I haven't had much material to blog about. Obviously. It's wintertime, so I pass the hours reading a LOT of books. I'm not good at book reviews, so for the most part I don't blog about what I'm reading. However, a little meme on Facebook got me thinking this morning, and here is the gist of it: In your status list 10 books you have read that have stayed with you in some way. Don't think too hard as they don't have to be great or the 'right' kind of book.
On the list, I mentioned the whole set of "The Book of Knowledge" as one work. Just thinking about that triggered a flood of happy memories.
As a child, I always wished for a set of encyclopedias. Back then, salesmen would come to our door selling them for such exorbitant prices that I knew, even as a kid, they were way out of our range. When I had free time at school, I would often pull out a random volume of Encyclopedia Britannica and leaf through the pages.
The summer I was twelve, I think, my mom took me to Chillicothe to spend a week at a preacher's house so I could go to their vacation Bible school. (For readers who knew me back then, the preacher's name was Joe Lemons.) Joe and Lois had a set of "The Book of Knowledge", and I remember spending hours curled up in an easy chair in the corner of their living room reading from those volumes. The Book of Knowledge was more than an encyclopedia set: There were poems and stories and... well, I was hooked, that's all I can say. I probably did more reading that week than I normally did in a year. I knew I would never be lucky enough to own those books, so I wanted to read as much as possible while I had my chance.
I was probably fifteen or sixteen when my parents began frequenting a weekly auction in Riverside. I was walking along one of the tables of stuff that would be selling one week and noticed a box that contained every volume of "The Book of Knowledge". I asked my mom to bid on it for me. I think she was probably the only bidder, so those books went home with me. Now, this was an old set, probably from the thirties, but that bothered me not at all. Once again I went into a reading frenzy. Many of the poems that are still my favorites today were discovered in those musty-smelling pages: "Jenny Kissed Me", "Even This Shall Pass Away", "Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening" (and others by Robert Frost), "Waiting", "November". Somewhere along the line, I moved away from home and the books didn't. I was done with them anyhow.
When my daughter and her family moved into the house where they now live, a set of "The Book of Knowledge" from the fifties was left behind in their basement. I latched onto them and kept at my cabin. Once the cabin was forsaken, I tossed the books, but I did enjoy reading bits from them as part of my cabin experience.
That set of books changed my life in more ways than I can count. Just for the poems alone, those moldy-smelling old volumes were priceless.