I need to get rid of some of my books. I have hundreds, yes hundreds. And, no, I have not read them all. Some, I had no intention of reading when I got them, I just wanted to HAVE them. Now, I’m trying to lighten the load. I am going to get rid of almost all the paperbacks, many of the hard covers that I can still get or get in eBook format, all the old textbooks. You get the idea.
So, what does that leave? Plenty.
I will keep everything published before 1955. I am genetically incapable of passing by a book that was published pre-1955 and is only a couple of bucks. I won’t pay collector’s prices for anything. None of my old books are worth more than 10 or 20 bucks. That’s because I want to READ them, not put them in a glass case and look at them.
I have a pretty good Joseph C. Lincoln collection (http://www.capecodhistory.us/Lincoln.htm), although I don’t think there are any first editions in there. Almost none of them have book jackets, and the ones that do are pretty messed up. That’s all good, though, because there’s no guilt or shame in taking them to the beach and reading them.
All (or most anyway) of Joseph C. Lincoln’s 50+ books have a sea captain at their center. They were also mostly loose love stories. One, Rugged Water, became a movie that the US Coast Guard still has listed on its website (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg092/mopic/movies.asp). It’s about the US Lifesaving Service, the precursor to the USCG. Lincoln had a great respect for the men who would charge out in the worst weather in little boats propelled by their own strength or wind to save people in boats, mostly hung up on Horseshoe Shoals. I wonder what he would say about a huge wind farm being built there now.
I love his books, although I admit that I probably would not have read any of them if I had started with his first. The first one I picked up was Fair Harbor, written in 1922. By then, I gather, it was less acceptable to use the “N” word the way he does in his earlier books. It’s unbelievably jarring, to say the least, when that word just pops up as if it’s okay to describe people that way. Had I come across it in his earlier books first, I probably wouldn’t have continued to buy his books. I picked up Fair Harbor at a library book sale in the mid-80s and fell in love with this author. Unfortunately, a few of my books got lost when I lent them to people. Alas…
One winter, though, the late Hope Winchoba, who lived just a block away from me, came by and borrowed every single one of those books. It was a particularly snowy winter and was pretty tough getting on and off the island. She would walk over with her own bags, take seven or eight books, and then carefully walk back. She was in her 80s at the time, just a few years before she died.
Then she showed me a scrapbook of her family from Martha’s Vineyard (I think), with some of the same names that Lincoln used. She swore he was writing about them, but I think he just borrowed the names.
In any case, we had many a conversation about the books.
I bought Fair Harbor because, as I quickly scanned the old books for sale at the entrance of the Parlin Library in Everett, Mass. in the mid 1980’s (http://www.noblenet.org/everett/parlin.html), I thought it said “Fairhaven.” I’m glad I bought it anyway. It’s about a man, a former sea captain of some sort, who breaks his legs in a train crash. He is able to walk again, but won’t ever work on a boat. He ends up being the caretaker of a home for mariners’ wives, a job no other man would take. He finds love there and a happy ending.
Lincoln’s books are full of the daily stuff of life on Cape Cod in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was where I first learned of “clam pie,” made with quahogs. It was also where I learned that they were dealing with the rich people coming in, knocking down the old houses, and pricing out the locals, 100 years ago. Some things never change. Which reminds me why I started this post.
It wasn’t supposed to be about Joseph C. Lincoln, although if you ever come across his books that aren’t asking collectors’ prices for them, let me know. I need to buy about 20 to fill in my collection. He wrote more than 50 and I only have about 30. (I know, I know, I’m supposed to be lightening the load.)
This post was prompted by my grabbing a book from a box in my living room. Most of my books are still in boxes from the big renovation. I wanted to find something to take to the beach. I grabbed a book by Frank Yerby (http://www.frankyerby.com), Pride’s Castle, and read from the Prologue.
“The middle years—the eighteen-seventies, ‘eighties, ‘nineties—were a time of moral bankruptcy when men stole millions by a stroke of the pen or by the simple expedient of printing tons of worthless paper.”
Sound familiar? Some things never change. That was published in 1949.
I don’t think I had ever heard of Frank Yerby when I started buying his books. I suspect it was just that genetic deficiency I mentioned above. Turns out he was the most popular African American writer of his time. The first to become a millionaire from his writing. According to the above link, “it is estimated that Yerby sold more books than all other African American writers combined.”
Cool, huh? Do I love the internet, or do I love the internet?
The prologue continues about the horrors of sweatshops at the time and other unrest.
“A time of change and discontent, a time of order and stability, too, these days were—and a time of progress, with the coming of the electric light, the telephone, and later still the horseless carriage. A time of ferment…
“No wonder then that big Pride Dawson, crossing from Jersey on the ferry and seeing New York for the first time, could turn to Tim McCarthy and say: ‘It’s mine, Tim! The whole kit and caboodle! I’m going to be top dog here—I’m going up. Just you watch!’
“And Tim, seeing the city low and dirty beyond the spars and masts of the shipping, could believe him. The time was ripe.”
I think it’s going to be a good read.