If ever you have a spare hour and are in need of a reminder of the good, true, bookish things in life, may I recommend making some tea, sitting in your most comfortable and comforting spot, and reading 84, Charing Cross Road? Don’t forget to have a handkerchief near, too.
84, Charing Cross Road is a tiny epistolatory wonder. A time capsule, a manifesto, a love letter. Although some would say it’s about the friendship Helene Hanff had with the booksellers at Marks & Co., I think it’s most about the relationship Hanff had with type on pages between two covers.
I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to “I hate to read new books,” and I hollered “Comrade!” to whoever owned it before me.
i am going to bed. i will have nightmares involving huge monsters in academic robes carrying long bloody butcher knives labeled Excerpt, Selection, Passage, and Abridged.
I do think it’s a very uneven exchange of Christmas presents. You’ll eat yours up in a week and have nothing left to show for it by New Year’s Day. I’ll have mine till the day I die – and die happy in the knowledge that I’mleaving it behind for someone else to love. I shall sprinkle pale pencil marks through it pointing out the best passages to some book-lover yet unborn.
Hanff is definitely one of my birds of a feather, kindred spirt, yes, yes, yes! people. I too love cream-not-white pages, not-so-secretly take long, eyes-closed inhalations of books, and have very strong feelings about abridgements!
Wallace from Unputdownables asked us to read it for her birthday. Boy, did we all get a gift! This was my second time reading it, and it only gets better. The next time I read something so sad like the average American reads six books a year, or I get a blank stare when I refer to someone being so Uriah Heep, I will take my own advice and make a pot of tea, curl up in my most comfortable and comforting spot, and read 84, Charing Cross Road again (and again, and again).