Wednesday, March 11, 2015

“Old books exert a strange fascination for me -- their smell, their feel, their history; wondering who might have owned them, how they lived, what they felt.” ~ Lauren Willig

A bit of a different post today (they can't ALL be blue sky and sunshine!). Back in the 80's I lived in Texas for several years. Most of those were spent in Austin. I headed to Austin to begin grad school at the University of Texas at Austin. I loved that city - very cool; very musical; very multi-cultural. I made a return visit a few years ago and confess that not much looked familiar. I know that the population has exploded due to the very reasons that I loved it decades ago.

Anyhow - grad school. I had the good fortune of being able to attend full time with almost all of my expenses covered. I have been grateful for that every day since. I was able to complete my Masters in one year. I am doubly grateful for that! Much of that year is a blur. I lived in three places - campus; home; and our local library near home. I had my own table, tucked in a back corner at the Walnut Creek Library, and woe unto the person who might be sitting there when I arrived (just kidding, I always found another spot - but I didn't like it!). 

Stretching my legs every once in awhile, I used to peruse the library shelves and would occasionally check out a book to read for pleasure, though I'm not sure how I ever found the time. On one such foray I came across the book Kilcaraig by Annabel Carothers. Set on the Scottish Isle of Mull, the story follows the lives of three generations beginning in the early 1900's. I checked out the book, read it, loved it, and dreamed of living on Mull, all windswept and romantic. Not a bad daydream for an exhausted grad student!

I'm not sure what had me remembering Kilcaraig recently, but I decided to see if it was available here at the library in Florida. It is not, so I looked to Amazon, where I found it only available in used books. I decided - what the heck - and ordered it. When it arrived, I discovered that it was a discarded library book from the Pettigrew Regional Library. Pettigrew! Sounded like a wonderful Scottish name to me! When I googled it however, I discovered that it is located in Plymouth, South Carolina. It came with three check-out cards still in it! Things like that intrigue me. Who was (is?) Esta M. Bodwell who checked it out on January 14th, 1983? Or Maud Weber, Ann Alexander or Stephanie Wal? Three cards with years worth of signatures. So many lives lived. I love wondering.

I'm not sure when I'll get around to reading it one more time, but I do enjoy seeing it sit on my shelf!


  1. What a nice story! I always had an addiction to these old library cards, too. In Germany we have (or had) a lending system (hope this is the right word) for schoolbooks. You don't have to buy them, you can lend it from the school and they have a stamp in it with the names of the pupils who had it before you. It always fascinated me.

    And now I'll google this book! :)

  2. Many university libraries sold off their check out cards, because there was a chance buyers would find famous (intellectual) names. I agree it is fun to wonder who read a book before me, an historical record (like handwritten letters?) hardly ever available anymore.