I have a book obsession. While new books are lovely, old ones speak to my soul in a multitude of ways that I am not sure I can describe.
But, I will try.
Aesthetics are important to me. How objects, spaces, sounds and words feel can prompt my senses to go into warm fuzzy mode, give me goosebumps, expand my heart and seriously increase my oxytocin levels. (Or, the opposite can occur. But, we aren’t going there today.)
I wish I could tell you how an old book feels in my hand. It’s thickly textured pages are housed in a cloth shell worn with time. One can only imagine the hands that have embraced this treasure . Golden lettering announce it’s title. Pages fragile, dozens or more sets of eyes having studied the words that rest upon them, ever so gently turning each page to meet previous ones read. And, old books are heavy. They reign when competing with the paperbacks of today.
I picked this one up to read this morning. It’s title, The Child, by Amy Eliza Tanner, copy write ~ 1904. Inside the front cover, a human being’s name graces the page, in delicate black ink cursive handwriting of which appears to have come from a fountain pen of sorts.
“Who is this woman?” I wonder. “Hertha?” not “Bertha”, but, “Hertha”.
Well, my need-to-know-mind won’t let this rest, so I do a quick search to see who this woman is. I’m led to a photo:
. . . which leads me to Ancestry.com. I can’t go there. Entire weekends have been lost there. I know better.
Back to the book.
I had not heard of Amy Eliza Tanner, the author of the book, in education circles. And, I do read and research educational pedagogies and philosophies (this sounds arrogant, and I apologize if it comes off that way, but it’s more a curse than a blessing). A quick research on Amy Eliza Tanner results in some fascinating fodder to add to my scholarly drawers of who to know from education past. Here she is in the center of this photo:
Look at how empowered she looks. Good heavens, John Dewey is there. Have I been living under a rock in not knowing this woman? Honestly, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. I could continue to read about her. She lived a most resilient life among her male counterparts. But, I don’t.
Because, here. Here is the ESSENCE of why I love old books:
In the introduction by G. Stanley Hall,
“If there is such a thing as a ‘call to teach’ it consists of loving children, and with love go insight, the power to serve, and the desire to help each child to the maximum development of body and should of which he is capable. When vocational guidance is fully developed those intending to teach will ask themselves the question, which is the supreme test of their fitness,
“Do I really love children?”
Those who do not, have no right to teach.”
He goes on to say this message is Amy Eliza Tanners’ chief purpose in writing this book.
1904. It takes a whole lotta love to to do this job. We forget about that sometimes as we don’t see it enough in the educational literature of today. Yet, we know it. We feel it. It’s why this job hurts so much sometimes.
This, my friends . . .
is why I adore old books, AND. . .
is why I get nothing done.
But, it brings me to my happy place of bliss, wonder, and awe.