As each year passes, I become increasingly more obsessed with expanding my collection of books. This mostly involves my hunt for antique books; the older, the better. I have established a fair collection of antique books, mostly in the subject of history, but some in the subjects of literature and theology. The "hunt" for these books is part of the fun. Antique shops draw me in, enticing me with beautiful heirlooms, but my eyes pass them over, searching instead for the old, musty books tucked away on bookshelves in the far corners of the shop.
There's something about the smell and the feel of the fragile, yellowed pages that fills me with wonder. The hardcover of the book holds knowledge passed down from those that have come before me. And I always find myself imagining who the previous owners of these books might have been. I enjoy finding books with names and dates written in the front, or notes scribbled in the margins throughout the pages. For me, it is a way to participate in the lives of others who lived before me, others I will never know. These scribbles, or other times elegantly written notations, connect me to these previous owners, and it makes me feel special.
I have collected books from various states around the US, mostly from antique shops, but also from my favorite bookstore, Powell's. It is found in Portland, Oregon, and is the largest new AND used bookstore in the world, encompassing an entire city block. Any place that consists of wall to wall books is a place to where I'd happily commit several hours of my life. Be it Powell's, a library, or even Barnes & Noble, I relish my time browsing leisurely through the stacks, scanning titles and making notes of books I want to add to my "To Read" list. I get lost in those hours. It's a stress reliever for me; a way to escape reality for a short while. During my junior and senior years at Anderson University, every Monday evening, I'd make a 40 minute drive (each way) to the nearest Barnes & Noble in Noblesville, IN. I'd bring my homework along, and though I was sometimes diligent enough to sit in the café and do homework, I'd mostly spend my time sipping a Starbucks Frappucino and browsing the aisles. My senior year, I took my dear friend Sara (Spitters) McDonough with me on these Monday trips to Barnes & Noble. It made for some great girl times!
I thought I'd list here some of the titles and dates of these books I have scooped up:
-Treasure Island 1930
-The Simple Life 1901
-Last Day of Pompeii 1884
-Quo Vadis 1897
-Nicholas & Alexandra 1967 (not that old!)
-The Last Days of Pompeii (sadly the pages with the copyright are missing, but based on the condition of the book, I'd place it somewhere in the late 1800's)
-The Literature of England, Vol. 1 & 2, 1941
-The War of the Revolution, Vol. 1 & 2, 1952
-History of England and Greater Britain 1916
-The Story of Scotland Yard 1935
-Bartlett's Familiar Quotations 1919
-History of Europe 1927
-A History of the Ancient World 1912
-The Emperor 1881
-A Dynamic Faith 1901
-Four Great Americans 1897
-Wuthering Heights 1953 (the name of a lady and 'Belfast' is written in the front!)
-Stories of Legendary Heroes 1909
-The Secret of Salvation 1896 (by E.E. Byrum, of Byrum Hall, for all of you AU Alums)
-The Man of Galilee 1907 (also by E.E. Byrum)
-In His Image 1922
-Anna Karenina 1939
-Our Father's House 1870 (!!!)
-The Light in the Dark Ages 1949
-History of the World 1937
-The World of the Past, Vol. 1 & 2, 1963
-Mont St. Michel and Chartres 1933-Facts about France 1918 (given to me by my dear friend, Amy Woolsey)-La Quartero 1858 (a novel written in French; my oldest book!!!)
-Library of Wit & Humor 1901
-The Complete Works of John Bunyan 1873 (!!!)
-Caesar's Gallic Wars 1897
-First Year Latin 1901
I imagine my search for rare, antique books will continue my whole life. Each antique shop I see is an opportunity to locate another treasure to add to my collection. To me, pure happiness can be found curled up on a corner of a couch with a book and a cup of coffee or tea. And each time I open one of my antique books, feeling the worn pages and smelling the musty smell of decades past, I feel special all over again.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
You can never get a cup of tea large enough,
or a book long enough,
to suit me.