Books Are For Reading

I just cleaned off my bookshelf that got me thinking of an incident way back when involving my step-father, a serious book collector.   collection of old hardcover books

He had them floor to ceiling in cases specially built. I still think the main reason he married my mother, other than her cooking, mamma-agata-cooking-school-ravello (she’d kill me if she saw this and no, that’s not her) was because she was the only woman on the planet who would dust them all.

One time visiting, I asked George (when a man becomes your step-father in your thirties, calling him daddy is hardly an option) if I could borrow a Sherlock Holmes mystery.

He looked at my mother and they both began to laugh.

“What’s so funny?” I said, looking to see if the candy store was open, an expression my grandmother used if your fly was down.

My mother, the first to recover said, “Are you kidding Susannah…do you really think we’d lend you a first edition?”(now they were hers too…she who only read the Daily News)

I remember feeling a little embarrassed as if I overstepped my bounds, but after rational thinking realized they were the freaks, not me.

Books should be read, doesn’t matter how old or valuable they are…unless of course age and air would disintegrate them, and that’s another matter entirely.

But the fact they felt it was more important to exhibit them like hardcover knickknacks than to share their contents dropped their stock, not too high to begin with.

To George’s credit, he went out and bought me the complete Sir Arthur Conran Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Collection in paperback with print so tiny, even with perfect eyesight, I couldn’t read…all because he couldn’t bring himself to lend me one of his.

It ended up being donated to a prison upstate.

In my own defense, I’m more than responsible returning whatever I borrow in mint condition. I wasn’t even allowed to read it in their house.

Makes me think of Thomas Jefferson who, to replace all the books lost when the British burned the United States Capitol in 1812, sold his extensive library for 23, 950 dollars that became the second Library of Congress, much more lavish than the first. I have visions of Tom kissing each tome, since he sold out for financial reasons, as you would a friend you’ll more than likely never see again.

Thoughts piggyback one another until you find yourself, in this case, perusing your own bank of books, opening each one lingering over a paragraph thinking…I bet Ed would like this…or Evelyn…or Ella and maybe I’ll just read this again…pulling them out, stacking them by the bed or on the hassock, once belonging to Evelyn’s mom, I use as a side table.

My mother and step-dad are both long gone, and I know wherever she landed, she couldn’t care less. But George so loved to read, even if it were only titles preening from a shelf bound in paper and leather, so I hope there’s a library where he is so his soul can read AND LEND, not just admire, well into eternity.             SHR04-large-sherlock-angle

SB

About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
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14 Responses to Books Are For Reading

  1. micklively says:

    It’s an interesting point you raise. I guess it could be extended to so many things which are venerated but not used: antique furniture, vintage cars, classic jewellery, vintage wine. I can see both sides of the argument: to use or not to use. Is there a correct answer? I suppose ownership is everything.

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  2. It’s interesting that I read this just after reading an email from my dad about them getting rid of much of their extensive library since they’re moving and don’t read them all anymore (not that they have any first editions). I truly love books, but they really are for reading as you said and if you don’t read them, they’re just one more thing you have to lug around when you move.

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    • I only keep books I know I’ll either read again or use for reference. If I haven’t a relationship with one, I donate it. The library I belong to has a rack in their foyer for sale…or I give them to friends…pass them on. Maybe there’s something in your dad’s collection you’d like to have to add to your own.

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  3. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, I have a wall of books that look just like the ones in your photo. I love to simply look at them, so old, handled by people long gone before I was born. I also like to sit and peruse. And I GAVE my brother his choice of a collection when I first received them. He took the Mark Twain series.

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  4. katecrimmins says:

    Part of the fun of books is loaning them to people and having a conversation afterward. Sometimes they like it and sometimes they don’t. I found so many new authors through loans from friends and libraries! Now I get most of books on Kindle (I have run out of space to store paper books). It’s great to keep the house neater but I miss the ability to loan. It was a nice gesture that he bought you the books even if you couldn’t read them!

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    • I too like discussing a book. It’s interesting to hear what others think…I love, love, love to read so much I belong to a paying library…it’s my most lavish expense, but I get to roam around the stacks…it’s great…

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  5. There is nothing like picking up a book, smelling the binding and feeling the pages between your fingers. Great read today, thanks Susannah!

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