Monday, March 26, 2018

Why I Read "Old" Books

I saw this wonderful post at Read-at-Home Mom on why she reads "old, smelly" books. I rarely read smelly books--if I can at all help it! But I do LOVE reading old books. I realized that I had more thoughts on the subject than a comment would allow.

Reason 1: Books are books are books no matter when they were originally published. I'm just as susceptible to wanting to read old books as I am to new ones!

Reason 2: I like the novelty of it. First, I like finding books that I've never heard of by authors I've never heard of. Not that all my vintage reads are by new-to-me authors. I like the thrill of discovery. Will it be good? will it be bad? Second, I like that it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to find that book. I do all of my shopping in person--browsing--at a local charity book shop. You never know visit to visit what they'll have, and what you may find. You can leave a book behind if you're on the fence, but there's no telling if it will still be there later. There's this whole it's 'now or never' drama going on. Third, I think there is something special about reviewing books on a blog that are so long out of print and mostly out of memory.

Reason 3: I can't resist a bargain. A books appeal gets higher and higher the cheaper a book is. I may not be willing to spend five dollars on a book that I've heard of. But if it is a quarter or fifty cents and it looks like it might provide some amusement or enjoyment, it feels RIGHT to take it home.

Reason 4: I can't resist vintage illustrations. With children's books, I'm often drawn to vintage illustrations--either black and white or colored. Even if the book is not a part of my past--a logical reason for nostalgia--it often makes me happy to look at old illustrations. 

Reason 5: Books provide a snapshot into the past. For better or worse. Not every old book is suitable to read and share with this generation of children. And by suitable I mean both appropriate in terms of content but also in terms of value--is it worth your time to read this book when you could be reading that book instead. But I think that for adults there is plenty of benefits to read widely or broadly. I think old books can provide context--sometimes much needed context.

Reason 6: Fear of missing out. Fear of missing out on a really GREAT book that I might potentially LOVE, LOVE, LOVE just because it is out of print and 'forgotten.'

Reason 7: As a blogger, it is easy--if you allow it--to become so caught up in today's trends that you lose sight and focus of the bigger picture. But trends don't last--and sometimes the very fact that a book is super-super trendy makes it less appealing. The very fact that there are thousands of people desperate to read that one book, that that is the one book every single person is talking about. I think it's interesting to see which trends come and go in any given decade. And to look at possible reasons WHY trends happen when they do.

An observation: Just because a book isn't a good fit to take up space on a public or school library shelf, doesn't mean it's not a good fit--a great fit even--to take up space in a home library. The needs of the public at large--your town or city --are not your needs. Books are books are books. You are just as likely to find a book to love, love, love in the past as in the present.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Katie Fitzgerald 9:16 PM  

Thanks for your comment on my post, and for sharing it here. I can relate to all of your points, especially numbers 2 and 4. And I absolutely agree with your last paragraph.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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