Monday, April 18, 2011

What is your most precious book?

A few days ago, Sheila over at Book Journey (a great blog, by the way) wrote this terrific post entitled What is Your Most Treasured Book? where she shared her treasure, the dictionary her late father used when he was in Vietnam; it was recovered after his death, one of only a few things she has of his. First of all, thank you Sheila for sharing such a moving and personal story with us; I was really touched.

Of course I got to thinking about what my own most treasured books are. I can't think of one that towers above the rest, but a few things come to mind. There's my childhood copy of Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans, with my name written in crayon on the inside cover, and my mother's copy of Gone With the Wind, which I don't own but it was one of the first grown-up books I read and I was thrilled recently when I found a copy of the same edition in a used bookstore. And there are my precious first editions- Possession, by A.S. Byatt, signed even, and The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje, which I splurged on this year, and some of my other signed books, like Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris and others.

Then a week ago I found a first edition of one of my recent favorites, Gestures, by H.S. Bhabra, in a used bookstore. I think I wrote about this in one of my Friday Finds posts; it's not a particularly well-known book and the first edition isn't valuable but it's valuable to me, and that's what really counts when it comes to precious books. 

What's your most treasured book? Is it something from childhood, from your family or a loved one, or something that you just love because you loved the book when you read it?

29 comments:

Col (Col Reads) said...

That's easy -- it would have to be our family copy of The Little Quiet Book by Katharine Ross. My aunt gave it to me in the hospital when my oldest daughter was born -- and I've read it countless times in the past 16 years. It's now held together with tape, but I can't replace it! Great post, Marie!

Sandy Nawrot said...

That is a great question! I've got a few. My childhood copy of Are You There God, It's Me Margaret (with the back cover ripped off), my grandfather's copy of a Ken Follet book, and all of my signed Connie May Fowler books. If the house burns, I'm grabbing those!

geosireads said...

Easy for me too - The Clothes of Nakedness and The Sun by Night all by Benjamin Kwakye. I loved the stories so well and are signed copies. I also love Disgrace by J.M Coetzee: a book I always keep with me everywhere.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I think it's the same for me - books that were signed by family members no longer around, especially if you know that book was special to that person!

Zibilee said...

My most treasured book would have to be my ancient copy of Wuthering Heights. It is so old that I think it's bound in leather, and it's just a beautiful book. It belonged to my husband's late wife, who inherited it from her family, and it's a precious treasure to me. This was a wonderful question, Marie!

Frances said...

My childhood copy of The Lorax, my miniature copy of The Lorax, and all of my grandparents books, many of them signed to one another as gifts. I especially treasure their Proust books and a two volume set of Maugham short stories.

Kay said...

I have some childhood books that were gifts to me from relatives. It's fun to look at my own signature inside and see how it evolved. Also, I have a few books that my mother read to me over and over. They are falling apart, but I'll never get rid of them. :-)

Jeanne said...

The copy of Harriet the Spy that I read over and over the summer I turned eleven. My copy of The Riverside Shakespeare, bought for a college class. A leatherbound Paradise Lost that fits just right in my hands. The Robert Louis Stephenson A Child's Garden of Verses that I bought for my first child before she was born.

pinkflipflops said...

Mine was my mother's copy of Little Woman until she DONATED it with all my other freaking books in a spring cleaning spree once.

swallace2882 said...

I have two. The copy of Jane Eyre that belonged to my aunt (now in her 70s) in college, and still has her scribbled notes in the margins. I reread it every summer (carefully)!

I also have a copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel with a soft red illustrated cover. I fell in love with the sensationalist love/adventure story in high school, and it's gone everywhere with me since.

Great post, Bibliophile :)

Susan Hemann said...

Years ago I used to admire my grandmothers books. I asked her if I could have them. (A collector even as a child)She said no. Years later when she passed away I was given her collection! One of my favorites is The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Copyright 1946. The illustrations were drawn in color and engraved in London. The text was set and the pages made-up in English Monotype Sachsenwald w Albertus Capitals. There are several books like that. They are a real treasure.

reviewsbylola said...

I have some books that used to belong to my grandfather, whom I never met. I also have some of my great grandmother's books as well.

bermudaonion said...

I'm not sure that I have a treasured book like that since I don't have any that were in my family.

Rayna Eliana said...

My cherished first edition books include:

Vita, by Melanie Mazzucco

London, by Edward Rutherford

The Source and also Chesapeake, by James Michener

Possession, by A.S. Byatt

Those Who Love, by Irving Stone

The Holocaust Chronicle, Publications International, Ltd.

