I love opening up a book and finding a surprise. I found three in the past two days. Yesterday, I found the sticker seen above. I googled it, and came up with three things
A Greek vehicle manufacturer
A German beer
The Pakistani Elvis
I think it is really LOVE, scrambled.
So, today I found two more unexpected things. First, a sad one, a card from a funeral.
Using my googling/detective skills, I found the memorial for this man on Find a Grave and posted the picture there. I’d like to think one of his friends left the card in my book. I got the book in either Florida or Alabama, I don’t remember, but Mr. Canavan was buried in Massachusetts.
My most exciting find was an autograph I’d completely overlooked. My copy of The Bride of Innisfallen by Eudora Welty is actually SIGNED!! It’s inscribed to a Mrs. George Barrett. There is a copy online that is inscribed to someone and signed and it’s selling for $120. Think I’ll keep the book to myself a while; just knowing she signed it makes me feel connected to her.
A few years ago I found a baptismal certificate and photograph in a book. Using those skills of mine, I’m pretty sure I found the owner’s brother on facebook, but he never responded to me. I don’t think he was very active online. Now, however, I may pursue it once more. I’d love to be able to return the items.
There is a book and blog called Forgotten Bookmarks that is about just these type of finds. I hope to get a copy of the book soon. In the meanwhile, I think it would be fun to write stories about the items I find. If I do, I’ll post some here.
“…I was paying for a book one day – I remember this so clearly- when Mr. Penumbra looked me in the eye and said, ‘Rosemary’” she does a good Penumbra impression-”’Rosemary, why do you love books so much?”
“And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know.’” She’s animated, girlish now: “‘I suppose I love them because they’re quiet, and I can take them to the park,’” She narrows her eyes. “He watched me, and he didn’t say a word. So then I said, ‘Well, actually, I love books because books are my best friends.’ Then he smiled – he has a wonderful smile – and he walked over and got on that ladder, and climbed higher than I’d ever seen him climb.”
From Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
This got me to thinking about why I love books. I agree they are quiet and I can take them just about anywhere. I wouldn’t say it’s because they are my best friends, though perhaps I should consider making them my best friends seeing as I need some. Anyhow, why DO I love books so much?
I love that I can travel to places I might not ever get to otherwise. I can also read about places where I’ve been and relive memories from past times and places.
I love to meet characters that inspire me, make me smile, make me cry. I come to care about what happens to these characters. Watching them live and grow, suffer and rejoice, is often a balm to my spirit. Many of them remind me of people I know.
I love to read another author’s words and think ‘A-ha!’ because it’s exactly what I am thinking or feeling. Sometimes I am surprised at the emotions that rise up within me. Sometimes the words lead to thoughts and inspire words in me that I must write down.
It’s not just books, either. It’s bookstores, especially used ones, with their lovely old smells and shelves of treasures just waiting to be unearthed. It’s the bookish conversations with staff and other customers. It’s the bookmarks and notepads. And sometimes it’s the coffee.
“I remember lying in our hay-loft reading The Secret Garden with a cowbell beside me. I’d read for an hour and then ring the bell for a glass of lemonade to be brought to me. Mrs. Hutchins, the cook, finally grew weary of this arrangement and told my mother, and that was the end of my cowbell, but not my reading on the hay.” (Juliet to Dawsey)
The Secret Garden was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who also wrote A Little Princess. When I was about 10 years old, my Aunt Billie gave me a copy of A Little Princess. It was the only time I remember getting a gift from her and it was one of the first hardback books I ever owned. I absolutely loved it! There have been several movie versions produced, but none compared to what I imagined as It read this treasure.
A few years later I received a make-up mirror for Christmas. This was not only used in vain attempts to glamorize my pudgy adolescent face, but it was also a boon to my evening reading. Many a night I would settle this device under my covers and read after bedtime without being caught.
My daughter-in-law has made a cozy reading nook in my grandkids room, with cushy pillows and a string of colorful star lights. I would have been over the moon with a space like that as a kid! They both love books; the six year old is a beginning reader and it warms my heart to hear him read so eagerly. I’ve found that books with CDs are fantastic in the car – they listen and read along and don’t fight (as much).
If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, aunt, friend – I hope you are able to be a part of a young reader’s life. I am grateful to my Aunt Billie for giving me that book, to my parents for driving me to the public library downtown, to my elementary school librarian for introducing me Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and to my husband who loves exploring used bookstores as much as I do.
That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. (Juliet to Dawsey)
This book was the second one I’ve read recently that was set during and just after World War II. So, now my goal is to read two others I have at home already that are set in the same era.
Last month I read All the Light We Cannot See. So, when I was reading along in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (TGL&PPS), it was happily surprising to find Saint Malo mentioned. This was a large part of ATLWCS. The next book, which I’ll begin tonight or tomorrow is Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. This novel begins in Paris in 1940.
Even though these are fiction, they resonate with history and have drawn me in and left me feeling I have so much more to learn about events surrounding the second world war. Truly, I have even more to learn about all of history. The more I read the less educated I feel. But, hopefully, the more educated I’m becoming.
Those friends from middle school are unique. They are the ones you grow up with and make memories with that last forever. I’ve drifted away from most of those, but about six years ago I reunited with Cathy and we became closer than ever. It’s like we fell right back into that kinship that all the years had not erased. We began to hang out now a few times a month – it might have been a concert, listening to an author speak, going to a class, poking through a bookstore, or whatever we could find to do. A few years ago we even went to several funerals together. In March I had to go to one alone. Hers.
I don’t even know where to begin to think about Cathy. She was the kind of person who made you feel she was truly interested in you and your well-being.
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24
Cathy truly stuck close to me, like the sister I never had. I could talk to her about anything. I don’t think I’ll ever have another friend like her. I thank God for the time he gave us.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. – Psalm 116:15
In Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, Aunt Ellen was described as “…seeming exactly strong enough for what was needed for her life.”
This is so much like Cathy. She had a quiet strength that took her to the end with hope and grace. For the two years we corresponded via snail mail and texts, she never grumbled. Rarely would she mention a hardship, but when she did it was more like she was just telling me about it, not complaining. She would talk about the future, the adventures we would have. When I went to home to Jacksonville and took her out, she never let on how long it took her to get ready; how she had to wait for some of the drugs to get out of her system before she could function.
We would go out to eat and she would eat like a bird, then have the rest packed up to take home. But, we would sit at the restaurant for several hours just talking.
“Books were there… when I found a friend who loved books as much as I did and we could read together or spend an afternoon running our fingers over the spines.” -Mandy Shunnarah, from I Don’t Do It For You: A Reader’s Manifesto via her blog, Off The Beaten Shelf
This was us – we could spend hours rambling around bookstores like Chamblin’s Uptown in downtown Jacksonville. I will always miss my book buddy.
Today’s PAD prompt is Last______. I recently saw a “Spine” poem and remembered what fun they are to compose. The technique is to just choose books from your shelf and put the spines together to form a poem. Like this…
A Lasting Marriage
Once upon a time Silver wedding Everyone but thee and me The thread that runs so true Joy in the morning Love and laughter A circle of quiet Cuttin’ up A fine balance We are still married Smiles to go
Below I’ve listed all the authors in order.