I Collect Old Books: The Sunday Tea Party

Published by The American Tract Society, this copy is 150 years old and was probably used by Sunday School teachers. The handwritten note inside says “Hickory Grove, SSL No 179, 1871.” Grace Abbott or The Sunday Tea-Party is the story of young Grace trying to keep Sunday special and devoted to God. It’s hard to do, though, with the tea parties and the mean girls tempting Grace to put aside what she learned about the Sabbath. In the end, Grace does prevail!

I Collect Old Books: The Greatest Thing In the World

In 1894, Scottish evangelist Henry Drummond shared a message — The Greatest Thing in the World — based on 1 Corinthians 13. His little talk on the Bible passage was soon published, and it’s never been out of print. My copy is from the 1950’s, and written inside is “Janet, My love, Aunt Ruth.”

I remember when I first read the passage in the Bible and saw that the words describing true Love are all action words, not emotions. That was a lightbulb moment for me. Take time to read 1 Corinthians 13. Maybe what it says will give you a new idea about love, like it did for me.

Click here for the passage: 1 Corinthians 13.

I Collect Old Books: Mr. Jones, Meet the Master

Reading Mr. Jones, Meet the Master, a book of sermons and prayers, triggered a significant change to my life. A friend encouraged me to buy a paperback we saw at a yard sale, I read it, and, through Peter Marshall’s words, I met a Jesus that no one had been telling me about. In these sermons, Jesus seemed so personal — someone I could really know — and I wondered why he was not being presented to me in that way.

God also used Marshall’s sermons to show my lack of Bible doctrine, even though I had been attending a church regularly for almost two years. I questioned and eventually left that church, and God led me to one that did not stray from the Gospel and the Bible’s truths.

Years later, during one of our church library giveaways, I found this 1953 hardcover edition to add to my collection of treasures.

I Collect Old Books: Up From Slavery

My 1923 copy of Up From Slavery, the autobiography of Booker T. Washington, published in 1900. Such a treasure! Washington was the founder of Tuskegee (Institute) University and an incredible man. “Through progress at Tuskegee, Washington showed that an oppressed people could advance. His concept of practical education was a contribution to the general field of education.”

The Non-Maniacal Order of Adjectives

Here’s a bit of fun for language fans. Maybe you’ve already seen this, but it was only recently that I discovered this gem. English speakers do something naturally with adjectives, according to author Mark Forsyth:

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wrote his first story aged seven. It was about a “green great dragon.” He showed it to his mother who told him that you absolutely couldn’t have a green great dragon, and that it had to be a great green one instead. Tolkien was so disheartened that he never wrote another story for years.


The reason for Tolkien’s mistake, since you ask, is that adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out. And as size comes before colour, green great dragons can’t exist.

If you have your doubts, come up with a descriptive sentence of your own and place the adjectives outside of Forsyth’s listed order. It’s a fascinating exercise!

From The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase, by Mark Forsyth (2013).

I Collect Old Books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

My first-edition copy (1964) of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. My fourth grade teacher read this story aloud to us. Hearing it for the first time, I distinctly remember thinking “This family is poorer than us!” One of my favorite stories from childhood, I think it made me the chocoholic that I am today.

Did you know that the author’s original intention was for Charlie to be “a little black boy”? Read the interview with his widow on BBC.

I Collect Old Books: Pilgrim’s Progress

A book written in 1678, gifted to a person in 1900 (handwritten note inside), and treasured by me in 2021. Oh, to write a story as long-lasting as this!

Click here for an online text of the book (via desiringgod.org ) that also shares information about Bunyan’s life and the things that make the story a literary masterpiece.