Tuesday, December 07, 2010


I grew up with a love of reading. Often, my favorite gift for birthday or Christmas was a book...most often, a book about horses. During summer vacations from school, I would walk to the library and check out the maximum number of books allowed...eight at that time...with a return date two weeks out. My dad once made me take back all but two of the books, saying that I needed to spend some time outdoors during my summer break.

I credit my mother with building that love of reading in me, starting with reading stories to me before I could read on my own. I still remember a story that Mom used to read to me about a man who had a blanket that was too short for his bed. Since his feet were sticking out, he decided to cut some fabric from the top of the blanket and sew it onto the bottom. Even at my young age, I knew that wasn't going to work.

And then there was the story of the Ugly Duckling. I always identified with that one. And the one about the dog that had a bone in his mouth when he went to the pond to get a drink. When he looked into the water, he saw another dog with a bigger bone. So he dropped his bone into the water with the intent of taking the bigger bone away from the other dog, which, of course, was actually his own reflection.

As I write this, I'm remembering so many of those old fairy tales and am getting the urge to go out and buy a set of them for myself. Is that a sign of senility? Oh dear. I hope not. There are enough signs of that already.

With all my reading, though, I never really "got" poetry.

But then this lovely little book came into my life. I think it had belonged to my mother. It's a book of poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. One cold wintry day, I picked this book off the shelf and read Evangeline. It was beautiful. A compelling story of enduring love and heartache.

There is no dust jacket on this book. That beautiful design on the cover is...well...on the cover.

Inside is an inscription which says, "Merry Christmas...1903...Herbert Campbell. I don't know who Herbert Campbell was or to whom the book was given on that Christmas 107 years ago. My mother wouldn't have been born yet at that time, so maybe the book had belonged to her mother. I'll probably never know; but, for now, the book is a treasure on my bookshelf.

I still can't say that I love or understand poetry, but I do love Evangeline. I think it's time to read it again.


  1. Sorry Linda... This is my 3rd try... Blogger is not my friend tonight!!!!!

    Anyhow--I was trying to say that it is so neat that you have that old copy of "Evangeline"... That is special that it is on your bookshelf now... Enjoy it AGAIN.

  2. I noticed that you were having trouble, Betsy. Let me know if you think it's something to do with my site, and I'll try to fix it.

    I know that reading isn't necessarily enjoyable for everyone, but it's such an important part of my life.

    Thanks for the comment and for persevering until it posted. :)

  3. It is an acquired love for a particular poet I feel, that draws you into reading more.This book has some nice wear along the top where it has been held.I have read a lot of his, but still enjoy sitting in the childrens books looking over a few.

  4. Steve-I'm not sure I've acquired a love for the poet yet, but I do love this particular poem. Your thought is true of writers of prose, as well. Developing an appreciation for a particular writer's style definitely draws you into more reading of his works.

    The Longfellow book does show wear, but it doesn't seem be unreasonably worn for it's age.

  5. What a beautiful book. And isn't it wonderful that you have come to love the contents of such a wonderful book. To be treasured, for sure.

  6. It IS a beautiful book, Sandy. That, combined with the fact that it's so old, is probably what made me hang onto it. I didn't want to keep putting wear onto it, so I bought a paperback book with some Longfellow poems, including Evangeline. That's probably the copy I'll use to get my Evangeline fix in the future.

  7. That reminds me of the book that you bought a few years ago that was the unabridged version of something. Wasn't it like 2,000 pages long? You might want to post about THAT -- I was impressed!

  8. Sandra-I actually do have plans to post about that book one of these days. I also have plans to read it again. :)

  9. I remember all of those tales of which you speak too. We must have been reading the same books way back when.

    The volume of Evangeline is lovely - a real keeper. I was helping a friend clear items from her basement as she prepares to move soon. We came across several boxes of books (and other interesting things) which had belonged to her late mother in law. Some go back a long way - very similar to yours.

  10. Hilary-I hope those boxes of books from your friend's basement didn't go into the trash. If she couldn't keep them, maybe she could sell them on e-Bay or something like that. We have a wonderful second-hand book store in our area. They don't really pay much when buying books, but they have SO many wonderful books for sale. I should take my camera down there sometime and do a post about it.

    By the way, is this your cat-in-the-hat friend?

  11. Linda, we found a number of things that we thought would probably sell on eBay but in looking them up on their site, it turns out they're practically a dime a dozen.. like two very old cameras.

    The books are just going to be given away ti a Goodwill/Salvation Army type place. My friend throws very little out in the trash and neither one of us could do that to a book.

    And, yup.. that's my Cat in the Hat friend. You'll probably think I don't have any others. ;)

  12. Hilary, I tried selling my beloved old camera and couldn't get a dime for it. About the only people interested in those anymore are collectors.

    I'm glad to hear that the books will be donated. I had a teacher when I was young who always told us, "Books are our friends." I guess I took that to heart because, to this day, I can't break a book's spine or bend one of its pages.

    With a friend like CITH (Cat in the Hat), you don't NEED any others. :)


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