Day 253 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and I am blogging early due to plans later in the day, after blogging on Calculus, Carson, and Camus last night, so I am stepping on my own toes. Fell over.
Anyhoo, I am enjoying some books passed along to me by co-workers, one borrowed, to be returned to our reference shelf at the bookstore, and one a gift: Writing Illinois: The Prairie, Lincoln, and Chicago, by James Hurt, a scholar and English professor who, alas, died just this past June. This is a work of literary criticism and historical inquiry that I will place next to Lincoln's Favorite Poets (picked up in a vintage bookshop in Ohio) on my special Lincoln shelf at home.
Aauugghh, both are first editions! Must get mylar jackets! This I have learned from Book Finds, by Ian C. Ellis, and from working at Babbitt's for three years. But I wasn't working there when I put my address label on the front free endpaper of Lincoln's Favorite Poets, by David J. Harkness and R. Gerald McMurtry. Sigh.... On the other hand, these are books I want to keep and read, not resell.
I have a jillion books. Someday some of them may be very valuable, so my home library may turn out to be the legacy and inheritance I leave my children, who are quietly laughing behind their hands at me much of the time, because I am a poet. No, really, my kids are sweet about all that, but they know I will never be rich and famous. I love coming across phrases like "much ignored" in Book Finds, applying to writers now immortal because their work stood the test of time and their first editions are very valuable, et cetera, because then there is hope for the "much ignored" me!
Because I am a great reader, and love to discuss books "shared inquiry" style, and because I have read How to Read a Book, by Mortimer J. Adler, I do indeed underline and write marginalia in many of my books! But, now that I know better, not in any more first editions or advance reader copies. This is my legacy, kids!
Another thing I love about Book Finds is that I can identify things about it! It is the first printing of the Updated 3rd Edition, which does not increase its value one whit because it is a remaindered trade paperback, with a black remainder mark in the spine corner of the bottom textblock edge, and full of Sarah's pen notes. I am reading all the chapters, including the ones that say, "Skip" beside the chapter title! It is a book that must frequently be updated, as prices and trends change, and the specific examples must change even if the core information holds true. And it has some typographical and proofreading errors!
Which reminds me! I got to handle a Louisa May Alcott first edition yesterday, with a typographical error in it--a repetition of the word "at--or a "point" that distinguishes it from other states and editions of the book.
So, Sarah, when you are a famous bookstore owner, like Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company in Paris, your pen notes are going to make that little remaindered trade paperback very, very valuable!
And, if I keep at it, I may leave a legacy in books, if not in poetry. But I'm still committed to the poetry, "much ignored" as it is!
Please visit the blog of Bill Radawec, and see his art and read accounts of his work and exhibits. You'll want to read about the Slightly Altered show, the John Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright connection, and all about Lincoln Logs. This is his log cabin.
"You must change your life," said Rilke. So that's what I keep doing. I've been an encyclopedia editor, a poetry editor, an actor and director, a library clerk, and an assistant professor of English. Now I'm a freelancer, work part time in a library, blog "eight days a week," study the random, tend perennials, and listen to birdsong.