It was a few days before the stark contrast of the new hardcover book on the “reserved” shelf attracted attention. But after the last page of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” had been turned, it had been absently placed on top of a selected row of old, worn-out books.
“Kipling’s Selected Works”. “Paradise Lost” and other poems by John Milton. Homer’s “Odyssey”. Plato’s dialogues. Pieces by Gilbert and Sullivan.
As diverse as the subject matter may seem, these books and many others share two key characteristics: the simple fact that the volumes have been passed down through generations of readers, and an appreciation for the writing style or subject matter.
There is a lot to learn about an individual or a family by taking a close look at their library.
Here, authors of classical works share space with modern kings and queens of the horror genre (Stephen King, Ann Rice).
Beautiful, illustrated images documenting the history of specific countries can be found alongside an assortment of non-fiction books such as “Women’s War in the South,” which a teenage nephew looked up after. having said “one of those books you would see on Oprah.
Dean Koontz is a neighbor of novels by mostly unknown authors who wrote works that caught my attention from the first page to the last word.
“A Tale of Two Cities” is also a story of real estate taste. Its placement, half hidden behind a framed family snapshot, subtly illustrates an aversion to the Dickensian classic.
The best places are books that make sense.
A beloved dog-eared copy of “The Magical World of Fairy Tales”, given as a gift by a great uncle when I was still too young to read, “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”, a must-have for everything writer who once wondered about his secret quirks regarding semicolons and commas, and all that was Shakespeare, loved from the first reading of “Romeo and Juliet”.
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I was in my teens before realizing that not all families share a passion for writing.
With us, it was the norm to see someone – child or adult – lying on the sofa, sitting in the shade on the porch, or slumped under the heavy branches of an apple tree with their nose stuck in a book.
When a volume was left unattended, it was usually easy to recognize its owner by the subject. The Mysteries of My Childhood Nancy Drew, with bright yellow blankets, contrasted sharply with the heavy sci-fi fare generally preferred by my older brother.
I was still very young when this same brother found me browsing the house for “something good” to read after I had finished my last piles of books. He went to his room and brought back a copy of “The Hobbit”, advising me to try it.
I was quickly hooked by the name of the main character, Bilbo Baggins, and his exploits in Middle-earth. Years later, this same book was passed on to two of my nephews.
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Whether or not you’ve read the Harry Potter series or approved of the subject, JK Rowling is to be thanked for inspiring a new generation of readers.
The stories of Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, made children and their parents stay up late for the midnight release of each book as they eagerly looked to discover the new adventures of Hogwarts.
Over the past few decades, what has caused children to queue for hours? Cabbage patch dolls. Power Rangers. The newest, hottest, tech-driven video games?
At the height of Rowling’s books popularity, it was gratifying to see the written word garner its fair share of attention.
And, hopefully, the series has motivated some kids to start looking in their homes for other good books – maybe by Kipling, Milton, or even Dickens.
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Despite the popularity of e-readers today, I will never get rid of our library or tire of the feel of paper in my hands.
A good book is a good friend. One that lasts forever.
– Samantha Perry is editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her @BDTPerry.