Summer Reading Begins

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A copy of Hamlet, 1906 printing.

The semester is over, the students are heading home, some are hanging around to graduate. It rained last night, and today the clouds reign. A wonderful morning to begin summer reading.

I never know what I’m going to start with. I just wander around in the library until something grabs me. And this year, once again, Hamlet jumped off the shelf.

I love the play, probably read it every three years, and have taught it a couple of times. That’s the thing about literary art–you come back to it throughout your life, your faves, and live in them one more time.

Janet McIntyre. I have no idea who she was, only that she read this book in 1931

This particular copy of the play has a history. I picked it up at The Iliad Bookstore in North Hollywood. It’s old. It’s last printing was in 1906.

But what makes this copy really interesting, is Ms. Janet McIntyre, who, in 1931, read it. And she left notes glued onto the pages–fascinating! Who was she? A student? Were these cheat-notes? I can’t imagine her in a class, flipping through it during a test. She was methodical, just look at the notes, in that lovely handwriting. I prefer to think she was a true student, disciplined, a woman who read deeply.

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Ms. McIntyre glued these notes into the pages.

Every few pages, I’m surprised by another set of notes. I like this experience. I feel connected to a person who is most assuredly dead. I have no idea who she is, where she was born, what she suffered, the things she celebrated, whether or not she was alone when she died.

But I do know she read this book. And I’m reading this book. Why is that important? Hell, I don’t know. It just…is.

This is why I buy books, and burn piles of Kindles in effigy.

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