Paradise Found

One of the best things about being in Kentucky for Thanksgiving was our visit to Black Swan Books, my favorite used and rare bookstore.  The owner, Mike Courtney, is quite the character, and he makes it an adventure to spend the entire afternoon in his shop.

In addition to an uncorrected proof of Styron’s SOPHIE’S CHOICE (you know I’m loving that), check out one of the real treasures I escaped with.

Though now that I’m home I’m finding it hard to figure out where to put it.


This gorgeous, illustrated edition is inscribed as a Christmas gift in 1881, but the gilt-edged pages have hardly been touched in their 130 years.

Full-page, engraved illustrations by French artist Gustave Dore.


What’s your favorite book in the house, and where do you keep it?

29 thoughts on “Paradise Found

    1. Teri Post author

      *swoon* back … I so love Anne of Green Gables. I recently (finally) put away a paperback of THE LONG WINTER by Laura Ingalls — it’s been next to my bed for months.

    1. Teri Post author

      And! The SOPHIE’S CHOICE proof was in the box it was originally mailed in — March 1980. It has not seen the light of day for awhile.

  1. girl in the hat

    What an exquisite book. You need one of those fancy dais-thingies like they use for bibles and dictionaries. Is it gilt-edged?

    Alas, all my books are in storage. I miss them. I have some original 1st ed. George MacDonald fairy tales and an ancient OED that belonged to my great grandmother.

    1. Teri Post author

      I was dreaming of exactly that fancy dais-thingy all the way home from Kentucky.

      What a prize to have those fairy tales and your great grandfather’s OED. Are the pages really thin and wispy? I can only imagine.

      1. girl in the hat

        The pages are transparent and it has several stripes of ancient masking tape to hold its spine. When I open that book, I feel very close to her. There is something very sensual and body-like about a book.

  2. jpon

    Awesome finds. Congratulations. I have one book of poetry by Elizabeth Barrett Browning that’s so old it doesn’t even have a copyright page, so I have no idea as to its age or authenticity. Bought it at a library sale for $1. Outside of that, nada.

    1. Teri Post author

      One dollar. How does this happen? Who on earth ditched that lovely book?! I’m so happy it found its home with you, Joe.

  3. Averil Dean

    Holy moly. What a score.

    My most prized book is not technically mine, but my mom has promised it will come to me one day. It’s an Australian book of children’s stories about the gumnut babies, which my mother has kept in her bedside table all her life and used to read to us when we were small. The old cover had worn away and was lost, so years ago my father had it rebound for her. The illustrations are darling, and I love the names of the characters: Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and little Ragged Blossom. Also the villainous Banksia Man, who liked to steal the babies.

    1. Catherine

      Averil I can’t believe you know Snugglepot and Cuddlepie!! That’s why we are gum nut sistas! I didn’t grow up with it rather I bought two cassettes of the book and we son used to follow me around with it playing all day. It’s inside my head always. Little Ragged Blossom and the horrible Banksia Man!

      1. Averil Dean

        Yes! A gumnut sista! My mother is Australian, and I believe the book was a gift from her grandmother. The pages are so yellow and tattered—but you know, with a child’s book that’s a sign of love.

  4. Deb

    Beautiful. What a treasure. My husband has a collection of old books of Finnish history. Inside one we found an inscription from staff at IBM to someone high ranking in Germany in 1940. I couldn’t believe it after having recently read the allegations of their WWII connections.

    1. Teri Post author

      Now THAT is an interesting collection, particularly its gift origins. What are the chances you’d end up with it? Maybe an investigation is called for…..

  5. Teri Post author

    And P.S. everybody: my lame photos of the illustrations don’t even come close to doing them justice. They are so so detailed, so intricate, so damned fascinating.

  6. lisahgolden

    The smell must be heavenly. The engravings and the cover are gorgeous. I have an early edition of the James Garfield’s biography. Obscure, but beautifully bound. And it has that smell. That perfect, old book smell.

    But the prized books – truly prized – are Doug’s father’s math textbook and his mother’s copy of Robert Frost’s poems.

      1. Teri

        And Black Swan Books is in an old Victorian house, so there are many small rooms with high ceilings along with that great smell.

  7. Jennine G.

    Wow that is nice!

    I have a stack of books signed by authors – both traditional and self published. They are on a shelf in my room, but kind of set aside so no one will actually touch/read them.

    I have some really old basil readers – first basic textbooks for reading. It belonged to my grandmother who was born in 1914. And some other first edition books that are more cool for their age than the title/author.

  8. Catherine

    Love the Doré drawings! I ordered a copy of my all-time favourite book Voss online and received a hard back 1957 copy. Absolutely brilliant.

    1. Teri Post author

      Next time I’m taking you with me! You’d love the owner. Then we can have lunch. And coffee. And dinner. That’s it, I’m kidnapping you!!!

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