...do you love them? I do. I can't stop myself from collecting the most beautiful of them when I spot them in a dusty shop, though our meager supply of book-shelving is already full between the two of us. We have issues with book, it has to be said.
I particularly love old children's books and pulp Westerns, but possibly the most irresistible to me are the writings of historic antrhopologists - the inveterate, obsessive, old-school adventurer variety who would set of on arduous sea journeys to unexplored regions, braving tropical illnesses, unfriendly sealife and local uprisings, in order to spend years sequestered with some primitive tribe.
I particularly like the maps pasted inside the covers of these books, smacking of tradewinds and sea lore.
Anthropology has always held me in its thrall, though like so many things with which I've had passing love affairs, it has gone by the wayside as my life has found and followed its course.
In school, with all of academia spread at my fingertips, the anthropology courses were always my favorite. As an English major, I had to take them with my "extra" credits every semester.
Senior year at University, we had a visiting professor who arrived fresh from his time among the bushmen of the Kalahari to teach a single course per semester. His courses did not conform to the strictures of regular college courses. They were freeform and thrilling, open to only a handful of students every year, and wildly popular....so popular, in fact, that one had to "audition" to get into them. He would assign an essay question on some research topic, which you had to turn in on a single handwritten page. He would chose from the essays which were in his mind the most creative and genuine students. I was lucky to make it into his class that first semester, and it was worth every minute. Never had I been so excited by a course in University.
Of course, it didn't hurt that he fit the part. He was ridiculously young and beautiful and precocious and golden-haired, alway dressed in slightly antiquated khakis and rumpled white Oxford shirts with the sleeves shoved up above his elbows. He spoke with an unbridled passion about his subject, shoving his hands through his gilded hair and pacing manically in front of his chalkboard or projector screen, and could often reduce the girls in the class to tears.
As if this weren't enough, he was also married - to a much older woman. She was not wealthy - she was a fellow academic, and she was the subject of fascination because she also was not beautiful, not the way he was.
Many a lovely underclass girl set her sights on the anthropologist and threw herself into her studies with unprecedented (and sometimes unseemly) abandon. One gorgeous, long-limbed redhead who sat next to me for much of the semester was nearly destroyed by her inability to attract his attention (well, I'm not sure she was all that stable to begin with). But he never showed any sign of being temped...or even noticing, for that matter. He seemed to be the genuine, ingenuous article, and for that I give him the most credit of all.