Tea or Books? #16: series vs standalones and Winnie the Pooh vs The Wind in the Willows


Tea or Books logoWinnie-the-Pooh vs Wind in the Willows is perhaps the most animal-strewn debate we’ve had so far, as well as being more or less inevitable that we’d get to this one eventually – especially given my tendencies to shoe-horn A.A. Milne into any discussion.

But before we get to that, we tackle the less-animal-strewn battle between series of books and books that are standalones (or ‘one-and-done’; thank you Jennys for that piece of terminology). I rather suspect we’ve missed out lots of classics.

Do let us know which you’d choose from each pairing – and let us know any topics you’d like us to cover, of course! Check us out on iTunes or via your podcast app of choice or, indeed, above.

Here are the books we chat about in this episode:

The Children Who Lived in a Barn by Eleanor Graham
The Blessing by Nancy Mitford
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Case of the Constant Suicides by John Dickson Carr
The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker
Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling
William series by Richmal Crompton
Sweet Valley High ‘by’ Francine Pascal
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Grey by E.L. James (!)
Agatha Christie
Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward
Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim
The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim
Elizabeth in Rugen by Elizabeth von Arnim
Mapp and Lucia series by E.F. Benson
Miss Mapp by E.F. Benson
Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson
Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle
Waverley novels by Walter Scott
The Chronicles of Barsetshire by Anthony Trollope
Marcel Proust
Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson
The Lark by E. Nesbit
Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker
London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Provincial Lady series by E.M. Delafield
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Not That It Matters by A.A. Milne
Golden Age by Kenneth Grahame
Dream Days by Kenneth Grahame
Toad of Toad Hall by A.A. Milne
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

5 thoughts on “Tea or Books? #16: series vs standalones and Winnie the Pooh vs The Wind in the Willows

  • April 19, 2016 at 9:26 am

    I came to Winnie the Poo as an adult, with my own children. I veer between Dorothy Parker’s opinion “Constant Weader Thwows up” and my sister’s loving appreciation of them, read with her own children. I very much enjoyed the real Christopher Robin’s autobiographical books but A.A. Milne as a children’s writer still sticks in my craw.

  • April 19, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Always Winnie the Pooh, I think! As for series vs standalone – I do like series very much, but there’s so often a danger that the author burns out and the quality goes down. Thought I suspect that happens more with modern books than the classics, and certainly I’m not finding that Dorothy Richardson’s books get less good as they go! And of course the Narnias and Tolkiens are amazing!

  • April 20, 2016 at 1:55 am

    When you were racking your brains trying to think of older series, I kept saying “Trollope! Trollope!” I knew you would hit upon him eventually once you started mentioning Sir Walter Scott etc.
    I start a lot of mystery / detective series but never seem to follow up on them. I have maybe one fantasy series that I keep along with, though I think I’m two books behind at the moment. And I’ve read a YA trilogy here and there, but not very recently.

    My Winnie-the-Pooh exposure was mostly through a TV series that was on when I was young. I don’t remember if I read it or not. We did have Wind in the Willows in my household but I don’t recall much of it now.

  • April 24, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I came to talking animals late in life and was an instant convert to Wind in Willows when I first read it in my thirties after being tempted by an edition with beautiful illustrations by Inga Moore. On the other hand, Winnie the Pooh, though undeniably endearing, is hard to come to fresh as an adult. I suspect this is because, as Rachel suggested, WinW is more recognizable as the world in which adults live (or at least the world in which they would like to live).

    Incidentally, WinW is the book which the narrator of R C Sheriff’s The Hopkins Manuscript (Persephone) chooses to read in his comfy armchair on the night before the moon crashes into the earth. I don’t know how long he spent agonizing over his choice of end-of-world reading material, but I agree with him that this is the ultimate comfort read!

  • May 25, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Well (and bravely) said about Downton literally losing the plot after series 1. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend several more series just *looking* at it, and I never weary of the Dowager Duchess’ zingers, but otherwise… Re series, in Tolkien’s defence, he intended The Lord of the Rings to be one book (hence reissues in one whacking great tome), but then in his publisher’s defence, of course he didn’t want to risk bringing out quite such a lot of something so unusual all at once, particularly at a period when rationing was only just coming to an end. Great episode!


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