Monday, July 8, 2013

Books have beauty inside and out.




I love it when the AbeBooks newsletter shows us interesting book covers. This particular edition features "The Prettiest Publications of the Past" and there are some lovelies. It's almost enough to make me enter my credit card number right now so I can get a copy of The Book of Bugs for only $139.37.



Seas and Lands would cost not much over $80.


I could pick up Poppies and Wheat by Louisa May Alcott at $200...

But not really. I just like to look at the covers briefly, and then I go inside and delight in the artistry of the words, or I get caught up in the story or the vast worlds of ideas between the covers. I forget the pictures outside.

Still I wondered, do I have any pretty 19th century books on my shelves?

I own this copy of The Saints' Everlasting Rest by the Puritan Richard Baxter. It was published in 1850 though he wrote in the 1600's. I don't actually find it pretty, but it's the only one I found that has any decoration at all. It was given to my great-great-grandmother Margaret in New York City on the first day of 1859, when she was 24 years old and soon to be married.

I wonder if she read it? At the very back some words were penciled in and then erased. It wasn't her fiancé who gave it, or anyone obviously family, for the message on the front flyleaf is signed somewhat formally "H.E. Browne"....




Well, you see how right off I'm concerned not with art but with the people or the book's contents.

My favorite older book is from the 20th century, this copy of The Faithful Wife by Sigrid Undset. It was a recent gift to me from the shelves of an elderly friend, and I haven't read it yet. But I think the design is very homey and wifey.







I'm reading The Gutenberg Elegies by Sven Birkerts these days, which is all about what's inside the books and what goes on in our minds when we are reading literature. That paperback is on my nightstand, so it doesn't show up on this handy-dandy bookshelf that Soldier made for me many years ago.
 
A disclaimer is in order: This son was pleased and happy to build a tabletop shelf according to the vision I described to him, but he made me promise to fill in the screw holes and crevices and paint or varnish it, because he wasn't happy with the roughness of the finished result. I lied, or broke my promise, and never finished it, and here I am showing the whole world.  My children put up with a lot.

But it is beautiful, isn't it? And when our older son Pathfinder saw it he immediately knew that he wanted several for his house, too.

Now go look at or inside a book.

11 comments:

peacework projects said...

oooooo. . .love 'Seas and Lands'. thanks for picturing these!

M.K. said...

You're so funny :) I'm sure your kids don't have to put up with much from you. Sounds like they love to make you things! Your book selection is lovely. I read Undset's trilogy twice, years ago, and I really need to go back and read it again. Loved it. Have you read "The Faithful Wife"? Is it good? I love Abe Books too.

elizabeth said...

Love these books...and that shelf is wonderful! I see Every day saints! :)

Sara said...

That's a wonderful little bookshelf; I wouldn't mind having one myself! I like it because it is portable.

Lorrie said...

I do love the shape and colors of books. Lined up on a shelf, stacked in piles on the table or beside the bed, they have a structural quality I like very much.

Farm Girl said...

I always enjoy Abe books newsletter.
I have some old copies of books like that and I am always on the look out for them.
I do enjoy old books.
I guess I will just never be a Kindle fan just because I like looking at the writing and who got this book at Christmas in 1909 things like that.
So many treasures are in books.

Gumbo Lily said...

I have a few old books that have pretty covers....mainly children's nature-type books of Wildflowers and Insects and Trees. The library used to save books like those for me when they were about to discard some the librarians knew I would appreciate. I'm a fan of your tabletop book shelf. He could make millions selling them. Does he have an Etsy Shop? Maybe he should! I like its rustic look very much.

~Jody

Thistle Cove Farm said...

love books...old, new and in-between. these all look like wonders, Gretchen, makes me wonder what I've got boxed up?

wayside wanderer said...

These are beautiful books...artful...and apparently priced like art, too. I love your table top shelf and I don't see any holes. I bought one at the thrift store but it is no where near as pretty as yours. I've read many Sigred Undset books...but not sure if I have read that one.

melissa said...

My very favorite blog posts are ones about reading...thanks for being another friend who feeds my addiction. :)

debbie bailey said...

I've bought several old books in the past just for their pretty covers. I haven't read many of them yet. I hope the insides are as good as the outsides! I've never heard of that one by Louisa May Alcott.