Since the kids are visiting Grandmas and Grandpas in Oklahoma, we are working sun-up to sun-down to prepare our home for what we hope will be its brief stay on the real estate market, then its new owners, who are surely out there somewhere. There is a new deck out back, which has been about one week in the making. I am covered in wood stain, and my husband has a tan like he did back in the farm boy days. Today, while he put in the stairs, I focused my attention on the windows. Then I heard the siren call of my books.
I've packed almost all of them into boxes, organized by genre and author where appropriate. Out of the mass, these are the two that received the extra treatment of a Ziploc bag before they were placed in the cardboard box. These are, believe it or not, two of my favorite books of all time. One discovered in childhood, and one discovered in my college years.
Dear Rat was one of those mysterious books that just appear in a family bookshelf, and no one can trace its origin. I only remember stumbling across it as a small child. It is the story of a young rat in Paris, who solves a mystery and falls in love. The first-person narration is wonderful, and it may have been my first introduction to the world of detective fiction. (The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew entered my life at around the same time.)
Berlin Diary, on the other hand, is the journal of a famous news correspondent in WWII. William Shirer (one of the Murrow boys) went on to write the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, also an excellent book. His diary, though, is great for any student of WWII, or anyone who is curious about life in a culture of increasing aggression and self-conceit. (Don't the two often go hand in hand?) It begins in 1934 and ends when he returns to the U.S. in December of 1940, telling the tales of the birth pangs of broadcast journalism and the on set of one of the darkest stains on human history.
If I could, I'd protect all my lovely books, but I know that most of them would be easy to replace, or would not break my heart if I didn't have them in storage after all. Well, let's be honest, if I could, I'd bring them all along with me in the RV, but that's not going to happen.
However, since Dear Rat is out of print, and Berlin Diary is a first edition (yes, I have another one that I keep to actually read), they will receive the special treatment. They don't get a place in the box of antique books, but they do get to rise above the rest of the paper hoi polloi.