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Reading a Piece of History

February 17th, 2010

I really like old books, especially the ones I get from the library. I like the fact that they’ve been well read by hundreds or thousands of people.

I just finished reading through the Little House on the Prairie series. My sister and I had a set of our own growing up, and we read them over and over till the bindings gave way. We fixed them with tape and now her children are reading through them. I thought about buying a new set, since I’ll probably read them many more times, but I decided to get them from the library.

I love that sometimes previous readers have added notes and underlined things they like. This is especially fun in books like this that are considered kid’s books.

The edition of Farmer Boy I ended up with had to have been one of the first editions. The pages were so worn from reading they were soft like velvet.

I wondered how many little boys and girls have leafed through this book being captivated by the stories of Almanzo Wilder’s youth.

Do you like to read old books or do you like to break in new ones?

19 Comments to “Reading a Piece of History”
  1. granny on February 17, 2010 at 7:31 am

    I am now reading Anne Of Green Gables…a childhood favorite of mine!
    I also found a book given to me at age 8″,Little House In The Big Woods”I must say,I am enjoying them now ,as a Grandmother, as much as I did as a child :0)

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  2. deb on February 17, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Love them all, but old books hold a special appeal for me. One of my favorite things to do is spend time at used book stores browsing.

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  3. kitsapFG on February 17, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I have an old copy of “Freckles” and “A Girl of the Limber Lost” both by Gene Stratton-Porter that were printed around 1904. The pages are stained in places, and there is colored line drawings in the margins (original to the books) – such that it is visually inviting and draws you into the stories. They have a permanent place in my library and measure up very well to newer more glossy publications.

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  4. Diane@Peaceful Acres on February 17, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Wo if that’s not reminiscent of my grade school days….I fell in love with The Little House series when I was in 3rd grade and took them home one by one….although I wasn’t a good reader and I never finished one. But as a homeschool mom for 15 yrs I finally got to read them a loud and I’ll cherish them forever! I might have to wander up to our used book shop and see if they have any of the old editions….I too love old books and they line my shelves from 200 yr old Bibles to 100 yr old cookbooks.

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  5. melissa on February 17, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Definitely old if I can get them. There is no substitute for old book smell. When I get a new-to-me old book the first thing I do is open right to the middle, bury my nose in it, and breathe deeply.

    And I’m with you. I like to think about all of the people who have read it before me.
    .-= melissa´s last blog ..I’m baaack =-.

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    • Susy on February 17, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      So true, old books do that “smell”, not sure what it is maybe what the paper was made out of?

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  6. michelle on February 17, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I buy books at library sales all the time! My favorites are really old ones with inscriptions in them. I have many that were given as gifts with sweet little notes in them. I lov the smell of the old books I bought some really old copies of some Charles Dickens books off of ebay. They are wonderful!

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  7. risa b on February 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    We have the 1953 edition illustrated by Garth Williams, just like new. Also the cookbook, the collection of Ruralist articles, and the diary of the wagon journey from De Smet to Missouri. I’m fascinated that her first article was a plea for five-acre farms — Laura had seen so many small farmers go under trying to pay for expensive machinery while monocropping. She has much to teach us.
    .-= risa b´s last blog ..What … what? =-.

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    • Susy on February 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      I do love those editions. His illustrations are lovely. I’m thinking of buying a few of the old books so I can frame some of the illustrations for my bathroom.

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  8. Kelly on February 17, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I love the smell of old books! They remind me of my family (which I no longer have) and I count among my most treasured objects, boxes and boxes of books that my father read. One of my favourite books is one that was my mother’s when she was a little girl (A Girl of the Limberlost, mentioned above).

    That being said, I find the smell of a bookstore to be intoxic. I sometimes think I have “a problem”, but figure it’s a similar affliction to being addicted to planting trees. :P
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Vertigo… Again =-.

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    • Susy on February 17, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      I haven’t read “A Girl of Limberlost,” I’ll have to request it from the library and read it. We also had a “Chronicles of Narnia” box set that we wore out as well. I now them all printed in one big book.

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  9. Amy on February 17, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Old books.

    I know every book of mine by its smell, and I have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things. ~George Robert Gissing

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    • Susy on February 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm

      What a great quote!!!

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      • Amy on February 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm

        Thank you. I too am reading the Little House series. I just finished The Long Winter(and we think we have it hard~it puts it all into perspective) and Farmer Boy. I also own all of the original copies of Gene Stratton Porter and reread them once a year as well as Anne of Green Gables lol ;p I see a pattern amongst us bloggers! Did you know that Gene’s father taped her mouth shut for periods of time to teach her to be quiet and observe instead of talking non stop? She claims this is was helped her to become the writer she is. Her attention to detail and description is unparalleled Maybe I should tape my mouth shut!! ;)

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      • Susy on February 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm

        The Long Winter really does make you realize how wonderful we have it. I have a house with a furnace and plenty of food. I thought it was interesting in Farmer Boy how he talks about having to sit all day Sunday. Good lessons for kids to learn!

        to Susy's comment

  10. Melissa on February 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I love old books, too. I frequent thrift stores and flea markets where I can pick up used books anywhere from $0.25 to $3.00. Being a frugal person, it just makes sense to purchase books second hand. For those books I can’t find used, I order them through and make sure I take advantage of free shipping offers. We also take advantage of the local library from time to time.
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..A VERY Good Gift: Antique Singer Sewing Machine =-.

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  11. MAYBELLINE on February 17, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Old thank you very much.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Maybelline’s CSI Unsolved =-.

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  12. lo on February 17, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    I really love old books — books tattered and filled with stains and streaks. They have such stories to tell. And the ones that are all marked up are even better. It’s fascinating to look through and think about why someone may have marked a word or a passage… I’m a bit of a geek that way, but I think it would be fascinating to study old books for “signs of the times” left by the readers.

    Of course, there’s also joy in opening that brand new book for the first time… being the first person to start a book on its journey. So, maybe I’m a bit torn.
    .-= lo´s last blog ..Chocolate Hazelnut Schaum Torte: A Family Recipe Revival =-.

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  13. jean on February 19, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I love old books! And I’ve got the whole set of Little House on the Prarie that my brother gave me some years ago.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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