I recently inherited part of my uncle’s library.
The reason I inherited it is because my aunt is getting old, so she is selling her house and moving to an smaller appartment.
My uncle loved war books specially world war II. Every couple of months, (this was before Amazon), he received big boxes from England full of books.
With tears in her eyes my aunt told me that many of those books weren’t even read by her brother. My uncle was dying in the hospital, (cancer), and she visited him with boxes of books. She told me that whenever she arrived he was happy as a kid, making plans about which would be the first he would read when he recovered.
He never did. He passed away 25 years ago. He didn’t have kids, so all he left behind were photographs, (an imposing man with piercing blue eyes), and his books.
This morning I had a meeting I went by cab and, of course, I brought a book in case I had to wait, (people in my state are famous for never arriving at the appointed time), I forgot the book in the cab.-
The book title was “The face of war”, and it was excelent. I could buy a new copy in amazon but it won’t be the same, it won’t be signed by my uncle.
It’s stupid in a way, people are dying by the hundreds in Lebanon. It’s only a book. I also didn’t know my uncle because I was born the year before he died.
Still I cried as I haven’t cried in years.
What are your literature tragedies? Which is that special book that you’ve lost and why it was special?
Mods, feel free to move this because I don’t know if this belongs to cafe society.-
So what could it be called if you lost a book twice?
Mine was **Picardía Mexicana ** by Armando Jimenez.
The book is old, but always in print, (121st edition at Amazon!) it is one of the definitive books of the history of the rudest jokes and trickster’s tales of Mexico. In spanish and virtually impossible to translate.
The combination of scholar research, cartoons and historical notes added to sexual and toilet humor was one great influences of my attraction to cartooning and education with condescension attitude that predated the Straight dope by more than 10 years.
The edition my family had in El Salvador was the 20th one I think, we lost it when we came to America; on a trip to Mexico to visit a relative, I made sure to find a copy of the book, it was the 100th edition.
On my recent move from California to Arizona I lost it again…
When it was out of print, I left my only copy of Pamela Dean’s “Tam Lin” on a train from Seattle to Portland. The moment I realized what had happened, it felt like the bottom dropped out of my stomach. Not as dramatic as yours, but definitely huge for me.
I found another copy on ABE for about $15, and snapped it up instantly; and now it’s back in print (with a terrible cover, IMO, but you take what you can get) for about $10.
I don’t know why losing a book is so painful. I’ve lost many other items, including my purse, and all I felt was minor annoyance. Whenever I discover I’ve lost a book, however, I get a sinking sensation in my stomach and I feel like crying. It’s almost like losing a friend.
I don’t understand it. Most of my books I can easily replace. (I don’t ever take a book with sentimental or monetary value out of my home, nor loan it to anyone.) All I can say is that I have some weird, vague sense that books are individuals. Yeah, I can get a new copy, but it won’t be “my” book.
Caparazon, have you tried calling the cab company? In this sitaution, it may be fortunate that many people don’t think books are of any value. The next person getting into the cab may have seen it and turned it in to the driver.
Yes! books are like friends, so it hurts to lose them. I inherited my auntie’s library, she was an English Ph.d at a midwestern university in the 60’s and 70’s, but she started collecting in the 30’s, kept a journal during the war years, etc. I have a lot of classics, cold-war stuff, tomeish stuff about europe and great britain “The Worthies of England”, some of it is pretty dry and unreadable. She also collected murder mysteries - Agatha Christie paperbacks. In '93 a flood took out part of the bottom row, about 50 books. One of them ruined was a signed copy of “It was a Dark and Stormy Night” by Charles Schulz. Probably not worth a whole lot, but…
I lost a first edition of Lonesome Dove when I loaned it and it wasn’t returned. It’s special not just because it’s a great book, but because it was part of the impetus that got us moved back to Iowa from Seattle – I wanted to see sky again.
I’ve moved many times and been forced to downsize the book collection. I hated that. There are a lot of old sci-fi paperbacks that I"ll probably never replace since I can’t always remember the name or author.
Among the treasured books in my childhood household were beautiful editions of Little Women and *Little Men *that belonged to my mother (who was born in 1916). They were bound in leather with lovely illustrations, including gorgeous tipped-in color plates.
