Between the shelves of an old second hand shop, you may well find us, perusing countless book spines; heads cocked, fingers skipping over vertical titles, shoulders contorted, sporadic sneezing. Eyes focused on design indicating era.
And the era which I speak? A few, I suppose. Generally, publish date- prior to the mid-1940’s. (Give twenty years or so before modern philosophy leaked heavily into children’s books.)From turn of the twentieth century to WWII, Gibson girls to USO volunteers, cowboys to executives, a wide array of characters from diverse occupations and passions.
The smell of stuffy, yellowed pages; the feel of the thick leaves and their crude, textured edges; the personal, tender inscriptions; the lost print because press-ink missed contact with the paper; the study of characters and culture.
Mostly, we find books of godly wisdom and temperament that once helped shape the moral code of society. Stories that not only entertain, but draw its reader into aspiring virtue. The unknown story, by a little known author, becomes adventure: A risk well worth a couple bucks.
Certainly, the unpleasant task of tossing a book has befallen us, because some ‘progressive’ in 1911, say, took notion to write his perverse thoughts on paper for the world to see. Eek! So very inflexibly minded of us, I know, but then, walking the narrow path appears to others as quite restricted.
Of course, we’re excited to find the classics in literature- Dickens, Austen, the Bronte sisters, Verne, and Dumas, to name a few. However, the girls and I hit an equally desired jackpot for the ‘new’ novelist- Zane Grey, Jackson Gregory, Pearl S. Buck, Laura Lee Hope, Frank Dixon and Caroline Keene, Dorothy Sayers, James Herriot, Harold Bell Wright, Gene Stratton Porter and truly, countless others.
Books that justly, have improved us for having read them; the disposition of the authors from which such stories sprang shows some greatness of character!
There are plenty who accumulate old books for antiquity but few of us take them in for the quality of what lies between the boards (or what does not lie within anyway). Not a ‘collector’ by trade or ambition, though we have a collection. We are readers; we love history and the future it predicts. Nothing new under the sun, says King Solomon and these old treasures of the past are proof.
"Whatsoever things are good..."