Another book I thoroughly enjoyed was _A Midwife's Tale_, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Ulrich found the journals of Martha Ballard languishing in archives in Maine, and spent years poring through the weathered pages. doing additional research, and then finally publishing a history based on the work she'd done with the diaries. While parts of it can be a bit plodding, overall it's also well-written, and is fascinating: Ballard served as a midwife in her neighborhood in what is now Augusta, Maine in the years immediately following the American Revolution. She not only writes about the children she delivers, but also about the chores she does, the neighbors, her family, local events and politics, and events in general. A picture of late 18th-century life in New England emerges, and you get a feel for what it was like to live back then.
These books are on my shelves. I went through most of my books after I left school, and picked out those that I either planned to use again soon, or wanted to read for my own benefit. The rest I packed away in two boxes, and shoved them in the closet for now. I'll figure out what to do with them eventually.
We have three bookcases in the living room. The first one, closest to the balcony, holds most of the history books I decided to keep out. They're organized, but also eclectic in a way: there's U.S. history, American West, Latin American history, and odds & ends, including books on Australia, the Middle East, Canada, and other regions that most people don't get to study at school. The bottom shelf holds a mixture of law books: some my wife's, and some are mine from long ago.
The next bookcase over is a grab bag. There's oversized comic anthologies, mythology, sociology, religion, local history, genealogy, and at least a shelf's worth of deaf history. Most of the deaf-related books are books that are out now, or are fairly recent. I do have Maxine Tull Boatner's biography of Edward Miner Gallaudet, and Albert Atwood's history of Gallaudet College from 1964, the university's centennial year. There's also some books on Deaf literature as well.
The third bookcase is mostly comic strip and comic-book anthologies. with a smattering of exercise books, popular non-fiction, and odds and ends. There's also what I call my "gossip books": my Gallaudet yearbooks. I call them that because any time we have guests over, inevitably a yearbook will come out, ostensibly just to find one individual. But before long, someone wants to see what I looked like nearly twenty years ago, or sees a picture of someone they know, and before you know it, "Whatever happened to..." and "Remember when...?" dominates the conversation. Now that we have the MSSD yearbooks on the shelf, I anticipate there will be additional opportunities for gossip and reflection.
There are two low bookshelves in the bedroom, and it's here that we keep all our regular fiction. We decided to pull out and keep those books we knew we either wanted to read or would read again. This is where you'll find some of my favorite books, including Jack Finney's _Time and Again_ and Joe David Brown's _Addie Pray_. The latter book is fantastic, but you may not have heard of it and think the title obscure: it's better known as "Paper Moon," the title of the film that was adapted from the book. But if you've seen "Paper Moon" and think you know the story, guess again. The movie only covers the first half of the book, and even then, naturally condenses quite a bit. It's the story of a young orphan named Addie Pray and her con-man guardian, who might also be her father, as they travel around Depression-era Alabama and New Orleans.There is an exuberance as they pull their cons, but they are portrayed sympathetically enough that you feel drawn to their story without condemning their actions too much.
We also have some children's books, including the Harry Potter series. When the books first came out, I just figured they must be nice books for children, and thought it was great that kids were reading again. I grew up during an era (1950s-early 1980s) that I think was a golden age for children's lit; add that to the fact that I'm far removed from childhood, and it equals very few trips to the children's section at the library, if ever. But somewhere around the third book, I finally was encouraged to pick a copy of the first book up, and I got hooked. We're eagerly awaiting this summer's release of _Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince_. These books are equally enjoyable for adults as they are for children, and will definitely be considered classics in the vein of _The Wizard of Oz_ books, _The Chronicles of Narnia_, Lloyd Alexander's books about Prydain, etc. If you haven't read them yet, then stop reading this right now, run to your nearest library, and check a copy of the first book out. You'll be glad you did.
These aren't all our books. There's about 15-20 boxes of books we left behind in Northern California. I had had boxes of stuff both in storage and in my parent's storage for years, but when I finished my stint in Utah and got married, I decided to take my stuff out of storage and see what I had. Some boxes hadn't been opened at that point in about fifteen years. I spent a couple of days going through and opening old, dusty boxes and coming face to face with my childhood and youth. After some pleasant reminiscences, I re-packed most stuff, tossed a few things, and kept out a few things. I split a storage unit for a while with family members, and then finally stopped renting the unit and my parents have been kind enough to hold them for me until sometime next year, most likely. At that point, I'll need to get them all out, and go through them again and then be responsible once more for storing my own stuff.
You may think it strange to keep so many books for so long. But for me, I just couldn't get rid of them. To me, books are treasures. They can take you places, they can help you travel through time, learn new things, develop new skills, become immersed in worlds beyond imagination. For a short time, you can enter someone else's life, see the world through new eyes. I grew up in a house full of books, I now live in a house full of books, and when I die, I expect to be surrounded by books.
As Cicero said, "A room without books is a body without soul."