Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Through the Windows of a Book

"My books are friends that never fail me."
Thomas Carlyle

These are the books that inspired this posting. They showed up in my Christmas post, and I got letter after letter from book lovers who wanted all the information on them. Then Deborah Jean wrote me and ordered some copies.  We decided to do a co-op post about some of the books we love. Oh heavens, what a can of worms I opened. I love so many books, so many topics, and I've collected them my entire life. And, luckily, I inherited or was gifted some of my favorites from my Grandmother Lovejoy, author Ethel Pochocki, my neighbor and dear friend Kate Pemberton Stearns, Lynn Karlin, Susan Branch, Marilyn Brewer, and so many more. The books are memories, cherished treasures, and a part of my life I could never imagine doing without. The ones I'm featuring now are old, but there are so many new and wonderful books that deserve their own place in the sun. Maybe in the coming months?

This is the book of poetry that Grandmother and I shared.
It is dated 1900.

Some of my earliest memories are of my Grandmother Lovejoy snugged into her favorite, over stuffed chair with her tattered book of Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses spread open on her lap. I sat beside her as she read to me in a soft, sing-song voice, and I followed along, trying to make sense of the magical black marks called an alphabet that brought the books to life.

I can't imagine a home without books. Their presence is a comfort to me and a promise of hours of joyful and peaceful reading, adventures, discoveries, and so much more.

The title says it all.

Ok, I'll admit it-sometimes I fall in love with a cover, and yes, sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

For example:

Here are some of my favorites, and they're as great inside as they are outside.

I learned about this Edith Wharton book while reading Emelie Tolley's column in the old Victoria magazine. She was right, this is fabulous. Check out what is going on with Emelie now. She is as busy and creative as ever.

A birthday gift from my pal Marilyn.

A gift from Kate, one of my most treasured friends who recently passed away. She wore through some of the pages of this book when she was a child.

Rosebud and Red Flannel, a gift from my dear friend Ethel Pochocki.

A gift from my friend Susan Branch. She found this for me when she and Joe were traveling through England. I love this!

Covers, pages, and sometimes, even the endpapers like the ones below send me into ecstasy.

These are the endpapers drawn by Damariscotta, Maine, artist Jake Day for the book Houseboat Summer by Elizabeth Coatsworth of Nobleboro, Maine. Elizabeth was one of the first authors to win the most important award in children's literature, the Newbery Medal. Elizabeth and her husband Henry Beston (author of The Outermost House-a year on Cape Cod) lived in this houseboat on Damariscotta Lake. I have ALWAYS wanted to live on a houseboat, and this one looks perfect to me.

 This is a portion of a poem from my Grandmother's book of Robert Louis Stevenson poetry. 

Faretheewell for now. Won't you visit a neighborhood bookshop and enrich your life with a book you love? I promise, you'll never regret the time you spend with them.


P.S. We have great antiquarian bookstores in Maine. Why not meander up our coastline and have a bookish adventure?


Sheilagh said...

Oh how I love books old and new, they are a joy, to hold and read. Your photo's are a delight. I have a favourite book shop were I can spend hours lost in the joy of the written word from times go by. you have prompted me to go visit as soon as I have a free weekend. Thank you

Pondside said...

I can't resist an old book with a great cover - and I can't resist an old book with a great title - a great subject....I just can't resist old books!

Nina Suria said...

Wow! What a lovely collection, love 'em v.much :)

I wish I could read that BIRD FRIENDS :(

Mozart's Girl said...

Dearest Sharon - did I say Happy New Year to you & Jeff yet? If not, that's a terrible omission! So, allthe very best to you both for 2011! How much did I love this post? You know how much I adore old books too, in fact just this morning I took a picture of my new 'reading corner' that was a work in progress when you visited & is now finished! I'll post it a little later on Mozart's Girl (where there are new photos of my January garden you might enjoy!)I just loved this peek into your bookshelves...what a wonderful way to start this cold, wet, dark morning..and the weekend to come. Love to you xoxo Rachel

Anonymous said...

Yes what would life be without books! My absolute favorite is a handbook for gardeners written around 1918. It was a great help when I had my nursery/gardencentre and it has lots of tips that are long forgotten.

But I also love my Winds in the willows and Winnie the Pooh books :-)

Have a great day now!

Carol Michel said...

