Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Books as old friends

I love the artwork above... I can just see the owner of the desk at work and once in awhile, glancing at favorite books behind the glass in the bookshelf. The thought of books as "old friends" was brought to mind recently when I took this picture (below). It is a picture of the bookshelf in my bedroom.

It contains many old friends. It sits between our matching dressers (one "His", one "Hers") which were from my husband's childhood bedroom. When I have the pillows propped and I'm reading or listening to music on the CD player... this is my view... old friends. If you click on the picture, my friends are available for better viewing. Hmmm... I don't think there is anything weird there. :)

There are other shelves with friends displayed, waiting for their turn to be re-read someday. All of my Schaeffer... Edith and Francis... are on one shelf in the living room bookcases. I gave away some of my Francis Schaeffer books to a young pastor many years ago but I still have a few (including the Trilogy which contains books I gave away). The only book I want to re-read that I no longer own is Genesis in Space and Time. I had let someone borrow Edith's The Tapestry and it wasn't returned (the person moved away) but I recently was able to purchase it... used... through Amazon.

Just above these books in the living room are a few other old favorites. I just recently... within the last couple of years... began looking for Anne Morrow Lindberg's diaries at book sales. I read them as a teenager and was deeply touched by them. I think I'm still missing one but it will go on my list for the next sale. There are also books about history, especially the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers.

There are books about politics... past and present. Some I haven't read yet but their titles beckon me to take them off the shelf when I have long, uninterrupted hours for deep thinking... Whittaker Chambers' Witness and Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson are near the top of such a list. Both books are quoted quite often and expounded upon as being foundational books of history (as well as darn good reads).

Of course, there are far too many volumes on my living room shelves to even begin to mention... Landmark history books, biography, some fiction, big & beautiful decorating and gardening books (the only place many of them fit!), my Jan Karon books and my James Harriott collection, one volume of Wodehouse and only one Agatha Christie, deep books like Solzhenitsyn and a light volume by Chesterton... the eclectic tastes of a Bibliophile.

The old friends in the bedroom bookcase tend to be a little different. Most are from a Christian perspective, many having to do with homemaking and hospitality. Authors here are Elizabeth George to Emilie Barnes but also favorites such as the late Philip Keller (adore him!) and Yancey. Fiction I've read and fiction waiting for me at the opportune moment... like my Brother Cadfael Omnibus (Ellis Peters... brilliant writer). Most of my "tea books" are there and a couple of my favorite children's fiction... Wind in the Willows as well as Pooh. Lots in between...

The men with whom I share this house have their own bookshelves with favorites. Some of my husband's are also in the living room as well as a tiny bookshelf in our bedroom. Underneath the corner table in our bedroom, the one my mother gave him before she went to the nursing home because he had carefully restored it... is his stack of Bibles, Commentaries, and a huge Strong's Concordance.

Christopher says carrying around such books in the age of the Internet is silly... tell that to men in their 60's! Many of his favorite books are located in a tall set of shelves beside his desk in the office. There are his books about health, medicine, carpentry, engineering, Quality Assurance, as well as numerous binders for keeping papers organized. He reads more fiction than I do but many of them are from the library.

I've already written about Christopher's bookshelf... the one that shows his passion for politics, history, classical literature, and those strange Japanese books that look like anime' in print and one has to read from back to front. :)

People have asked me how I could afford such a library (not knowing I've given over half of all books away). Well, I have been collecting for fifty years now... my husband for sixty. Being homeschoolers, we always made books a priority in the budget. Okay... so I would have done that, anyway. I (as with many Charlotte Mason type homeschoolers) was accused of homeschooling to have an excuse to buy books.

Actually, many of our books were purchased for fifty cents and a dollar at library sales and garage sales throughout the years. If I'm looking for an out of print book, I usually go to Amazon where I can often find a book used (even with shipping prices going up they are often a good deal). I keep a list in my billfold for particular titles I'm still looking for... cheap.

Our old friends will be an inheritance to our children someday. Stephanie already has most of my homeschooling books. Christopher kept his favorite books from the years we used the Sonlight Curriculum... packed away... for another homeschool generation.

