Old Loves

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I love reading old books and not just because it makes me feel good to have read another “classic”, but because they are windows into our past. I love learning about how a day went one hundred years ago. Or that in the 50s moms would have homemade baked goods waiting for their children at the end of the school day, and you didn’t wear underwear under your pj’s because you’d get too hot.

I love learning about how they would eat, address each other, or get themselves to work. What was important, what morals and values did the author feel were important to show. Men in romance stories didn’t have rippling abs, they had money, manners, and status. Woman didn’t have big boobs and the abilities to deep throat; they had grace, modesty, and charm that could make a man forget himself *swoons*. Not that I don’t enjoy smut, because abs and deep throating are great things, but sometimes it’s fun to go back and read about a time when even the raciest book would be rated PG by today’s standards.

I also miss the innocence of children that is found in older books. I just finished reading Tom Sawyer. In one passage he and two other boys are down by the river. They run around naked and swim and wrestle, and it’s fine, because they are children. The general population would never have thought of it as sexual at all, because they are children and they didn’t equate children with sex. Yes, there were monsters back then as they are now, but the general population, the healthy people, wouldn’t have thought anything of it.

Old books tend to have a slow cadence to them that modern books don’t have. It’s not bad that new books don’t have it, I don’t think my book has it, but I enjoy reading something with a good rhythm to it.

One other thing I love about older books is the words. Whenever I switch from a book written fifty or more years ago to today I’m saddened by the words we’ve lost and how simple our words are today. Some of the words I miss that I’m going to try and sneak into my work include: vexed, ponder, spectacles, diligence, crossly, gaily, queer, and my favorite – presently.

I found this video via another writer- it’s amazing. Let’s celebrate old books!

Do you read older books? What do you love about them, other then the old book smell? BTW someone needs to make old book smell air freshener for those of us with Kindles and no room for new books.

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19 responses »

  1. I like the sound and feel of dated words, which is one of the reasons I write historicals. As an example, I think addlepated has much more flavor to it than plain crazy. 🙂

  2. Gosh. With the exception of ‘gaily’, even I knew the meaning of that has changed, I am so old that I did not realise the words you mentioned; vexed, ponder, spectacles, diligence, crossly, gaily, queer, and presently, are no longer commonly used. One of the hazards of being seventy I suppose.

  3. I love my NOOK but there is nothing like the smell and feel of books, especially old books. If we are in NYC visiting Michael’s family, I love to go to Strand which has miles and miles of books. I can get lost there.

  4. I know exactly what you mean about the words we used to see in old books. They have a certain “sense” or “feeling” to them that you don’t find nowadays. I used to read a lot of old books and classics and such but don’t do that any longer.
    I have seen so many rules about how we’re supposed to write, such as we should just simply use “said” when writing dialogue because the reader doesn’t care about that sort of thing. I disagree. When you see “vexed” instead of “said” there IS a difference in its connotation.
    Patti

  5. I love this post. It’s so true that even books today are rushed and racy. Nobody likes to take their time anymore. And the luscious words that are no longer used. Thanks for taking us back in time a bit! 🙂

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