Recently I talked about books that changed your life and are important to you — like the words on the pages, the story, the characters — but the other day I started thinking about books that are just important to you, for what is inside, but also just the actual physical book itself.
I was thinking about it when I was working on a prompt for a daily Instagram challenge. The prompt was “favorite childhood book.” I have quite a few childhood favorites (ones that I still own) but immediately I thought about my beloved Nancy Drew books.
I will never forget the day my mom gave these to me. I was pretty young and I remember she climbed through our creepy attic while I waited at the door because I was afraid of mice being in there. I HATED OUR ATTIC. She rummaged through a couple of boxes until she found them. They were hers. And before that they were her mom’s. I don’t remember why exactly she grabbed them for me. Maybe I was looking for more material to read? Maybe I had already been into Nancy Drew? Maybe she wanted to introduce me to them? I can’t really recall the why but I will never forget the memory for some reason. (I have the strangest memory because I remember the most random things but can’t remember things Will told me yesterday).
I remember feeling like I was part of a secret club now that I was grown up enough to read my mom’s Nancy Drew books. My sister didn’t read so I felt like it was truly something JUST my mom and I shared. They felt so old to me. So fragile. And I remember handling them with great care. There’s some sort of magic that just comes with something that has been passed down from grandmother to mother to child.
I devoured that whole series and bought many more of them but the only ones I still have in my possession are actually these ones. Most of you long-time readers know that my mom passed away in 2006 and so these books have a value that I can’t ever put on them. I mean, I seriously would probably grab these in a fire (along with the blanket I have them sitting on which is made of some of my mom’s most iconic t-shirts I remember her wearing) because THEY MEAN SO MUCH TO ME. They were my mom’s. We shared a love for reading and I know that her giving me those helped me to be the reader I am today.
I’ve talked before about how I’m pretty ruthless about getting rid of books after I read them (only favorites or books that I would reread or signed books FROM beloved authors even if I didn’t LOVE the book). I don’t collect books or ARCs or different editions. But sometimes books stay on my shelf for sentimental reasons. I don’t have many books that stay for that reason but the ones that do really mean a lot to me.
When I think about what other books mean a lot to me a couple signed books come to mind. Books personalized to me from favorite authors. (MY GAYLE FORMAN BOOK FROM MY BIRTHDAY) Things like that. And as much as they mean so much to me, they just can’t ever come close to my beloved Nancy Drew books.
There’s just something about having a piece of my mom that comes with a vivid memory of being given those books and knowing they were hers and she wanted to give them to me. To look at those worn pages and know that once upon a time she flipped through them (because sometimes through the years you get so used to someone as being NOT ALIVE that you have to remind yourself of all the years of living they really did). Of the connection those books brought us because there were very few ways I felt like I truly understood her but her love for reading was one of those things.
So what about you guys? Do you have any books that have sentimental value to you? That are important to you in a way that isn’t JUST about what is inside?