|inscription in a favored book on the bookshelf|
"On the Return of a Book Lent to A Friend"
I GIVE humble and hearty thanks for the safe return of this book which having endured the perils of my friend's bookcase, and the bookcases of my friend's friends, now returns to me in reasonably good condition.
I GIVE humble and hearty thanks that my friend did not see fit to give this book to his infant as a plaything, nor use it as an ash-tray for his burning cigar, not as a teething-ring for his mastiff.
WHEN I lent this book I deemed it as lost: I was resigned to the bitterness of the long parting: I never thought to look upon its pages again.
BUT NOW that my book is come back to me, I rejoice and am exceeding glad! Bring hither the fatted morocco and let us rebind the volume and set it on the shelf of honour: for this my book was lent, and is returned again.
PRESENTLY, therefore, I may return some of the books that I myself have borrowed." --Christopher Morely, The Haunted Bookshelf
|Adah at 16 (1919)|
And Christopher Morley (American journalist, novelist, essayist and poet,1890-1957), what more might he have had to say said about books? I was not familiar with Christopher Morley's works before, and I've never read his book, The Haunted Bookshop (written in 1919). One reviewer described the book as "primarily a novel of suspense, though throughout it Morley proclaims the value of books." Knowing all this now, maybe I should find myself a copy and check it out.
Want more on Morley's thoughts about books? Goodreads includes additional quotes from The Haunted Bookshop, including:
"That's why I call this place the Haunted Bookshop. Haunted by the ghosts of the books I haven't read. Poor uneasy spirits, they walk and walk around me. There's only one way to lay the ghost of a book, and that is to read it."
"Living in a bookshop is like living in a warehouse of explosives. Those shelves are ranked with the most furious combustibles in the world--the brains of men."
"I wish there could be an international peace conference of booksellers, for (you will smile at this) my own conviction is that the future happiness of the world depends in no small measure on them and on the librarians."
"There is no one so grateful as the man to whom you have given just the book his soul needed and he never knew it."
I don't know if my grandmother ever read any of Christopher Morley's works, but I think she would agree with his ideas, especially that of this last quote. What if we did have a cherished book that we would want returned upon loaning it out but, with its loss, held out the hope that it was just what that person's soul needed? Wouldn't it be worth it?
What book/books are on your shelf that you would hate to part with? Do you have any books passed down to you from previous generations that you treasure? Do you have any books you need to return to someone else? (Ha!)