Posted by Lorraine
I have a lot of books. I'm talking a REAL LOT of books. Many, many, many books. Fiction and non-fiction. Mysteries, cookbooks, how-to books, travel books, women's fiction, and even a few romances. I love books. I have books in just about every room in my house. (Okay, not the bathrooms. We're just not bathroom readers.) When we moved in 14 years ago, our movers cursed all our book boxes (and us), and we've accumulated at least triple what we had since then.
I love my books. A lot of them I read over and over again. It's like visiting old friends. My books may end as part of my decor, but they were bought to read, not to decorate.
So, there I was, perusing a much-loved book on how to achieve French Country style on the cheap when I came across the following offensive sentence (and not for the first time, either): "A lot of my books are collected from thrift stores because they have character. Their covers are usually worn and slightly tattered. The literary content may not be of particular interest to me, but because they have been read and loved by someone, they somehow look and feel like a treasured heirloom."
The books in question: Readers Digest Condensed Books sans dust jackets.
I confess, I'm a book snob. If there's one thing I abhor, it's Readers Digest Condensed Books. Yet, in desperation, I've actually read a few of them. Reading the condensed version of a book made me seek out and buy the real (unabridged) version of a book.
Okay, I can only think of two offhand; Ammie Come Home by Barbara Michaels (first read in ancient times when I was in high school), and Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray, only a few years ago. Ammie Come Home has not stood the test of time (well, it was published in 1968 and I have a first edition!), but Eat Cake remains one of my top 10 books. (Which I bought at full price (trade paperback) at an independent bookstore in New Hampshire while on vacation. I have since gone on to acquire the book on tape, I love it so much.) That could be because I love cake, but also as it's a story about the loss of a job, changing gears in midlife, and caring for eldrly parents. For those reasons, it resonates with me.
I came by my love of books as a direct result of my Mum, an avid reader. Although my Dad reads quite a bit, he doesn't understand the appeal of reading a book more than once. I'm so glad I inherited that trait from my mother. It's wonderful to visit old friends again and again. When I'm sad, I'll pick up a book that makes me laugh. When people disappoint me, I'll read a book where the characters are willing to give their lives for their friends.
As I have a home in transition (my summer cottage, which is slowly transforming from my parents place to mine/ours), I'm re-reading a lot of my decorating books as I try to meld the old with the new and keep a balance.
The cottage bookshelves held a lot of my Mum's books. I'm slowly replacing hers with mine (although I'm keeping all the Dick Francis books, so don't try to pry them out of my hands, Mum). I've already got an entire box of books ready to go, books Frank and I have been accumulating over the winter that we're looking forward to reading over the summer. Goodness gracious--the luxury of sitting and reading for hours and hours on end...makes one wish summer would never end.
Our books will be lining the shelves, but they won't be decor. They'll be ready for us to dip into year after year.