Recently I went through my store of old books in the library. As a collector with hoarding disorder, I do have books I haven’t read, but also old books that I have read before… but really old editions… which makes me feel like King Midas with a golden touch and a room full of collected treasure of pure gold. I have haunted Half-Price Books for over a decade. I buy old library discards, books from Goodwill, and old family-owned books at yard sales.
Some of these treasures are rare and very special. Tom Sawyer Abroad is a very hard book to find in print. As one of Mark Twain’s lesser known works it doesn’t often appear in book stores, and it has never been a best-seller list. The edition I have was published in 1965 by Grosset and Dunlap. It was illustrated by Gerald McCann. It is the kind of book that might’ve been on an elementary school library shelf in 1966 when I was ten.
Nelson Doubleday, Inc. produced the Best in Children’s Books series in the 60’s and my parents bought the four of us a subscription so that these books came in the mail every other month. I still have one from my childhood, but I found more at Half-Price Books. They were filled with children’s books excerpts and poems, cartoons and illustrations in color as well as black and white.
The Arabian Nights Entertainment was a very special find. I actually paid ten dollars for it. It is from 1916 with woodcut and full-color illustrations by Louis Rhead. It is filled with wonderful stories like the History of the Old Man and the Two Black Dogs, and the History of Sinbad the Sailor. I read these stories with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade playing in my head. What a wonderful old book! A century old this very year.
I can’t tell you how much joy I get from sitting in my library now that I am retired and rummaging through my book stacks looking at my treasures. I am like Scrooge McDuck swimming through his money bin when I am with my old books. I know I suffer from mental disorders that cause some of this, but I also know that I do not want to be cured.