The attic in my parents’ house always seemed to be a wonderful mystery to me. I knew it was filled with things, but I wasn’t allowed to go up there alone. There was a heavy panel that needed to be lifted and taken off of a wall from the lower part of the attic that had been converted into a bedroom. Then there were heavy wooden stairs that my father had made which needed to be rolled out and let down. Much of the floor of the attic was not solid, there were places where you could see the insulation between the beams. But then there were other areas where boxes of unknown things were packed away and tucked into corners.
One day as a teenager, I think I was probably around fifteen, I ventured into the attic by myself. I plugged in the electrical plug that was connected to old frayed wires into the outlet and thus illuminated the dark with a single light bulb. Until then, my favorite things that had ever come out of the attic were the Christmas decorations. But I pushed past those boxes and searched further into the depths of the unknown space this time, and what I found was a gold mine. A gold mine of books. It seems that in the 1940s and 1950s, my father was a member of a book club. There were boxes of old books with weathered spines and yellowed pages, some of which looked untouched and unread. I pulled the heavy boxes out and brought them down to have a better look. There were mysteries and love stories, encyclopedias and classical fiction. I picked out a few and read them that summer. Occasionally, after that, I would venture back up into the attic to find another book to read until I grew up and moved away.
Years later, my younger brother sold the house and he and his family and my mother moved away. But before they moved, they asked me to come and look at some books to see if I wanted to take any. I went through the old boxes, which were now well over fifty years old. I pulled out treasure after treasure and selected the ones I would take with me. They now sit cluttered on a shelf and in my attic. I have always wanted to build a library in my house so that these books can stand proud for their age and in view of anyone who might want to leaf through their pages. I envision a room with some comfortable chairs and ample lighting where I can get lost in their adventures. Here is the list of what has survived. They are a gold mine preserved through time.
The Virginians by Wm. Makepeace Thackeray
Vanity Fair by Wm. Makepeace Thackeray
The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Silver Nutmeg by Norah Lofts (. . . action, and fabulous adventure, love and intrigue in the Dutch East Indies during the exciting 1600s).
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
Nana by Emile Zola
Gaudy’s Ladies by Clark McMeekin (. . . Gaudy Robertson—orphan, gambler, river pilot, ship builder, lover—and of the seven women who shaped his life!)
Young Claudia by Rose Franken (Claudia is a woman now. She has two bouncing boys and a tenth anniversary to prove it. But what price maturity when a gay young thing tries to steal her husband!)
A History of New York and The Sketch Book by Washington Irving
Lydia Bailey by Kenneth Roberts
Northern Lights by Roger Vercel (Year after year, Suzanne faithfully awaited her explorer husband’s return, only to say goodbye again. This time, perhaps, she would not wait alone!)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Last Days of Pompeii by Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Red Morning by Ruby Frazier Frey (Love on the Frontier in the French & Indian Wars)
Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes
Of Life and Love by Emil Ludwig
A Tale of Two Cities/A Christmas Carol/The Chimes by Charles Dickens
Vain Shadow: A Romantic Biography of the Discoverer of the Amazon by Hartzell Spence
Most Secret by Nevil Shute (WWII) (c. 1945)
The Standard Home Library of the World’s Greatest Literature (summaries) – Vol. 1 of 20 volumes.
Pictured Knowledge: The Full-Color Illustrated Encyclopedia for the Family—Vol. 1 of 14 volumes. (c. 1956)
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy