Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Home is where my books are

I've never thought of myself as a book-as-object person. I'm a reader of physical books, certainly, but I'm not the type to buy many books for myself, even if they're pretty editions or first printings of award winners or books that I've loved but only borrowed. I don't actually own books 2 through 5 of Harry Potter. The first Shel Silverstein collection I owned was a Where the Sidewalk Ends I got as a gift in college.

As many of you know, I'm preparing to move locally in the near future. (We're still looking for a place; we have some time and some prospects; you'll notice I'm spending time in the interim among comforting books.) I've amassed a lot of books in the past few years, many of them ARCs, and a lot of what I've read is being brought to the nearest donation bin, from which I sincerely hope it will find new readers who enjoy it. But as I root through my shelves (god, I'll miss the built-in bookshelves), I find myself lingering among the books that are not going anywhere except my new home, where-exactly-ever that turns out to be.
If you're at all surprised these are staying with me, nice to meet you. Welcome to Walk the Ridgepole.

All read in childhood, all far more than once, most also read in adulthood. The first chapter book I read on my own by choice was that copy of All of a Kind Family. That copy of The Devil's Arithmetic informed my views of Holocaust books as recent as Rose Under Fire. That copy of Cheaper by the Dozen smells like vanilla.

This 1927 printing of Eight Cousins, photographed very carefully, belonged to my late great Aunt Louella, a sweet lady who apparently enjoyed Alcott.
The bookplate on the left is my mom's, but I apparently felt the need to mark this copy as my own.

Don't put a bottle of orange juice in your bag at a conference, even if you think it's securely closed. Unless you want a really unique inscription from the keynote speaker.
Yes, that is a genuine Hanklerfish.

Signed first printing. Because when you know the author, that's how you roll.

This really just skims the surface (I will not picspam for every author event I've been lucky enough to attend), and it omits many books that are still in my parents' house. I own three editions of The Princess Bride, two of them wonderful recent gifts, but the family heirloom edition, complete with "reunion scene" letter from the '70s, was in no shape to travel. On a related note, if any archivist-type friends have tips for transporting old books, those would be welcome.

Maybe I'm not a book-as-object person, but a book-as-Receiver-of-Memory person? I am definitely that.

This wasn't my childhood copy, but it is the copy I will pull out to support my thoughts on the movie this summer.


  1. Transporting old books: Lots of padding mostly? Wrap it up in some paper, wrap that up in some bubble wrap... If mailing, a rigid box would be preferable to one of those padded envelopes. Beyond that, I'd need more specifics on the conditions of the book(s) in question.

  2. Thanks! Padding sounds easy enough to accomplish. (Condition varies - the spine is falling off Eight Cousins and The Phantom Tollbooth is missing half its cover, but only Speak is covered in orange juice.)

  3. Aw man, you got a Hanklerfish?!? I'm jealous! Speak is one of my fave YA books that I don't own. Bummer about the OJ (totally something I'd do) but at least you got that unique inscription.

    I know that the trend is moving toward e-books but they make lousy gifts/heirlooms and you can't get them autographed (then again, you can't spill your drink on them either)

    Funny you should mention Shel Silverstein books -- I just found Sidewalk and A Light In The Attic while cleaning out my attic. My aunt bought them for me in 1986 as a Kindergarten graduation gift (I know this b/c she inscribed them as such) I thought the illustrations were pretty creepy but I must have liked the stories.

    Good luck transporting these. Handle with care :)

  4. Thanks, Chris! Don't worry - they'll be handled with care and love.