Books have always been very special to me. As a little girl, we did not have books in our home, so when I went to school and learned to read, I became fascinated with the treasures that are held within the pages of a book. In elementary school I discovered the library and was so excited to be able to have books that I could actually take home with me! From that time on, I have been completely devoted to collecting books, both old and new. Whenever I have the opportunity to obtain a book that is “new” to me, it just seems like I have achieved an amazing gift.
When I was in high school and had the opportunity to earn a bit of money, I began to purchase books. For some reason, even though I did not grow up in a family that emphasized reading, I gravitated to the classics: I love Charles Dickens, and even found myself fascinated with the writing of Ernest Hemingway. As time went on, I discovered more authors such as the Bronte sisters, and my absolute favorite of all time is “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte. I love Louisa May Alcott and “Little Women,” and eventually I found my way to the works of George Eliot, Anne Bradstreet, and Emily Dickinson.
Then I was fortunate enough to take a few college courses where I was immersed in Shakespeare, as well as other British literature, including “Middlemarch” by George Eliot,and “Clarissa” by Samuel Richardson. Eventually I launched into my Medieval Period where I became completely engrossed in Beowulf, the Canterbury Tales, Mort de Arthur, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The life of Margery Kempe, along with various lives of the saints, kept me engrossed in the history and culture of Medieval Europe.
That led me back to classical Greek and Roman literature including Oedipus Rex, The Iliad and The Odyssey, the Oresteia and all of the tragic implications in the stories of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, Orestes, Iphegenia, Antigone, and Electra.
Pilgrim’s Progress, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” and the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning filled my mind with wonder! Later on I would discover the writings of philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Kant, John Stuart Mill, and Wittgenstein. Lately I’ve been reading a series of historical novels about World War II and the Nazi occupation of Europe; the stories of the Jewish people and the tragedies so many of them endured has burned their images into my heart.
So today, my favorite things are these old books that I have collected over the years. One is “Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott, another is “The Old Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens, and another is “Tanglewood Tales” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I have also read “The Scarlet Letter,” “The Minister’s Black Veil,” and “The House of the Seven Gables” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. One of the old books in my collection is The New McCall Spelling Priner, as well as McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book, copyright 1879, which has fascinating writing on the front and back end papers from one of its previous owners. In the very back is written in pencil: “I like coffee, I like tea, I like you if you like me. Down to the river, down to the sea, with my girl and me.”
There is also “The Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens, copyright 1899, as well as “Julius Caesar,” with the only date being handwritten in the front pages, “1913, Lansing, Michigan, English IX, Room 732.” There was discovered inside this book a piece of lined paper, folded in half, which is quite yellow with age and rather stained and tattered on the edges. On it is written the assignments for “Monday: Review of Julius Caesar, Text, Quotations, Shakespeare’s life, Elizabethan theatre and its origin.” Just a tiny peek into the life of someone nearly 100 years ago, which I find fascinating!
If you would like to join us this week for “Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop,” please visit “Katherine’s Corner” and leave a link to your post about your favorite things. There you will also be able to find links to the other participants so you can visit them, too. Please be sure to leave a comment so they will know you stopped by!
Have a great Thursday, Nina