Tuesday, March 24, 2009

For the Love of Books

Grampa in Oz

Someone gave me this great old book, sort of as a thank you for something I had done. It is a ratty old book but that is part of its charm. It is a 1924 edition of one of the Oz series books, not even by the original author. The front page illustration is captioned: Grampa was an old soldier who had fought in Nine Hundred and Eighty Battles. In the picture Grampa is frighteningly ugly.
I read a number of the Oz series as a kid. They were dated even in the 60's when I was reading them. I doubt many kids today even realize there were sequels to the Wizard of Oz (or maybe even a book at all behind the movie). When I was a kid, we used to get to stay up late to watch the Wizard of Oz when it came on our (black and white) TV once a year. Another thing my kids wouldn't get. What, no TIVO?
I picked this book to start the post because I found a new, old, used bookstore. It is one of a rare breed these days--a used bookstore full of piles of musty old books which are prone to falling over when you try to extricate the bottom one. The proprietor is clearly an eccentric. When I declined to have a bag for the books I bought he said to me: "Then everyone will know what you are into." It gave me pause since it wasn't as if I had bought pr-n or something!
He was talking to another customer about his experiences living in SRO apartments and various bits of other odd gossip. I couldn't help but overhear; it was such a small store. It was clear that all sorts of odd ducks frequent the store. He mentioned one older guy who came in all the time (sounded like one of those hoarder types) but hadn't lately. He was worried since the fellow hadn't shown up. Apparently this guy's job was working at an adult bookstore (speaking of pr-n). By the way, I'm intentionally misspelling a certain word to avoid a certain kind of Google search.
It made me wonder if I'm one of those eccentrics since I was in the store too after all. I picked up a couple of old books that had been discarded from a library. I want to play with the old print and illustrations. Not sure what for yet.
Everything in the store was dirt cheap and discounted from the price written in the jacket.
In contrast a few blocks away I had stumbled on another used bookstore. I walked in and started looking and the clerk asked me to check my purse. Now, I don't mind checking a backpack (except I don't like to check my camera) or shopping bag but a purse! In a used bookstore. I'm going to risk jail to shoplift a used paperback novel? I objected and she said I could put my wallet in my pocket. Well there is my big, fat wallet, my cell phone, my i-pod. I decided it wasn't worth it (or my pockets weren't big enough). I politely told the woman that they had just lost a customer and left. Who needs this? I'm sure if they are so worried about shoplifting that the books must have been overpriced anyway. I'll go to the musty, asthma-inducing, store instead. There is always a bargain to be had and some juicy gossip to eavesdrop in on. I'll be back at this store until it, inevitably, goes out of business.
Here's hoping you all have something good to read.


Annie said...

I love old books and probably have too many. Whatever that is! I remember the Oz series as well.

self taught artist said...

i'm wondering why i see that i've linked to this post? do you see that where it says links to this post?
anyhow. what a story. what a you know what...but she is doing her job i guess. she must feel lousy at the end of the day.
i dont like old books, i really get angry when i smell mold. :(

self taught artist said...

duh it must be the side bar following you thing.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love old books but prefer them not to smell too bad, though I could forgive a book like that for smelling

A Free Man said...

What's the back story on the Oz books? The original was kind of a thinly veiled political pamphlet wasn't it? Something about the Gold Standard and William Jennings Bryan? I can't remember my history. But I know I enjoyed reading it when I was a boy, and that was a little later than you. I'm going to encourage my kids to read it as well.

Kim Hambric said...

Ah, there's nothing like a used bookstore full of surprises. I've never been to one that had good gossip, though.

My daughter is now being read Tik-Tok of Oz. We are busy collecting the whole series. Completely bizarre and entertaining. I hope her father and I can inflict these old stories on her at least until she goes to college.

It is very difficult to find an author these days that will put such work into children's books.