Man of la Book said...

I have a book I've had since I was three - that's the one :)

Boston said...

Great question and so hard! Looking at the bookshelves I could name a half dozen. But then I realize that those from childhood, those that sparked the love of reading are nowhere to be found.

Kathleen said...

It is such a great question and so difficult for me to answer. I guess any of the books from my parents are the ones most precious to me. These are the ones I remember from our library at home when I was growing up.

bibliophiliac said...

I have two ancient editions of Alice in Wonderland. One belonged to my father (no copyright page, but it was published in London, probably in the early 1900's. The second Alice belonged to my Great-Aunt; it is inscribed to her and dated 1909. Finally, I have the edition of The Princess and the Goblin that an Aunt gave me-I must have read it 100 times. Oh, and one more: a copy of "The Brave Little Cowboy." It was my late brother's favorite book when he was a little boy. I loved, loved, loved this post, and loved thinking about my own treasured books. Thanks for this post.

Anna said...

My most treasured book is the copy of Pride & Prejudice I bought as a kid from those book club flyers the school sent home. My late father used to leave out change knowing that my sister and I would take it and use it to buy the inexpensive classics in the flyer.

Space Station Mir said...

My father's editions of Lord of the Rings, which technically aren't mine, but are currently "visiting" my bookshelf. My father read them and fell in love with LOTR as a teenager and I read the same books when I read LOTR for the first time.

My other treasured books are childhood favorites, all tattered paperbacks with the the exception of the Harry Potter books; The Chronicles of Narnia boxed set, Little Women, Little Men, and Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott and A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery.

Lynne Perednia said...

Most treasured is my old copy of Shirley Temple's Storybook, my introduction to Beauty and the Beast, and the Nightingale. Sitting on my mother's lap with both of my brothers, her voice and the pictures still come to mind. And later, sitting on my grandfather's lap at age 4, I remember suddenly realizing that what he was saying was what was on the page. I became a reader that evening.

How glorious to have a signed first edition of Possession. Love my copy as it is the novel that brought me back to contemporary literary fiction. What a treasure.

chasingbawa said...

It's difficult to choose but probably my copy of The Secret History by Donna Tartt from the early 90s (it's with a cover I haven't seen anywhere else), my hardback copy of Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice and a couple of Ladybird books from my childhood (Great Artists, etc.) which have the most amazing illustrations.

Pat Z. said...

My most precious book is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. My daughter and I read this book together endlessly. In fact, I have been to Savannah twice because the book was so wonderful.

amy said...

I actually HAVE my mom's copy of Gone with the Wind and a Joyce Carol Oates and a very tattered 25 cents paperback copy of A Catcher in the Rye. I have my copy of the Tasha Tudor illustrated Little Women that my stepfather gave me as a birthday gift. maybe my 12th? I didn't save that much though I read a ton.

Bellezza said...

Such an intriguing question. At first, I was thinking what's the most precious in terms of content, and that would be the Bible for me. But, as I continued through your post I saw that there was an element of sentimentality involved. So, my most precious book would be my autographed edition of Madeleine L'Engle's The Love Letters. Also incredibly valuable to me is my late grandmother's New Testament, one which we read from together on many occasions. This was a wonderful post, Marie!

Rebecca Reid said...

Interesting question. I don't think I'm physically attached to any of my books, but there are plenty a love to just pick and hold because I know what's between the covers -- To Kill a Mockingbird, for example.

Boston said...

A copy of the Wizard of Oz given to me by a special person in my life. It was given to me in an impossibly romantic way. Won't get rid of it, ever.

Teresa said...

When I was young, I read "Crazy Horse" by Shannon Garst at least ten times. My small town public library had two copies. How I loved that book! When I was 13 my father passed away and my mother decided to move away from the town I loved, and from everyone and everything familiar to me. Before we left, I went to the library and STOLE one of the copies. That was more than 40 years ago. I never moved back to that little town, but I've occasionally made donations to the library there. I still have the book.

Rebecca Reid said...

I have to revise my answer, as I've been thinking about this. I have a book I got in January after my grandma passed away. It's falling apart, but since it's from 1852, I can forgive that. It's poetry "appropriate" for young ladies. I'm actually posting about it tomorrow because I found a 4-leaf clover in it today! Anyway, I remembered you'd asked this very question and then I started thinking about this old book... I'm not attached to the book so much as the memorabilia, and the fact that it was my great-great grandmother's.