The thing about books is that they aren't just novels or histories or
whatever the subject is to me. Many of them have specific memories
attached to them when I look at the covers, of where I was when I
first read or purchased them. The one that comes first to mind is the
battered copy of "King Arthur and His Knights" my folks bought
for me at the Stop&Shop on Gallivan Blvd in Boston when I was
eight years old. I've written about it before over on my genealogy
blog. It's the oldest book in my collection and it brings back the
memory of those years in Dorchester and the trips to the libraries.
But there's others, paperbacks that in most cases I bought thirty or
forty years ago, that have sentiment attached to them.
A copy of "Conan the Conqueror" with its Frank Frazetta cover was
purchased at a corner bookstore in Somerville during a holiday visit
to my aunt's parents. I look at that and think of the lasagna served
after the turkey dinner and of the poker games played by the women
and kids after the meal. We used uncooked beans for money. That
book was published by Lancer Books, long out of business.
The edition I have of Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" is the third copy I've
had but it's the same cover as the one I carried through three years of
Latin at Abington High School.
There's the copy of Andre Norton's "Web of the Witch World" that
I bought in the shop in Brockton when I was taking the bus from
Bridgewater after classes to my weekend part-time job in Quincy. It's
one of a number of her books I bought at that used book store while
The summers I spent as a camp counselor down on Cape Cod are
represented by some classic series: E.E. Smith's "Skylark of Space"
and "Lensman" books from the 1920s and Edgar Rice Burroughs'
"John Carter" books. I bought them in a store on Main Street in
Hyannis called "Leilania's". Camp was where I first read Tolkien,
and tucked away in my upper dresser drawer is a copy of the Ace
edition of "The Two Towers" which was the edition I first read,
borrowed from one of my fellow counselors. I bought my copy
years later at a science fiction convention.
I kept other books from the college years: the four volume "Masks of
God" books by Joseph Campbell, Robert Graves' "White Goddess",
James Frazier's "The Golden Bough". The edition of LOTR with the
surreal covers that formed a triptych. I had a poster of that on my
bedroom wall. History books like Toynbee's "A Study of History"
and Frye's "Heritage of Ancient Persia" made the cut.
A two volume set of Previte-Orton's "A Cambridge History of the
Middle Ages" carries two sets of memories. It's a survivor from the
days when I'd make special trips into Harvard Square and lust after
so many books. I bought them at Wordsworth Books. Later, they
accompanied me in my old red knapsack on the long bus trip between
Boston and Denver when I attended a World Science Fiction
Convention there. I finished Vol.1 and started Vol 2 on the way home.
Memory and sentiment couldn't save every book. One was a Lin
Carter fantasy anthology. One look at the cover and I remembered
purchasing it in some department store in Norfolk Virginia during a
vacation trip with my folks. I'd finished the books I'd brought along
and I needed something to tide me over. But the rest of the yearly
series had already been culled so this one was too. Some others
I discarded because I could buy them as part of one volume
collections. So the individual copies of the original Roger Zelazny
Amber books were replaced by a single book with all ten novels
I could go on and on. I think I've talked about this to a lesser
degree before on the genealogy blog. I've also mentioned, I think,
that I wonder if when ebooks replace all paper books, as I'm
assured they will, how they would invoke such memories for their
How about you? What books would you hold on to because of
the memories they hold for you? Leave a comment, a link if you
blog about it.
The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber)
Chronicles of the Lensmen, Volume 1 (Triplanetary, First Lensman, Galactic Patrol )
A Princess of Mars (Penguin Classics)
The Masks of God: Creative Mythology
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
CONAN THE CONQUEROR - Conan Book (9) Nine
Web of the Witch World (Witch World Series)