Many years ago, our calico kitten, Maxie, squeezed herself into a bricks-and-boards bookcase and scratched the top edges of many of our favorite books. The tops of the pages of several Willa Cathers and Colettes are jagged. But she was just so cute! Eventually she grew too big to play with the edges as though they were her piano.
Books on the floor are also a problem. Lulu, a black cat who did gymnastics and sang opera from the top of the refrigerator, ripped the cover off a big Webster’s Dictionary, and believe me, I need my reference books. So the books live in boxes if there’s no room on the shelves. This year I have weeded dozens of books in an effort to display all our books.
But I have a problem. Duplicates. Sometimes I can’t decide which to keep.
I have two copies of Trollope’s He Knew He Was Right. I love my Penguin and read it several times, but the cover is Scotch-taped on. Recently I also acquired a teeny tiny Oxford hardback, whose print is actually bigger than the Penguin. But The Penguin has an introduction, and the tiny Oxford hardcover does not. And can the whole text really be in that mini-Trollope? Well, I have done some beginning and end of chapter checks, and it seems to be.
Here’s the difference in print size:
Bizarrely, the Oxford print seems to be bigger.But the Penguin is close. Do I want a bigger or a smaller book? And will I need the biggest possible print someday? Well, I must keep them both, because I can’t decide.
And what about Little Dorrit? It is far from my favorite Dickens, but you will not be surprised to learn I have two. When I was a teenager I bought a partial set of Walter J. Black hardcovers at Alandoni’s bookstore. Each title is divided into two volumes, with the original illustrations and huge print. In the photo, you can see one slightly soiled (from many rereadings) volume of the Walter J. Black, complete with Maxie’s scratches. As you can see, we also have a newish Oxford paperback, also with illustrations.
Here’s the print comparison: Walter J. Black in top photo, Oxford in bottom photo.
I had planned to get rid of the Walter J. Black, but you know what? That big print might come in handy someday. And it has sentimental value. My first Dickens set!
I have two copies of Colette’s Break of Day, but the one on the right HAS to go because the binding is broken. I have hung onto it because of sentimentality, because I bought and fell in love with almost the entire FSG Noonday Press series of Colette series at the Union Bookstore and have read them multiple times. OH, well, here I must stick with the new version, because the pages are all there!.
I tried to persuade my husband we need a bigger house for our books, but he says I must weed instead. Too bad. There are several in the area that have what I want: three, maybe four floors. Alas!
This would be very easy for my husband. He only likes yellow pages. I go for the larger print. I’d also go for the bigger house.
Yes, I’ll have to keep the bigger print. If only I could get the bigger house…but I suppose a move for the books would be silly (and perhaps expensive!)..
My multiple editions generally involve the old green-spined Viragos, which I always succumb to, even if If I have that title published by a different company. And I have some Viragos where I have been seduced into buying a second copy of a book because it has a different cover…
Yes, I love the Viragos, and would be tempted if they sold them in our bookstores! I love the greens, but in the U.S. they were first published with black covers. I still have some of those.
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I empathise *so* much with this. I can always find justification for keeping the extra copies – I have at least three Gatsbys and one is my original one with sentimental attachment, one a lovely new copy with extra material and one a gorgeous little hardback in a slipcase with a reproduction cover. How can I part with *any* of them???
Yes, we need them! Why, why, why don’t I have a book shed?
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Hi Kat, I’d keep the large print books. My eyes are tired at night and I can see the advantage of having large print….need to look some for myself!
With regard to having more space for books, I have a suggestion. If you have space in your backyard, either modify or build a new garage that can hold all the books…baseboard electric heat is wonderful. We built a new garage 8 years ago when we moved here. It has one stall for the car, a large first floor space and we added a second floor too. If we had plumbing, we could live in it.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Jean, I do want that outdoor space! We keep talking about a “book shed,” which Dirda in the Washington Post said he had, and really should look into it. I envy you your garage. Now why didn’t we think of that when we built a new garage?
I always opt for the hardcovers over the paperback. Unless the spines of the paperbacks are, shudder, cracked, holding them open aggravates the arthritis in my thumbs.
Since this is Valentine’s Day, I’ll tell you that the first Christmas after I moved in with the man I married two years later, he bought me a typewriter (because I was going to be a writer), a lovely hand-painted music box that plays (I still have it) Born Free (I suppose because we’re both Leos and were wild and crazy when we were younger), and a set of Dickens missing only Little Dorret, which I found later. There were many people who had doubts about him and about us, but 42 years later he’s still buying me books (an Amazon gift certificate for Valentine’s Day this year).
I love paperbacks, but the hardcovers last longer! And your arthritis must be taken care of. It sounds as though you’re having a lovely Valentine’s Day! And you have the right husband.
I do love those sets of books. why are they never complete?