Saturday, December 09, 2006


There are book lists

And then there are book lists. I must extend thanks to dear friend-in-books Vicky for a holiday gift, early - she dropped in a few days ago and left me this, after saying, "I have never seen a book more Sarah than this one...":

Published by Dodd, Mead & Company, 1900, this is a lovely old journal for keeping track of those books one has read and wishes to remember. This copy is half-filled with the notes of a Miss Batchelder of Peabody, Massachusetts. Here is a sample of her copious note-taking - this entry is for a two-volume Goethe set (Ticknor 1867) she read in 1911:

It appears that she had good intentions from 1908 through 1916, then she took a long break and finally noted a few more books read in the 1940s (the ascenders and descenders in the handwriting look the same to me, so I'll assume it's the same person). Tucked in are several small sheets of paper with more even bookish notes, obviously intended to be written in this journal at some later date, which never arrived. The best of these notes are these:

As we can see, Miss Batchelder read, or meant to read, Sunwise Turn: A Human Comedy of Bookselling, about the Sunwise Turn bookshop in New York City. A hopelessly idealistic memoir, one which I dearly love. "Think always ceaselessly. This is the only duty - the only happiness..." Read always ceaselessly, we could extend this fine thought. There's nothing so sweetly ephemeral as ephemera such as this.

This is the thrill of old books for me, these little windows into other, earlier lives. Some might call it voyerism. There's an element of curiosity, of course, but actually there is more about establishing commonality, that tender thread of interests and good intentions that unites us. Thank you for sharing it, Sarah.
Great post Sarah. The librarything of the early 20th century.
Thanks for reading, compatriots in bookselling. And thanks again to Vicky for the journal - and to Jan, who housed it before Vicky brought it to me. The chain of ownership extends out into the future!
Wow. What a find. It's like the marginalia has taken over the book.

Very much enjoying your blog lately.
Hello Ed, thanks for stopping by - always happy to make the acquaintance of a fellow Morley admirer (I see from your blog that you are such a one....).
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