Nothing like a good book

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2012

For many years, my late husband and I enjoyed browsing bookstores. He collected books strictly for a good read. It didn’t matter to him at all that a cover was shabby or battered if the few pages he skimmed appealed to him. He even ordered a book-binding kit and repaired some of the books he bought.

While he delighted in scratching around in dusty old used bookstores, I was just the opposite. I preferred the chain bookstores, resplendent with shiny new books. I sometimes arrived home with an expensive newly released hardback novel while he hauled in an armload of bags crammed full of used books that cost less than what I paid for my one new acquisition.

I never minded shopping library used book sales, however, so we sometimes emerged from those with almost an equal number of books. We attended some library book sales where we actually waited in line and people rushed in when the doors opened as if we were at some big department store sale. There was genuine competition for the assortment of books spread out on tables and stacked in boxes.

I have to admit that he found many treasures. Some weren’t in mint condition, but they were good books. He wasn’t on the look-out just for himself, either. He selected many books he thought I would like. He wasn’t far off the mark either. I like almost all of them.

Some of his favorites were juvenile adventure books, notably those by Howard Pease, Frank L. Packard, Roy Rockwood, and Victor Appleton II. He enjoyed the Pease sea adventure books. His first and favorite was “The Tattooed Man.” After he found the Packard and Pease books, he hunted for more. At first, he enlisted the help of a Florida used bookstore owner who ran a search and found some for him. Later, he turned to eBay to add to that collection. Packard, a prolific author, wrote mystery novels, beginning in 1914 through 1938. Roy Rockwood, I learned, was a house name for a syndicate. Various authors wrote the books beginning in the early 1900s. In 1954, Harriet Adams created the Tom Swift, Jr., series, published under the name, “Victor Appleton II.” According to Wikipedia, various authors wrote the texts. All of those novels showed their age, but he delighted in finding each one. They were truly special to him.

One day as I waited while he searched in a used bookstore, I saw three good-looking volumes of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses” on display. It was my favorite childhood book. I just couldn’t leave without a slightly used, beautifully illustrated volume that brought back many memories.

Now I often read e-books on my Nook or iPad, but I’m happy those books we collected rest on the shelves in our little private library. Sometimes it’s just good to turn pages and feel a book in your hand, especially the ones you treasure.