Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I'm a little late setting out the tea things this Sunday. We went out for lunch after church today, something we rarely do but it was quite enjoyable. However, now I feel like I need a nap so I'd better make this a very light snack with just some scones and fresh fruit served with the tea.

I was thinking about the subject of old books yesterday, especially as I sorted through a few boxes at the library sale. Old books make me sneeze but I love them. I came to appreciate old books quite late, actually. I'd always thought they were only for serious collectors with a lot of money, their nose inside the front pages to see if the book was a first edition.

It was the quest to find good books for homeschooling that led me to my appreciation for old books. Most cost no more at a library sale than the latest New York Times bestsellers and many are less. I pass up books that are basically falling apart, except for one or two exceptions that had beautiful poetry inside. Otherwise, I look for sturdy books that can be appreciated as much today as when they were first enjoyed many years ago. I love books that have illustrations from the first half of the last century as well those in books from the Victorian era. I have a list of authors recommended by like minded friends and bloggers, those treasures I know will most likely bring a smile.

There is always a curiosity with a used book, especially one that has been around for a long time. I wonder who has read it before me and what they were doing when it was being read for the first time. Was it an enjoyable escape on a cold day, or something light and refreshing taken in a wicker basket to the beach?

Sometimes in my quest for old books, I find one filled with newspaper clippings, old letters, or something written that is a surprise after all these years. I have two copies of an old book called I Love Books, having come across a later edition that had been added to so many times that the first was about half the size as the latter. However, I keep both because the name on the inside cover of the first purchase shares the same maiden name as was mine. It is not a common last name so I like to imagine a long lost family member was the first to own the book.

I love the language in old books, people used to have a better way of speaking than the coarseness we find today. It is interesting to read the conversations in books written long ago and compare them to those we would overhear at a fast food place today. The conversations written a hundred years ago are as different from what one often hears at McDonald's as fast food varies from Grandmother's Sunday Dinner.

I don't pretend that old times and ways were always good and the people were more perfect than in our time. Far from it, for their has only been one perfect Person. However, one is less likely to be surprised and taken back by unexpected vileness in an old book. Quite unlike I've experienced in today's bestsellers, where the cover is closed and the book returned to the library with not another page turned after the unexpected words are come upon.

Perhaps that is why I have an affection for old children's books. For it seems we do make at least an attempt to keep the books our children read as innocent and full of beauty for as long as possible.

So...I will pour another cup of tea and ask what favorite old books you have enjoyed, or found in unexpected places?

26 comments:

Susan said...

My favorite old book is one that is a collection of children's stories owned by my mother when she was a child. I think this book is over 50 years old, because my mother was born in 1944. It has stories in it like The Velveteen Rabbit, The Plain Princess, and lots of children's poems and rhymes. It's in fair shape, and every now and then I still get it out and read my old favorites. She gave me this book when I was about 11 years old, and she passed away when I was 16.

Elena said...

You have a lovely blog - it fits your theme and your title very well!

I have a veryold book full of bible stories that I love simply because of the beautiful pictures. It's one of my favorites!

Found you through the party! Have a good party week!

Haus Frau said...

I have my great grandmother's bible which is my most precious 'book'. Lula poured over its thin pages hours per day, soaking in what the Holy Spirit wanted to touch her life with in profound ways. I'm honored to own it.

Other books I seek out are those by Bess Streeter Aldrich, Kathleen Norris (pre 1930..not the current kathleen Norris), and 19th century / early 20th century school books which I used with my daughter from time to time.

Sarah Hodsdon said...

What a special place in the cyberworld! I happened upon it during the Blog Party. I am a bibliophile myself and collect very old children's books...Have a wonderful day!

Heather said...

I love old books too - we have been blessed to be given many over the years! I love so many - it is hard to pick a favorite. 'A Girl of the Limberlost' holds special fondness since it was one of my Grandma White's books - her childish scrawl in the flyleaf indicates it was her favorite too!
I was just re-arranging some books today and doing a bit of purging and quite browsing! Too fun! I was sneezing too!

Candy said...

I just LOVE your picture of the roses and tea cup :)


candy

suze said...

