My Vintage Library

If I could get paid to read I would be the happiest person on earth, guaranteed.  I would cuddle up with my tea and my pup and not think twice as the hours passed by on the clock.  I can loose myself in a good book and many times I’ve actually forgotten to eat because I was so wrapped up in a story that I couldn’t bear to put it down.  I dream of the day that I have enough money to be able to afford a big house where I can dedicate one room to reading.  That is, my own personal library. Nothing I’m sure as lavish as that of the high class aristocrats on the 18th and 19th centuries (or that of the one in Beauty and the Beast!), but good enough to be able to house my favorite novels.  At least big enough to stock my classics! I couldn’t live without my classics! In my fairytale, I’d have them all.  From A to Z, I’d have every known and unknown’s authors books from the 19th century on to the early 20th century; my favorite periods. A time when social standards were challenged, women were embracing feminist values and writers were breaking literary rules.  How could you not love that literature?! Of course I also love Caleb Carr, Marion Meade and any novel set before the 50s, but the classics have a special place in my heart.  I think I would start my library of with these: (And yes, staying true to form everything in my library is vintage! Hence the title, “My Vintage Library!”)

If I am to dream of my own library to fill with books, then surely I will be needing furniture to stock my good reads in! Of course it can’t be just any random bookshelf, no, I require one that carries with it a certain mystique and personality; one that matches with my love for antiques and that would be fitting to place my 19th and 20th century novels.  Hark! What goes there? (This is what happens when I fixate on my favorite classic reads! I start talking all proper as if I were one of the characters!) A lovely aged blue bookshelf from AjaraDecor perfectly fitting to house my Austen’s and Bronte’s! Weathered with time, this bookshelf is a one-of-a kind.  I love the antique color of the wood and the intricate designs on the pull out drawers. Who wouldn’t proudly display this beauty anywhere in their house as it would be sure to accent any room it were in!

Who hasn’t read Little Women and not found themselves completely enamored with it! Sure, you may have seen the movie, but it doesn’t stack up to the beautifully written words of Louisa May Alcott!  This was actually the first novel I ever read. I was in sixth grade and my teacher took us to the school library with the mission to find a book of our choice with which to read and write a report on.  At first, being 11 or so, I went for the usual 6th grade reads: Goosebumps, The BabySister’s Club or Scary Stories. But, my teacher challenged me and gave me Little Women instead (of course giving me more time for my paper!).  I remember being moved and inspired; sparking a desire to want to be a writer.  And since then I have been obsessed with The Classics and any book that is set in a time before the 60s. I can’t get enough of them! Seriously, if you haven’t read this book, do! You will not be disappointed! (This particular copy is from 1947, in good condition and sold by OldandOdd.)

I admit, it can be quite the task to muddle through this novel, but once you have, you are left with a curious sensation that cannot be described.  One that is a combination of sadness, ponderance and a feeling of numbness. You’re almost a little lost after having read it as you don’t really know how to deal with what has been concluded.  But, oh, is it a roller coaster of emotions to read! Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, was a scandal when it hit in 1847 and still yet with it’s sinister characters, vengeful plots and twisted love affairs.  It took me two times through to appreciate and understand the full story and I’m sure that there are still underlying themes and innuendos that I didn’t catch.  With this book, it is a never ending tale of unrequited love and sorrow supported by well fleshed out characters that in my mind could have actually lived. Read with caution and do not underestimate the talent of Miss Bronte! (This edition is from Penguin 1959, in good condition and sold by BeauBazaar.)

If you have seen the movie and not read the book, shame on you! I’m kidding, I still love you. But, you should read Pride and Prejudiceby Jane Austen, as it is COMPLETELY different from the movie.  I mean, the basic story is the same, but the details differ immensely. It’s actually a bit more romantic than the movie and like Little Women,  reading the words fills you with a completely different experience.  Your heart almost beats with every turn of the page.  Enter the handsome Mr. Darby, stoic and proud, and the headstrong Elizabeth, independent and unabashed. The things not said are clear as you read through their trivial romance, almost frustrating you at times as their love is held a bay by their pride, neither one wanting to let their guard down. It’s a story of love, yes, but also a glimpse into a breaking system of arranged marriages, stately propriety and the snide ways of the upper class.  Come on, pick it up, let your imagination run wild! (This 1980s edition is in excellent condition and is sold by Absolute Jewelry.)

