Yesterday, I wrote about giving the gift of reading.
In yesterday’s blog entry, I wrote about how my mom is one of the people who made me love reading.
We had a very rare white Christmas in north Texas. (I haven’t seen a white Christmas in 25 years, when I used to live north of Chicago.)
The snow started falling before my wife and I drove over to my mom’s apartment.
By the time we would have left my mom’s place after the festivities, the roads were icy. We decided to spend the night. (There’s no snow or ice removal in Texas, and the roads tend to be filled with Texans in big pickup trucks and people from up north all trying to prove they can drive on ice at 60 mph, so even if you can make it, why risk it?)
One of my Christmas gifts was Allison Hoover Bartlett’s The Man Who Loved Books Too Much.
The book (non fiction) is about a book thief and a bookseller of rare books who becomes a private investigator to track the thief down.
I’ve written about books surviving in a world of ebooks. It is clear that books will always be loved by some people — so much so that some people are willing to go to prison for the rare books they steal.
I’ve never stolen books, but I know the appeal of having special copies of the books that mean the world to us. The copy of Rootabaga Stories my mother read to me as a child? I have it in my possession. The signed first edition of Carl Sandburg’s The Sandburg Range that I found in a box of books my mom had stored away? It’s on a shelf nearby.
I have a tattered copy of Doris Burns’s Andrew Henry’s Meadow. Some pages are a bit moldy and torn; the dirt on the cover and some pages is the dirt from my backyard of the house where I grew up. I kept the book in the rag-tag clubhouse that my mom and some friends built as a surprise for me when I returned from visiting my father in Kansas the summer before starting fifth grade.
While it’s not the copy of Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand my mom read to me as a child, my wife and I bought a copy of the book one day so we had it. (She loved the book as a child, too.)
Were money no object, I could easily see myself traveling the world and buying books.
I would never steal them, but I can definitely see the appeal.
(Were I to steal a rare book or manuscript, I think I’d go for something by Shakespeare. What book or manuscript would you risk prison for?)
* * *
One of the big surprise gifts last night was a book.
Robert Olmstead’s A Trail of Heart’s Blood Wherever We Go is my favorite book.
There’s just something about it that I love; it’s so different than the books that followed from him.
I bought the first printing when it went to paperback on a whim. There was something about the blue cover of that edition that caught my eye, and the description of the book dragged me in.
My mom bought me a first edition of the hardback for Christmas.
I’ve meant to buy it in the past; I know it’s not a hard or expensive find, but that she thought about it and bought it means so much to me.
It seems fitting; she is, after all, the person who introduced me to books.
I’m a very lucky son.
Awww…and I’m a very lucky mom. I guess reading to you and your sister was so natural to me because I was read to. Grandma Mae seldom read to me but Aunt Kay and Uncle Paul often read to me and only a little bit of that made me want to read myself. If you had kids I’m certain you’d read to them, too.
When your sis was 3 or 4, I enrolled her in a childrens’ book club and she’d receive a new book every month. I think that may be where Andrew Henry’s Meadow came from, and How Fletcher Was Hatched, among others. I remember her excitement when the books came but truly, I was probably almost as excited.
Of course, I’d never steal a book but playing “let’s pretend”, I think I’d love to steal a book Aunt Catherine had, the one signed by Matisse, with a simple line sketch on one of the front pages. She had quite a rare book collection, and I’m sure I would have stolen one of those. Okay, I’ll quit rambling now.
Christopher Gronlund says
Book clubs are great. I used to practically vomit from excitement when the Scholastic Reader catalog was passed around class and we got to order books.
When the books arrived, and the teacher passed out our orders, nothing got done in class the rest of the day. It was neat seeing the bundles of books and what others were reading; seeing how clusters of friends all tended to read the same books.
I’m sure the signed Sandburg Range was Aunt Catherine’s. It was so weird the day I opened it and saw the signature…we’d always had that book around, but never knew it was signed.