I’ve always loved to shop for books in used bookstores, estate sales and at auctions. I’m never been looking for first edition—although I might after seeing that episode of the Antiques Road show where a woman purchased a 1908 copy of Anne of Green Gables for $5—but I’ve been looking for are those rare, unknown should-have-been classics.
It started in my youth, when I had free reign of my grandmother’s bookshelves. I’d visit her for a week or two at a time and try to read as many books as I could during that time. There, I first discovered To Kill a Mockingbird, Victoria Holt books, and became entranced with Hans Christian Anderson’s amazing style. One summer, I picked up a book called Thorpe, by May Dutton.
What it was about his book that made me beg my grandmother to keep, I’m not sure. It’s a lot like To Kill a Mockingbird. So much so, that it wouldn’t surprise me to find out Harper Lee’s novel inspired it. To this day Thorpe has remained on my bookshelf—one of the few books I refuse to lend out. Any of you guys ever read this one.
Another book which carried over from my childhood is a pieces of YA fiction called House of Stairs, by William Sleator. I read and re-read this book many times in middle school. I asked a few times at my local bookstore for it, and one day finally decided to throw it onto an online book order. My brother-in-law saw it one day on my bookshelf and was completely floored. “I’ve asked everyone if they’d ever read this book, and no one has even heard of it. I can’t believe you have it!”
The last group is a series of books that I think every child should read. They’re at least slightly more known, but no where near the status I think they deserve. They’re a series of books written by John D. Fitzgerald, which would be described as The Great Brain Series. Someday I shall own this series! I searched for them at my local library recently, and was thrilled to find them. Two decades has not softened my admiration of this author’s flair and style. They are fantastic! Since then, I’ve pulled lots of novels from flea markets and enjoyed many quite a bit. I’ve not found another book as striking as the ones above—but I still hope to.
What about you? Do you have any, unknown but rare gems on your shelf?