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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

What’s in a Book?


Better (at least more interesting) Than Money


“Do you ever find money in old books?” I’m often asked. In 28 years of bookselling, I haven’t found so much as a single dollar bill, and it seems unfair, too, considering my own long-ago habit of hiding 5s and 20s in volumes on my shelves at home. It’s been a long time since I did that, but somewhere in the world there may be paper currency inside the pages of a book that once belonged to me. 


But dollars are interchangeable. One is worth as much as another. What I found recently in an old book, on the other hand, was something unique. Since it’s a little hard to read soft pencil, especially in a photograph, here is my transcription:


Empire Mich Dec 13, 1897.

Mr. W. Benjamin

Leland Mich

Dear Sir: It is snow

ing fast today.

Our school has just 

had examination

and did fairly will.

Hoping you will

come soon I remain

Very Respectfully

Neddy Drow


Did young Ned ever send this letter to Mr. Benjamin? What were their respective ages? Their relationship? Can you believe this little epistle in pencil is almost 125 years old? Doesn’t that have much more interest (and intrinsic value) than a dollar bill?


 Books I finished reading since my last post:

I should explain that I am often reading several books in the course of a day, which means that the reading of one is often interrupted by reading others more quickly finished. Anyway, additions to this year's list since my last post --


102. McAnulty, Dara. Diary of a Young Naturalist (nonfiction

103. Washington, Mary Helen. The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s (nonfiction)

104. Hicks, Joyce. One More Foxtrot (fiction)

105. Roberts, Tanya. A Little Italian: A Journey, A Family, and St. Francis (nonfiction)

106. Levi, Primo. If This Is a Man (nonfiction)

107. Smiley, Jane. Perestroika in Paris (fiction)


Despite the many ways in which these books differ (and they differ very widely!) from each other, I found all full of life and passion and humanity. And on the subject of life, passion, and humanity in books, I must note that my first shipment of Ellen Airgood’s new novel, Tin Camp Road, is here now, with another case arriving later this week.


Better Late Than…


My sad, dwindling selection of postcards should be beefed up with colorful images this week, too, since I finally located my “postcard lady,” who hasn’t visited the shop for three years but does have an online presence. Stay tuned also for a new line of notecards I hope to have before summer is over!

Because summer is racing by pretty quickly, fields filling with blossoming coneflowers and Queen Anne’s lace and spotted knapweed -- yes, that last an invasive alien, but it’s hard not to appreciate the lavender color it lends the hills – as September keeps appearing here and there while August is still here. Don’t you smell September in the rain? Feel it in the wind?

Peasy doesn’t take much note of wildflowers, and while this is his first round of spring-summer-fall in northern Michigan, he seems to be enjoying it. We love his joy, too. A dog’s happiness: irresistible!


Jeanie Furlan said...

OhOHOH!! Finding a 125-yr-old note in a book sounds like……a treasure! Such a small snapshot of someone’s life, but one that you could imagine a whole story coming forth! Makes me smile…..just like Peasy’s expressions, his doggyness!

P. J. Grath said...

I feel the same way!