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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

There’s Nothing Like Old Favorites

Harlan's painting of his shantyboat on the Ohio River (Cincinnati in background)

Books We Have Loved For Years:

David recently pulled one of our old favorite books off the shelf and happily immersed himself with Harlan Hubbard’s Shantyboat, exclaiming after each session with the book that it was even better than he’d remembered. This time around he was inspired to get out a road atlas so he could follow the Hubbards’ river route down the Ohio and Mississippi as he read, looking up towns they visited. Such a thoroughly exciting and satisfying book! We have read it countless times and never tire of the stories. The image at the top of this post is a photograph of a print (under glass) of a painting by Harlan Hubbard, which puts you at several removes from the original but does show you the shantyboat that Harlan and Anna built on the Kentucky shore of the Ohio River and drifted in down to the Gulf of Mexico.

I picked up another old favorite the other day, one of a pair of books that have tempted dreamers into bookselling for about a hundred years now. Parnassus on Wheels is the first of Christopher Morley’s fictional bookselling classics. In its pages domestic stay-at-home Helen buys a traveling horse-drawn gypsy van loaded with books from literary vagabond Roger and goes off down the road on an adventure. A sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, finds Roger and Helen happily married and living in Roger’s native Brooklyn, still selling used books.

"I'm selling books," I said. "I wonder if there isn't something you need?"

Finally, my friend Kathy in Australia (New South Wales, to be more precise) has been revisiting some of her old favorites, and here’s what she writes:
Pamela, going through my family’s old photos has been quite an emotional experience.  I thought you might be interested in these two pictures.  That is me on my tenth birthday with my present, a copy of Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott, and the picture next to it which was taken by Grahame just now is of the actual book. I have got a small collection of my old books, including three or four Louisa May Alcotts, all dating from the 1950s, and all inscribed by the present giver.

Kathy on her 10th birthday

Kathy's birthday present: Louisa May Alcott
Kathy granted me permission to post these two pictures on Books in Northport.

There is nothing like an old favorite book with its beloved story and familiar but still-thrilling illustrations—just seeing the spine of a favorite among others on one’s bookshelves evokes a happy smile.

News (in brief) of my other blogs: “Home Ground” has been moving right along, with ten outdoor days now recorded. For those who wondered about keeping warm outdoors, I have posted some photos (which David loved) on “Without a Clear Focus,” while recent photos of our Big Winter Storm and of Sarah can be seen on “A Shot in the Light.”

P.S. It was a bluebird morning! That was very exciting to me!

Bringing spring with them!


Dawn said...

I have a few old books from childhood too, not too many though because I think my Mom was a library believer and we didn't buy anything we could use for free! Probably the ones I have were gifts.

YOU SAW A BLUEBIRD??????? So wonderful...I love to see them any time, but this time of year especially. Guess that means I should have already cleaned out my bluebird houses...

P. J. Grath said...

We were big book borrowers in our family, too. Tuesday was bookmobile day, Thursday school library day, and Saturday was the BIG excitement--the public library downtown! (Fines were 2 cents per day per book, and I paid plenty.) I had my little white confirmation Bible and a paperback Golden Guide to Birds, both of which I still have. My few precious gift books were mostly by Marguerite Henry. Horse stories! Don't know what happened to the books, though. Maybe given to younger cousins.

TWO bluebirds! And this morning, an ORIOLE!