Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lost and Found Treasures

I met a man recently who was looking for a copy of Jane Eyre. As we spoke, he told me a sad story involving his family, the long and the short being that several members of his family had decided their mother didn’t need her books anymore because she could no longer read like she used to, nor could she remember what she’d read anyway, so they gave them all away.

The man told me he didn’t care if she only read one word a day, or if she never remembered reading that single word. All he cared about was finding her a copy of Jane Eyre because that had always been her favourite book. How wonderful is this man?!

It made me think of all the old books I have on my shelves at home that I have found over the years, either at garage sales or in second hand stores, and how they all must have meant something to someone. The one I treasure most is an old tattered copy of The Swiss Family Robinson.
There is no publication date in it, but inside the cover was written: To Jack From Grandpa – 1932. That alone would be reason enough for me to want it, but then I turned the page and read this: (I’ve changed the child’s name)

To Peter - Christmas 1994

This wonderful book was given to me by my grandfather when I was 10 years old. I think it is a privilege for me to give it to you from your grandfather. It’s my pleasure. I read it many times and I hope you will too. I fervently hope you will treasure this book and keep it and look after it as well as I have, all these many years. It is, indeed, a book every boy should read. Best of all, it is the original text by Wyss.

Love Grandpa

Now don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that there are people out there who don’t go all ga-ga over books, but this one broke my heart. I truly hope this book was not just thrown out like last week’s meatloaf, but perhaps was lost or put in the wrong box when the family moved or something. The thought of anyone (book lover or not) giving it away after what Grandpa wrote in it just seems incredibly wrong to me, so I’m honoured to be the one who will treasure this book and keep it and look after it as well as Grandpa did for many years to come.

Do you have old treasures on your shelves? Anything you’ve given away that you regret? (like my Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond records)


Kara said...

I have old copies of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights - both of them with the same hardcovers - must have come as a set - they were my grandfather's.

I also have old hardcovers of Bambi and Black Beauty that were my father's.

I will treasure those books always.

Laura Drewry said...

I bet all 4 books are gorgeous! There's just something about an old hard cover book that makes me want to have them all. I recently inherited my great aunt's New Testament - a smallish version she left to my dad. I have several Bibles, etc, but this one is worth more to me simply because of where it came from. And the fact it still smells like my Pops, something I wish would stay forever. :)

Estella said...

I still have copies of Treasure Island and Bambi thet were given to me in 1950.

Pam said...

I had an old set of Grimm's and Andersen's fairy tales that were my dad's from when he was a young boy. At one point, I thought I'd lost them in one of our several cross-country moves, and was lucky enough to find another set. I snapped them up without even looking at the cost. Then, a little later, I found the original set, so I feel doubly blessed. I just love those books.

Mariee said...

I've got a lot of books that's from my great grandmother. My favorite is her old copy of Jane Eyre.