Thinking About Books, Old and New

Main Reading Room. Interior of dome. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

Have you been to the Library of Congress? In the Main Reading Room of the Thomas Jefferson Building, if you look up, you’ll see this. It’s quite beautiful. Image from


I can dream, can’t I? My dream house has a room dedicated to reading — a library furnished with long, comfy sofas, chunky reading chairs, and a beverage center stocked with coffees, teas, hot chocolate, M&Ms, and fancy water. A staircase to the second story. A deep-pile shag rug. Shelves that surround the room, packed with books, floor to ceiling. Those fun ladders-on-wheels. And a fireplace.

(If you have a room like this, I hope you’re using and appreciating it!)

Love Those Pre-21st Century Copyrights: While I wait for that house to materialize (*sigh*), I store the overflow of books in my garage. And you know how that is: out of sight, out of mind.

So, it’s been nice taking time these past two weeks to revisit books I’ve had in storage for years (read about my Christmas tree made from books) and setting aside a few of them to reread:

  1. With Him by Anna J. Lindgren (devotional, 1956)
  2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (novel, 1943)
  3. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (autobiography, 1900)
  4. Mr. Jones, Meet the Master by Peter Marshall (sermons, 1950)
  5. The Book of Virtues and The Moral Compass edited by William J. Bennett (treasury of stories, 1993 and 1995; most are stories from long ago)

For me, it’s a treat to hold a book that is over 100 years old, and I own several. Print books are still my preference here in the digital age. I’m not one to avoid digital reading, like I used to, but my fingertips enjoy flipping paper over tapping metal or a screen to get to the next page of a story. Love live paper!

I want to fall in love with a new author: No, not with the person — with the storytelling. I’m in search of a contemporary novelist (Christian or not) whose stories are uplifting, thought-provoking, character driven, and which I can read without having to cringe (i.e., profanity, sex scenes, graphic violence, disturbing themes). Can you recommend a novelist who can tell a great story without offending the sensitivities of a gal like me? Reading is an important part of becoming a better writer, but the only novelists who inspire my fiction writing are either dead or soon to be. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Help!

Just For Fun: Take a 360-degree virtual tour of the U.S. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Reading Room. It’s an amazing work of architecture. My son and I were in D.C. in 2003 for his school’s U.S. history tour, and we visited the Library then. Click here and tap the second thumbnail at the bottom to see the room.

Thankful for My Living Room: I do have a fireplace. And my couch is rather cozy. I have books stacked on the table. What do you know? I do have a dream-house library! I’m going to enjoy this chilly night in Southern California (45 is cold for us!) with tea, an old book, and gratitude to God.


Darla McDavid

I'm Darla, a writer of stories about family, friends, goodness, and God. I love cats, coffee, gardening, and tall stacks of books. Click here to subscribe to my blog. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram. In my other life, I'm an administrative professional and a Sunday School teacher for preschoolers.

10 Comments Write a comment

  1. Sounds good to me, too. I am thinking that I need to start circulating and ridding myself of many of my books which I can no longer keep up with…I have some good ones, too. Do you have any favorite authors or looking for any special books which I may have that would fit in your DREAM Book room? I have waaaaay too many to list as I have kept books for years and feel almost akin to many of them. Time to let go and share the information with others. Name any subjects you might be interested in or favorite authors, if interested…., I could them them book rate which probably wouldn’t be so bad..


    • Oh, yes, please use me to purge your book collection, Nat. I don’t have any favorite fiction authors. I’m just looking for good storytelling. I love reading Christian living, biography, devotional, and theology books that were published pre-1960 (the older, the better), as well as nonfiction history (like David McCullough). By the way, your sister would let me borrow her books, and she gave many of them to me!


  2. I’m recovering from the flu so it may take some time to tell you what I have..


  3. When you get your dream room, pleasePleasePLEASE may I come for a visit? One of my favorite B&Bs was in Chautauqua, NY, and my room was the C.S. Lewis room. It was oval shaped with lots of windows, and all over the ceiling were hand-painted scenes from his books. The SCREWTAPE LETTERS painted scenes were stunning. On a bookshelf were copies of most of his books to be borrowed; I read every night.


    • Of course you may come for a visit — but only if you bring marshmallows for the hot chocolate! And if I’m ever in that area of NY, I will search out that B&B. It must have been hard to leave that room.


  4. I also enjoy reading old books. Some have really stood the test of time–and others seem dated, but still provide a wonderful sense of the culture when they were written.


  5. When I walk my dog, usually at night, I glance at the gorgeous, century old houses in my Lower Riviera neighborhood of Santa Barbara and dream of sitting in one of their cozy, lamp lit rooms, reading a good book.


    • That is one fine dream … though I think I could enjoy sitting ANYWHERE on the SB Riviera while I read a good book. I’d look up from the page every few minutes to see the amazing ocean view, and then get back to reading.


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