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Books as Objects (Not-quite Meme) - So Many Books...

Sep. 12th, 2007

08:29 pm - Books as Objects (Not-quite Meme)

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Or possibly a mini-meme, as it's picking up on intertext's picking up on something sartorias wrote.... About books as physical objects and how they can have meaning "beyond the book itself", as she says. I was thinking off and on a lot today about the different things that can give that meaning: the person who gave or owned the book; the person who signed it (and when, possibly); the person with or to whom you read the book (or who read it to you); or the sheer pleasure of a beautifully bound, printed (or illustrated of course) chunk of reading in your hands. I'm sure this isn't an exclusive list - in fact I know it isn't, because people have talked about a book being the first thing bought with a first pay-check or the like.

I'll give my list of books I'd try to grab and save first, and then the promised (to intertext) explication about Deep Secret and why it's kind of undercutting everything I'm thinking about books as (beloved) objects. (It's going to *have* to be an emergency about which I have some warning, as I'd never manage to get them together in a fire! I'd be bound to have taken my contacts out and be unable to locate glasses and be stumbling around the place and tripping over the dog...)

The battered paperback copy of Deep Secret signed by Diana Wynne Jones when she came to talk in Dublin back in oh - 2001 or 2002, I guess. dorianegray, Younger Daughter and I went to some lengths to manage to get in to hear her and her travel jinx nearly caused Dublin to be submerged forever beneath the Irish Sea, but we succeeded, and I got Deep Secret signed for myself. I think it's also the first book I ever got signed in person, by asking a writer I really, truly rated. So the book was special and then I mentioned on the DWJ list that Deep Secret had gone out of print and I was annoyed because I'd decided to start a BookCrossing ring with it, steepholm offered (off-list) to send me his copy so I didn't have to toss my precious signed copy out into the wild. It might not have been immediately apparent that it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but it was.

In a much more - oh, protective, I guess - way, I'd have to rescue the copy of Fire and Hemlock inscribed by DWJ to her mother, which I got when someone told the list about a bookseller on ABE with a bunch of signed, first ed. copies of her books. I'd just got a check from a relative for birthday, Christmas or something, and it almost hurt seeing that up for sale when it should have been treasured, so I needed to give it refuge.

In a little closed bookcase/bedside locker/thing in my room, where I keep most of my special books, I've a few of Charlie's books (some signed, even). But I'm not going to go all mushy and sappy all over the place and say more about them. (Hey, the above was a Casablanca quote, not sappiness!)

Taking proud place there too are Sherwood Smith's Inda and The Fox, both signed, and meaning so much to me. They'd have to be rescued if rescue were possible.

In there I have a signed copy of Dicey's Song - inscription says, 'I write this with a broad smile on my face, Cindy Voigt'. I can see that broad smile too, although it's (yow) some 37 years since I've seen her. Not through any of my own doing that I knew her - she was close to a good friend of ours when we lived in Annapolis and hung out with her baby sometimes. Later she taught at the school I attended for grades 2-5 (and a little bit of 6). On my list of Things That Must Be Done is writing to her and telling her how much I love the Tillerman books. Especially A Solitary Blue. Wouldn't it have been amazing to have had Cynthia Voigt teaching you English in school though? (I'm glad we moved back to Ireland then, despite many things, but I've always regretted not having had her as a teacher.)

I'd like to take The Perilous Gard, but the literally read-to-pieces copy was claimed by Older Daughter, after she'd asked me to reread it to her at least 7 or 8 times. There's another copy around here, but that's not invested with as many read-alouds.

I think my book-collecting time is running out, but if I could, I'd love to sneak in the three signed Liavek books - not only because I love the books, but because I got them through an amazing act of generosity and thoughtfulness by katayoun, who did a favour for Will Shetterly (ha! how often does one get to say a line like that?) and asked for Emma and him to sign and send me the books in return, as she knew I wanted and couldn't find them.

Kind of cheating, as I'm counting on my mother's house with my father's books, and my grandparents' and hers remaining untouched by this catastrophe...

Finally (or not so finally if skipping the behind-the-cut list), what hit me earlier when I tried to comment was that there was something strange and wonderful about my feelings about Deep Secret, which makes me wonder if I could actually lose these books without as much anguish as I'd expect. Because I hold on to things, at least things which are associated with people who are already lost in some way or who might be lost. Everything in that category tends to have a tinge of 'Had I but known...' about it. Maybe it's because my father died when I was seven, maybe it's because I'm a completely stereotypical Cancer, maybe I'm just a pack-rat and there's no rhyme, reason or excuse for it. But for some reason, when I'd decided I wanted to go ahead with the bookring and send my copy of Deep Secret out, trusting the reliability of postal services and strangers all over the world, I was unbothered at the prospect of losing it. And look what came of that...


[User Picture]
Date:September 12th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
Wow. You have some treasures - I'm envious, especially of the Fire and Hemlock. But isn't it nice that they mostly have meaning beyond just buying a signed copy at auction somewhere? I love the stories. And you know Cynthia Voigt? How cool is that?? I love her books, especially Solitary Blue!

Yes, and you remind me of books that I would take because I'd never be able to replace, like the Elizabeth Marie Popes - the Perilous Gard and the Sherwood Ring. Or one of my all-time favourite incredibly obscure books, The Half-Brothers by Ann Laurence in hard-cover with Ionicus illustration on the dj.
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[User Picture]
Date:September 22nd, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
You've met Cynthia Voight?! And have a signed book by her?!

I love your list of books. And the picture of you stumbling around trying to gather them up! Some of the books I have adored recently have included the two Sherwood Smith's in Crown Duel so I definitely want to read more of her books and will be seeking recommendations.
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[User Picture]
Date:September 22nd, 2007 09:25 pm (UTC)
Well, it was a long time ago - and the book was a present from other mutual friends, as we'd already moved back to Ireland by the time it was published. Still nice!

I'm so very pleased you loved Sherwood's books! Maybe recs when we meet up? (Which I'm hoping is a 'when'!)
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