Introvert Things: Books

The First Folio exhibit at the Currier Gallery, during its US tour.

As an introvert, books bring me great joy. Old books in particular hold tremendous interest due to their unique features. From binding (folio, quarto, octavo, duodecimo), frontispieces, materials (leather, marbling, gilt, tooling, bookplates), to editions and printing runs, there are so many elements to consider. Each rare or antique book transports the reader to a specific point in time, reflecting the material culture of that place and people.

A signed first edition, first printing by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.

In a digital age of Kindles and Nooks and digital archives, the sensory aspect of books carry such appeal. And I love the book-related words like bibliophile, bibliotaph, bibliomania, biblichor, or abibliophobia. And I adore pictures of books, libraries, reading nooks, quirky bookshops, people reading, & academic reading rooms.

Some of my prized first editions.

At home, I collect books. I really always have. Since childhood, they’ve been my closest friends. I remember my mother would pretend to be a book crying if I threw one as a toddler, and then teach me to console and comfort it. I guess it was a kind of anthropomorphizing act that taught me empathy.

More first editions.

When I wrote my dissertation on Edith Wharton, I focused on the importance of her father’s library for her imagination, like other scholars have noted. Before she could even read, she’d carry books upside down as she toddled about, “making up” the stories as she talked to herself. From her own accounts, she was a pretty introverted child, shy and slow to connect to others her age.

Books provided a refuge.

Some more modern leather-bound editions, including a Wharton set.

Something in that resonates in me, as libraries are magical places for most introverts. There’s just something about the solitude of you and the book, transporting the reader to foreign lands and times. The quiet act of reading, the tactile sensation of the leather and pages, the scent of aging paper. Books also provide a great shield for warning others away when introverts prefer to be alone.

A complete leather-bound set of Dickens from the late 1800s.

Given the history of the farm and early Americana, I’ve started collecting books related to the early years in the New England colonies. One neat find is an antique volume of peculiar American sayings and words by a 19th Century British press. I also found a set of books about the early history of Goffstown, NH, which includes details about the farm. But I’ll save those for another post.

A complete set of the books of James Fenimore Cooper, including The Last of the Mohicans & The Deerslayer.

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