The Life of a Book

Last night, I was reminded of that other kind of history that books can hold.  I was reading The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.  Not exactly a kidlit history book, even though it is set in the Depression (yeah!) and features another awesome old house (double yeah!  I seem to have this talent lately of finding lots of books featuring amazing old houses full of wonderful things to discover.  Which makes my history nerd self extremely jealous).

Anyway, I turned a page and there was the very yellow, folded up piece of paper stuck in the middle of the book.  At first, I thought there was some defect with the book–half a page gone or some other tragedy.  My copy is a 1970s Scholastic version, so it’s not like that paper is acid-free.  However, it was no defect–it was a folded up piece of paper.

I gently unfolded it–it’s the original Scholastic order form, carefully filled out by one Myra Brown.  Velvet Room was the only book that she ordered that month.  Other books featured included It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown, Jenny, Things to Make and Do, The Story of John Paul Jones, The Witch Tales and Little House in the Big Woods

Seeing that little slip of paper brought back all kinds of memories of those lovely leaflets with all the reading possibilities.  It was via this service that I first discovered Anne.  I really wanted to read A Little Princess because of the Shirley Temple movie, and the two books were being sold together.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  I still have both books, though my Anne is in much sadder shape than Little Princess.

But I also wondered a bit about Myra.  Was she already a fan of Snyder?  What made her pick this book?  And did she love it?  What made her keep the order form?  Frankly, I’m amazed it was in there–that is one organized kid!

Every now and then, I find pretty amazing things tucked inside some of my old books.  My first edition copy of Anne of Green Gables has some reviews pasted inside the front covers.  For me, inscriptions add value to the books (though I know most book collectors only care when it’s the author writing in the book!), and I’m always wondering about those previous readers.  Did they not like it?  Were they forced to weed their collection?  How did it end up in my hands?

What have you found in some of your old books?  And what fond memories do you have of the Scholastic Book Club?

2 responses to “The Life of a Book”

  1. We didn’t get Scholastic book club in elementary school, but we did have it in junior high. Oh, with their blurbs, they made every book sound as if it was a must-read. I remember begging my mom every month for 50 to 75 cents so I could get a new book. I still have a couple of them–one was the true biography of Nicholas and Alexandra.

    My kids were much luckier–they had Scholastic throughout elementary school and middle school. We acquired several nice collections this way–C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra series, and Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three series. Emily always loved the movie tie-in books. I did keep a couple of their Scholastic order forms and stuck them in their books like bookmarks. I hope someday my kids find them and smile!


  2. Thanks for the recommendation! The Velvet Room was great!


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