & his mate Wally – they made me want to go jillarooing, which I did, sort of!).
Gerald Durrell: I’ve read and collected most of his books now in battered paperback form. His joy and detailing of the animals he collected during the late 1940’s & early 50’s were right up my alley – he made me want to visit South America, which I did, eventually. Oh, and he was one of the fathers of modern-day ‘conservation’ zoos.
Monica Dickens (yes, that name – she was Charles’ great-grandaughter) wrote World’s End, an incredible coming-of-age series, in the 1970’s. It was about four kids growing up in the UK without their parents or any real adult supervision, but with an entire menagerie of rescued dogs, cats and horses. A child’s dream, yes, but these books could move in seconds from laughter to infinite sadness and descriptions of humans’ stupidity and cruelty.
Spike Milligan‘s war-time ‘autobiographies’ (written with a fair dose of fiction, I’m sure, but a mix of laugh-out-loud silliness and utter sadness at the stupidity of war). I love Spike’s black humour. As he wished for, his gravestone is marked with the epitaph “I told you I was ill”.