For the Love of Books

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It never fails.  Anytime I enter a book store or library, my heart skips a little beat and I feel an excitement in my stomach because I know I will find something to read or buy.  As far back as grade school, I loved the crackly sound of opening the new books for class.  It was also the excitement of thinking about what new idea or fact I would learn.  Book lovers of all kinds will identify with these feelings.  And despite what it may seem, just because I write a cookbook blog does not mean I don’t love or read other books.  Cookbook collecting, cooking, and developing recipes are my hobby, and it’s a hobby I love, but books and reading are a part of my everyday life.

One of my favorite columnists in the Chicago Tribune is Pulitzer prize-winning writer, Mary Schmich.  Her column today is titled “Discovering “Good” Books a Personal  Adventure.”  She asked her readers to name a book that shaped them as a person, as a reader.  This book should be something you would call a “book that mattered,” or “a favorite piece of literature.”  Ms. Schmich, along with a dozen other local well-known Chicago area residents, participated in “Chicago Reads,” an event to celebrate the 125th anniversary of suburban Highland Park Library.  When this distinguished panel spoke of their favorite books, one would expect the classics like Shakespeare, Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, and many others , but as for what changed their lives turned out to be what first started them as readers.  Mary Schmich said for her it was a Nancy Drew book she read at age seven, “The Clue in the Crumbling Wall,” because it turned her into “a reading girl.”  She described how she remembers every detail of the day she discovered  Nancy Drew – how it was a hot summer Georgia day, the bookstore was cool and dim, and she was fascinated by the row of yellow spines of the books about Nancy Drew, the girl detective who could solve any mystery.  I can certainly identify with that, because my first favorite book was also a Nancy Drew, “The Password to Larkspur Lane.”  I still have the first publication, which actually belonged to my mother, another Nancy Drew aficionado.

I gradually progressed to my lifetime favorites of Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters (Wuthering Heights), Shakespeare sonnets, T.S. Eliot, and William Wordsworth, and even Mother Goose.   I also progressed from my first cookbook “for boys and girls” from Betty Crocker, and my mother’s red checkered Better Homes and Gardens, to Mastering the Art of French Cooking,  but the love of books all started with Nancy Drew. 

Now I need to go read my latest find, “Dearie,” a biography of Julia Child, which I bought at a library program yesterday, and which will be a blog soon.  But I am also reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63.  So many books, so little time, but also, so many recipes, so little time!  And what an adventure it is.

4 Responses to For the Love of Books

  1. September 17, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    I found your blog after googling Bernard Clayton’s Pastry book and what a delight to find that you actually knew him as a personal friend. I have Mr. Clayton’s Bread book and have been looking for a copy of the pastry book which I managed to find today. Can’t wait to order it now!
    I feel exactly the same about books and cookbooks are what I love most so I hear you when you profess your love of the printed tome.
    I can’t bring myself to buy ebooks just yet because I love the way a book sits in my hands.
    I don’t have nearly as many titles as you (I’ve seen your cellar and am so happy for you!) but I have a decent collection of around 200 or so. Aside from my Bernard Clayton bread book, I am particularly fond of my Maida Heatter, Alice Medrich and Rose Levy Beranbaum books. I’m afraid my hobby just got a little bit more expensive as I have been leaning toward signed copies of their Out-of-print editions.
    Recent additions to my collection was Rick Rodgers ‘Kaffehaus’ and Alice Medrich’s Cocolat and it feels just like Christmas so I know that excitement that you are talking about.
    Anyway, happy book collecting! It has been delight to read about your love of books!

  2. September 17, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    I love your passion, Judy! You will love Bernard’s pastry book. I love the same authors you mentioned, too, but I don’t have Rick Rodgers’ “Kaffehaus.” which I now must find! Thanks so much for writing, and happy collecting!

  3. September 18, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    You’re welcome, Debbie. I know just how it feels to hunt down an elusive book.
    It was like winning the lottery with ‘Kaffehaus’! It was a beautiful copy at a great price too.
    I know Alice Medrich is re-issuing her ‘Bittersweet’ as a paperback next year but it was an amazing feeling to get my own signed First Edition of Bittersweet.
    I am still trying to get a hold of Margaret Braun’s ‘Cakewalk’ at a reasonable price and ‘The Last Course’ by Claudia Fleming but I think my chances are slim because I know that the rest of the Foodie world are also after those particular titles.
    Book collecting has been like putting together an amazing jigsaw puzzle. I love my other books too (I have a decent collection of the English Canon) but none so much as my cookbooks. I am constantly referring to my cookbooks as ‘My Heirloom Collection’. You know, someone women collect diamonds but I collect cookbooks.
    By the way, it has been so nice to ‘meet’ you via your blog. I believe I will be able to find more titles to add to my collection from recommendations in your posts. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog!

  4. September 18, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Thank you, Judy. You made my day! I’ll keep my eyes open for those books you are looking for. I go to a lot of book sales!

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