My Colette Paperbacks Are Falling Apart!

IMG_3852Alas, woe is me, oimoi! My faded Colette paperbacks are falling apart.  I had a set of 16 FSG/Noonday Press editions, but the bindings cracked and I’m down to seven.  I love the delicate drawings on these white covers now faded to cream.  I found them at the Union bookstore as a freshman and charged the books on my student ID.  Reading Colette made me feel sophisticated (says she who wore bell-bottom jeans and t-shirts).

Sure, my cat used the top edge of  My Mother’s House and Sido as  a scratching post, but  all remained readable until the glue began to dissolve.  The bindings have cracked: p.  84, The Pure and the Impure, p.  26, The Vagabond, etc..

I’ve replaced The Blue Lantern, Break of Day, The Shackle, The Complete Claudine, Mitsou/Music-Hall Sidelights, My Apprenticeships, and Gigi, to name a few.  Several are in print from FSG, thank God.  But most of mine are used:  an   NYRB, an old hardcover Colette omnibus with an introduction by Erica Jong,  old Penguins, a Dover,  and  Peter Owens.

How can I replace this pretty edition of Sido and My Mother’s House?  (Mine is not as pretty as this picture of someone else’s online.)

My Mother's House and Sido colette 0374512183.1.zoom

Well, it is in print from  FSG, but with a different cover.

my mother's house sido colette new fsg 51IOr+jGOJL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_

And what about The Vagabond?  I am very attached to this book.

the vagabond colette noonday 904293My favorite Colette is The Vagabond, the first one I read.  The heroine, Renee, is a witty, sophisticated, reserved writer-turned-music-hall artist,  enjoying casual friendships with  the troupe and life on the road, while trying to avoid her fan, “Big Noodle,”  who sends her flowers and is determined to seduce and marry her. Renee is divorced and resists a new relationship. She prefers to spend time with her bulldog.  I wanted to be just like Renee, but how would that would have would been possible?  Should I have been a mime/dancer instead of a Latin teacher/flunky editor/perpetual student/waitress?  Well, I can’t mime or dance…but I do know Latin.

colette erica jong il_340x270.766889536_leuuFortunately, The Vagabond is included in an omnibus edition of Colette with an introduction by Erica Jong, so I’m covered if this one falls apart.

Omnibuses are the salvation of biblio-civilation!

Do your books fall part?  Can they be saved?  What is their shelf life (ha ha)?  I have turned on comments just for this post.

8 thoughts on “My Colette Paperbacks Are Falling Apart!

  1. Oh noooooooo! And they’re such pretty editions! It’s a real dilemma when your old and loved editions start to disintegrate. But I’m so sentimental about some of my old books that I tend to buy a new edition to read and still keep the old and fragile one. Having said that, I bought a large collected stories edition – a Penguin I think – which was admittedly second hand, but the binding came apart almost straight away. So you can’t win…. And I much prefer those older drawn covers – very nice!


    • Yes, I’m hanging on to the last of these because I will always associate this cover art with Colette. The pages are still white–good paper, bad cover glue?

      When the replacement falls apart it’s too much!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel your pain. They used to say (still say?) that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I judge that your copies are both well-loved and lovable. How about finding the same books but in better condition on ebay and then encasing them in plastic — sort of like what people used to do with baby shoes?


    • Now THERE’S a good idea. There do seem to be a lot of copies floating around. I’ve seen paperbacks in plastic covers at used bookstores, so I suppose that preserves them.


  3. My dear I have the same editions, the same copies. Mine are stiff too. I also have inexpensive French versions sitting next to the older English ones. Jim read a couple of the French ones. They are all happy sitting there together. Why should I break this family up? They are my memories too. Why should I deprive them of their home?

    I don’t throw out old copies — except perhaps if they were junk types originally and now fallen apart and unreadable. If it is an older edition (say back in the later 19th century) no matter how miserable I keep it. I put them in envelopes, and do what I can to hold them together. Let me instance a non-classic: I have all my editions of the Poldark books because I fell in love with the series reading the older copies and they have very pretty pictures on the covers. They are falling apart and I have bought recent ones (without the actors or actresses faces on them).

    Glad you have turned comments back on and hope you continue. It’s more fun and companionship.


    • Yes, I like to hang on to my pretty books! I have multiple editions of Dickens, mostly paperbacks, but also a tea-stained hardback set I found at a used bookstore in my teens. The other day I was going to get rid of one of the paperbacks but my husb wanted to keep it. Multiple copies!


  4. I remember when I first read Colette, just like you my first book was The Vagabond and I immediately fell in-love. Around two years ago I was in class supposedly “writing” an essay. Bored out of my mind I turn to the classics bookshelf next to me hoping to find any type of solace and I sure did. The Vagabond was the last book on the shelf and the cover (the same edition you have) just caught my attention, so I grabbed it and began reading. Just one line.. just that first word and I was completely immersed. Sadly, when as I read the book it started falling apart… I felt so guilty lol. That was until I realised it probably was the glue they used for the binding. After I finished reading I’ve been searching like crazy trying to find this edition, but I suppose finding your blog is a confirmation of what I feared. Although this edition is beautiful it’s not very durable. Nonetheless, I feel your pain 😢.
    Sorry for such the long comment!
    Keep up the nice work ^_^


    • So disappointing when the glue proves unequal to the binding. I love Colette, and have most of her books, but I wish I’d bought them in hardcover!


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