We’ve all fallen in love with a book; whether it was the cover, plot, or characters that put us under their spell, there are just some books that we absolutely treasure. I wrote a little yesterday on giving away most of my books when I moved overseas, but these are some of the ones I just couldn’t bear to let go.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Found: Books of Wonder, NYC
I find that a lot of people who love Neil Gaiman tend to gravitate to the first book of his that they read. I’m no exception — I pulled Stardust out of a pile of books my sister was bringing home from college. She had just graduated and we were driving her car back to California. While she, our mum, and I rotated driving down the seemingly endless highways in the midwest, I toppled into Gaiman’s Victorian-style fairy tale. It remains my favorite book of his — closely followed by Neverwhere.
Fast forward a couple of years when I woke up one New York morning and saw he was signing at Books of Wonder, the marvelous children’s bookshop in Union Square, and I knew I had to go. While I was there, I grabbed this newly-released edition from the shelves and had it signed. It remains one of my favorite books to this day.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkein
Found: My then-boss’ trash pile, NYC
I’m a massive Lord of the Rings nerd. The movies pretty much catapulted me into the world of fantasy fiction and it remains one of my favorite genres to this day. I had just read the whole trilogy and was deep into my Lord of the Rings phase when I was working a horrible job waiting tables at a horrible Mexican restaurant in the West Village. Our boss was a horrible man and a hoarder (these two things are unrelated, but both factual) who lived just above the restaurant. In what must have been a feeble attempt to clear some of the stuff out of his apartment, we came into the restaurant one day to find a massive pile of mostly junk rather inconveniently in the hallway of the building. Something miraculously caught my eye — it was these books with covers I had never seen before. I quickly snatched them off the pile and stuffed them in my bag before they could be taken out to the trash. A little digging online showed me that they could possibly be first US paperback runs of the trilogy. It makes me sad to think they were just going to go into a dumpster.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Found: Antique bookshop, London
North and South is one of my absolute favorite books. Think of the romance of Jane Austen combined with the social awareness of Charles Dickens. After first seeing and falling in love with the BBC adaptation, I read the novel and it quickly became a favorite. So when I dropped into an antique bookshop while studying abroad in London and found this copy, I had to have it. It’s an old one, printed in 1897, and features engravings of scenes from the book. It’s the most money I’ve ever spent on a book, but it was seriously worth it.
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein
Found: A Christmas gift
The Hobbit has always been a special book for me. My dad used to read it to my sister and me when we were little from my mum’s old copy, which is now sadly lost. I got this volume for Christmas many years ago and it’s one of my prized possessions. Leatherbound, stamped, and filled with black and white and full-color illustrations, it’s one of the most gorgeous books I own. I used to reread it every Christmas, a tradition I should really start up again.
So there we go! What’s your most prized book? Do you collect special volumes?