“The greatest gift is a passion for reading”
– Elizabeth Hardwick
As a child I was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by people who loved to read, none more so than my Nan. She was a truly remarkable person who had a passion for life and a great love for the written word. She taught me many wonderful things but her passion for reading is something I will carry with me forever. We had many, many conversations over the kitchen table about the books we loved; we shared our books and I think she loved Harry Potter nearly as much as I did. She was also quite fond of writing letters and one day she sent one off to the Herald Sun suggesting that the schools that were banning Harry Potter and anything magical were a little bit mad. She was the best!
When she died, I was lucky enough to inherit most of her books. I have many wonderful memories of our time together but those book chats were some of the best. Her memory is infused in the books we shared and it is a lovely reminder to be surrounded by what she loved. A couple of weeks ago I decided that I wanted to have some of her really old books up on my shelves. For the last four years they have been stored in boxes and I thought it was time to bring them out. After a trip to Ikea and returning with a new bookcase, I finally had some space to show them off. So last night mum went hunting for the boxes and we sat on the floor, opened them up and promptly burst into tears.
The books are beautiful. There is a little bit of her in all of them and it was so special to finally appreciate the beauty and the history of each one. My favourite is a very well loved hardcover edition of Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott. It’s missing part of the cover and it’s a little frayed around the edges but when you open up the front cover there is a message wishing my Nan a very Merry Christmas. It is dated 1939; she would have been nine years old!
There are a couple of books with plates inside the front cover which show they were awarded to my Nan for various achievements at school. There is also a copy of Kim by Rudyard Kipling from 1946 that has her English notes on the book written on the inside of the front cover!
These books will be treasured and I am hoping to have a couple of them framed in shadow boxes to preserve them for as long as possible!