Thursday, February 11, 2010

On behalf of old books

New "old" books have now been added to my Wish List on Amazon (which I use mainly to "park" book recommendations) after yesterday's post.  I appear to be in a season of "Older British Literature"... which is fine since the books are absolutely delicious.  A literary equivalent of watching Jane Austen DVDs when stressed (albeit these books are of a later date than the Regency period).

While some of the books are still in print, I use Amazon credit to purchase old hardbacks which are at least in "good" condition, always check the book section of thrift shops, and the "Old Books" table at the library sales. 

There is something about the romance of an old book which makes me wonder who read it and loved it at an earlier time.  A couple of the Goudge books I read had the uneven pages representative of quite old books.  The older I get, the more I have learned to value imperfections... especially in this cookie cutter world.

I have mentioned long ago hearing an interview given by two book collectors (as in real collectors who spend more than $5.00 or $10.00 as I do).  They said their most asked question, when someone walks into their home and sees all those books, is "Have you read all of them?". 

They both look appalled at such a question for obviously the questioner does not understand the collecting at all... for it is not in reading all the books that there is value but just having the books available... the knowing that at any time they may take the book off the shelf, retreat to their favorite reading place... and enjoy.  For both of the men, it was in the collecting they found joy and not what the book may be worth at a later date.

Old books have character, much like looking in the face of a kind, elderly person and having the realization the wrinkles have a story all their own.  They have a beauty when lined up on the next to each other on home and library shelves. 

There is an instant camaraderie when one old book lover meets another.  One will gaze at the library of their companion and give a knowing nod as words are not necessary (even among people who love words).  This person understands and no explanation is needed.

I'm not sure one is born loving old books although one can rub off on children and grandchildren.  When I was quite young, I was more interested in the latest Nancy Drew book and all that was shiny and new (not coming from a bookish family).   Old books became more important as I read through the years.  I suppose if I had grown up with a home library, appreciation would have come earlier. 

On my coffee table in the living room is the old library copy of The Scent of Water.  This third round of antibiotics knocked me out so much I had trouble reading (gasp!).  I'm hoping today will be better and I can finally read this book and then my "month of Edith Schaeffer"... half way through the month.  As my friend, Cheryl (Coppers Wife), says... hold onto your plans loosely.

Your prayers are appreciated.  A serious infection is hard to beat for any diabetic and especially for one who is a Type 1 Diabetic (as blood sugars are even harder to control when ill and the high blood sugars feed the infection).  As I lay on the sofa with only a couple of "good" hours each day, I remind myself this medication is to kill the infection and not moi'.  :)

Picture: Stephanie reading to David (my Hobbit) and Faith (my Tigger)


Kimberly said...

Amen to everything you said. I could not agree more. I just hope we booklovers are not a dying breed. I'm so glad that I've passed the love of reading onto my daughters. It looks like you've done the same.
I also loved the story of the book collectors. I have been asked that same question quite a few times. Now I won't feel so bad when I say "no". I'll just add "not yet". Thanks for some wonderful blogs.

matty said...

I agree about old books. I have an 1860s copy of Godey's that, when I opened it, had a dried rose in it. I wonder???

Feel better soon !


Vee said...

Your friend's quote is excellent and a good reminder for all of us. I am sorry that you're still fighting off that infection. You explained what's happening so well that even I understood it. My prayer is that this medication will knock it out once and for all and that nothing will be after you again. I know. "Hang onto your plans loosely."

Have I told you how I much I enjoy the way you analyze a thing? I never even thought that one of the reasons that I love old books is for those uneven pages. Then there's that smell and the way the paper feels and those charming old illustrations and the covers and bindings and...

Lesa said...

I too have an old book collection. Because I am a teacher I have a collection of childrens textbooks. I also get anything I can find by John Steinbeck because I love him. My old books range from English literature, to Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm to old Mennonite books. No, Ihaven't read them all, but I know they are there.

Terra said...

You are my soul sister, or my "old book" sister. I am a writer and a librarian and love old books too. My most recent purchase was Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, which I rescue purchased at a huge book sale which benefited the public library here. Now I am trying to figure out the year of publication (not given in the book) which is in the 1800s.
The physical look and feel of old books is so wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy seeing a previous owners name inside a book and a date. Also interesting is any notes made in the margins by a former reader.

I know I am really sick if I can't even read! Please do rest and recover!

Friend Debra

hmsclmom said...

I too collect and cherish old books. I come from a family of book lovers who value the written word and beautiful illustrations. One of my favorite things to do as a child was read the very old hardbound copies of some of the books in the Wizard of Oz series that sat on my family's bookshelf. My mother also had a beautifully illustrated copy of "A Child's Garden of Verse" with beautifully painted pictures in it. She recently passed that book onto me knowing that even though the binding is coming off that I would cherish it.
I am drawn to old books, it is like they call out to me and ask me to take them home where they will be treasured and not tossed aside. I have "rescued" many an older book that someone was just planning on tossing out. Many of these books have turned out to be quite valuable monetarily when researched but I have a hard time parting with my "old friends".


moreofhim said...

I hope that you're feeling better this evening and that the infection will completely leave your body. My hubby is an insulin dependent diabetic, so I know how hard this is. :(

I, too, love old books. I have since I was a child, but not sure where this love came from or how I first thought of collecting old books. I do know I love the feel of the paper, the illustrations, and beautiful hard covers and just the knowledge that this book is much older than me, yet still here. My first book was a copy of "Black Beauty" (surprise, since I as a young girl) and it's a lovely little book with a gorgeous cover. I continue to add to my collection. Not for the monetary value (I don't even think there is any in my books) but for the value they bring to me just looking at them and then reading them.

I know I've told you before, but I SO enjoy your blog. Kindred spirits and all that. :)

Hope you're feeling better soon!

God bless you - Julie

carla said...

Our library has a Friends of the Library section where they sell donated books although there are no set amounts. It works on the honor system of whatever one wants to donate. I use a garage sale scale for myself but they still make a lot of money off of me because of how many I buy. However, they have a special cart that sits by the checkout counter with older, rarer books; those prices start at $2.00 and go up quickly. Rarely do I buy anything from it because it quickly eats up my set aside money. But I do look it over and occasionally buy a couple from there like a really old (I think 1905), beautiful copy of Treasure Island. So many books are donated to them that they are often culled and sent to the paper recycler. Often I come home with 4 or 5 of the cheap ones. Once I found one that was over 100 years old, with lovely illustrations. The pages had come loose from the binding and my intention was to use it for paper crafts. But I just can't. So it sits with the others.

The comments about this post have been especially enjoyable like saying 'not yet' to having read them all, the rose in the old Godey's, the smell and feel of old books, previous book owner's signatures, children's textbooks (one of my favorite types), rescuing old books, and that there value is personal rather than monetary.

Lovely post and comments. A pleasure to read.

The Pleasures of Homemaking said...

Prayers said. I hope you feel much better soon.

I too love old books. There's something about the smell and the lovely worn covers that are so beautiful. I love having books on my shelves that I haven't read yet! Just knowing that they are there is such a delight to me.

I actually have a post planned on old books for next week and will link to this post!

Feel better soon!


Connie said...

So sorry you are dealing with this infection which sounds like a bad one. We have had no colds this winter so far. The sun is shining today - the snow has stoped coming - we must enjoy this day because there is more snow in the days ahead. But then, it is only February. I too love to read. Your blogs are most interesting.

Linda said...

So sorry you haven't been well. I pray that the Lord will touch your body and give you strengh and renewal of health. In Jesus name.