Last week Caleb and I had the fun task of house sitting for some friends of ours while they were away on a medical mission trip. Their house is lovely, and living above ground again made it even sadder that spring was not yet here. Each day we looked out of as many windows as we could ever hope to have at a (usually sunny!) garden and fields to go walking in – but the temperature was still nippy enough to keep me mostly inside.
We did venture out one day and head up to the town of Niles, MI. (We went to see Noah, but you can ask Caleb about that one.) There’s a little secondhand and antique bookshop in the downtown area that I love, called A. Casperson Books. It’s one of the few really magical bookshops left to be found anymore, and we make a point of stopping in whenever we’re in Niles for a movie or anything. Books line the shelves, walls, floors – every nook and cranny – so there is always something exciting to find.
Not everyone knows that for several years now I have been collecting the old Nancy Drew books. They have blue board covers with orange titles and silhouettes of one of my favorite childhood companions printed on the front cover. I have several of them now, but they can be pretty hard to find (in the antique/rare book world, they are considered “scarce.”) A. Casperson’s is special because the first time I went the owner had two of these books with intact dust jackets on display – it is immensely harder to find these books with dust jackets than without. I’ve found more, at least of the orange titles, reliably on every visit to the shop.
Last week, however, I was blown away by how many of these books were on a shelf behind the checkout desk. There were more than a dozen without dust jackets, and three with them – many more than I’ve ever before seen in one place. The other difficult thing with these old books is that there are so many different editions, some with only minor changes, that it can be really difficult to tell whether or not a book is a first edition (the very scarce). On this trip, however, I finally found my first first edition – and it is a copy of the first book in the series, too! Now if only it had a dust jacket… 🙂 I left a happy camper.
We had a great week in the house of many windows, and because were dog-sitting, too, I got some quality canine snuggles in. The availability of natural light from windows that provide great views of the countryside was a great aid for me with the writing I needed to do (that and the awesome-if-nerdy event of finding my first first edition). My first residency for the MFA program I’m in is at the end of May, and this week was the deadline for turning in our first writing sample to be discussed in workshop at the residency. I sent mine of today – not without a bit of fear and trembling.
In the meantime, the temperatures are rising! Soon I’ll be suggesting you go enjoy a good book – first edition or not – out of doors.