Tuesday, November 30, 2010
BOOKS I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!
In my efforts to downsize my belongings, I have tried to be fairly ruthless in clearing out my bookshelves. The fact that I started out with three sets of bookshelves and now am down to two is proof that I meant business. And when I get right down to it, about a third of what remains on these shelves are not books at all but stationery and craft supplies, as well as lots of photo albums.
However, there are a few books that I will never part with as long as I am alive. And those are the books that you see in the picture above. Let me tell you a little about them, going from the fat red book on the right hand side to the fat green book on the left.
Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 27th edition. There has always been a Dorland's in my house. My first husband intended to become a doctor and he brought a Dorland's into the marriage. Later he left his book, his idea of doctoring and of marriage all at the same time. I was glad he left me that book, and I've periodically updated it -- except now it costs so much that I just have to be satisfied with the words and the drawings that exist in the last edition I bought in 1993. And besides, now it's possible to find out everything by sitting at your computer, so who needs a Dorland's anymore? Nevertheless, I can't bring myself to toss it.
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. This one is pretty darn old too, but it's like an old friend. How can you let go of an old friend? I use it almost daily. I want to be sure of how something is spelled and if it is the exact word that I need to use. This book tells me.
Holy Bible. King James translation. Edited by Dr. Scofield I've used it since 1963. It has tissue-thin paper, has lots of writing in the margins and it too is something that I use almost daily, which is odd considering I am no longer a very religious person. But knowing it as well as I do opens up understanding of much in print.
The Synonym Finder, JJ Rodale. This particular book was touted to me as the synonym book with the most creative use of words. I've had lots of fun with it, because it opens all kinds of possibilities and images.
Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised. 10th edition. Many many years ago during my first venture into PTA (now we're talking 1962ish here) I became very interested in parliamentary procedure. In fact, I figured that when I "grew up" I'd become a Registered Parliamentarian. Well, that didn't happen, but I've always stayed interested, and now and then I'm able to help someone get "orderly." And in the meantime I have made a fast friendship with a real Registered Parliamentarian, and she's enriched my life immeasurely.
One Hundred and One Famous Poems (With a Prose Supplement) Revised Edition: An Anthology compiled by Roy J. Cook, 1929. This was my mother's book, and it was out of it that she introduced my sister and me to "Trees," "Abou Ben Adhem," "Little Boy Blue," "The Children's Hour," "The Duel," "The Spider and the Fly" -- and oh, so many others. And "Laughing Allegra" comes from "The Children's Hour," in case you wondered why that screen-name.
The New Union Prayer Books (2 copies, one for me and one for Jerry) for use in Temple during the High Holidays. Until I attended my first High Holidays with Jerry on Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur in 1975 I had no idea how liturgical the services were. I had never attended any church that was heavy on the ritual side and certainly didn't expect to find that in the Jewish practice. But there it was, and we need these books to participate.
Webster's All-in-One Dictionary and Thesaurus. We purchased this to cover the gap between my old Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary and the present day. It helps, but I've had a hard time making the transition to full-time use. It is a stiff book and doesn't ooze into my hands and my soul the way the old Webster's does, yet!
Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Such a book. It is possible to justify any use of any word in this book. The big problem is that the minute you open it you find yourself spending way too much time reading, reading, reading. So much to learn resides in this book.
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. 1955. There is no need to worry about who said what after 1955. Unless you are, of course, writing for publication and need to be a bit more relevant! But for us redundant people, this version is plenty sufficient, and plenty fun to read, too.
So these are the books I can't live without. They reside on the shelf right behind my back when I sit at the computer. Physically they couldn't be closer to my heart! And they certainly are there in spirit. Novels come and go, even the classics and even my favorite like "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "The Cloudsplitter." I haven't tossed those yet, either, but I know I can do it if I have to. But these other ten are here for good. They have served me well; they and I have been buddies for a long time, and I think they'll all hold up about as long as I will. And we'll probably be ready for the trash about the same time. But until then, they are safe in their place of honor. And they make me happy.
But I do have a favorite. You can tell which one it is by the picture below. I call it a well-used book!