Happy 70th birthday to Pete Townshend!
Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature of The Broke and the Bookish. A full list of instructions and future themes can be found here. This week is a freebie, and I’m choosing books I’d save if, chas v’shalom (heaven forbid), my home were on fire. I’ve had pyrophobia my entire life, so this isn’t something I take lightly!
1. The Rand McNally atlas my late uncle gave me. That year, all the girls in first grade wanted the talking doll Cricket for Christmas and Chanukah, but my parents didn’t have that kind of money. Two years prior, my father had spent over $2,000 on our first computer, the 152K Mac, but some doll wasn’t nearly that kind of worthwhile, long-lasting investment. One of the presents I did get was that atlas from my uncle. I still use it all the time, as outdated as it is. Names and borders may change, but it’s the same Planet Earth at heart. The inscription makes it particularly precious to me.
2. The Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English translation of The Tao Te Ching. I discovered this among my parents’ shelves in January ’96 and fell in love. This book means so much to me, particularly after it was the only book I had with me during the ten months we were back in Pennsylvania my junior year of high school. Almost all of our belongings were in boxes in my maternal grandparents’ house while they were away in Florida.
3. Bringing Heaven Down to Earth, compiled by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman. This book of daily meditations and thoughts is so precious to me because it was a graduation present from one of my university rabbis. I’d only begun going to Chabad a few months prior, and already he was as warm and welcoming to me as the people who’d been going there much longer. I can always get a new copy of the book, but I can’t replace Rabbi Adelman’s inscription. (I never learnt Hebrew cursive, but I know that’s my Hebrew name, Chana Esther Dafna.)
4. The 1910 French dictionary I got from my father. I’m at least the fourth owner of this falling-apart thing, and it doubtless isn’t worth anything anymore, but it’s really special to me. I love how the intro says it’s been updated to include words related to motoring, aviation, and bicycling. It also has some really nice appendices, like French versions of names from history and mythology.
5. Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor. My copy of the famous historical romance is particularly special because it’s a 1944 printing, with the text on two columns on thin pages. I assume this was done because of wartime paper shortages, and it’s a super-long book.
6 and 7. World War II Chronicle and The Holocaust Chronicle. These are my most-consulted books of the five day-by-day volumes I constantly use when researching my books set during this era. Really heavy, but packed full of information. I found both on the discount racks at the local indie bookstore.
8. Webster’s Pocket Pal Dictionary. This was a gift from my sixth grade teacher for the winter holidays. She inscribed the front. Not the most exhaustive dictionary in the world, but a nice reminder of one of my teachers.
9. Kenneth Katzner’s Russian–English dictionary. I’ve used this so much since I bought it in 2000. It’s not my first Russian dictionary, which is now out of print, but this is a very good runner-up. I’d be nowhere without this book!
10. Sydney Omarr’s Sagittarius volume for 1994. Mock me if you want, but this was bought for me by my grandparents in summer ’93, and the book which really introduced me to astrology. Some sections are long out of date, but there are still lots of chapters which haven’t aged, like the charts to find the ruler of each planet, and the descriptions of those placements. My belief in astrology hurts absolutely no one, unlike alt-med quackery such as taking an infant to a chiroquacktor or trying to cure cancer with baking soda and iodine. I wish more skeptics weren’t so quick to dismiss and mock astrology, particularly considering it’s a lot more complex than those stupid newspaper horoscopes.