Books from the Emerald Isle

Two weeks ago, my mother and sister visited Ireland. Before they left, they asked what type of souvenirs I’d like them to bring back for me. I didn’t have to think about it long before I decided exactly what I wanted. I’m sure you may even be able to guess . . .

I asked for them to bring me books. Used books from a little Irish book store tucked away somewhere. On further thought I asked my mom to stop alongside a beautiful country road in Ireland and pick wild flowers, and to press them into the pages of the book she got for me. Not an expensive gift. Not a difficult gift to get. But I was ecstatic at the mere thought of it.

I’m sure most of you read the rambling and rather passionate thoughts in my last blog post about why I love paperbacks (and hardbacks, of course!) so very much. As my mom and sister handed me my gifts, it hit me once again just why I love physical books as I do.

From a library sale in Carlow, Ireland, to secondhand bookstores in Newry, Cahir and Dublin, my dear little Irish books are full of worn pages, penciled-in notes, unglued binding, age spots, wildflowers, a yellowed bus pass that someone must once have used for a bookmark, and, in short, more history and food for imagination than you could get into an infinite number of eBooks.

Are you ready for some serious book-love pictures?! Meet my new-old books:


I wonder who W.H. Fowler was? Did he enjoy reading this book? How long did it sit on his shelf?


Irish wildflowers picked from an obliging field.




Where did this bus ticket take the person who bought it? Who was he going to see? Perhaps he (or she, of course!) was reading this book as he rode the bus…
Whose fingers blackened the edges of these pages with their thumbing? This book must have been well-loved, to have such worn edges.


All my books have history. Some of that history I’ll never know about – I can only imagine where the many books I own have been, what shelf they have rested on, whose eyes have smiled or cried or even drowsed while reading them.

These books from Ireland are no different, really. They sat on a shelf somewhere, or maybe amid a stack of other books, perhaps in a household, perhaps in a bookstore or library. They passed from hand to hand, home to home, heart to heart, just as many books do.

It’s a connection between myself and someone far away. It’s a cord woven between me and a stranger whom I’ll never meet. What a mysterious, lovely thing. My fingers touch where their fingers have touched. I’ll read the very words that someone far away once read. Perhaps I’ll even be touched by those words in the same manner as the one who read them before me.

What history, real or imagined, do your own hand-me-down books have?

21 thoughts on “Books from the Emerald Isle

  1. Pretty cool Ashlee! Almost as cool as actually going to Great Britain (and I’d have to sail the channel to Scandinavia too).

    I used to have a lot of books, but when I divorced I lightened my load from thousands to hundreds. Today, your books probably outnumber mine 10-1. I think I probably only own about three hundred.

    Kind of sad really…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love all books………..old and new! Something about old books just draws me in though. The smell, feel, and sound of the pages is just so lovely. Love this post! I can totally understand what you’re saying.

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  3. I love your books! They are awesome. An urban archeology business opened in our city and I discovered and purchased two wilderness adventure books by James Oliver Curwood! This past weekend I found two books by Janet Lambert. O, the path they traveled to end up in my hands!:)

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  4. *Stares in wonder at your old-new books* They’re beautiful! Sadly, I have only a handful of old books. One beautiful copy of Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes, all in one volume, as well as a few old hymn books. My Paradise Lost is in very good condition, with very few marks on it. It has one little crack down the groove between the binding and the front cover. I’m afraid that it’ll get worse, so I’m hesitant to use the book. It’s so very beautiful, though!

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    1. I’m always so torn between reading old books, versus setting them somewhere safe and refraining from touching them! But if I were a book, I’d prefer to be read until I literally fell apart, so I figure that’s what I’ll do with my books (although I’m certainly as careful with them as I can be!).

      Paradise Lost is an awesome old book to have!! How cool 🙂

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      1. This is very true, and I feel the same pull. But at the same time, I might sob my eyes out if my book fell apart — my eyes grow to about the size of half my head if I so much as accidentally drop a book, and there’s the tiniest bit of a fold on a corner — so, I don’t really know /what/ to do! Ah, decisions, decisions! 😛


      2. Very much so! How can one possibly expect to decide whether to use the old ones and love them to death, or to keep them suspended in time, in pristine condition? 😛


  5. Oh wow they are so beautiful. I feel the same way about old books. I have a few really old ones. I picked up what could be a first edition of 20,000 leagues under the sea the other day for practically nothing… I do so like thinking about the stories of old books…. and wondering.

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  6. AAAHHHH THIS IS BEAUTIFUL AND WONDERFUL AND AMAZING. Books and Ireland are two of my favorite things, so books FROM Ireland?? You blessed person you! ^_^ That’s awesome and I will try very hard not to be jealous. 😉

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    1. I had to try quite hard not to be jealous of my mother and sister actually being IN Ireland . . . They invited me to go, but I had to make the horribly difficult decision of saying no. I’m saving my money for a trip to the country of my heart: England 🙂 Hope I can visit there with my husband and son sometime in the future.


  7. I’m feeling a little emerald myself, looking at those pressed flowers and weathered covers. Ah, but I have my own treasures. One of my best books is written with type writer print, held together by tape and staples. It’s full of wild histories from my local region; train robberies and long lost gold, that sort of thing. Found it in the library book sale.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh heart…. A Girl of the Limberlost! How old is it??? I love to find inscriptions, notes, an old picture, an old bookmark or list or dried flora… I love this idea. Will have to keep this in mind! 🙂


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