Holiday Selection

Herbert presents The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens (Photo by M.A.D.)

I try to select a special book that I can enjoy during the holiday season. This year’s selection is The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. I did not own this particular book but has been on my list for some time, so I decided to treat myself this year. I always try to buy a vintage or antique copy (when possible) of a book that I know I will have for many years. This time, it was a bit challenging because of the many variations online of this particular book, many publications, range in price, and condition. I knew I wanted a hardcopy, and after many moments of indecision between so many tempting years of publication, I ended up with this one, called The Oxford Illustrated Dickens by the Oxford University Press, 1966. I was torn between this one and a much older publication of this book, early 1900’s, also a hardcopy. I decided on this one mainly because of the excellent condition, including the jacket, and that it included the original illustrations throughout the book, 76 early engravings. I especially loved the cover presentation. Am I still thinking about that older copy? You bet I am. I hope to finish Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales soon, so I can indulge on this lovely book.

The Old Curiosity Shop was first published in two volumes (1840-41). This particular edition includes both, which is something I like. However, if you would like to find separate vintage volumes, they are available online, either separate or as a set, which was something I struggled with when making my final decision. The works of Dickens are widely known. His life had a rough start, and sadly, he died in 1870 at the age of 58 before he could finish his last work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. For those of you who are fond of older books and would like to own this particular story, the good news is that there is plenty to choose from online, and at a variety of prices, from the most expensive and rare to the most humble and recent publications. There is truly a generous selection.

The story is about Little Nell and her grandfather being pursued by an evil dwarf, and they end up meeting a series of interesting characters. That’s the short version, 555 pages. I have to admit that I am in for a treat because I have not read this story of Dickens, so I am now wanting to finish Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales in order to enjoy this book.

A Grimm October

Photo by M.A.D.

This book has been in my library for quite a while, so I thought that in October is the perfect time to finally read it. It is Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales. It contains about 200 stories, many of them those which one hears about during childhood years. I already spotted a significant difference in The Frog Prince. As a child, I was told that the king’s daughter kisses the frog, and it turns into a prince. Well, in this case, she was very obnoxious and full of herself, and threw the poor frog against the wall, and it turn into a prince, which she married. What a crock, or should I say croak. Well, I am interested in reading it to see how many differences I find.

Herbert presents Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales

Herbert has been with me for a very long time, and I love him.

Amiel’s Journal

Photo by M.A.D.

Here’s a little jewel from the past, Amiel’s Journal. I picked up this book years ago at a flea market, and now I am making the time to finally read it. It was among a large quantity of books spread on the ground, of many topics, many of them old, and this one caught my eye. It was originally written in the mid 1800s although this particular edition is from 1863 and is in very lovely, almost pristine condition. It amazes me how a little book like this one can survive more than a century, 159 years to be exact. This is volume two. I wished I had located volume one as well.

It was written by Henri Frederick Amiel, a Swiss moral philosopher, poet, critic, and a traveler. However, it was translated by Mrs. Humphry Ward (Mary Augusta Ward), a British novelist who wrote under her married name. She was a prolific writer but also a critic, journalist, memoirist, very active in society, and believe it or not, was actively against women’s right to vote. That truly surprised me coming from a very accomplished woman at that time. Puzzling.

As I read it, there are so many juicy bits found in its pages. If I were to be harsh, I would say that the book is Amiel’s mid-life crisis bordering in depression and disgust; however, as I read, I understand it is so much more than that. I have laughed, but also found myself saying out loud, “Oh no, he didn’t.” Of course, one has to understand the cultural and societal views of the times and read it under that context. For example, on page 13, he logs on his journal a few lines about what he is reading at the moment. Then, he expresses what I thought was a brutal book review, ouch! On page 16, on another entry, the reader can appreciate his understanding of the many characteristics a woman possesses, and he calls her “monstre incomprehensible, delight and terror of men.” More than once, he talks about Christianity at that time, and his view of Christianity (as a religion) permeates throughout. He writes, “The religion to which Jesus professed must be disentangled from the religion which has taken Jesus for its object.” I understand his sentiment, what he is trying to say, although I not necessarily agree. In my opinion, Jesus is Christianity, but Christianity does not necessarily reflect Jesus, on this day and throughout history. Maybe that was his point after all. There is so much more inside this journal. The fact that it is the year 2022 and I am writing a blog post about what this gentleman wrote on his diary over a century ago blows my mind.

I am enjoying this little book immensely. Eventually, I will be offering this jewel in my shop. Very old books deserve a longer journey.

What I Am Reading Now – Supernatural Finances

Supernatural Finances by Kevin L. Zadai

I have read countless of books on finances/money management, but I have never read one quite like this one.