In the meantime, I love having friends that I can take off the shelf... perhaps a few of them... and read through in the evening with the music playing on the CD player (so I don't disturb anyone else) and a cup of tea at my side. Old friends whose pages often open to a favorite section, those who have wrinkled pages from the many times I used to read in the bathtub, friends who give up my secrets when I come across a chocolate thumbprint or the tiniest sliver of a potato chip.

I must be more careful about such evidence but I would hope that E. or Faith will pick up one of Grammie's tea books to read to their children someday and smile when they see the chocolate. :)

Picture: Kay Lamb Shannon, allposters.com

13 comments:

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

People also know that a book is a good gift for a book lover...that's how I have received many, many books.

I enjoyed taking a closer look at your collection...snoopy like that I am...and I am not surprised to learn that we have similar tastes in books.

Oh, just wanted to let you know that I ordered the first three books in "The Last Jihad" series for my son's upcoming birthday based on your recommendation. See how persuasive you are?!

Adrienne said...

You have some wonderful friends there. I have some of the same. There is nothing like a good book, a quiet moment or two and the chance to step away from the routine of everyday life. So refreshing and such inspiration. My dear mother was a librarian before she met my father. She passed on her love of books to me. Now I see my grandchildren doing the same. ~Adrienne~

freetobeme said...

You have the same love of reading that I have. I think I can see "First We Have Coffee" by Margaret Jensen, on your shelf. It was given to me as a gift from a dear friend. There are others that I have as well.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for sometime now. How I admire your ability to pick up and move on from your difficulties. I also appreciate you sharing the little blessings in your life . . . a book, your family, and a cupa. It seems as though you are much loved by your invisible friends, including me!

Nanny said...

I'm going to tell on myself...

but...

I love to look at other people's bookshelves...

Sorry, I just do!

I love to see what they read and I think the titles tell a lot about a person...

Now...may I borrow....

*Just kidding*

Richest Blessings!

zetor said...

I like the look of that Cadfael omnibus. I hadn't seen one like that before.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Brenda, I love this. I belong to that race of people who are always trying to read the titles of books on the shelves of people they visit....Do you know the Anna Quindlen quote where she says, "I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." I always liked this one. We may not like ALL the same books, but we certainly like many in common and I look to you for inspiration. I also buy most books at library sales and used.

marye said...

We were blessed with a large (huge) 100 year old house that has bookshelves literally line the upstairs hall. Being homeschoolers we have tons of books...like you, mostly picked up for 10 cents, 50 cents or what ever, over a period of years.
Last week I found a perfect copy of the Book of Virtues for TEN CENTS at a thrift shop. We had a old worn coppy, and I meant to replace it but a friend admired it and mentioned she needed to buy a copy for her children and I was able to bless her with it. :)

Marlene Depler said...

This reminds me of a poem I wrote called "Motley Friends". It is about favorite books!

Lyn said...

Brenda,
I dearly love books too - give me a cup of tea and a wonderful book and I'm quite happy. Books make me feel rich. It's such an enjoyable pleasure. Looks like you feel the same way.

By the way, I noticed we have some similar titles which is fun to see!

Peggy Jo said...

Oh! I KNOW those folks! Most of them are MY old friends too! Back when I was homeschooling and before 2000, I had the idea that when everything else crashed, libraries would too. So I tried to create my own library, and ended up with 900+ books. Sigh. Actually, there were more than that, but most of my homeschool curriculum is gone now.

Anonymous said...

Brenda,
I echo the sentiments here and enjoyed your post very much. I also can't resist clicking on the image to read the spine of a book for its title!:) I think a book lover will always be curious because that is why we read...we want to know more about.....everything!:)
Thank you for sharing, and yes, I have many of those titles as well on my bookshelf.
I noticed you had the book Margin....I just read that book and found it to be so helpful. Another book I just finished reading (library) was Affluenza....a must read to find balance, and to be reminded of what life is all about!
Enjoyed your post!
Joanne

Mo said...

I just LUV this! I love to see/read that others have the same obsession that we have in our house; the mister & I are both booklovers and here, ,too ,you will find an eclectic mix of fiction & non-fiction, politics, business, classics and best-sellers...and, we've come by our collection in much the same way,apperently (library sales, flea markets, UBS, B&N...anywhere we can find them!!

Happy Reading.