When I was in 4th or 5th grade (when the book would have been 40-50 years old, at least), I took Little Women to school, against my mother’s express wishes. I can’t for the life of me remember why I wanted to take it to school. On the way out the doors at the end of the school day, I was hotdogging, balancing the book on my head, and it fell on the concrete steps. The binding tore, the spine broke, pages fell out – AAAAUGH!
It was only as I grew older that I began to really love and appreciate Little Women. I think part of why I did was because the illustrations in that book were not icky sweet, but robust and “Jo”-like. I read two passages from Little Women at my sister’s wedding.
I ended up with both books. I have a cruddy paperback ediiton of Little Women with revolting 70s line drawings that I read when I want to revisit the book. The wounded copy that belonged to my mother sits on the shelf, a venerated object and a reminder of my youthful stupidity.
The only similar story I can think of (right now) happened at the my Doctor’s office. He is a long drive away and I usually end up waiting a while. I had a book with me, but not one I cherished like you did yours. I left it in the viewing room. I realized half way home - about an hour and half into the drive. I said the heck with it and stopped at Borders and bought another.
His nurse, who loves me, sent it back a week later. So I now have two…
My book wasn’t a treasured vintage book or first edition anything… it was a textbook (can’t remember the author) for my anthropology class called “Magic, Witchcraft & Religion”. It had fascinating articles on different forms of spiritualism and even an article by the Satanic religion founder, Le Vay (sp). Anyways, I loaned the textbook to my sister who was living with my grandma and aunt. My grandmother is awesome but both of them are very, very Christian. My aunt found the book and told my sister that it was evil and she had to get rid of it, she procrastinated and after a week or so, my aunt took it and threw it away. I was livid (in a silent, respect your aunt kind of way) and I always regret that my sister didn’t get that book back to me before it was lost :(.
I could probably find it and buy it again, but its just one of those things I haven’t gotten around to buying.
One I remember from childhood: I had a hand-me-down Nancy Drew book, The Clue in the Jewel Box, handed to me by an aunt who knew that I read them avidly, and somehow I lost it before I got very far into it.
A book by the same title was still on sale in book stores, but it wasn’t the same book (they “revised” them periodically, it was never an improvement). It was a long time before I found another denim-blue covered “printed in wartime” crumbling brown-paged edition of The Clue in the Jewel Box.
Someone stole a pile of my reference books on records. The whole series of Jerry Osborne collectors’ price guides are what I miss most. They’re way out of print now. They were unique among books on records in that they didn’t just list records that made the chart, or failed to crack the Hot 100, they listed all known records by an artist, with label, catalogue number, year of issue and any other pertinent informtation. Thanks, whoever you are. You still suck.
Back in my dormitory days, having a novel was a big deal–there wasn’t much shelf space, and what there was was mostly for textbooks. When I left for college, I took along three precious books that really meant a lot to me: Oscar and Lucinda, The Englis Patient, and The God of Small Things. If I wanted to read anything else, I told myself, it had to come from the library.
About a year later, I discovered Gabriel Garcia Marquez absolutely by accident. I started with Of Love and Other Demons, then One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Then, I read One Hundred Years of Solitude again, and while it was good the first time, it was awesome the second time.
I wavered. I dallied. I attempted restraint. But when I saw a gorgeous hardcover Everyman’s Library edition of it, I just knew I had to have it. So I bought it.
It was so lovely. Hardcover! Fiery red cloth with a really smart gold stamp on the spine. Inside, smooth, creamy pages, completely unblemished by the greasy fingers and inane penciling of others. This book was mine, and it was beautiful.
Then I spilled water all over it about a week later.
I haven’t ever read that copy of that book. I can’t stand to open it.
I had a book called ‘Little Dot’ that my Gran gave to me. It was a children’s story about a little girl who befriends a gravedigger and learns about heaven and praying and so on. It had gorgeous little illustrations and on the inside cover was a slip of paper saying that it had been presented to a child at Sunday School as a reward for memorising a certain number of bible passages, in 1901.
I’m not religious in any way and have never set foot in a Sunday School in my life but for some reason I was really taken with this book- the sad little story and the image I had in my head of how proud this kid was when it was presented to her. I was really young when it was given to me and I treated it like treasure because it was Very Old and Very Old things are special. But now, I have no idea where it is. Vanished into the mists of time, probably given away some time when we moved house. Very sad. I’d love to find it again.