Last week my husband and I drove up to Ashland, Oregon to attend their Shakespeare Festival for the first time. I’ve been wanting to attend this festival since high school, and it did not disappoint. Also, it’s good to know that I can watch eight plays in four days without burning out on theater.
Ashland was a charming place, and my favorite part was the plethora of bookshops that grace the downtown, including at least two “Books and Antiques” shops. Those two shops were my bookstore dream come true. Both of them had old books in bookshelves all over the shop, surrounded by assorted strange items: a brass urn, a large wooden Noah’s ark, aggressively sparkly jewelry, antique scissors complete with scabbard. One of the shops had an entire section devoted to “Banned Books” throughout the ages, and they threw in a free “I read banned books” pin with my purchase. I could have spent hours in those two stores, and the only reason I didn’t spend more time was the danger of buying more books than would fit in the car for the drive home.
There’s something about old books, isn’t there? I don’t usually notice the smell of books, having a notably poor sense of smell, but in a used bookstore even I notice the musky scent of aging paper. And those old hardbacks feel so weighty in the hand, and lacking the slickness of the modern dust jacket, they seem more mysterious–anything could be lurking behind the slightly battered covers. I was reminded that, however much the world may move towards electronic books, and however many of them I will purchase myself, there is something inside me that will always be enchanted by the book as a physical object.
So I decided to share that enchantment with you by showing you photos of my book haul from these two lovely shops.
These are my three nonfiction selections. I love English history, and after having just seen Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 2, I was particularly inspired to get a book on the British Monarchy. Short sketches of famous women in the Renaissance? Equally interesting, with possibilities of awaking some story ideas. The top book is about the home life of Theodore Roosevelt and his family at the turn of the century (19th to 20th), which is a time period I’m quite attached to (think Anne of Green Gables and the Betsy and Tacy books).
Okay, how exciting is this stack? The H.G. Wells omnibus on the bottom is particularly well made, but all four of these books make me hungry for reading. And my favorite three books of the Anne of Green Gables series all in one volume? I couldn’t resist.
I’ve saved the best for last. I saw this book and I knew I had to have it.
Yes, it is indeed leather-bound. And it has golden gilt on the edges of the pages. I’ve been looking for the perfect edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for quite some time now.
The end papers look even better in person: a shiny, orange gold color with a pleasing texture.
And it is illustrated. And it has a golden ribbon to keep your place as you read. How elegant!
I adore this book with all my heart, both its outer form and the story it tells.
We obtained many, many books in Ashland. I can’t wait to start reading them!