If you couldn’t tell, this is my Harry Potter shelf. I realize that the first four books are trade paperbacks, while books five through eight are hardbacks. I bought the hardcovers at Sam’s Club and/or Costco, which brought them down into my price range.
I have a good story regarding my acquisition of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (yes, it’s got a different title here in the US; in the UK, it’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I guess “philosopher” has a different meaning across the pond). See, I didn’t really know a whole lot about the book when my dad told me he had tickets to go see the movie. Yeah, whatever, kid’s movie, yadda yadda. For some reason, Kurt and I traveled up to northern Virginia (we were brand-spankin’ new married) to spend some time at my parents’ house and go see this movie with them. I didn’t think much of it.
But then Dad piled us all in the Sequoia and headed into DC. I was surprised we were going into the city; normally we saw movies at the local mall. We got to the theatre, found our seats, and settled in. But before the lights dimmed, all kinds of Secret Service agents started buzzing around, and then — First Lady Laura Bush made her entrance. I kid you not! This was the very first screening in the USA of the first Harry Potter movie, and Mrs Bush had come to speak to us because her mission was to encourage kids to read. I was in such shock that here was this famous person in front of me that I didn’t pay enough attention to her speech, but I remember it being a very articulate one.
That was the first and only Harry Potter movie I have ever seen. I have been a very faithful Harry Potter reader; I have read every single novel, and as you can see, I own them all as well. I was really surprised with the later novels, however. They get very dark, not really the children’s novels you think they are. But they are fantastic, and I highly recommend them. That is, unless you are one of those extremely conservative Christians, like there are in my family, who don’t believe in wizards and the occult, and therefore refuse to allow their children to read these novels. It’s a shame. These books are an awesome allegory for the battle between good and evil, and for me, these are wonderful books for children to read.
OK, what else is there on the shelf? You can see The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, which I picked up at a thrift store. There’s also The Complete Works of Shakespeare on the far left, the blue volume almost out of the photo, another thrift store find. You can also see Job: A Comedy of Justice, yet another novel by Robert A. Heinlein. I don’t think there is a single shelf in my house that doesn’t have at least one Heinlein novel on it. Well, maybe Grace’s bookshelves…
I’ve also got Dickens, not that I’ve read much of his, aside from A Tale of Two Cities in high school. This volume is yet another book I picked up at a thrift store. The Anne Frank book, The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition, is very fascinating. It’s three editions of the diary, side by side — the way it was written by Anne, the diary as she edited it in hiding, and then her diary after her father edited it for publication. Of course, it is a very moving book to read. I always hate to think that Anne was lost in the concentration camps. They were so close to making it through the war in hiding.
At the far right, you have a bunch of my vintage and antique cooking booklets and pamphlets. I collect these things; I love to see how cooking has changed over the years. One thing I have noticed is that recipes have gotten simpler. A recipe used to read, “Add milk or water to moisten.” Now recipes are far more specific: “Add one cup milk.” In a way, this does the cook a disservice. I found this out when I started making my breadsticks. The recipe calls for just one cup of milk, so one cup of milk is what I added — never having made breadsticks before in my life. It wasn’t nearly enough liquid. I finally figured it out, and now I use at least 1¼ cups of milk, and sometimes up to 1½ cups if I use whole-wheat flour. I wish more recipes would use less specific instructions and instead tell us, “Add enough milk to bring the dough together into a ball.”
Above all these volumes, you can see a book laying horizontally. This book is Around the World With a Camera, copyright 1910. It’s a book chock-full of period photographs that I picked up at a local antique store. It’s fascinating to see the old photos, everything from tenements in New York City to native photos from the Philippines to movie stars to photos of the “largest asylum for the insane in America,” and even including snapshots “by skillful amateurs.” One day I will scan some of the pages in and share them with you.
That’s my bookshelf for this week!