The Mother's Day Mother Lode

Does it get any better than this (creaturely-speaking)… a Mother’s Day drive away from the city after having had a lovely lunch, and coming upon a “Book Barn”.  Yes, one of those humongous venues filled with second-hand books; the kind of place that would take months to properly and lovingly investigate.

Hubby proferred a weak, “take your time”, bless his heart, which I know from experience means approximately fifteen minutes.  Generally speaking, when deposited in a store by my husband, after fifteen minutes I either turn my head and find his body splayed up against the window, tapping emphatically on his watch, or I spot him lumbering through the store with a mixed air of intense anguish/fear as he hunts me down.  So I scrambled around and within the allotted “take your time”, ferretted out the following (all hardcover), for a grand total of $6.00 : 

  1. Thomas Hardy’s “Tess D’Urberville” (yes, in French)
  2. “The Prophet”, by Kahlil Gibran
  3. A book of poems by D.H. Lawrence entitled “Pansies”, and I’m pretty sure it’s a 1st edition
  4. “The Oxford Book of American Verse”
  5. “Madame Bovary”, by Gustave Flaubert (front and back covers are floral, which leaves me wondering whether it was like that originally or did a certain Mrs. R. [previous owner, 1945] do that herself with wallpaper?)  In any case, I’m leaving it, because it’s pretty…
  6. A 1943 Random House edition of Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, illustrated with wood engravings; the front and back covers have Heathcliff leaning up against a very scary-looking tree as he gazes skyward.

One of the things I like best about second-hand books is that you never know what you’ll find inside.  I always leave that until I get home, because it’s such a thrill for me when I discover something and I don’t like to alarm the salespeople.  On this occasion I discovered a piece of paper inside Gibran’s “The Prophet” – narrow pale-blue paper, about the width of a large bookmark, on which was written a grocery list, probably that of Mr. or Mrs. M. [previous owners, 1971].  The list was so healthy (tomatoes, Spanish onions, turnips, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, squash, peas, beans, carrots and cucumbers).  Oh, doesn’t that sound like a heavenly summer grocery list?  Now, it has just occurred to me that this might not have been a grocery list – it might have been a list of things they were going to plant in their garden.  Heavenlier and heavenlier. 

Several years ago I purchased a second-hand copy of St. Teresa of Avila’s “Selected Writings”, and inside I found a two-page old-fashioned typewritten synopsis of all her works, with concise comments about each.  But my absolute favourite find was when, shortly after I had begun blogging, I happened upon a second-hand copy of Thomas Merton’s biography by Michael Mott.  Inside, to my delight, was the business card of a seamstress, and in beautiful italics the words:  Especially for You, by Gabrielle.  Of course it would have been even better if it had said “Especially for You, Gabrielle”, but it didn’t matter.  I am so easily pleased.  Hurried, but easily pleased.  :)     

6 thoughts on “The Mother's Day Mother Lode

  1. ROFL! Wow! You scored some great finds, girl!

    “Easily pleased.” That is something we hope describes us, isn’t it? I have been blessed with a husband who gets excited about books (oh, that IS a blessing for sure, isn’t it?!) and he is very excited about the book rack over at the recycling center recently set up. A lady stopped by our lawn yesterday walking her monstrously huge Malamute (first one I’ve seen in person, and they truly approximate a wolf’s size and coat–whew!), and she said she’d made some great finds over there, too.

    Over the years, I’ve acquired some great finds..I can’t even pass by a box of books left at the curb after a yard sale.. they have come here, at least temporarily. I even have some old books with the tissue paper tucked into the front of the drawings.. I have an original Balzac somewhere in this house, and of course it was at a rummage sale that I got the ten-cent Miracle of Lanciano..and elsewhere the Jesuit-written books, and thankfully husband brought all Aunt Jean’s books over (some are now over 100 years old). Whenever I encounter (even if not in person, such as seeing it in movies) any floor-to-ceiling book shelves…gasp…it’s like Midas before a wall of gold. Books are friends and family, teachers and travel guides, and yes, I love to find the inside goodies, too –ticket stubs, or especially what folks underlined and made mention of in the side panels.

    Can the internet ever replace this love that one can hold in one’s hands? I think not. You’d have fun in my little library, G, and I, in yours, no doubt!

  2. Sounds like you had a most enjoyable and profitable and memorable Mother’s Day, Gabrielle.
    There is at least one very good second hand book store over by Queen’s University here in Belfast – and it also has a little cafe attached – presumably for people who don’t have your patience to wait before having a little peep.

  3. C.O., we should make little videos of our bookshelves and send them to each other! Next best thing to being there and being able to actually hold them, smell them (yes, I smell books) and read them!

    Ann, if there were a café nearby any second-hand shops I frequent, I would certainly not wait until I got home! Bring on the café au lait and the old books, I say; and don’t expect me home to make dinner!

  4. Oh, now there’s a catchy name for your retirement’s used books cafe, Gab: “Booksmeller’s” (You’d better copyright it before anyone else nabs it.)

    Our girls’ video cams are broken/gone, so I’ll move my bookcase very near the computer cam and put together a little video that way.

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