Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Nix, Altsheler, Powell Connection

I was introduced to the joy of reading by the books of Joseph A. Altsheler while in the sixth grade. These were historical fiction books in which the protagonist was always a young boy. I discovered the books in the school library. My love of reading has continued throughout my life and was a large part of why I became a librarian. While in the twelfth grade (also in a school library) I came across two books by Lawrence Clark Powell. They were A Passion for Books and Books in My Baggage. These books were instrumental in my decision to go to college instead of going into the construction trades as had my father. These books also played a role in my decision to become a librarian. In the book Books in My Baggage there is an essay titled "The Time, The Place, and The Book". In this essay Powell recounts an incident in which he took his son to a nearby branch public library and came across the book The Rock of Chickamauga by Joseph A. Altsheler. The book according to Powell immediately prompted him to recall his love of Altsheler's books as a boy. Powell writes, "I devoured Altsheler's scores of books - the Civil War, the Texan, the Border series - and hungered for more. After dinner I would bicycle to the library with a string bag hanging from the handle bars, and tarry only long enough to fill it with books I had not yet read. What a shock of pleasure it was to discover an Altsheler new to me, and then swiftly pedal home ...." It was a pleasurable surprise to discover that I shared a passion for the books of the same author as one of America's great librarians and lovers of books at a similar point in our lives. One of the prized books in my personal library is the book Islands of Books by Powell which is signed by Powell. This books which was published in 1951 (nine years before Books in My Baggage) also contains the essay "The Time, The Place, and The Book".

4 comments:

Nann said...

When I was in grade school the public library had shelves of the Altsheler books. I never checked any out but I liked the uniformity of the series. (As I type this I can see the section where those books were shelved....my hometown library has changed location and expanded tremendously and the Altsheler books are long gone.) I read Books in My Baggage, too, and have his definition of "a good librarian" pinned to my office bulletin board.

Larry T. Nix said...

Thanks Nann for sharing this.

deliberateobfuscation said...

I did not know Powell until reading your post, but now I need to read him. Really nice post.

Oleg K. said...

Ah yes! Powell is great. I have a bunch of his books at home and peek in whenever I need some inspiration. Thanks for posting about him (and Altsheler, who I didn't know about until now).