IMG_6909I’m a librocubicultarist and its OK. I read in bed. Lots of other places too but reading in bed is the ultimate for true bibliophiles. The Handyman has given me the most perfect valentine’s gift that I can’t take to bed with me or anywhere else really and that’s OK too. I have a work-a-day back-up copy. (I wonder if there is a latin name for reading in the bathtub too?)


Ta da. This is an unread princeps, or first edition (American) of my favourite book.

I love books about adventurous women. Out of Africa is a memoir by the Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen writing under the pen name Isak Dinesen. First published in England in 1937, the year before my American edition, about the 17 years she spent in Kenyan running a coffee plantation. (The 1937 British edition has the same richly illustrated dust jacket as mine has.)

“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early morning and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”

I  opened the brown-paper package from John W. Doull, Antiquarian & second-hand books bought & sold in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and smelled my treasure. There is a word for that too: Bibliosmia, the act of smelling books, especially as a way of getting a ‘fix’ from the aroma of old tomes.

True confessions. My love for Out of Africa was born after my first viewing of the movie, which to my horror (30 years, really?) celebrated the 30th anniversary of its release last year.  My favourite actor Meryl Streep was Karen and Robert Redford, Denys Finch Hatton.

IMG_2129Hopelessly romantic, the movie takes liberties with the book’s emphasis on her day-to-day life in Africa (although nothing was really day-to-day about it) and spins it into a moving love story filmed on location. Who can forget the sweeping scenes of Kenya from the air or Redford tenderly washing Streep’s hair on safari.The love story really happened but the book has a much more restrained telling of it.

Before I gush on even more, I’ll leave you with some of Karen’s words after her heart-wrenching departure from Africa:

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air on the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”