We now return to our regularly scheduled programing

I love when objects have a history and I find that I am drawn to books that have inscriptions in them. For this reason, I love used bookstores. If there are multiple copies of the book I am looking for, I will look at all of them and make my selection based on whether or not there is an inscription and which one is the most interesting. I feel like I’ve struck gold when I come across a really personal and detailed inscription but alas, most inscriptions are things like “Happy Birthday” or “Merry Christmas”. These aren’t as compelling to me unless something about the date speaks to me.

I found this in a copy of The Giving Tree. It is dated 1979. I was 4 in 1979 so I imagine that Helene is close to my age. It made me think about keeping a gift I received as a child for 30 years and then one day giving it away. What would prompt that? Or perhaps it remained with the Helene’s parents and they were spring cleaning. Again, why after 30 years? Or maybe it has just gone through many owners since it was given to Helene. But I don’t imagine that to be the case as it is in very good condition.

And from a copy of the Velveteen Rabbit, why does Gretchen feel the need to point out that Doug is real? Excuse me, I mean REAL. I suppose it’s sweet and I admire Gretchen’s penmanship. But it’s weird, no? And you know the 1978 date intrigues me. There is a great mystery here. I hope Doug is actually a stuffed rabbit himself.

Okay, I just want to give Tiffany a hug. She’s sweet as pie, she wrote in pencil and she erased her first draft. Also, her handwriting reminds me of a few of my high school friends. It’s that girly, loopy writing that was scrawled across sheets of binder paper, elaborately folded and passed to me between classes. It spoke of boys, groundings, and trips to the mall. But not even once was it handed to me in a copy of The Alchemist. And Jenny just gave it away. Why?

Stephanie knows just what to say. Doug, how could you? I thought you were her true friend.

I tend to give books as gifts often and oddly, never think to write an inscription myself. What about you? Do you ever inscribe the books you give as gifts?

And on a side note, I was compelled to buy that copy of the giving tree because of the date and also because I read a lot of Shel Silverstein as a child. I assumed this book had been part of my collection. Either it was not, or if it was, I repressed the memory. The writing is beautiful and it sparks thought and discussion but really? This is a kids book? Maybe for some, but I might suggest the thoughtful and more gentle souled three year olds be spared for a few more years. Here’s how bedtime went down the day Helene’s copy of The Giving Tree came home with me.

Giggles at the boy playing in the tree.

“Why is the tree sad? Why does the boy make the tree sad?”

“Why is the boy taking the tree’s apples mama?”

“Why is the boy taking the tree’s branches?!?!?! The tree NEEDS it’s branches! The boy should bring them back!!!”

“He’s cutting down the tree!! WHY IS HE CUTTING DOWN THE TREE?!?!?!?”
“Why does the boy need a boat? Where is he going? Why is he sad?”
“Why is the tree a stump?”
“Why is this a sad book?”
“Mama, why did you read that book to me?”


4 thoughts on “We now return to our regularly scheduled programing

  1. “The Giving Tree” is one of my favorite books …. I have a very old copy.
    I always like to give a copy to children for a present once they are old enough … books are so special.

    • Yes, older is good. I didn’t read through it before I read it to my daughter. I will save it for later. I was quite taken aback by the story though and I did some googling. Apparently there is quite a lot of controversy. I had no idea. I agree, books are very special especially when given to children.

  2. oh man, i love books with inscriptions from strangers. my “little prince” book is a first edition with an adorable inscription that makes me smile every time i open the book 🙂

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