Monday, October 25, 2010

Used and Rare Books

Above is a photo of one of the sets of bookshelves in our living room. It holds a small fraction of the total number of books in our home. Besides the living room, they reside in the schoolroom, our bedroom, the hallway, the basement, and a few in The Yorkshire Room and The Charleston Peach Room (named after a county in England and a paint chip, respectively.)

During our 21 years of homeschooling, I always had the books organized according to subject. It was great to be able to know exactly where to go to look for a certain title. Once we decided to turn the schoolroom into an office at one end and a TV room at the other, many of the books had to be evicted. I quickly found new homes for them, but I still always picture them in their former locations. That makes it a real challenge to find a missing book!

Now they are only slightly organized, the Civil War books being in our bedroom (I just realized how funny that actually is, for my husband and I have had no battles for a very very long time!); theology books mostly at the stove end of the living room, although some are also upstairs at the end of the hall; old school readers mostly in the office; historical fiction and biography mostly in the TV room; cook books in the pantry; picture books under the window seat; reference books in the office; a couple Grosset & Dunlap collections in the TV room; various and sundry books scattered here and there, though slightly organized e.g. James Herriot books are together, P.G.Wodehouse books are together, etc.

Most of our books have come from used book stores, garage sales, library sales, and Amazon new-and-used. When I'm browsing  a used book store (one of my favorite pastimes), I can't walk past a book whose spine is unreadable without picking it up to read the front cover or inside title page. I figure that a worn out book must be an often-read book, so it's worth picking up.

Many of the books pictured above are old British history textbooks, children's science books, or tales of heroes.

How about you? Do you also love used books? Can you get lost for hours among the stacks of a used book store? Do you brave the dust to get at the really good finds? Do you find yourself trying to read the titles of books in photos? like mine??  :-)


Unknown said...

I love books, period! But I do have a fascination with old books. I love to go to antique stores and find old beat up ones...they are beautiful! I could spend the entire day in a book store and still not want to go home!! Some would call it an obsession, I call it a passion! :)

Cranberry Morning said...

I agree! I'll never be a Kindle customer. I like the feel of a real book in my hands, love to page through and look at any color plates, love to turn the pages that others have turned before me, imagine who else read the book, etc. Sigh. And I wish the independent used bookstores weren't seeming to disappear. Half Price Books is nice, but the old independent used bookstores were so much better!

J_on_tour said...

Civil War books in the bedroom.... that is funny.
Books, books, books. One of my things. I can usually place my hands on anything I need at 30 seconds notice with the exception of the local street map and the address book !!

I wasn't going to say anymore but you might be interested....I've had to curb my spending spree this year as I'm quickly running out of space ! I am trying to stay away from my approved route of used book stores, charity shops and Amazon by trying to focus a bit more on the camera. With the exception of the washing machine room and the bathroom, where I have a shelf in each, there is a least one bookcase in every other room in the house.
No surprise to you then that I have a large collection of tourist & walking books on the English Lake District with a similar number again from the rest of the UK. I have one small bookcase full of DK eyewitness guides (discounted from previous years stock) from around the world even though I've only had the chance to use the European ones up to now.
The rest of my collection is a bizarre mix of coffee table style tourism, Theology, Crime fiction, Sports and TV celebrity biography, Cookery, maps and travel brochures. The emphasis being on Alfred Wainwright, Keswick Convention, Agatha Christie, John Grisham, Adrian Plass, Steve Lawhead & Jamie Oliver... LOL !! I couldn't fit in there a vast collection of music and tutor books for various instruments and styles.
I am always fascinated by what other people have in not just their book library but music and DVD also. Great conversation opener when you are in another persons house.
One of my all time favourite second hand bookshops is not the grand and expensive affairs that you find in the thoroughfares of the large cities but slightly out of the tourist/shoppers zone like the Barbican bookshop in Fossgate York. The quite unassuming and small shop front looks like any other shop that sells new stock (some discounted) at the front with a mix of Yorkshire, Christian & walking. It is evident that as you leave your shopping bags behind the counter, you are taken onto a journey that covers everything up two different stair cases and various rooms going to the back of the shop. On a day out to York, I have been known to spend over two two hours in there as every subject that they sell interests me.
Lastly, picture the of my workmates wants to come around and personally through all of my books out into a skip from the upstairs bedroom window !!... otherwise, you never know, one day I may be able to read them all !!

Debra Hawkins said...

I love used books! Heck, I just love books in general. I have a really hard time reading and loving a book and not owning it. I usually have a running list of books that I am looking for that my mom takes when she goes to yardsales and such. People down where I live think that reading is a chore so there are not lots of used book stores. I love to read. :) I am jealous of all of those beautiful books on your shelf.

Jen said...

I am book obsessed! Me & my hubby each have our own "play" rooms and both house hundreds of books...I more of a best seller fiction reader(but I get them used..does that count?)but my hubby LOVES the very old dusty dirty worn books!
We are constantly in old books stores going throught stacks of books!

Heide said...

What a coincidence!! This weekend was our library book sale! You never know what you are going to find. This time I found an old favorite childrens book called "Junket". It is about an airdale terrier. Loved reading it when I was a kid! Has wonderful illistrations by Robert McCloskey. Also got two Elizabeth Cadell books. Never read her before, but thought I would try.

My weakness is old cookbooks at estate sales! :-)

The Homespun Loft said...

Hi- thanks for the follow- am following you back..Yes- Bridger would be a great pal to my 2! and I love the books--I have a ton of hardcovers myself. And I just went to a library book sale on sunday afternoon and bought another bag of books! LOL

Judy S. said...

We'd make a very dangerous twosome! Books and yarn! I love any and all books...used to work in a literacy program, love to read, etc.

Cranberry Morning said...

Heidi, I love library book sales, although I haven't been to one for quite a while. I would love seeing those Robert McCloskey illustrations! By the way, J_on_Tour (who commented above) is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, where I think you said your ancestors were from?

Denise said...

I love used books, such treasures.

Aleksandra Nearing said...

I like used books but I can't stand I hide mine under cabinets and in drawers. I love to read but then I relist books online on a book swap site and trade with other members ;)

Yenta Mary said...

Kindle -- ACK!!! Phooey, pfft, gag! Your house full of books is a testament to a life well lived. The used books I collect are ancient, decrepit, quirky cookbooks -- ones from the 60s that feature canned soups (icky recipes, but such amusement value!), and some that are twice again as old as those. I have one with no author and no year, no designations of where it's from; it appears to be a ringed notebook of typed recipes, the sort you'd put together after being given the blank book as a bridal shower gift. There are references to fish spreads and other Britishisms; but did the woman or the book cross the pond? And when? She liked to entertain, as there are many hostess-y recipes. It's fascinating -- you would love it!

partialemptynester said...

It didn't take my other comment for some reason...I'm not sure I can rewrite everything I wrote for this post...I absolutely LOVE books...books of all kinds...sometimes just for their smell, I love a good "old book" smell and I think there should be a scent for that...oooh, maybe you could make a soap scent, maybe to be placed in a powder room just outside of one's library...whatdayathink?

Unknown said...

I LOVE books and wish I made more time to read. I have a bookcase full. None are all that old --other than a couple bibles-- but I could get lost in them just the same.

Linda... said...

I LOVE old books. I have quite a collection of cookbooks, many of them quite old but in wonderful shape. I think I'll post a recipe from one of them in a little bit. have a wonderful day.


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