My Mom’s Bookshelves

When I was eleven or twelve and fresh out of reading material, I’d stand in front of my mom’s bookshelves and search for something to read. My mom liked all sorts of books, as long as they weren’t risqué or otherwise offensive, so everything was fair game.

As I remember, her books were grouped into fiction and nonfiction. One shelf held The Book of Knowledge kids encyclopedia in twenty volumes, bound in burgundy. When we first got them, I devoured the good stuff. On subsequent passes, I read articles to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.

Christy, by Catherine Marshall
Christy, by Catherine Marshall

One thing is sure: I borrowed titles from my mom’s bookshelves I’d never have read otherwise – just because they were available and I’d finished all my library books for the week.

Some of her staples I plowed through, such as Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan), The Robe (Lloyd C. Douglas), The Silver Chalice (Thomas Costain), and In His Steps (Charles M. Sheldon).

Others I read and re-read, such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith), Lost Horizon (James Hilton), and The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis), plus I searched the library for more works by the same authors.

My mom loved mysteries, too, and must have had some by Agatha Christie.

When I couldn’t find anything else on my mom’s bookshelves, I read the Danny Orlis (Bernard Palmer), mystery series for teens put out by Moody Press and novels by Grace Livingston Hill. My mom also owned lots of devotionals, such as My Utmost for His Highest, but I was too young to appreciate them.

One day, desperate again for a good story, I glanced over the shelves. Same old stuff. Such a let down. But then I picked up book I hadn’t seen before, Christy (Catherine Marshall) and soon lost myself in it. A historical novel set in 1912, it soared above all the Christian fiction I’d read until that time and became the standard for all the Christian novels I was to read in the future. No wonder it inspired the Christy Awards.

As you can see from its rank on Amazon, Christy continues to be popular today.

Amazon Sales Rank for Christy
Amazon Sales Rank for Christy

For many years, my mom and I gave each other books for gift occasions. Our tastes overlapped enough that we often talked about book we’d discovered – or rediscovered – and didn’t want the other to miss. In her later years, she enjoyed reading the Mitford series (Jan Karon).

I’m so thankful my mom let us kids borrow her books. Where did you get your love of reading?

Posted on May 3, 2016

6 thoughts on “My Mom’s Bookshelves

  1. I enjoyed reading this post. I identify with your love of reading! Christy was and is one of my favorites! I’ve read it several times! Some books never grow old!

  2. Thanks for stirring up some memories. My mother loved Janet Oke novels, and we shared these even into the last times with her when I read one aloud by her bedside. Then my dad and I shared the same novels many years as well.

    1. I can picture you and your mom as you read to her, Carolyn. She must have enjoyed it so much. I appreciate your comment.

  3. Early on our family had World Book Encyclopedia and a Childcraft set. I loved “Poems…” and “Exploring the World Around Us” from the Childcraft set. Then later I’d just read all the books my older sisters were finished with! including Grace Livingston Hill books. I also loved Christy and A Man Called Peter (I was even Catherine Marshall in my H.S. play), plus all Jane Austen books. Oh my, I need to get going again.

    1. Glad you mentioned A Man Called Peter. I need to revisit that one, too. Thanks for reading my blog, Marilee!

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