Friday, 22 November 2013

Small Houses

We have recently restocked our collection of Coracle books, so I have been poring over them the past couple of days. I am growing especially fond of the work of Erica Van Horn.
Reading books is often mistaken as a solitary activity, but the best books make deep connections with people, and in this way are greatly social things. I have come to realise that the books I am most moved by are the ones that are About People. With a capital A and a capital P. Many of Erica Van Horn's books are About People.
My favourite one is a book called Small Houses, and it contains photographs of miniature homemade houses, but it is really about Tom Browne. Tom Browne is a neighbour, and a retired builder. He can't work on a real building site anymore so he makes his own scaled-down models out of real building materials - they are plastered, thatched and installed with real glass windows. 
Although we see no photographs of Tom Browne, in the few words and images given, we come to know him: his honest philosophy of living day to day, working with his hands, his effortless warmth and neighbourliness. The book is a human chain linking me invisibly to Tom Browne, with Erica Van Horn in the middle. I have never met either of them, and may never do so (it is possible Tom Browne is no longer with us as the book was published in 2007 and it ends poignantly with the news that Tom is in hospital) and yet they feel like the closest of friends. 

Small House by Erica Van Horn and published by Coracle costs £10. We have dozens of titles by Coracle available in the shop, all worthy of equal attention.