If you are looking for an unconventional approach to finances this book does just that. It is written from a Christian and supernatural point of view, and supported by bible teaching, according to the author’s experience. It is written as if the author is talking directly to the reader, almost as if you are in conversation, something I had to get used to(the rhythm) when reading it. Definitely an interesting and different approach to finances, and one which for many people present a challenge, as it is not the typical fact, theory, and tips approach usually found in most books about this topic. If you are not a Christian, it will definitely puzzle you and make you frown, and if you are, it would pick your interest and possibly open your eyes, or at least, encourage you to dig more into it. Unconventional, powerful, and mystifying.

Of Birthdays Passed

As time goes by, so do birthdays. A time comes when one acknowledges the day, feels grateful for another year, reminisce a little about other birthdays passed, and realizes that material gifts are not as important anymore. Meaningful moments and relationships take the place. A while ago, my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday. My reply was, “I don’t need anything.” It was a sincere answer. Don’t get me wrong; I still enjoy things that I find beautiful or special, I just don’t see birthdays anymore as an opportunity to acquire more things. So gifts are not as important anymore. However, I gave it some thought and ended up settling on an antique book. It is something I like to collect. Old books are special. They are beautiful inside and out. The care that was put into printing and designing a book 100 + years ago, can be appreciated in every page. After scanning websites for an old book that would peek my interest, I settled on Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore. This particular edition is from 1900. I found older editions from the late 1800s with different covers; however, none of them caught my eye except for this one. The presentation seemed to have been made for a lady. The floral golden detail of the cover, the beautiful raised illustration, all of it spoke to me. The inside does not disappoint either; it is gorgeous as well. Add to it the scent of an old book, and it turns into perfection. One thing that I found odd was the placement of the preface on the left side, as you can see in the picture. I will make a confession; I am not one to read prefaces all the way. I try but most of the time I skip them, and find them boring. Well, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It intrigued me. If the preface is so good, I am about to be blown away by this story, I thought. I have never read Lorna Doone (Shame on me. Never too late) but I read the first chapter. All I can say is that it is beautiful, and that I need a dictionary of old terminology, of old English words, next to me. This will not be a quick read, and I intend to enjoy it. Besides, the print is very small, so my eyes will have to work extra hard, and at intervals. It will be interesting to learn some new (old) words. I am excited about it; and yes, I love my birthday present. This particular edition is gorgeous.

Richard Doddridge Blackmore (1825-1900) was a very famous English novelist, and Lorna Doone was one of his most known and famous novels. It is a romance, set in the countryside, and at that time a catalyst, a movement in romantic fiction. After reading his biography, and more about the book, I feel more compelled to read it in much detail, with much care and attention. Here are some pictures.


Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.


The Song of Our Syrian Guest

I love antique books. Everything is delightful about them. Beautiful graphics, gorgeous covers, even the hue of the pages that have been kissed by time, and what can I say, I cannot resist the scent of an old book. Someone should just come up with a perfume or air scent reminiscent of it.

Last Christmas my niece gifted me an antique copy  (1904 – 505th printing) of The Song of Our Syrian Guest by William Allen Knight. The gorgeous illustrations/prints are by Charles Copeland. This is one of the best gifts I have ever received in all my life. What a treasure it is! I gasped when I saw it, page by page, but moreover, I was delighted when I read it. Everything is so beautiful and detailed about its pages – the lovely ornate print, the simple black and white illustrations that reveal so much, and the soft palette of the cover and some of the print.  The book is about psalm 23 from the point of view of a shepherd, and how  the imagery of the psalm has a real purpose and meaning that a shepherd would know. This has been my favorite psalm; I never knew that I would read it in a whole new different light, and find so much more in it. I recommend this little gem to any reader. It is a treasure for sure. If you can get a hold of an old copy, better. I hope you do. You will not be disappointed. My niece decorated the first page with a dry flower, which I think gave it a special touch. I will treasure it forever, and it will have a prominent space in my collection. Here are some pictures so you can appreciate its beauty.


Photo by M.A.D.


Photo by M.A.D.


Photo by M.A.D.


Photo by M.A,D,

As a Reader, What Captures Your Interest, What Bores You?

Reading is one of the simple pleasures in life. I consider it a blessing as well. I’ve loved reading since I can remember. When I was a child, I remember reading anything I could get my hands on, books, comic books, fliers, labels, signs, shampoo bottles … . When I was sick, my aunts would buy me coloring books and books, and I fondly remember a book that had colorful pictures of all kinds of animals, and a brief information about each animal. It was the first time I learned about an okapi, and an ornitorinc. Look them up, these are some of the most unusual animals on our planet. The memory of those pictures never left my mind.

