Behind the Fiction Past
By Vickie Adkins


The Value of a Book

As a young girl, I loved the Readers Digest Condensed Version Book club that my mother belonged to. I usually read the entire volume in a couple of days, and sometimes passed them on to my sister. One book in particular was a favorite, -a storyline that remains in the recesses of my mind to this day. I wanted to get a copy for my daughter, but couldn't remember the title. I did a search at our local library, but came up empty handed. One day while visiting my mother, I asked if I could look through the old books she'd accumulated over the years, hoping to find this particular one. To my dismay, Mom told me she'd gotten rid of the books a few years back. I was mortified. How could anyone get rid of their books?

Since I couldn't remember the title, I thought I'd never be able to share this favorite with my daughter. However, a few weeks later while perusing an antiques store I noticed a bookshelf of only Reader's Digest Condensed Books. There must have been close to 100, and my heart leaped. Sure enough, after only few minutes of searching, I came across the book I'd read probably thirty years ago. "How much?" I asked the older man at the counter.

"Can you spare a quarter?" He asked.

He didn't have to ask twice. I couldn't wait to get home and share my find with my daughter. She read the book that very day, and loved it just as much as I. As you can probably imagine, I can't bear to part with any of my books. I collect antique books right along with new ones, and between my daughter and me, I estimate a collection of near 1,000 books. Mostly fiction, they range from romance to self-help, with a lot of mysteries in between. Many are boxed-up in airtight containers, but our very favorites are stacked on shelves, readily available, begging for attention.

It's probably normal for folk to get rid of the books they've already read, but I just can't. Especially if it's a book I thoroughly enjoyed. Some give their already sampled treasures to a friend, while others sell or trade. However, I'm of the conviction that I might want to reread, and know I would regret not being able to locate a particular one such as the one mentioned above.

Some day, I hope a grandchild, or possibly a great-grandchild will sift through the many volumes, admiring my personal collection from long ago. They will get a feel of what their mother and grandmother loved to read. They might even realize that they are of the same mold.

Great books can turn into trash quickly if not take care of. If not properly stored, books may get dirty, wet, or eaten by mice or insects. To take care of your books, old or new, make sure they are kept in a dry, clean place away from house pets. Books should be stood on the shelf, or only short stacked in a box, no more than three high. If the book came with a jacket, keep it on the book. If the book is leather, make sure it does not dry out. You might want to oil your leather books occasionally to keep them in good shape.

I plan to leave my entire library to my family; therefore I want every book to be in good condition. If you aren't a book lover, this may all seem frivolous. But if you're like me, your books are like good friends, - they're there when you need them. Books are a comfort; they combat loneliness, and sadness. They entertain, and advise us, sometimes even give us a good laugh! Nurture your books as you would you best friend.

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