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book is ready to be discarded, but I have hardened my heart against yellowing, crumbling old paperback novels and some outdated textbooks.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 As I tossed a few outdated science textbooks, I stopped to leaf through an American Lit book from the 30’s. I was curious what selections were included in that era and considered keeping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!