Book shelves contain treasured volumes of three series
Monday, April 29, 2013 4:08 AM
There is a bookshelf in my bedroom with three shelves on it. The bottom shelf contains three series: the Inheritance Cycle, the Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter series. It's a motley collection.
I was probably 12 years old when I decided to purchase the Chronicles of Narnia series. I had won a gift certificate to a bookstore and I was excited. I was a frugal fellow at that time (still am) and didn't know quite what to do with the gift certificate.
"Which book(s) should I buy?" I pondered over and over again, being quite aware of my parent's increasingly anxious attitudes. I noticed I could buy each book in the series and thus obtain the pleasure of seeing the individual volumes resting side by side, in order, on a bookshelf somewhere. Each book had terribly beautiful jacket art, which I loved to look at while imagining immersion into this fantastical and adventurous world. I had already read the entire series, but knew I would read it again and again.
On the same shelf was another, larger book, which efficiently put each book in the series under one cover. This drew my attention simply because of its heft. There is something about hefting a large tome of fiction, which is downright appealing. However, once I looked at the jacket art I became less impressed.
That same winter had seen me and almost the entire sixth grade class at Little Falls Community Middle School enjoy a trip to The Falls movie theater, which was showing "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." From my point of view then, the movie was stunning and immediately went into my favorites-of-all-time list.
Back at the bookstore, what I saw staring up at me from the cover of the compilation book, were pictures taken from the movie and not the original illustrations I so enjoyed on the individual volumes. Rereleasing a book with new cover art in order to fit with a recent film is poor form indeed. This caused considerable debate within my head about which presentation of the story I should invest in.
Then I saw the price tags. It was cheaper to stick with the compilation book than to purchase each book individually. Again, I was a frugal fellow (still am). With simultaneous chagrin and joy, I decided to purchase the compilation book. Since that time, I have switched between bemoaning my decision and enjoying the book's heft. The stories inside are the same and they are still great.
The other complete series I own is the Inheritance Cycle. Originally, it was to be the Inheritance Trilogy, but the author discovered too late that he wouldn't be able to tell the story in three liftable books. This cycle represents everything right about owning a book series.
First, it's complete. One Christmas, my parents bought me the first three books. I added the fourth after it came out.
Second, I was able to experience the satisfaction of physically adding to the series. Third, each book is individual. No compilation mistakes this time around! Fourth, each book has considerable heft. Fifth, they're in hardcover.
Another detraction from the Narnia book was discovered after I first opened it, read for a half hour, and closed it again. The paper cover remained curled upwards. An atrocious sight. Sixth, they have beautiful and removable jacket art. The covers are nice when the book is on the shelf, but not when reading it. Plus, I feel like I tap into an atmosphere of old-fashioned sophistication whenever I read a book whose front and back covers are blank and monochromatic. Sort of like whenever I open up TIME magazine. Sort of. Lastly, they are great books to read. This is the most important, but everything I just listed does have an effect on the aura the series purveys.
My Harry Potter series is the most interesting. It's incomplete; I'm missing the first and sixth books since I have not found them at thrift stores or garage sales. Why would anyone get rid of these books anyway? Each one is in hardcover, which is pretty much my only requirement for awesome book series. However, the similarities end there. The Goblet of Fire does not have a cover. The Order of the Phoenix has a cover of content-related images, but reserves identification for a weird special-edition case. The Prisoner of Azkaban's binding is falling apart. Again, it doesn't matter much because the stories themselves are most important.
If you haven't heard of any of these books, please, find them and, please, read them. Maybe you'll start clearing more shelf space for your own collections soon.