A Patron Returned a Book to a Maryland Library Nearly 75 Years After It Was Due

Montgomery County Public Libraries
Montgomery County Public Libraries

The old adage "better late than never" applies to many things in life. Ask the librarian at your local library, and he or she will probably tell you that returning long-overdue books is one of them. As WLJA News in Washington, D.C. reports, a patron recently returned a book to the Silver Spring Library in Maryland 73 years after it was due.

A worn, illustrated copy of The Postman was, appropriately, mailed to the library with a letter attached. In it, a woman explained that her family had checked out the book in 1946 when she was just a toddler. "The family then moved to Canada on short notice and the book was packed up with everything else," the library wrote, summarizing the gist of her letter.

Even if she happened to forget where the book came from, she didn't have to look far. A stamp inside it reads "Property of Silver Spring Library," which is part of Maryland's Montgomery County Public Libraries system.

The inside of the book
Montgomery County Public Libraries

An illustration inside the book
Montgomery County Public Libraries

It's an especially rare find because the library no longer carries books by that particular author, Charlotte Kuh. Its value has likely increased with time, too. A copy of The Postman from 1929 is currently selling on Amazon for $29, and another book in the sames series from 1934 is available for $25.

Noble deeds like these make headlines from time to time. In 2017, Massachusetts's Attleboro Public Library received a copy of T.S. Arthur's The Young Lady at Home 78 years after it had been checked out. Likewise, a rare copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde had been "lost" for the same length of time, but was ultimately returned to the Chicago Public Library in 2012. The library's then-marketing director, Ruth Lednicer, said the woman who returned the book feared she'd be punished for coming forward.

"She kept saying, 'You’re not going to arrest me?'" Lednicer said, "and we said, 'No, we're so happy you brought it back.'" Like we said: It's never too late.

[h/t WLJA News]

Jane Austen's Handwritten Letter About a Nightmarish Visit to the Dentist Is Up for Auction

Photos.com/iStock via Getty Images
Photos.com/iStock via Getty Images

For about $100,000, you could own a tangible reminder that Jane Austen hated going to the dentist, too—even when she wasn’t the patient.

After escorting her three nieces to a dentist named Spence in 1813, Austen was so appalled at the dental practices of the time that she described them to her sister Cassandra in a letter, which could now sell for $80,000 to $120,000 at an auction later this week. Smithsonian reports that the value is so high partially because only 161 of an estimated 3000 letters written by the celebrated author still exist; the rest were destroyed by Austen’s family after her death, possibly to avoid personal matters from leaking to the public.

jane austen letter about the dentist
Bonhams

This letter doesn’t contain anything particularly private, but it does provide some intimate insight into Austen—who famously remained unmarried and childless herself—as a doting aunt and sister.

“The poor Girls & their Teeth!” she wrote. “We were a whole hour at Spence’s, & Lizzy’s were filed and lamented over again & poor Marianne had two taken out after all … we heard each of the two sharp hasty screams.”

While Austen doesn’t speculate about whether or not the work on the aforementioned nieces’ teeth was necessary, she definitely had an opinion about Spence’s treatment of her third (and favorite) niece Fanny.

“Fanny’s teeth were cleaned too—& pretty as they are, Spence found something to do to them, putting in gold & talking gravely … but I think he must be a Lover of Teeth & Money & Mischief to parade about Fannys [sic].”

If you think a visit to the dentist is uncomfortable in the age of anesthetics and easily accessible milkshakes, you can imagine that getting teeth filed, filled, and pulled in the early 19th century was a full-fledged nightmare. The main fix for a cavity was simply pulling the tooth out, which the Jane Austen Center explains was often done with a pelican or key, both metal instruments that were braced against the gum and then twisted to tear out the tooth.

In addition to the horrifying dental report, Austen also writes about her mother’s improving health, a visit to a family friend, and a department store shopping trip.

Bonhams will include the letter in their annual Americana and Travel auction in New York on Wednesday, October 23.

Curious to know more about the woman behind Pride and Prejudice? Check out eight intriguing facts here.

[h/t Smithsonian]

A Book Fair for Grown-Ups Is Coming to New York

seb_ra/iStock via Getty Images
seb_ra/iStock via Getty Images

Amid all the prepubescent drama and uncertainty of elementary school was one glimmering spot of hope and happiness: the Scholastic Book Fair. Getting to take just a few minutes out of your regular school day to wander the temporary bookshelves seemed about as enchanting as walking through the wardrobe into Narnia.

For folks who’ve been chasing that particular brand of ecstasy well into their adult lives, we have some big news. Next month, Penguin Random House is hosting a book fair for grown-ups. The Pop Insider reports that the event will take place at Lightbox in New York on Saturday, November 23, and you must be at least 21 years old to attend.

It’s not intended to be an exact replica of the book fair from your own school days, but rather a full-fledged recreation of your entire grade-school experience. The electronic invitation promises pop culture trivia, Mad Libs, an “awkward school photo booth,” spin art, snap bracelets, Mr. Sketch markers, cubbies, and “severe middle school flashbacks.”

There will also, of course, be books for sale, though it’s not clear if the inventory will include throwback series like Junie B. Jones and The Magic Treehouse, or just books for adults.

In addition to tsunami-sized waves of nostalgia, the event will feature appearances from some of Penguin Random House’s beloved authors. The list hasn’t been revealed in full, but Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, tweeted that its author John Hodgman will be there to promote his new book, Medallion Status.

Tickets are $25 for a one-hour time slot, or you can pay $50 to stay for the whole five hours. And your afternoon of embracing your inner kid will benefit actual kids—Penguin Random House will donate a portion of ticket sales to Read Ahead, a non-profit that uses reading to help students learn life-long social and emotional skills.

While the Scholastic Book Fair is still going strong in schools today, the same can’t be said for card catalogs, dodgeball, or these other things.

[h/t The Pop Insider]

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