When I read I don’t put a number on how many books a year I have to read. It becomes a chore and ruins the experience for me. Instead, I carefully select what I want to read, usually according to my mood. Also, I don’t hurry to read the latest best seller. I approach reading with ceremonial disposition. It is a special time, an enjoyable and pleasurable experience. To be able to transport myself to a world created by a writer’s imagination, and visualize it, almost being inside it, is something quite special and amazing, a miracle of the mind, a connection between writer/author and reader. Isn’t that wonderful?

A well written story captures my interest. One that flows effortlessly in my mind as I read, and also, one that paints vivid images, whether via description or character’s recounts. I enjoy a medium pace, not to fast, but also not so slow that I might lose interest. I have put down books and never pick them up again because I became bored reading an extremely long description in almost every other chapter or too many twists and turns that made the story “too made up” for my taste. Other readers might enjoy this, of course. I enjoy a story that has balance between description and dialog. Contrary to popular opinion, you can tell me from time to time, you don’t have to show me all the time. It becomes exhausting. As a reader, balance is the key for me. Stories that go into too much technical detail tend to bore me, unless the information is crucial for understanding the story. If the lingo is being thrown without a purpose or direct correlation, I start skipping pages. When I catch myself skipping chapters, I stop reading the book. Many years ago, I would force myself to finish a book that I was not enjoying only because I had started reading it. To reach the ending was a must, almost a sacrilege not to do it. It was pure torture. Through the years, I made peace with my reader-self and finally understood that it is fine to stop reading a book that I am not enjoying. There are many books I want to enjoy, and life is too short.

The Christmas Box Collection

This post should have been written in January, however, I think it is never too late to praise a good read. During the Christmas season I usually read a holiday related book. Last year I read a few. I enjoyed The Christmas Box Collection by Richard Paul Evans so much that I must talk about the experience. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for some time, and finally, I was able to enjoy it. Many of you might be familiar with it since it has been around for some time, but for those of you who are not, I think it will be an enjoyable experience to read it. Although it is by no means a cheerful set of stories, these all relate to one another, and are a bit different from your regular holiday read.

The Christmas Box Collection includes three stories: The Christmas Box, Timepiece, and The Letter. I loved all three stories. I loved that these are so well written that I could not put them down. In addition, I found myself being transported to the settings and seeing everything so clear in my mind, effortlessly, and this made the reading experience more enjoyable. I also found myself immersed, enjoying the writing style of this author. It is an author that I would read again. I am not going to include on this post a summary or what each story is about because that will ruin the reader’s experience; however, I can tell you that if you want to read something different and meaningful over the Christmas season The Christmas Box Collection will not disappoint you.

What I Read

I’ve been asked before what kinds of books do I read, and my answer always comes as a surprise. I describe my reading as being all over the place. I read everything that peaks my interest. In my library, you will find positive thinking books, self-help, fiction, physics, science, religion, classic works, reference books, financial education, and even fairy tales. I don’t think I have a favorite genre or category; I read what seems interesting. The fiction category is very wide, and I prefer mysteries but will also read inspirational stories, as well as light hearted ones. I stay away from romances unless they are more infused with mystery, adventure, or the supernatural. I don’t like overly romantic novels, and certainly dislike explicit ones or erotica.

Over the past couple of years I’ve read a lot, mostly with the intention of going through the backlog of books that have piled up over the years, although I am always reading something. I like to read hardcopy. I tried to get used to e-format but could not. I found myself losing interest in what I was reading, and even not wanting to go back to the ebooks I had started reading. I honestly don’t know why this is, and if I have not embraced e-reading by now, it is not going to happen. I find that I have a short attention span for e-reading but I can sit with a book in my hands for hours. In the meantime, I am not buying any more books until I force myself to make a dent on my library shelves. Instead, I will keep a list of new books I want to read. Some books I will keep, some I will read a second time, and other books I will give away. I will keep antique tomes because they represent a collection I’ve started and would like to keep growing. I will keep any new editions of the classics.

I am also not a fan of audio books, unless it is in the self-help/positive thinking category. When I used to drive everyday to work, I listened to those, but not so much these days. These days I’d rather sit with a book and enjoy the feel and scent of its pages, the scent of a story.

One of my oldies

My Best Friends are Not Human

They were there when I needed them.

They were by my bedside when I was sick.

They comforted me when I felt lonely.

They were with me during my childhood, and throughout my entire life.

They are here now, and offer comfort any time I go to them.

They offered guidance and knowledge.

They taught me how to dream, and sometimes, they made me laugh or cry.

It has been a lifetime friendship, one I will treasure forever.

Books are my friends.


*A true story