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Topic: What's a little-known old book that you can't part with?

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Subject: What's a little-known old book that you can't part with?
Date Posted: 7/27/2011 2:41 AM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2010
Posts: 415
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I'd like to hear about some other old books that folks love.  Ideally, you could mention a book that hasn't been (re-)published in the last 20 years.

Sometime, somewhere, I got a copy of The Fiery Trial by Carl Sandburg.  Sandburg's best known for his poetry, I think, but this book is beautiful.  It's the story of a family during the Civil War - one boy going off to fight for the south, the other for the north.  It's hard to find now, because it hasn't been republished in decades.  I haven't re-read it in years, but I felt strongly enough about keeping it that I never swapped it out at a hostel library during a month of backpacking through Europe.  I can't imagine getting rid of it now - and frankly that'd be hard to do, because it's falling apart, lol.


Date Posted: 7/30/2011 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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Toma by David Toma.  It's the autobiography of David Toma, a New Jersey detective who was and is an amazing humanitarian.  The book was the basis for the series Toma, which after one season morphed into Baretta.  I got my first copy in 1974 and another copy here a few years ago when my original paperback started to look a little worse for wear. 

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 7/30/2011 1:05 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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Hey, I've heard of Toma.  I tried to read it when I was a teenager, but I don't think I finished.  I remember it specifically because my father grew up in Newark, and we used to visit my grandparents there.

I can think of one book in particular that's out of print, a mystery by Isaac Asimov called A Whiff of Death.  It was originalIy published in the '50s, but I have an edition from the '80s, which was the last time it was reissued.

Last Edited on: 7/30/11 1:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/30/2011 2:11 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2008
Posts: 1,958
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I adore a little book called That Man is You by Louis Evely.  I am not Catholic, but the book was written by a Catholic priest.  It contains free verse poetry (non-rhyming) about God.  My copy is from a thrift store and cost $1.45.    There is a note in the front that indicates it was a gift to someone in 1971.  


Date Posted: 7/30/2011 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 483
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Just a little note about David Toma - when I was in 10th grade, my high school bused all our students to a neighboring school and Mr. Toma was the speaker!  I had no idea he was so famous.  He certainly was a memorable speaker, used quite a bit of shock value, but I guess that's how you get teenagers' attention! 

I have a book I love - Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge.  Such a good story!

Date Posted: 7/30/2011 6:38 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,540
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My 1970's copy of A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.  What a great novel. 

The other is  a 1968 copy of the Autobiography of Alice B Toklas by Gertrude Stein. 

Date Posted: 7/30/2011 6:40 PM ET
Member Since: 8/11/2006
Posts: 6,597
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The Faraway Lurs by Harry Behn, first published in 1963. It's a haunting Romeo/Juliet-type story set in the Bronze Age in what is now Denmark. Heather Goodshade, daughter of the chief of the Forest People, falls in love with Wolf Stone of the Sun People. I first read this book when I was in seventh grade and loved it! For years, I searched for a copy and finally found one about 20 years ago at a library book sale.

The story was inspired by a grave that was uncovered in Denmark. It contained the well-preserved remains of a young girl who was wearing primitive bronze ornaments.

Here's an article about the grave:


Date Posted: 8/1/2011 6:18 PM ET
Member Since: 6/8/2008
Posts: 206
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I liked Toma too - but I nominate The Princess Bride by William Goldman as my fave.

Date Posted: 8/2/2011 5:50 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,270
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Bracken by Elizabeth Webster. It is long out of print, got it from the library in the mid 80's, loved it and always wanted a copy. PBS to the rescue! About a year ago one was posted and I will not part with it.

Last Edited on: 8/2/11 5:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/3/2011 10:11 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2010
Posts: 6
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Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn is an epic novel written in the 60s about the civil rights movement. The story, which involves an interracial relationship, was way ahead of its time. I found my copy at a Goodwill and loved it instantly. I'm not sure if it's still out of print, but it was when I originally read it. It's powerful and I've recommended it to many friends, but I won't part with my copy!

And I agree, Goldman's Princess Bride is great too!

Last Edited on: 8/3/11 10:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/7/2011 9:46 AM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2009
Posts: 41
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The Family Nobody Wanted, by Helen Doss. 

I read it in 6th grade.  It's about a couple who adopted a large number of children, tells the story of each child who came into their family and how they struggled financially to raise them all.  This wonderful, heart-warming story played a huge role in my decision, after I'd married and had two wonderful children, to adopt my amazing daughter. 

Date Posted: 8/24/2011 11:45 AM ET
Member Since: 8/5/2011
Posts: 295
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I guess I have two.

Tamar by Gladys Malvern copyright 1952


St. Elmo by Augusta J. Evans    "Entered according to Act of Congress in the year" 1866 , 1894, 1896

The last one is kind of hard reading. Lots of Latin and Greek in there, but it is VERY good.

Date Posted: 8/25/2011 4:36 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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"The Nun's Story" by Kathryn Hulme.  I just finished rereading it again a few days ago.  It never fails to fascinate me.  The movie made from it, starring Audrey Hepburn, is one of my favorites also.  I find the religious aspect fascinating, since I am not at all religious myself.  Also knowing that it is more or less a true story.  It's based on a real nun who left the convent during WWII.  After the war she met Kathryn Hulme when both worked in a refugee center in Europe and they became lifelong partners.  Her expereinces became the basis for the novel.  I recently downloaded it for free for my Nook, which I was surprised to find.  I had read that it couldn't be legally reissued because of issues with the disposition of Kathryn Hulme's estate after she died, but apparently  they were able to scan it into an Ebook when the copywrite ran out.