Who doesn't love a nice pile of books by the reading chair, next to a window looking out into a garden? I've been reading and posting snippets this week from a 1910 gardening book by Ida D. Bennett. It has a lovely cover and is very interesting between the covers, too.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear Sharon ~ What a wonderful collection of books you have and I love the view of your room with the bookcase behind the sofa. I could get lost for hours I know sitting there enchanted and engrossed, in a different world.

We love books too, and if we didn't have them our tiny cottage would be larger, but without them our lives would be emptier.

Thanks for a lovely post.


Snap said...

Wow! I thought I had lots of books! ;D ;D

I love old books .. especially children's books. I remember the article in the *original* Victoria. I'd love to go book hunting in Maine!

Courtney at SL's No Ennui said...

I LOVED this post! A CHild's Garden of Verses is one of my favorites-- and one of the few that gets to sit between the bookends ON my desk! I gave it as a gift to my little cousins... and I could be wrong, but I don't think they've opened it once. So busy with technology and snarky-toned books, are they! Oh well.

The Edith Wharton is interesting... all I've ever read are her short stories and novels.

Thanks for sharing! I can almost smell the sweet, musty aroma of their pages, yellowed by nostalgia from here!

From the Kitchen said...

Sharon, I've have had a most pleasant visit with you and your books this morning. What a collection of treasures you have. I, too, love books. Old and new! I love libraries and serve on the board of trustees at our local library. However, I usually purchase even new books. If I love them, I don't want to give them back (libraries like you to do this). If I don't love them, I donate them. I love the feel of the book in my hands. I cannot imagine using an electronic device to read a book.


Rebecca said...

This post reaches me at many levels. I am warmed, stimulated, cozied, quizzical, and comforted all at the same time. Long ago I ran out of proper storage for all the books we own...but I have a very difficult time getting rid of ANY of them.

You old ones are SO intriguing!

Claus said...

If Maine wasn't that far away, I would definitely go!! From book stores, to antique stores, you have it all! They do not exist here, and the one antique shoppe I saw the other day is way to expensive. But still, I hope that one I will find here, or go somewhere where my dream of finding treasures will come true.
Wonderful book collection Sharon! Books are indeed a treasure, and something important at home as well. Another dream in the list is to build a floor to ceiling, wall to wall bookcase at home. That dream seems more plausible for the near future. I just have to find the right spot, and convince mom!! :o)

have a wonderful day!

Ginny said...

What a glorious treasure trove of books you have! I'm in love with books and old ones like those you've pictured here.

Dawn said...

Sharon, you have such an amazing, beautiful selection! So precious and irreplaceable. I am just beginning my collection of old books, I try to find ones signed by authors because I like the thought that they held it in their hands. Book covers were so gorgeous back then.
Thank you so much for sharing these precious jewels!

Love, Dawn

P.S. One day, I will come meandering up the Maine coastline for sure. :)

Vee said...

Amazing graphics on those covers! I marvel at them for the art alone, though to peek inside would be a special treat. Love reading about Elizabeth Coatsworth...hardly anyone knows her anymore and it's such a shame. We have a delightful little antiquarian bookstore in our corner where we can find such dear books. John bought me E.B. White's The Points of My Compass for my Christmas gift.

The BUTT'RY and BOOK'RY said...

What an exquisite presentation of such

beautiful BOOKS so deserving of recognition!

Thank you for sharing! What a wonderful collection!

You know we are the "keepers" ushering these prized

"word vehicles" into the future!!!
(in this high tech world)

Isn't it an honor! ;-)
Beautiful, just Beautiful!!!

Blessings, Linnie

Pat said...

Amazing post - it is as if someone gave me a key to a door that allowed entrance into a cozy library. The very feel of an old, treasured book in one's hands, the mellowed colors and graphics, even the fragrance of it's pages.... What a heady mixture! Thank you for sharing with us - and now I have added even more titles to be searched out!!

Unknown said...

Hello dear Sharon,
Yes, you did open a can of worms when you said, " Lets do a co-op book posting"! I had a hard time narrowing down my selections as well, and after seeing all of your beloved and scrumptious antique books my mind has wondered over to my dear mother in laws book shelves where she still has her treasured " now antique" books gifted to her and her children over the years. Her Beatrix Potter collection comes to mind and many others. Any who, this was fun! Glad we did it!
Happy Reading my dear!
ps. I'm giving away Sharon's SUNFLOWER HOUSES on my blog today... pop over and leave a comment for a chance to win... Just by coincidence it's my 100th post!

