I was going through my bookshelves the other day, and I came across a few books that I’ve had for a long time, 20 years or more. That’s unusual for me, as I tend to be pretty ruthless when it comes to culling my shelves–anything that I won’t likely read again or that doesn’t have a special significance for me has to go. But these particular books are special, because they’re by an author who meant a lot to me as a teenager.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned Josephine Humphreys several times before on the blog. She wrote a book called Rich in Love which resonated so strongly with me as an adolescent trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life, because it features a character who is trying to do exactly that–Lucille. Lucille is one of those characters who gets inside your skin and makes you see the world from her point of view. She’s a teenager growing up in the deep South (as was I), and I think there were times when I really felt like I was Lucille. I loved this book so much, but more than that it was like a secret world that I could escape to and live in from time to time when my own was too much to take. (On a side note, the movie is amazing, too, and the fact that both Ethan Hawke and Kyle MacLachlan are in it may have had something to do with my obsession with the story).
At that time, my older brother was working at an independent bookstore in Atlanta, one which sadly no longer exists. He worked in the rare books section, and because he knew how much I loved Josephine Humphreys, he would put aside signed copies of her books for me. Thanks to him, I have signed copies of both Rich in Love and The Fireman’s Fair, and despite the fact that I don’t put sentimental value on many physical things, they mean a lot to me. If there were ever a fire in our home and I could only save one book from my library, it would be Rich in Love.
And now I’m thinking I need to do a re-read of all Josephine Humphreys’ books. I wonder how my reaction to her writing will have changed (or not) over the years.
What about you? What’s your “special” book?