A book I love

August 21, 2009 at 8:10 pm 1 comment

In my junior year of high school, I took an AP American History class.  Mr. Demaree gave us an extra-credit assignment: read the book Chesapeake by James Michener and write a book review over it.

For me – Madame Book-Devourer – this was an easy-peasy way of earning some extra credit in a subject I’m not overly strong in.  We only had to read a portion of the book, maybe the first 1/3 of it.

I ended up reading the whole thing cover to cover.  Not only did I fall in love with the book, but I fell in love with Michener’s writing.  Michener writes epics, novels that span events throughout centuries.  He makes his stories interesting, interconnected, and educational.  I have read – and own – so many of his works that I can’t even begin to list them.

That same year, my grandpa Claycamp was diagnosed with cancer in September and died in January.  I had never known my grandpa well; while he was always around, and we spent plenty of time at his house, Grandpa was always more of an observer at family gatherings than an active participant.  He would quietly sit on the sidelines, taking in the chaos and the mayhem that all of us kids brought with us during holidays.  I felt then – and still feel today – that I could have known him much better than I did.

We did have one interest in common.  Grandpa liked to read.  After he died, Grandma let me go through his books and pick out the ones I might want for myself.  I wasn’t interested in most of them; Grandpa’s library was heavy in westerns, primarily Louis L’Amour.  Not a genre I’m really interested in.

However, I found a gem on his bookshelf as I searched through them that day.  In an unobtrusive green hardback, nestled between the westerns and the hard-backed Reader’s Digests, was a copy of Michener’s Chesapeake.  It was the very book I had read and fell in love with that same year.

He had obviously picked it up secondhand at a garage sale or a used bookstore, for it had someone else’s name inscribed in the front cover.  It wasn’t pretty and had obviously been well-read.  But for me, it was a tangible link between Grandpa and me.

I still have it.  I reread it once every couple of years, and I always feel like Grandpa is there with me when I read it.  This time, though, may be the last time I get to read it.  The binding is coming undone, and the book is about to completely fall apart.  I fear that getting it rebound is simply silly and less economical than buying a new paperback version at Barnes & Noble.

I just finished it this afternoon.  And as always, I felt a sense of sadness as I read the last sentence and closed the cover.  Sadness that the story was over, yes, but sadness once again that my journey with Grandpa’s book was complete.  I don’t know that I’ll part with it, even though the book is on its last legs and I’ve read it so many times.  I just can’t part with that link between Grandpa and me.


Entry filed under: Life in general.

Just because I like this picture Recharging my batteries

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Anne Burris  |  August 28, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    I love your writing. I really got a sense of what your Grandpa was like and how the book means so much to you. I think you should keep the book whether you rebind it or not. That’s so neat that you found it in his collection.


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