Kay's flowers said...

My friend,
old books are my passion also. It looks like you have some wonderful old titles there. My favorite is Gene Stratton Porter. Have you read any of hers? She would be a good one to add to your collection. Thanks for sharing.

Love and Blessings,

Robin Larkspur said...

May I please move in and live in a cozy corner of your book shelves? Robin.

Cat said...

Yes, that feeling of infinite possibility when you walk into a room filled with books is pure JOY! Beautiful collection you have.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...


Marguerite said...

I agree, a home without books just seems to empty. We moved across country recently and boxes of books were sold/given away in the process. I didn't realize how much I missed them all until recently I was in a bookstore and found myself purchasing the same books I had previously had to give away!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon,
You have quite a collection of books... and I have "A Childs Garden of Verses" book also, with a different looking cover from 1960 with the girl on a swing. I like the new look you have here!

City Sister said...

My favorite book shop is the 2nd hand bookstore for skidompha! it has it all.

Lydia said...

What a lovely collection of books.

Other than bathrooms, I am suspect of any room without books. It is like a person without friends. Something isn't right.


Jan said...

I am suddenly in the mood to go through many of my 'older' books and then, take a day and shop for some. I have ordered a few from Ebay now and then, when a particular bookcover looks inspiring (even though 'typically' we can't judge a book by its cover), as you say. I feel an antique store trip in my near future, or hunting down little towns around me, to see what might lie in store. Thanks for a great idea of something 'different' to do on a dreery winters day;-)

Privet and Holly said...

From one book
lover to another:
cheers! I even
have my own copies
of some of the
favorite children's
authors that I read
to mine when they
were little. Books
are the one addiction
that is truly healthy : )
Happy Day,
xx Suzanne

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Books - Oh yes - I must have them.
Wrote a post recently on some of mine. When I downscaled so many were given away. Thank you for this post:)

Lili said...

While reading through your post I was thinking about our visit yesterday to the Big Chicken Barn. The book you have with the gold song bird on the front is one that I stopped and gazed at through the glass case there. Love the reoccurring theme of gardens, birds and children. You painted such a sweet picture of time spent enjoying that book of poems with your Grandmother. xoxo ~Lili

marcia said...

I am drooling over your book selections. Some I have and some I WANT!

I LOVE and collect books, especially old books. And older children books and alphabet books! I scour used book stores and library book sales and for treasures.

Books are like old friends and are instant decorating.

I am looking forward to your bird books..birds,another one of my passions.

happy day!

love marcia

P O T A G E R said...

It reminds me of a passage from a biography about Jackie Kennedy Onassis..."She died amongst the books and people she loved". A comforting thought. Thank you for the lovely tour.

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

I love old books... everything about them! As an artist I think the covers have to be my favorite but then I open them and the smell of the pages and beauty of the aged paper make me think that's my favorite part. Your collection is fantastic! I love the the John Muir book. I live within minutes of his historic home and am a naturalist myself, so I have a soft spot for anything about him.

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Larkrise garden girl said...

Hi Sharon, I can't believe your talking about your books! I had just blogged about your gardening books on Wednesday, that I remembered fondly how interesting they were. I was so impressed at all your books in the shop when I was on Vacation so many years ago! Cheri

Unknown said...

Dear Sharon and Jeff,
Thanks for the quick fix on the link to my book post today. I just crawled through this one again and noticed Thoreau's Cape Cod ... another little thread we share...Your Garden of Verses is well loved... as it should be and what sweet memories too!
Travel East, Travel West, after all home is best...
too fun!
Love to you both,

farmlady said...

My mother use to say that she could never give a book away after she had read it. She said that they became her good friends and would forever stay with her... especially if she loved them.
What wonderful books you have. I will be on a mission now for Wharton's Italian Villas and their Gardens. with the wonderful Maxfield Parrish's illustrations. That is a beautiful book. I too fall in love with covers.
I will also be on the lookout for John Muir's The Mountains of California.
We have a great used bookstore in town. I was there today looking for a gift. It's a magical place where I can spend hours. I will look for both books there on my next trip and online.
Great post!

Beth said...

