Used Books that Found Me
I love reading people’s stories of how used books magically found them.
Got one yourself? Send it and I’ll add it to the collection!
First, one from Rochelle Bell.
“One of my favorite authors is Sylvia Boorstein, a Buddhist teacher and a faithful Jew. One day I decided to get the rest of the books she has written. I realized she was aging and probably would not be writing very much longer. I went to Amazon.com and began looking for her work. There were several, and I quickly hit the “buy” button and was done with it.
A few days later the books came and I realized I’d been too quick on the button. One of the books was written by another author and only the forward was written by Sylvia.
My partner, Rod grabbed that book titled “How to be Sick” – A Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers. Rod has been caring for his brother as of late, and he loves the book and the wisdom it imparts.
So, what seemed like a mistake for me turned into a gift for Rod.”
* * *
And now from her partner, Rod Bondurant.
An old National Geographic started it.
“I don’t recall the name….do you, Mabel?” Mabel shook her head and the Delhi librarian turned her steely gaze on me. I just wanted a book, and I was being interrogated in the silent old library in upstate New York where old school New England culture was still present.
I really didn’t want to go into it all but I half-heartedly launched into the story of my parents living there, and now my reclusive brother living in their house.
No stranger was just going to walk in and get a book here. I decided to get to the point. “I’m looking for a copy of Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle. Two pair of eyes were suddenly wide and fixed on me. Their thrill showed: This man wants a real book! He knows who Darwin is! A flurry of eager activity located the book 200 miles away. I had to explain more about how I didn’t expect to be around long enough to receive the copy. I had returned to Delhi to help my brother deal with serious cancer and I was hoping to go home soon.
To salvage my library visit and honor the staff’s enthusiasm, I requested direction to the Travel section. I took in the bleak half-filled shelf……A few old Fodor’s, a picture book or two, a few musty local history anthologies, and a shabby gray copy of The Peninsula by Louise Dickinson Rich. A vaguely familiar name.
She was one of my mother’s favorite authors. Mother always had dreams of “going back to the land”. She would have been a good hippie. We actually did vagabond around in a converted VW bus during my high school summers.
Louise Rich had chronicled her own depression-era adventure in the Maine woods where she and her husband operated a fishing lodge. The difficulties and making do involved in eking out an existence in the 1930’s was well described in We Took To The Woods. Louise was also something of a cultural anthropologist and studied and delightfully recorded the values and workings of small town life. The memory of that book reminded me that my previous interrogation was a precious remnant of the peculiar intimacy of small towns.
I grabbed The Peninsula. It had slumbered on the shelf. The old fashioned card with checkout dates showed it had been checked out only about once a year since 1963. I suspect one of the entries was my mother’s. The Peninsula kept me spellbound. Louise was now leading a different and solitary life in the early ‘50’s on the Maine coast. She saw that “progress” was coming; the world she was surrounded with was going to disappear and she wanted to chronicle it. She also shared her personal opening to the special natural beauty and heartwarming culture she found.
I haven’t yet read Darwin’s account about a now lost South American tribe, but the search had brought me the gift of another story closer to home.”