Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Husbandry, Heroines, and Two Dianas

What do those three things have in common? Absolutely nothing--unless we're talking about the books I bought at a used bookstore in downtown Nashville today.

My dad and brother are visiting from Atlanta this week and while my brother played golf this afternoon, Dad and I had lunch with my daughter then afterward we "happened upon" a bookstore crammed full, floor to ceiling, with volume after wonderful volume. I crossed the threshold and the smell alone was worth the venture inside. Though admittedly, I did sneeze a few times.

My "treasures" found today at a used bookstore aptly called "Books" in downtown Nashville

The first of my finds is The Two Dianas (Vol. II, copyright and printing 1891) by Alexandre Dumas (author of The Count of Monte Cristo, among others). It's a book whose title was somewhat familiar to me, though I couldn't place it until I read the author's last name. Part one of a two-part historical romance, it's a gorgeous little book (pictured far right). Note that these books are available to read on-line, which is how I'll read the first volume.

The next find is Heroines of History by John S. Jenkins (copyright and printing 1889). It's also a beautiful book, complete with handsome illustrations of its subjects (covered with tissue paper, as was customary of that era) such as Elizabeth of England, Josephine, Joan of Arc, Marie Antoinette, and others. A plaque in my office reads, "WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN RARELY MAKE HISTORY," and I look forward to reading the accounts of these unmundane women who left their mark in the world.

Lastly, The Handy-Book of Husbandry: A Guide for Farmers, Young and Old by George E. Waring, Jr. of Ogden Farm is my most treasured find. Why? Not only because of the many suggested uses of manure, but because this particular book was printed in 1876 so, conceivably, my current heroine could have read it, which is fabulous because based on her current predicament, she needs some advice! Not necessarily on manure, however...

I love it when life and writing converge this way. Who knew when I walked into that bookstore this afternoon that I would leave with a copy of a book that one of my characters "actually held." I said that to my son earlier this evening and he just stared at me like he sometimes does and said, "You know that your character didn't really hold that book, Mom...right?"

But I just smiled, knowing full well in my heart that she did. Just like I know that God orchestrated that moment in that bookstore today, just for me. It was a moment I needed and that I'll treasure. Thank you, Lord, for being present in every detail of our lives--no matter how small those details may seem at times--and for loving us so thoroughly. I needed that encouragement and reminder today.

So, are there others out there who can't pass by a used bookstore without venturing in? If yes, then happy browsing and I hope you happen upon a "treasure" the next time you cross that threshold. And have a Kleenex handy, those books are dusty.


  1. What a fun afternoon.

    The idea of it appeals, but in reality I like my books new and crisp and smelling good. I can't bury my nose in a musty old book!

  2. LOL, Linda. Admittedly, I wash my hands very well after rummaging through all those books. But I do love the sense of time you "hold" when you're holding a book (or object) that old. I get the same feeling when I walk through the doors of an antebellum home and up the staircase to the upper rooms of the family who lived there. The imagination sparks to life and I'm ready to write...and use some antibacterial hand wash. :-)

  3. What wonderful finds, and such treasures! I'm gonna have to check that store out!

  4. When I was young, I lived in a subsidized housing project and one of the pluses was that we had our own library there, about the size of a large living room, filled with all kinds of books, old and new. The smell of the old books was like the ones my mother read to me when I was small that she got when she was in school. I'm 62 so those were very old books. In three years, I read the library out. It was like a college education. Since then I can't resist the smell of a library or bookstore because that experience was magical. I understand what you mean about your character holding that book in her hands. Your characters are so real to me, I feel like they are friends, like you. It's so interesting and educational to read the history in your books. I always learn so much. I hope you'll find inspiration in your "finds."

  5. I love that we share this love for used bookstores, Iris, and that we share this friendship. Thanks, sweet friend.

  6. Sarah Gilmer9/24/2009 8:00 PM

    I'm glad I'm not the only person who enjoys the smell of old books. My husband laughs at me whenever I disappear behind a book just to smell the worn pages. I started collecting old books a couple years ago and have a little over two dozen, mostly literary classics from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Some will have names scrawled on the front page, some are from libraries from across the nation. I am always picturing and imagining what other hands have held the exact books many years before... And congratulations on scoring a book on Husbandry! I love it when God shows up even in the tiniest moments of our lives - just to remind us that He's always there.

  7. Oh, book browsing is my favorite pass time! The older the books the better! There is a virtue in many old books that is rarely found in modern fiction...

    ...sigh! My hands are very, very frequently book-stained!


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