Wow! I love the illustrated fabric book covers in particular. And I was happy when I saw "A Child's Book of Verses." I have a battered (different) edition, myself. It was one of my favorite books when I was little. I even drew on the front page a little bit with a crayon, a sure sign I loved it. I find that I know the illustrations so well, and can even remember, just a little bit, being a child as I look at them now.

I am sending you an award! May I please snag a photograph from your blog to illustrate what I write about your blog? I will credit you. love, Beth

Anonymous said...

Dear Sharon,
Thank you for sharing these photos of your wonderful books. Will your bird book be out this year?
Kay Guest

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Kay,

Thanks for stopping by. I WISH that my bird book was being released this year, but publishing is a glacial business and takes so much time. All my illustrations and text are due in May. Then the rewrites begin, over and over. Design begins, back and forth, back and forth, finally, probably in September or October, the final "pages" will pass through Jeff's and my hands and scrutiny, go back to my editor, a blind editor, a copy editor, and art department. The art department will scan and place my illustrations according to directions and text. THEN it goes to the printer and returns in three months. It will be officially released in early spring 2012.

Sending best wishes to you (remember that the bird book is for 5 to 9 year olds, but I hope it interests all ages).



Thea said...

Ahh, Sharon! what a lovely essay on your books. As Thomas Jefferson said, "I cannot live without books." I do believe I have a couple of the ones you have. I recently was in Gettysburg and found a neat shop that had books as well as some lovely textiles and jewelry and I found some hard to find Alexandra Day "Carl the Dog" picture books, that I adore. And an old favorite which is the perfect baby shower gift, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. They make me laugh and make me cry (that was LaVeryle Spencer's motto for being a best selling writer). Thank you, dear lady. t

Nan said...

I am reading this just before bedtime and what wonderful images you have put in my head. How I love those old books.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi out there to all my fellow book crazy friends.

I've received half a dozen wonderful e-mails about this post, filled with sweet memories and ideas. Thanks so much!

Two people asked about the bird book and I answered one question in the comments above.

Yes, some of the books came from the book room at my old Heart's Ease shop. How fun to not only shop for these treasures, but also to be able to keep some I couldn't imagine living without.

I wish I'd pictured the books in Mockingbird Studio. There you will find (in answer to a letter), Gene Stratton Porter's works (including the Moths of the Limberlost a great naturalist's book), My Friend the Garden by Fernand Le Quenne, the works of Hal Borland, Wendell Berry, Edwin Way Teale, Wendell Berry, and more. These books are my escape and joy when it is too rainy to garden and I am tired of writing or drawing. A heavenly respite.

Yes to another question about the magazine article. The editor of Country Gardens sent me a copy to enjoy. Of course I said, "oh I wish our parterre was pictured, the mini orchard, the herb garden, the Three B garden, etc., but hey, I'm thrilled with and grateful for the fine job they all did.

All joys to you and enjoy your weekend.


Courtney at SL's No Ennui said...

I'm very happy to say that YOU WON the giveaway!!!! Email me at and let me know where I should send it!

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Oh wow! book candy galore, so many questions, especially red flannel and rosebud! I adore that title, if I were to re-name my blog it would definately be that!

I was thinking of you as I had been doing a little research into Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm and it made me think of you.... so a belated Happy New Year to you and yours Sharon, may it be a HAPPY AND HEALTHY one,

Love Sarah x

FarmHouse Style said...

Oh my goodness what a wonderful collection! I have only recently began to aquire a few lovely old books.

I am currently searching for original children's classics... they are changing the reprints of them now... making them more politically correct:(

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the article about you in Country Gardens. I went into town on Thursday to our local Books a Million as they were just unpacking the crates of their new magazine shipment. I got the first one the young man pulled out.

I poured over the photos of your beautiful gardens and I must admit that I am slightly envious of your assortment of old wash tubs ~ I have a thing for them you see. The article gave me hope that Spring will eventually arrive once again and I too will be able to get out and enjoy my gardens.

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous post, Sharon Dear. You have a veritable treasure trove of tomes, don't you? The one I most covet is Elizabeth and Her German Garden. I read it years ago from the library and have never been able to find it. Someday at just the right time it will show itself and I'll scream and everyone in the quiet bookstore will look at me and think I've lost my marbles. LOL

Your post was sheer delight!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hello dear Grace,

YES! Elizabeth and Her German Garden is one of my favorites. She is so opinionated and full of passion-as any good gardener SHOULD be.

