The Coolest Book I Ever Owned but Never Read

Fred the cat insisted on helping with the photo.

Barbara writes: Many years ago I was at the California Antiquarian Book Fair and I stumbled across a really nice leather-bound copy of Walter Savage Landor’s Imaginary Conversations from 1824. I wouldn’t have had the faintest idea who Landor was except that I had recently read Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road and on page 5 up popped those Imaginary Conversations.

Let me just say, I adore 84, Charing Cross Road. If you’ve never read it (go get a copy right now!) it’s a series of letters between Helene Hanff in NYC and the bookstore Marks & Co. in London. It’s funny and charming and poignant and bursting with the love of English literature. But here’s the thing, Helen Hanff wasn’t a novel fan. For me English literature is Dickens and Austen; for her it was Leigh Hunt and William Hazlitt and, yes, Walter Savage Landor.

So, I bought the Landor and could barely wait to get home and read it. Cut to 20 years later. The darn thing was still sitting, unread, on my bookshelf. I wanted to like it. Every couple of years I would start reading a conversation and before I got even a couple of paragraphs in, my mind would wander and I would find myself thinking that maybe it was time to do a little vacuuming. And if you’d ever seen my carpets you’d know I almost never decide it’s a good time to do a little vacuuming.

Last month I decided to give Landor one last try. Heck, I was more mature (or at least older); maybe this would be the year I would finally appreciate Landor’s Imaginary Conversations. I even started with the one between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Over the years I’ve read a lot of books about them; well novels actually, but still. No dice. Midway through the conversation I gave up and went and washed the dishes.

If you’re interested in a really nice leather-bound copy of Landor’s Imaginary Conversations I sold it to Book Alley in Pasadena. Enjoy reading it. I’m going back to my English Literature. Dickens, Austen and of course, Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road.


Posted on September 5, 2012, in Favorite Reads and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Love your style 🙂 And Charles Dickens. Great post

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