Cleaning Out Your Bookshelves

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Cleaning Out Your Bookshelves

Does anyone really like doing that! I mean…some people collect tea cups, or horses (I did as a kid), or shot glasses…but getting RID of books…

Oh for me…It has always been collecting books. Always will be. I can say I am thrilled that actually in-hand paper books will ALWAYS be around during my lifetime…

But there is only so much space. As you get older…and still rational…you realize that you can’t take everything—well anything with you when you die.

Your trash will be someone else’s problem.

But my books are my dream catchers…I have to realize I need to cull out what I am likely never to read again. And if I really need to—I can probably always find an electronic copy somewhere. Or at a thrift shop.

So—First: old paperback romances—mostly pretty easy to sort through. I buy tons at the Goodwill and at this annual used books sale in Phoenix, the VNSA—which is the largest used book sale west of the Rockies…

And I must say—a little slice of heaven right there on the county/state fairgrounds every February close to Valentine’s Day. (How very, very appropriate!)

So, as I was going through my shelves…I came across one of my favorite mysteries as a child (I was probably about ten) and I found a library copy…somewhere. Don’t know where.

It is this: The Mystery of Broken Horse Chimneys (1960) by Eda Szecskay Crist (with illustrations by her husband, I believe).

I just remember it so fondly. Perhaps it was the summer I read it. It’s just one of those books, that when you come across it you hold it in your hand and a whole flood of vague satisfying memories comes rolling off it.

It is set in Pennsylvania (And funny for some reason my memory had it in the Southwest!) two kids and their artist father go way out in the country side east of Philadelphia to “the back roads of the Big Savage Mountains) to spend the summer in a little cottage outside the town of Deer Lick. Dad will paint (He is a commercial illustrator in town) and the kids Dodey, 15 and Bobby 13 will go exploring. They meet up with a local lad named Randy who tells them all about the area and the mystery of a lost mail delivery when a wagon went off a road taking the mail and a payroll sack of money for local miners. And there’s some old guy with a shotgun who is hunting around trying to find the missing gold.

It’s a wonderful tale with spooky characters and things that go bump in the night and the three teenagers spend a few weeks solving the mystery of the Broken Horse Chimney (the “chimney” being a spire of rock and the Broken Horse named for the unfortunate animal that went off the road with the mail delivery.

I just reread it—and you know, it is still wonderful. Dodey, for 1960 is pretty independent (still does a little of the cooking and cleaning for her brother and Dad) but she is clever, strong and brave.

Surely you have some favorite childhood books you’d like to share? What was one of your favorite summer reads? Especially when you were young.

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