Nice alliteration in your comment too.

Sending love,


The Unusual Farmchick said...

Oh Sharon, I so do love the older book covers. I have to be careful on my book hoarding, err collecting since it at one time became too much to move around in my youth. You have inspired me to seek out the little shop used book stores around our town. Hopefully I will stumble upon a few "new" old books to fill my days awaiting the pleasure of Spring.
Thank you so much for your suggestion of the Playful garden. Although I did not see Fairy doors listed on their site at this time, I will be sure to look again in the future. Your opening door from there would be fantastic for the opening in one of our apple trees as well as one for "Bish" & his family. I did enjoy seeing their wall nests and may try my hand at a similar piece to house the first pullet eggs of our {coming in 2 weeks} chickens.
It's snowing thick blanket flakes as I type this and must get the water ready for my children who will be home From school soon. Requesting Hot cocoa with their snacks before heading out with sleds. Thank you again Sharon for visiting. It is always a elight to read your words.

From the Kitchen said...

Sharon: To answer your question about the French green beans--I usually just undercook them a bit. Sometimes I run them under cold water. I'm a risk taker!!


Lori ann said...

Oh this is my favorite post I think. I love books more than most anything. and luckily I work in antiques so I have a chance to collect a bit eaiser. I have a few of these precious volumes too.
What a treat this was!
Thank you Sharon for sharing!

Melissa said...

Speaking of FAVORITE books....I received not one but TWO Sharon Lovejoy books for Christmas this year....such an inspiration...simply magical!!

Marcie said...

This post speaks to my heart... Beautiful! I have always had so many books, but have never had the shelves needed to "do them justice." I'm working on that!

I'm blogging again, but at a new addy:

Meadowsweet Cottage said...

Books are wonderful, but old books carry whispers from the past when I hold them in my hands. And my older volumes carry an outward beauty reflecting a different age.

Thanks for this post and for visiting Meadowsweet Cottage. I seem to have found a kindred spirit here and I'll happily be back!

Dan said...

What a beautiful collection!! Books had the most wonderful covers many years ago, though I've noticed recently that publishers are offering books with elaborate bindings and pages again. I have a lot of books, but only a handful of old ones. I recently found a secondhand bookshop full of books with the most wonderful covers. I managed to restrict myself to just one, but I'm itching to go back and have a proper root around!

Julie Marie said...

Hello Sharon... how excited I am to find your beautiful blog... I recognized your name on a comment you left on Becca's Dirt post, and knew immediately I had found my "friend" from Country Living whose tales of Heartsease I read over and over again... I have all of my old issues and look at them often... Heartsease are one of my very favorite flowers as well, and your photos and stories always delighted me... I spent alot of time in San Luis Obispo as a little girl as my daddy was a Colonel in the US Army and we went to summer camps with him there at Fort Ord... so nice to read about you again!... xoxo Julie Marie

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hello Julie Marie,

It is wonderful to reconnect with people from long ago.

Come back and visit often and I'll do the same.



Vicki Boster said...

Sharon - you have stirred my very soul with this most elegant and beautiful post. I love old books and have a nice collection of old bird books - but I never have seen old books that pertain to houseplants. You have done it now my friend - I am on a quest to find some of these beautifu treasures.

Thank you for sharing these, the stories about why you love them, and for a glimpse into your beautiful home. (I would die for that bookshelf!)

Yet another reason to search the flea markets and book stores - I am on a mission!

Thank you Sharon- this has been an absolute joy~


Pom Pom said...

Thank you for the book look, Sharon. Oh how I love Susan Branch, too.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I'm so glad you brought my attention to this post, which I had somehow missed. Some very beautiful cloth covers you presented there. The Wharton book on Italian villas is the only one I've read.

And yes, Eudora. Eudora: from the Greek: gift of the gods!

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

From kitchens to books to gardens--what kindred spirits we are!!! Love your collection--it's beautiful! Wasn't it Cicero who said "A home without books is a body without soul".

Glynis Peters said...

What wonderful books! I gave my daughter most of mine when I emigrated. It broke my heart, but there was limited room. I am building my collection again, and love looking for the old English books here in Cyprus.

Sharon,I have an award for you on my blog. It sums you up...stylish :)
Glynis Smy (author)