I had never heard of Wilkie Collins, author of The Woman in White, until I was in college taking a 19th Century British Lit Course.  He isn’t as famous as his colleagues, some listed above, but his writing and composition is comparable.  I imagine being a man writing about a woman and it being convincing was no easy tasks, especially since his time saw many great female writers.  Even more so penning about a woman who happens to be locked in an asylum. I imagine that is written poorly his character could have been misconstrued by women in his day. A story of mystery, involving a curious young drawing master and a troubled female, The Woman in White begins as a “Sherlock Holmes” sort of tale, but ends up being a a novel battling between love/devotion and law/justice.  Sounds interesting, huh?  Trust me, it is. (This book is an 1860 copyrighted edition being sold by PortrePublic.)

I have a soft spot in my heart for Virginia Woolf and her A Room of One’s Own,  originally printed in 1929.  I also adore Mrs. Dalloway, but that’s a whole other post! A fierce feminist, Woolf writes her book length essay on women’s lib, discussing such topics as patriarchal literature, education and lesbianism; rising from her essay the famous quote, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”  A excerpt which speak bounds about feminine status in the the early 1900s. Amazing how far we ladies have come, isn’t is? And besides the issues addressed in the text, I admire the way Woolf broke literary standards by writing in a stream on consciousness instead of breaking her writings in to chapters.  It’s a testimony to how rules can be broken and as a result, greatness can ensue. (This edition is circa 1940s. I love this book cover and it was actually designed by Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell. Sold by GryphonVintage.)

11th Grade Honors English.  The year and course I discovered The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy, 1878.  Next to the Great Gatsby and  Mrs. Dalloway, perhaps the quickest I’ve ever gotten through a novel.  Not because it was short, but because I just couldn’t put it down! A powerful story of the hopes and desires of two ambitious people: Clym Yeobright, who returns to his native Egdon Heath determined to be a teacher and to help his country neighbors, and Eustacia Vye, who yearns to escape from provinciality to the glamour of life on the Continent. Snared by their passion for each other into a foredoomed marriage, they sruggle to fulfill their tragically conflicting destinies. A poetic, compassionate novel by one of the greatest masters of English prose. (1963 paperback edition sold by ArtZodiac.)

Who hasn’t read The Scarlett Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850?! Either by force in school or just by sheer curiosity. And, no, I have not seen the movies because they’re just to painful to watch.  I’m not going to get started on that though!  You all know the story.  Hester Primm is marked adulterer after her husband is supposedly lost at sea and she has birthed a child that is obviously not his.  Through the novel the theme of sins runs rapid, but through this you see a woman who overcomes her branded “A” and remains compassionate to human nature through her charity.  A page turner, I could read this book a million times and never tire of it.  (1984 edition in excellent condition sold by BookishKind.)

D.H Lawrence.  For some he can be a little treacherous, but for me, I love the challenge.  Chopped full of underlying themes and boundless description my favorite of his,Lady Chatterley’s Lover, was printed in 1928.  It has everything: Sex, Betrayal, Social Conflict and the breakdown of a Aristocratic Class System.  Ahead of its time, Lawrence, like Woolf broke many literary rules as well as social ones.  Many times his book had to be amended and edited so as to not included “explicit” words and scenes which would make the proper aristocrats of the 20s squirm in their seats.  Reading it, the nature of the book is still scandalous, involving a high class Lady having an affair with a poor man who, if living now, would be a model for Abercrombie.  Ladies, read it.  You’ll know what I’m talking about after you find yourself daydreaming about a fictional character. (Mid-Century editions in excellent condition. Sold by RockIslandDesigns.)

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  • Rosalind

    Wouldn’t we all love our own personal library/reading room! You’ve chosen a wonderful selection of books! Many thanks for including my copy of The Woman in White. Best, Rosalind (