Books Missing from Houses

I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.                           -Julia Donaldson

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What makes a house into a home?  I have ruminated on this for many years and every time I visit a house I come up against it. Some have it, some don’t, but what is “it?”

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Books on dishes? Why not? Peter Rabbit 100 Year Centennial set from Wedgwood.

 

I doubt if it is the strange fixation our country has in gutting walls so that your mailman can see your sink piled with pots and pans and your guests have to sit on a sofa that smells of last weeks’ bacon grease. (I predict open bathrooms next. After all it’s lonely in there and everyone in another part of the house is having fun.)

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I love Agatha Christie so much because she brings her lovely Victorian upbringing to the page and she is a genius storyteller. Both of these treats are what makes her books so unique.

I doubt if it is plastic windows garishly set into randomly cut holes on an old house as to make it worth more money. (This never works but makes a horrible eyesore in a neighborhood.)

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I doubt if it’s filth. No, of course not. We won’t go there. I’ve been in places that I wouldn’t let a dog live in. However most homes are not showplaces. They are used by families, so a little dirt doesn’t hurt. Also, during renovations all standards are off! No one can keep a house when that is happening all around! I would just try to keep one room looking ok for us to be in and even that was challenging!

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What I do think should be at the top of this list is books. Shelves of books, books in public spaces and private, books read and in obvious use. Books are cozy, they are honest, they tell people about what kind of person you are. But in all the years I used to watch home buying, selling, and decorating shows I can only recall a handful of places that had them.  Most houses were completely void of books, or even magazines. People would have $10,000 ranges but not a single paperback.  Without books, it’s just a showroom floor. No one actually lives there.

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An Old House Lover lives here.

What else makes a house a home? Well this is just my opinion but here goes: children, toys, an animal (snakes and guard dogs don’t count),  art on the walls, a kitchen that looks like people actually cook and eat in it, food or evidence of generosity for guests, a little garden patch, plants inside, a balance of things with little clutter (but not minimalism), light coming through windows, happy voices, and God’s grace.

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But back to books. I have the honor of being born to a generation who grew up with books but as adults got the invention of the world wide web and instant information. Half of me loves books, the other half loves the internet. However they should not be confused with each other and I’ve learned reading is not the same online. There I have an adhd brain. In a book I am focused and inside the story.

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My very favorite children’s books. All of Elizabeth Enright, (I even have 2 signed books!) Eleanor Estes, The Borrowers, Roald Dahl, Go to the Room of the Eyes, and more.

Books dive deep, while the internet skims the surface. I can find a book on just anything, but I have difficulty swimming through all the fake websites in the search engine results. Books last, even if made from pulp they have more staying power than most websites. I can always go to my library and get a favorite book, many times I have clicked a bookmark for a favorite website and it’s no longer there. Some say print is dead, I just think it’s got more levels. The one I appreciate most is a book.

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More favorites including children’s picture books, The Annotated Alice in Wonderland, Margaret Lane, and Susan Branch memoirs.
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Small picture books and fun scary books (one of my favorite kinds) including Edward Gorey, Ed Emberly, and fairy tale books.
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One set of Harry Potter books for the adults, one for the kids!
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Very favorite kitchen books and my home organization binder.
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Thank God for books. I used these often and still sometimes look things up.
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Oversized fun! The Encyclopedia of Collectibles is a treasure trove of information about antiques. I’ve kept them for so long because I can’t find the deep knowledge they hold online.

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After all that I suppose I should plug my own books! The Secret of Sterling House is available on Amazon in paperback here and on Kindle here!2ADBCC7B-BAAC-485D-BB4A-41602C2EE24D

And… my newest book- a picture book about a little mouse’s adventures in “her” garden along with her recipes (human-sized portions, of course!). It is now live on Amazon in paperback here and on Kindle here! Both books are FREE if you have Kindle Select!

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Readers are writers dear friends! If you have a book inside you and would like some support just comment below!

With book love and writing dreams to you from Kansas Street,

-Jaime

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