Monday, April 2, 2012

My Daddy Tribute: B is for Books

I don't remember my father reading much more than the newspaper when I was a kid. But as he got older, he started to pay more attention to books. He tried out a variety of books that he could find for bargain prices. He read mysteries and classics. He had a fondness for current affairs and always wanted me to read and debate the books. His favorites ended up being the antique books that belonged to my great-grandmother, his grandmother.

Grandma Belle loved to collect books and to go to book clubs. She had numerous first editions. And typical of that time period, she removed the dustjackets and glued the synopsis inside the front cover. That actually devalues the books as far as money is concerned. But having the book collection of your grandmother is priceless.

My grandmother, Dad's mom, kept many of the books that belonged to her mother. Others went to her brother, my great uncle. As Grandma worked on downsizing her belongings, Dad would take more and more of Grandma Belle's books. It was his goal to read through all of them. He was fascinated by the historical look at life and the kinds of literature that attracted people all of those decades ago. He admired the simplicity of the books. The stories were not simple - many were quite complex. They didn't require a lot of gore and sex, though, to become popular.

One of the hardest things for me to do as we were cleaning out my parents' house was to say goodbye to those books. There was something magical about holding a book that had also been held by my father, my grandmother and my great-grandmother. There were just too many of them. Instead, I played pick and choose. For example, I saved all of the Daphne du Maurier books, as she is one of my favorite authors. I saved a couple of my father's collections, such as his gardening series, because he specifically told me I was to inherit them some day.

As my father lay unconscious in the hospital, I tried to stimulate his brain as much as I could. I spent a lot of time reading to him. I read short stories by Kurt Vonnegut. I summarized Jon Krakauer. And we were working our way through Jane Eyre when he passed away. I desperately wanted to read him Rebecca by du Maurier, but didn't have a copy with me. And it seemed to be impossible at the time to locate an affordable copy for my Kindle app.

To this day, I still find myself reaching for the phone to call Dad about a new book I have read. I have an addiction to reading books like alcoholics to do their booze. I learned how to read when I was two, and my nose has been buried in books ever since. I even still want to call my grandmother, to tell her about a new mystery that I think she may like. I know that I can't share them via phone, but I know they are watching from above and enjoying the stories with me.


  1. It's wonderful to find a common love with family members. My dad and I shared a lot of the same interests. He passed away January 2011, but I still find myself thinking that he'd love something and automatically trying to call him up to tell him about it. But on the positive side, I can still feel him with me and remember wonderful times through these interests.

  2. Very moving; I know I'll have a similar challenge in dealing with my parents' books. We're a family of bookaholics, so even the idea of culling them is difficult to contemplate.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing such treasured memories. Mine too is a family full of readers. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are actually of my Dad reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy (amongst others) to me. I am glad you were able to keep those books that held the greatest value for you.

    Keep reading!

  4. My dad was not a book reader but my husband is. He has over 1000 books easily. We keep buying books shelves & he keeps filling them.