By Nancy J. Farrier
I love books. I love the feel of them, the smell of them. I love to read books. Almost all genres appeal to me.
When I visit a library, especially an older library, that first deep breath is full of the aroma of paper and the distinctive scent of books. Old bookstores are the same way. A road trip just to visit bookstores and libraries would be a dream trip.
My fascination includes older texts. Books written and published long ago. That’s why the day my aunt gave me a 200-year-old book remains fresh in my mind. My daughter and I had gone to visit my elderly aunt. We were sitting in her living room visiting when she told me she had something to show me. My cousin left the room and came back with a box that holds a ream of printer paper, which she set on my lap.
Nestled inside the box, the oversized book had a stained cover. I could tell the pages were fragile and carefully opened the book. My aunt said, “We thought you might know what this is.” My daughter leaned close to see.
When I realized what the box contained, I gave an audible gasp. I stared down at the illustrated copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, printed in 1813. The illustrations were very detailed and the pages were all water stained, but intact. The binding and cover had seen a lot of wear.
My cousin told me they found the book in a garage they were cleaning out and didn’t recognize the author or the title. My aunt gave me the book to keep. What a wonderful gift to receive.
It’s hard to imagine where this old book has been. I wondered where it’s traveled and who the owners might have been. Someone must have treasured the tome since the pages are still in readable. I am very careful to be gentle when I look at the book.
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs isn’t my only old book, but is perhaps the oldest I have. I wonder about the books being printed today. Will they last for two hundred years? I hope those in the future will have the same love of books I do. I hope they treasure that bit of the past and wonder about the people who wrote or illustrated the books. I hope people will still love the written word.