My Nose in a Book, Part 2

Time stops when I am browsing in a library or book store for a new treasure.

Wouldn’t it be great if that were true?  Since I cannot stop time – or even wrinkle it as suggested by my favorite childhood author Madeline L’engle, I am usually late to my next stop after finally selecting a book.

I have trouble making a quick selection for several reasons.  I have diverse interests and there are so many choices that many times I have no choice but to judge a book by its cover.  I truly hope each new book will be a treasured read.  I have so often been disappointed by what seemed a promising choice.  And then, there is my own disability when it comes to awareness of time passing, but this post is about the books. (TFWYHFD – Time Flies When You’re Having Fun Disorder, if anyone wondered.)

I have nothing against books on best-seller lists, but some of the most interesting things I have read are not new or currently popular.  Just new to me. Sometimes this means finally reading a classic that I have somehow missed along the way.  Other times it is discovering an author who just captures my imagination and if I am lucky, the jackpot of finding they have written more than one book.  Part of the fun of reading is the fun of discovery, whether discovering a previously unheard of book or author, discovering that Great Expectations is a classic for good reasons, or that a best-seller really does live up to its hype.

Recently I have been going through old books that my parents inherited from their parents,  trying to thin the generational clutter.  It is very hard for a book lover to decide any book is ready to be discarded, but I have hardened my heart against yellowing, crumbling old paperback novels and some outdated textbooks.  Beyond that, I have designated book piles that: someone in the family might want, someone somewhere might purchase, or some agency might consider a worthy donation to their library.

Of course, in sorting through these books, I have had to look through them before determining their fate.  There were some gems on child-rearing and understanding adolescents that predate the ’50’s, and a truly disturbing Advice for Young Wives from the ’20’s that explains why no one smiled in wedding photos in those days.  As I tossed a few outdated science textbooks, I stopped to leaf through an American Lit book from the 30’s.  I was curious what selections were included in that era and considered keeping it to compare to more recent editions, when I realized that about two inches of pages were stuck together.  It opened at that point to reveal a hollowed out recess about 4″x6″.

It would be lovely to reveal that my treasure hunt through old books led me to a discovery of real treasure, but this hiding place was empty.  It made me smile to realize that the book I would have selected to keep had been seen by my grandfather (the glued  and rough-cut pages all but screamed of his handiwork) as a book no one would pull from his shelf, making it a safe and perfect hiding place for…?

Ah, Grandpa, you were a gem!


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