Books — Eye Heart Vintage — by Guest Mom Burgin Streetman

June 23, 2008

Before I quit work to stay home with my son and have a go at writing, I spent my early career in book selling and publishing because, quite simply, I love books. I love the smell. The cut of the cover. The guts and the mysteries they hold. So when my son August was born, it was only right that I begin to build a classic book collection for him. Slowly, I picked out special gems ~ starting with Where the Wild Things Are and moving on from there. Very quickly, however, I found that buying my son all the favorites I’d loved as a child was beginning to put me in the poor house — dropping around $25 for a quality hard cover.

Even though I am somewhat of a thrift nut, it never occurred to me to buy vintage until one day – perusing at a used book shop – I stumbled across a copy of Why I Built the Boogle House written by Helen Palmer (aka Mrs. Dr. Seuss) for $1.25. Written in 1964, it is a fabulous book. A hilarious book. A classic book. It is no longer available in print and was only (did I mention?) $1.25. From there, the floodgates opened. I realized there is a world of books out there just waiting to fill my son’s imagination… at yard sales… library sales… junk shops… thrift stores… online. Books that are not only classics, but that can be purchased for as little as 25 cents if you find them before the for-profit collectors do.

That epiphany was over two years ago, and August’s collection now is somewhere in the thousands. Though my car is a veritable book mobile, and August’s many cases are stuffed two rows deep, I figure, what the hay. You can never have too many. Really, children’s books are the ultimate conduit for teaching us not just about the world, but design and illustration and how words flow from one into the next to form a perfect union of communication. They are art on the go, and inspiration in your pocket.

I do buy August new books for holidays and birthdays, just so he has some in his collection that aren’t inscribed “To Cousin Willy, Love Aunt Edna, Easter 1971”. For the most part though, he’s falling in love with books that some other child already adored. Which is a pretty sweet thought, after all.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Britt June 23, 2008 at 10:15 am

Oh to be surrounded by thousands of books all for me at that age. I would have eaten it up!


2 Holly - tutus & turtles June 23, 2008 at 10:26 am

I think today’s book posts are my favorite Guest Mom posts ever!

Thanks for all the great advice.


3 scribbler June 23, 2008 at 10:35 am

Thanks guys! Stay tuned for more.


4 Maddie June 23, 2008 at 11:36 pm

What a treat to have stumbled upon this blog and these wonderful posts!!! Your love of books and your son is so evident. August sure is lucky to have a mom like you!


5 Ali June 24, 2008 at 3:10 pm

You are simply darling.

I try to do the same for my kids but unfortunately time and a lack of good vintage bookshops has gotten in the way so our collection is tiny by comparison. I suppose there is a season for everything and this is our season for the library.


6 scribbler June 25, 2008 at 7:53 am

listen… we get a lot of stuff from yard sales and goodwill (nothing is ever more than 49 cents) and library sales (never more than 50 cents) … for the most part I find book stores way to expensive. i usually only turn their when looking for something specific. don’t give up yet.

most of the great hardcovers i give away on my site are ex-library books I bought for a quarter.


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