Date Posted: 8/25/2011 8:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,540
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Clarinda,    That is also one of my all time favorites.   Are you saying the Kathryn Hulme and the nun in the book were Life Partners, like in a couple?

Date Posted: 8/30/2011 1:05 AM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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Pamela,  Yes they were Life Partners and were devoted to each other until death.  (Though they did not meet until after Marie Habets left the convent.)

Date Posted: 9/13/2011 6:04 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
Posts: 550
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Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake may fit the OP. It's a stand alone book, but is in the middle of the Gormenghast trilogy. I think it was written around the time Lord of the Rings was written. Not that old, but could be considered obscure, anyway. And well loved by those who go looking for that kind of stuff.

It is the story of a bizarre family and their equally bizarre castle. When I read it, I fell out of love with Poe and into love with Peake.

Date Posted: 9/14/2011 9:40 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,540
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Clarinda,  Is there a book about this couple and their relationship?  A biography of their lives together?

Date Posted: 9/15/2011 10:57 AM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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The closest thing there is to such a book would be Kathryn Hulme's "Wild Place", about the refugee camp where they met.  She also wrote "Undiscovered Country" about her spiritual journey, and "We Lived as Children" set during the 1906 San Francisco earhtquake.  All out of print of course.

Suzi L. (SuziL) - ,
Date Posted: 9/15/2011 5:25 PM ET
Member Since: 11/7/2009
Posts: 1
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Suggest The Abandoned by Paul Gallico. A small boy has an accident and wakes up as a cat. Interesting adventures and life lessons.

Date Posted: 9/15/2011 11:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I recently re-read my copy of Waiting for Willa, a mystery by Dorothy Eden, which I initially read as a Reader's Digest Condensed Book (ack, p-thooey!) as a teenager. I found a "real" hardback copy about ten years ago and was amazed at how much clearer the story was in its uncondensed version! It takes place in Sweden as winter comes--very atmospheric--and is about a British writer who arrives in Copenhagen to try to find her cousin who has disappeared.

Date Posted: 9/17/2011 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 11/8/2006
Posts: 871
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A somewhat recent acquisition,  'From the Land and Back'  by Curtis Stadtfeld.  Published in 1972, a tribute to the farm life a great many of our families left behind from WWI to Vietnam eras.

A view from central Michigan.  Michigan State University was at first an agricultural college.

Follow link back to Amazon review.  They reviewer wrote a nice rather personal review.

Last Edited on: 9/17/11 5:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Amy (pbjmom) -
Date Posted: 10/14/2011 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2009
Posts: 3
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2 of my favs:

Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes - written as a diary of a young man named Charlie, who is mentally disabled, as he goes through a human experiment to increase his IQ.  The title refers to the mouse, Algernon, who he befriends at the lab he visits regularly during the experiment.  Really moving to see the changes he goes through.  There are parts that wouldn't be appropriate for younger readers, though.

Twenty and Ten, by Claire Hutchet Bishop - read first when I was young, and is a favorite even now.  It's about a school of children in the country, set during the Nazi invasion, and how they were called to protect and hide a group of Jewish children.  A great story for kids and anyone!  So good!!

Lori M. (ripley) - ,
Date Posted: 10/15/2011 8:11 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 1,566
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The Runaway's Dairy by Marilyn Harris. I think I first read this book in about 1977 when i was in the ninth grade, and it has stayed with me ever since. Very hard to get hold of these days, which is a shame. Put it on your WL and hope it turns up one day.

Date Posted: 10/25/2011 9:19 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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Any of my Poldark series paperbacks by Winston Graham.  They are in sorry, sorry shape but I've had them since the 70s and I re-read them every few years.  Winston Graham was a fine writer and I love this series set in turn of the 19th century Cornwall.

Date Posted: 10/31/2011 7:56 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,065
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The Star of Life by Edmund Hamilton. Printed in 1959, the price on the cover on the paperback is $0.35.  I forget when my father gave it  to me, but I still remember him saying, "This is science fiction, you might like it."  I might have been 13 or 14 at the time I read it first, so that was either 1960 or 1961.

I loved it. I was already a big reader but I have never read a sci-fi book. Now I count my sci-fi reads in the hundreds, if not thousands. The book has long since been covered with book tape after being repaired several times,  and the pages have separated from the binding. It is no longer in print and the only copy on Amazon has the same cover and year as mine. I have only read it twice that I can remember, but I could never count the number of times part of the plot has surfaced in my mind over the years, often for no apparent reason.

It is a story about Kirk Hammond, the first astronaut sent to the Moon in the early days of space. The flight plan went awry and he headed out to deep space. The message he sent back to Earth became famous. It led Mankind to continue space exploration despite the early failures. Then Hammond decided to kill himself by opening his capsule to space instead of waiting for a slow death.

Later he revived as his capsule began to enter Earth's atmosphere. Somehow his capsule had come back to Earth. There was only one problem, it had taken 1,000 centuries to do so.  Man had changed. There were now two species, with the immortals ruling the ordinary men. He becomes a pawn for both sides due to his fame. The immortals restrict access to the Star of Life that confers immortality.  And Hammond wants to know why.


Last Edited on: 6/5/12 5:42 AM ET - Total times edited: 6