I was staying in a bed and breakfast in Mount Dora, FL many years ago - and noticed a Grace Livingston Hill book on a shelf, used as decoration. I pulled it down and began to read - and promptly began collecting her old books as often as I could find them. My husband and I have so many old books that there's little room for other things - but we love them, and can't resist them at garage sales and thrift stores - and wherever else we can find them. I have quite a few Grace Livingston Hill stories, and have enjoyed reading them all - in fact, sometimes I reread them because they take me to a place I'd love to live.....

Kelli said...

I also am a fan of old books, I just love the smell of them. My grandma sent me several old books that she read to my dad when he was little. A house at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, The Adventures of Poor Mrs. Quack (Thorton W. Burgess) are a few that she has given me.

Phillip's dad gave us a series of 4 books called "Book Trails" which is full of wonderful children's stories and the pictures are darling!

I have purchased several old books on ebay for a very good price.

I love the teacup picture!

Kelli

Susanne said...

Stopping by from the blog party. You have a very lovely, welcoming site!

tigerfish said...

Droppin by from Blog Party. English Tea, Scones....I would love to have some. :D

Just Being Me said...

Hi. I stopped by for the party. Lovely place you have here. I love books.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Sounds corny but we found a 1900 Webster's Dictionary in my husband's grandfather's things. I thought that was really cool! Not something to sit down and "read" thru, but something to keep and look at how words have changed!

Linda said...

what a nice party! I like coffee and tea :)
Have a nice party and welcome to my brazilian corner!

Amy H said...

Just dropping in for your tea party. I am not really a big fiction reader, I just don't have the concentration, but I do really enjoy F. Scott Fitzgerald's short novels and books.

Happy Blog Partying this week!

Jungle Mom said...

I also love the oldies! And your blog is beautiful!

Karolee said...

I have numerous old books adorning my shelves. I also have a few new books with old words in them. I love War & Peace (have read it twice), Jane Austin, and other books from that time period. I am also an avid tea drinking fan and would love to join you for tea and scones from time to time. Your site is beautiful and the title is what prompted me to stop by and say hello.

aburchtree said...

I came by from the party and am totally enjoying your blog. The picture of the tea cup reminds me of a set of china I have that was my great grandmothers.

I have two favorite old books. One is an original Winnie the Pooh book, back before it was part of Disney. The other is a book of Tennyson poetry. I first read some of it at my aunt's house. I was so surprised to find it in my mailbox one day!

Amydeanne said...

what a lovely site you have, and I so agree.

Tracy said...

Hi Brenda, I too love books! It's so nice to meet you & I plan to visit again soon! :)

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

It is so nice seeing old friends and new "faces".

Especially finding people who love books and tea parties (and coffee!).

Michelle said...

I just love the name of your blog - very creative. I am just doing the party rounds and thought I would stop by to say hi.

Andrea said...

What wonderful thoughts about old books!
I have a big weakness for old books. I like that you think about who must have had the book before you or long ago. I always like to see the names written in them. I came across a really good book written in 1900 called "How I am Educating my Daughters" by W.H.H. Murray. It is how this man is basically homeschooling his daughters! So neat! I also love to find old mothering books or baby care books--they are fun to read and full of good, plain common sense!
So glad I found you site! I will be reading!

Carrie J said...

Your account of the book with a possible relative's name reminded me of a book I picked up at a thrift store. I was attracted to the title, but when I picked it up and saw the name and address on the bookplate I knew I had to have it. It had belonged to the original owner of our home! So after close to 40 years it came back to rest on our bookshelves.

Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) said...

My favorite old book is an old collection of Mother Goose rhymes from when my mother was a little girl.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

what a lovely post! and a beautiful tea part. Thank you!

Old books are a special gift aren't they. My father was addicted to books. We had to donate thousands and thousands after he died because my mom had to sell their house and she wouldn't be able to fit them in to a smaller house. We had room lined with bookshelves at our old house. She had to do it all without me, because I would just keep grabbing books to keep!! Many of his were old theological books (he was a theologian) that he had bought second hand as well. I love to look inside the old covers and read the old inscriptions etc. We still have many of the books - but not the tens of thousands we had before.

Brandie said...

Hello ... I'm stopping by a bit late for the party.
What a lovely post about old books. We own none, but really, this makes me want to go out and collect a few of them to treasure.