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?