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Books as Objects

This is picking up from something sartorias was writing about a little while back - how books can be important as objects themselves, not just for their contents. How certain copies of books have meaning beyond the book itself because of associations or context or whatever. So I was thinking about which books mean the most to me in that sense, which books would I save, for example, if my house caught fire.

A small book of poetry, #1 in a printing of 400, by a relatively well known English poet who happens to be my uncle, and inscribed to "his niece of whom he is so proud, on the occasion of her graduation."

Tigana Tehanu signed to me by Ursula Le Guin. She's one of my all-time heroes, and I was almost overcome when I got to meet her and have her sign my book. She gave me a sharp look and wrote to me "with best wishes" even though I had said that she only had to sign it.

A copy of the complete works of Shakespeare that I won as a prize for acting in a high-school drama festival.

My "World of Pooh" that my parents gave me when I was four and has been one of my favourite books all my life.

A first-edition of Smith of Wooton Major that I bought for myself way back when it was actually on sale in a first edition.

A first-edition of Prince Caspian in dust jacket that my mum bought for me for about $15 but is probably worth the most of any book in my collection.

Some gardening books by the likes of Vita Sackville West and Marjory Fish that belonged to my aunt and came to me either directly or via my mother. My aunt has severe senile dementia and is as lost to me now as if she were dead, but I love her very much and love having things that she treasured.

And, oh my, so many. Probably those are the absolutely the most important, but, boy it would be hard to lose any of them.

Edit: I forgot to mention the hard-cover of McKillip's Harpist in the Wind given to me by the great love of my life when it first came out. There's nothing to show that he gave it to me - he didn't inscribe "with love" in it, or anything - but I remember when he gave it to me, and laughing over him having read it before me and teasing me by threatening to spoil the solution of all the riddles. Sigh.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
dsgood
Sep. 12th, 2007 04:47 am (UTC)
"Tigana signed to me by Ursula Le Guin."

There's a book of that title by Guy Gavriel Kay, but not one by Le Guin.
intertext
Sep. 12th, 2007 05:06 am (UTC)
You're right. I meant Tehanu. It's late - what can I say?
sartorias
Sep. 12th, 2007 01:03 pm (UTC)
Mmmm book memories. Like smells. Straight to the limbic system.
intertext
Sep. 12th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, which sets off a whole line of thought about Reading memories. Another post...
lady_schrapnell
Sep. 12th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC)
This is a nice list. It really got me thinking too, as there can be so many different kinds of thing going on around the physical object. My first thought for my own list was the signed copy of Deep Secret which led to my getting to correspond with steepholm. But the thing about that was that it was my uncharacteristic detachment from the physical object which allowed it be the cause of our becoming friends. Which clearly holds a Message Worth Pondering, but broadband/LJ is acting weirdly enough to spare you my pondering on your spot...
intertext
Sep. 12th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'd love to hear more - perhaps you'll post? Curious what you mean about the "uncharacteristic detachment from the physical object"...
lady_schrapnell
Sep. 12th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, sorry - I wasn't trying to be obscure - the reply was (still is) agonizingly slow for some reason. Will post.
gillo
Sep. 12th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
I have a very tatty, battered Complete Works of Shakespeare which I bought with virtually all my holiday money when I was nine. I don't use it to teach from, but it means far more to me than the good quality Arden editions I also have of most of the plays.
lidocafe
Sep. 13th, 2007 03:12 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this and leading me to the above-mentioned posts, for this topic is an old favorite of mine. I think I'll list mine as well, at the lido cafe . . .
lidocafe
Sep. 13th, 2007 07:27 pm (UTC)
Not the first time you've mentioned this love of your life. Curiouser and curiouser . . . . :)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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