Replacements Needed

I have been slowly replacing the old paperbacks in my library. It’s a necessary task. Some of them have degraded to the point that they might not survive another reading.

The most decrepit of them all is C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian. Its back cover and last few pages are completely detached. The seven Narnia books have been in my library for as long as I can remember. They are 1978 paperback editions, so it’s not surprising that some are showing their age.


It’s tough to choose replacement editions. Initially I was opposed to all of the modern editions because of they way the books are numbered. They are always numbered in chronological order, as opposed to the original publication order. However, I have decided that the cover numbers are irrelevant, because I can read them in any order I want.

Looking at my old set, it’s interesting how the condition varies from book to book. While Prince Caspian has reached the end of its days, The Horse and His Boy looks almost unread. If I were to judge by condition only, I’d say my childhood order of preference was…

  1. Prince Caspian
  2. The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”
  3. The Last Battle
  4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  5. The Silver Chair
  6. The Magician’s Nephew
  7. The Horse and His Boy

This order of preference sounds plausible to me. It’s close to how I’d order them now. The only major change I’d make would be to put The Last Battle last. I might also rearrange the top three from time to time, depending on my mood. My current order of preference is very close to the original publication order, which is my main argument for using the old numbering. Why start with one of the poorer entries of the series? Not that The Magician’s Nephew (first in chronological order) is horrible, but it’s not even close to the best. Kids who start with that one might not bother to continue with the series.

Well, the numbering is something over which I have no control, so there’s no sense in getting fired up about it. The important thing is to find editions that are attractive and comfortable to read. One problem with shopping for books online is that you can’t always tell exactly which edition you’re getting. And it’s impossible to judge the artwork or the font or the heft of the book without actually picking it up and looking at it. So I will be planning trips to the library and a bricks-and-mortar bookstore to do more research. And while I’m sad to have to replace my childhood books, I’m thrilled to have an excuse to go book hunting!

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5 Responses to Replacements Needed

  1. sprite says:

    The Horse & His Boy feels racist to me in these modern times, so I’d agree with you about putting it toward the bottom. And I admit that while I own The Last Battle, another friend told me that it was the sort of book that might ruin the whole series for me and suggested I skip it, so I have so far. I have a great deal of fondness for the first book, since one of the public librarians came to our school library to read parts of it to us when they were getting ready to open the new Wallyworld library.

  2. sprite says:

    Will you be replacing them all as a complete set or will you be piecemealing it from different sets you like as the books need retirement?

  3. chick says:

    I haven’t decided yet. That’s part of why I need to do more research. I know I want hardcovers. I know I want separate books (not all seven jammed into a single tome). And I know I want all seven, even though I have no plans to read The Last Battle again. A matched set is almost always nice, but a hodgepodge could be great if each individual book was attractive and/or special in some way. I also don’t care if they’re new or used as long as they’re in good condition when I get them. I guess I’ll just have to go see what’s available!

  4. chick says:

    The Last Battle didn’t spoil the series for me, but perhaps the series had become a permanent favorite by the time I realized how truly awful that particular book is. I try not to tell people what they should and shouldn’t read. However, I don’t recommend the book except for completists. I have a fondness for all of the first three books. I remember doing a book report on The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader.” I also remember when the Wallyworld library was new. I used to love going there!

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