Wow, who'd have thunk it! I just saw this post at Dimples and Tangles and evidently my old small collection of Readers Digest books (some still with the original paper covers on them) are all the rage right now as a decorating accessory.
My Readers Digest Condensed Novels go back to the mid-1960's through the mid-1970's.
They have travelled with me from apartment to apartment during my wandering years after graduation from high school in 1969. They were soooo happy with the stained-glass built-in hutch that they were showcased in when I bought my first house in 1986. They shed some tears when we left that cozy little two bedroom place for this stick-built home in August 1990. But they soon adjusted.
They were happy because I kept them all together, and have faithfully pulled each and every one of them (and each and every one of my other precious books) off their shelves twice a year to dust by hand and "clap" the pages.
Here is a not very good photograph of my Readers Digest Condensed Novels collection:
The bookshelves in the family room are slowly (ever so slowly) being emptied, box by box, in preparation for my eventual finishing of wallpaper removal, drywall repair and painting. The bookcases will receive a makeover as well. I may have everything done just in time to celebrate my official retirement on January 1, 2018 :)
Yeah, walking into my house is like passing through a Time Warp, darlings, back to the 1980's. Sponge painting! All over the damn place!
Let me tell you about these Readers Digest Condensed Novels. It seems I came out of the womb with a book in my hand, and got really bitchy and testy whenever it was removed. Just ask my Mom. As soon as I could, I learned how to read, and I never stopped.
I read everything I could get my hands on, including the er - manual - I found once snooping around in the Parents' Bedroom... But I was only eight so it took awhile to figure out what it really was all about...
In due course, I got a Library Card! And back in the old days, before endless rounds of budget cuts and the dummying down of the general population, EVERYONE in my old neighborhood looked forward to the Bookmobile coming around once every ten days!
I was allowed to withdraw 5 books maximum. And so I did. Every ten days.
I read my way through the entire Bookmobile - I don't remember how long it took. I didn't realize it at the time, but looking back, I now know that the people on the Bookmobile started a special stash just for me. I loved reading history and science fiction. When I hit about 9, I started getting interested in ROMANCE and SOB (as in can't stop crying) stories! Oy! When they saw me board the Bookmobile I'd be motioned over to the check-out table and there, on a special shelf behind, were all these books that had been picked out. I could check-out as many as I wanted! Of course, I had to bring them back.
We moved when I was 11 and there was no Bookmobile in the new neighborhood. So, I started going to the library two miles away. When I turned 13, that library closed, so I started walking to the library three miles away. Then I got a part-time job after school. I had a paycheck! I started ordering Readers Digest Condensed Novels. It was a really big deal back then! Oh, how eagerly I'd wait for the next book to be delivered in the mail. They came like every few months, and I devoured them, book after book. Mom said it was just a big waste of money, but I knew it wasn't. I would sit in the front room in Grandpa Newton's old green leather easy chair and read a book from cover to cover in a few days. And then go back and read my favorites over again.
Some of the condensed novels I have read over again; and then eight years later over again! And so it goes. Some stories just never get old.
The Readers Digests I have now are just a smidgeon of what I used to haul around. Over the years, books have been given away or donated. I kept my favorites.
I haven't looked at the titles of these books in some time now, despite twice-yearly dusting and handling. Probably most of the authors I read through those years (1968 through 1993), you weren't even born yet and wouldn't recognize the names or the titles! Let me tell you, the books in that old Bookmobile were WAY older! Authors from the 20's through the 50's, mostly. I think they put the junkiest books in the Bookmobile because people would steal them. I, even I, actually stole a book once from the Bookmobile. It was called "The Black." It was about a wild black horse. And it had absolutely nothing in common with the boring "Black Beauty," which I also read and didn't much care for. Snore. "The Black" -- that was a GREAT BOOK! I slept with that book underneath my pillow for five or six months. One day I forgot to hide it under the bed before the sheets were being changed and Mom found it. Oh Oh.
Well. So many memories. I read about the great earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 in a volume that included "The San Francisco Earthquake" by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts. Read, read, read, read and read again "The Sea of Grass" by Conrad Richter -- an absolutely incredible love story, in a 1971 volume:
"Have you noticed how young she still looks, Hal? he asked, filling his chair again wtih that iron dignity and pride I remembered as a boy. "It was a hard thing for a lady to go through. But she's one in a thousand, Hal. No one else will ever be like her." And his deeply lined face warmed like the late afernoon sun mellowing the rugged western slope of an old mountain.
OHMYGODDESS! Those are the last lines of the book. How could any woman not want to be loved that much?
I read "The Camerons" and "Green Darkness" and the really bad but couldn't-put-it-down sequel to "Gone With the Wind" in Readers Digest Condensed Novels.
I can never just look at one of my precious books as a decorating accessory, and that is why the cleaning-out process has been so slow and so very very painful. Because it seems that, other than yours truly, no one gives a hoot anymore about old books and dead authors. I can't even give books away anymore to Goodwill, Purple Heart or the Vietnam Veterans. Nobody wants them.
This just makes me so incredibly sad, sad, sad.
December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan