Readin’ – Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

The historic district in our town recently held their first holiday open house, and my sister, niece, and I went to visit our favorite antique stores.

I was in the market to find a side table for my daughter’s bedroom which I have been working on painting and re-decorating (I’ll blog about that later).

Jacci's Room (6)

Here is the side table that I found. Perfect size. Perfect color.

The interesting thing about this trip to the antique stores was not finding the perfect side table, however.

Before we went shopping, I had been preparing to write a blog post on the book, Charlotte’s Web.

Why?

Well, every year or so, friends publish their top 10 favorite book lists. I have published mine a few times, and I have only been able to pare it down to a top 12 list. Some of the items on the list include an example of my favorite book in a genre so it really is even more than my top 12.

Here is my list:

  • Joy of Cooking by Rombauer, The Fanny Farmer Cookbook by Cunningham, & Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child & Beck. I have an entire bookcase of cookbooks as that is one of my passions, but these three I cannot live without and use almost every day.
  • Webster’s Dictionary. I have 2 shelves of dictionaries, thesauruses, and other books like The Chicago Manual of Style. My favorite is the oldest, most tattered dictionary because I can always find the word and definition I am looking for in it.
  • The Holy Bible. I have 2 shelves of bibles, old prayer books, and reference books from my 4-year Biblical Studies degree which is why I know that the brand of fundamentalist Christianity out there right now is not Christ-like.
  • The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias. I’ve had this book for decades. It is what I used to break the cycle of poor financial planning modeled by my parents, and it is how I achieved financial independence. The book is based on common sense, and I have given copies to my children.
  • The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings by Tolkien and most older science fiction (love Isamov). This is what I read in high school and college, and it provided me an escape from real life. I love fantasy and science fiction literature and movies to this day.
  • Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Anything by Charles Dickens, but this is a love story and social commentary in one that is timeless.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This story haunts me to this day.
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Read everything he writes, but I am an avid reader of dystopic and apocryphal literature and this is an example.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. A must read for every woman.  Love everything she writes.
  • Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. We literally wore out copies of this book reading it over and over again to our children.  We buy it for friends having babies.  Other favorites include The Piggy in the Puddle by Pomerantz because it speaks to remembering to have fun (we had to buy the book because we checked it out of the library so much we were prohibited from ever checking it out again) and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes because it speaks to being authentic and true to yourself.
  • Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. We read a LOT to our kids, but this was the last series read aloud to them (into middle school).  Love the book and the movies, but most of all love the memories of snuggling with my kids.
  • Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  Our favorite Christmas book.  We all have bells that we hang up at Christmas time.

You’ll notice that Charlotte’s Web is not on my top 12 list. But it should be.

Why?

Because this is the book that turned me into an avid, life-long reader.

When I was in 3rd grade, some 49 years ago in 1965, my teacher, Mrs. Allensworth, read this book aloud to us every single day. Well, every single day that we were good and completed all of our work. We had a lot of work in 3rd grade. We learned multiplication tables and long division. We learned to write in cursive.

But if we finished our assigned work, Mrs. Allensworth would read a few pages of Charlotte’s Web to us. I was transfixed. She added life and passion to this story, and I could barely wait to hear more.

So, I decided to write about this defining event in my life, and I was researching the origins of Charlotte’s Web.

I learned it was originally published in 1952. I learned that it continued to be one of the most read aloud books to 3rd graders in 2004, nearly 40 years after I was a 3rd grader listening to this story. It routinely appears on teachers top 100 books of all time lists.

So, when we were going through our favorite antique store, I ran across a booth filled with old books. I always stop and go through piles of old books in antique stores. Mostly, I find those few week wonders in the piles. Biographies of celebrities and politicians and old, fad diet cookbooks. Not antique books.

I spent awhile going through the books when I ran across a 1952 edition of Charlotte’s Web in near perfect condition including the dust jacket and all.

CharlotteWeb

The book was selling for $3.00 so I scooped it up. I mentioned that it was an original edition to the woman who checked me out, and she said that she didn’t realize that. Apparently, it was in her booth.

Sometimes things happen that feel like a sign. Like I was meant to find this book.

When I got home, I researched how much this book might be worth. Turns out this isn’t an original First Edition, it’s an original Book Club Edition. A regular First Edition is worth between $1,000 and $4,500. This Book Club Edition is only worth about $35. The book along with the dust cover are in almost pristine condition, and it was printed before I was born which means it’s very old. Ha.

Which I think is very, very cool.

I love books. I love e-books. I love library books. I love borrowing books. I love sharing my books. I love owning my own books. I love the smell of books.

I love going through bookshelves in libraries, bookstores, and antique stores (apparently). I like to look at my friend’s bookshelves, including electronic ones like Goodreads, to see what they are reading.

But, most importantly, I love to read, and this book spoke to me when I was very young resulting in a life-long love of reading.

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”
E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

 

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