Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Collecting

My Agatha Christie Collection
By Pat Gulley

Do you collect books? No, I don’t mean just buying tons of books and saving them in boxes—or if you are fortunate enough to have a lot of room in your house---put them up on bookshelves you are constantly buying or building. No, I mean a certain kind of book. Collecting for the sake of collecting, checking out older and older editions if you collect an author who has passed on, or collecting All editions if the author is published by different publishers in different countries, and especially if the titles have been changed.

Me, I have a huge collection of Agatha Christie. (I’ve also now started on Jane Austen; books written about her, and sequels written to continue on with the characters she had created.)

But back to Dame Agatha. I do not have every book she’s written. Some I’ve had and now find I don’t, so I scour book stores for the older editions and look for the British and Australian editions, and double that if there was a title change.

And how ‘bout those title changes? It really does make collecting Agatha’s books interesting, even though one wonders why. For some reason back in the 50s and 60s American publishers felt they had to change the titles. I don’t know if it was for legal reasons, probably not, but for some reason they didn’t think Americans would like the British titles. What’s the difference between Murder On The Calais Coach and Murder On The Orient Express? No possibility that Americans would know where Calais is? Wouldn’t Orient Express give the false impression that the train was in Asia???? Or did they think, for some reason, that the Orient Express Train, which had already been discontinued, was famous enough? I do understand And Then There Were None for Ten Little N---ers, which eventually became Ten Little Indians. But why did The Patriotic Murders become One, Two, Buckle My Shoe and Overdose Of Death? Too weird!

And when I say older editions, I do not mean collector or antique editions that could cost in the hundreds of dollars. No, I just look for the oldest edition date I can find. I definitely do not like the brand new ones because too often, the wording has been changed to reflect modern usage. A daydream of mine is to be garage sailing and come across a 1920 edition of The Mysterious Affair At Styles.

The ones that are giving me a heck of a time are her short story collections, because even though there are some that she put together herself, the fact is that her publishers worldwide also put together her short stories and gave these collections---yes, you guessed it—new titles. So, I’ve just gone to having a list of the short stories and making sure I’ve got them all and not caring about a collection that may only have stories I already own. (Have you assumed by now, I’m not bothering with short stories too much? What a headache.) Oh, but then we have to move on to her plays and their collection into book form.

My treasured books of Agatha’s are the odd ones like The Mysterious Mr. Quin and Mr. Parker Pyne, two characters that did not become popular like Poirot. And I do have a copy of The Big Four, an attempt at master-criminal-of-the-world sort of thing, which is not very good.

I keep track of this with my copy of An Agatha Christie Chronology by Nancy Blue Wynne--a book I wish I’d had the ability to research and write. It is in taters, but I couldn’t face buying a new one because it is annotated up the wazzzzzooooo. Thank heavens for paper clips and rubberbands! Also, is a very interesting site for information on Christie and especially all the sidekicks. Frankly, I think the sidekicks are great stories all on their own. But that’s another blog.

So do you collect books? Yes, let’s stick to books here, because I know what ‘collect anything’ can lead to, just in my own house alone! What books do you collect?


Joyce said...

I collect old Nancy Drew books. I'm trying to find the originals--not the repackaged ones I read as a kid in the 60s. I do have a couple of the 60s ones, though.

The older ones have that weirdish blue hardback and I only buy the ones with dust covers. I like seeing Nancy and her pals in 30s clothing--and with her old Roadster. I only have a few so far. I can usually find them at flea markets and I think the most I paid for one was eight dollars.

Ramona said...

I collect books about Louisiana, old and new, weird and normal. The weird outweighs the normal.

I also have a collection of Anne of Green Gables books, because those were my favorites as a young reader.

Mike said...

Despite putting in 15 glass covered lawyer style book cases in two upstairs rooms (mostly for sf/fantasy), there was only room for most of the hard cover books. I used to collect softcover spy/detective type books (Christie, Aarons, McDonald (both),Fleming, etc.) Unfortunately, they are now in boxes in a dark temperature controlled room in the basement, along with my old comics. Heinlein is my favorite SF writer, Christie is the favorite mystery one.

Liss said...

I collect books from the Trixie Belden series.

Patg said...

OMG, isn't collecting fun! And every single collection thus far mentioned has made me regret NOT starting a collection like that.
Joyce, I loved all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. There was a Space Cadet series from the same 'gang' of writers that I always wanted but my mother refused to buy.
Mike, I love Heinlein too, but Asimov is my main man. Niven too.
Oh, and temperature controlled rooms. Now you are talking collecting. I had a comic book writer friend who had her attic converted for all their comic collections. Since the roof slanted, she had her female action figure collection in the V space.

Patg said...

OMG, I never read those, but I wish I had. Well, no time like the present.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Pat, I have about 30 of Dame Agatha's novels. Most are almost 40 years old. My husband, who's always after me to get rid of some of my old books, has asked me repeatedly to get rid of the Christie novels. I'm so glad I didn't because I needed them when I wrote MURDER A LA CHRISTIE. My sleuth leads a Golden Age of Mystery book club, and they read and discuss Agatha Christie novels in the first book of the series.

Celia Yeary said...

PAT--I have collected all of LaVyrle Spencer's romance books. She wrote 26, in the 80's early 90's. By the time I discovered her, she'd alread retired. I first read "Morning Glory" and was completely hooked. Our library had six hardbacks--read those and discovered how many she'd published. I copied all the titles and began to search. Now I have a paperback copy of all of them. Some are the old original covers, and some have the new covers--they're being re-issued. This took years to find all of them, from Texas to Michigan.
Why her books? Of all the romance authors I've read, she stands out as the best, in my opinion. Very emotional, and I don't remember one sex scene in any of them.

Now I have a dilemma--do I make a complete set of the new editions? Or try to find the remainder of the older ones? You see, I like order and balance.
This is a fun question--Thanks--Celia