Bibliophilia: Don Camillo


I have to thank Peter Grant for allowing me free rein in his library for this. I think I mystified him when I was trying to explain what I’m trying to achieve with the Bibliophilia posts. However, in the process of trying to sum it up, I realized I’ve been saying the wrong thing about it. 

It’s not just ‘the book as a work of art,’ it is much more about a ‘book that has a soul.’ In other words: a book that has been loved, and cherished, sometimes by generations. A venerable piece in a collection that survives the periodic purges we all have to conduct on our libraries, if we are serious bibliophiles. I can look over at one of my shelves and know that Peter does this from time to time – when I visited a couple of years ago, he had boxes of books he’d sorted out to dispose of, and I gave more than a few a new loving home for at least a time. I’ve done this with my own library, too. You pass on the joys. Not all books are forever books. 

Some books, though. Some books have soul. These are the books that if you loan one out, and it disappears, you replace it. If you think about it, you buy cheap copies to loan out, or straight-up give away to trusted readers you share interests with. As Peter and I looked through his library, I realized that, and I saw just what I wanted to photograph for this post. 

Peter’s library is extensive, as anyone who has read his blog, or the books he writes, might guess. I snapped a shot of a portion of it – I like how he and Dorothy have it set up – to give some context. 
Click through for a larger version – my blog host only allows me small photos now.

The Don Camillo books are turning 70. They have not lost a step in all that time, because they are, in essence, stories about human nature. The setting may be changed and unrecognizable, but they remain true to life. 

The little pastor reminds me strongly of Peter, and I suspect that Peter’s personality may owe a bit to the influence of these books, and the place where the author got inspiration. So when I see the books, I see the affection that a reader has for books that mean much to them, foundational tomes that might not seem to be that weighty. They are, though. Sometimes we find ourselves in unexpected places. 

The paper has been edited here to show how it is aging.

These are not books that would seem to be works of art. No lavish illustrations, no gold-embossed leather covers. Paper that is starting to turn brown and brittle with age. The words, though. 

There are books in libraries all over that have soul. Like the Velveteen Rabbit (itself a lovely book) they have been loved into being ‘real books.’ 

That’s what my bibliophilia is about. The love of books, as repositories of words. But deeper than that. Classic books that speak to my heart. 


9 responses to “Bibliophilia: Don Camillo”

  1. carlton mckenney Avatar
    carlton mckenney

    I remember reading the Don Camillo stories back in the 60s while I was still living at home. My mother introduced me to them. I have HB and e-verions of the stories and they still resonate.

  2. One of the bookcases in the home office is a barristers bookcase with those glass doors that slide up. The top shelf holds those books, as do the shelves in the grand secretary that I inherited from my grandmother. The remainder of the books are crammed into bookcases which are stuck into whichever corner of the house they fit in. We need a bigger place so I can turn one room into a library. Sigh.

    1. That’s been a life goal for me, since… forever. One room to turn into the library. As it is, every room in this house except for the bathrooms and pantry has a bookshelf in it. Sometimes multiples!

      1. Reading is MindJoy Avatar
        Reading is MindJoy

        I used to also want a large library room for my house (although in my case I fear I would have needed a small house attached to my library) but I find I now emphasize quality to much greater degree than I once did. My current goal is to have a library where every book is the kind where after reading it you say either “everyone should know what is in this book” or “this book addresses an essential truth” (for non-fiction and fiction books respectively). I find this a challenging goal, but an enjoyable one.

        Proposed titles gratefully accepted, of course.

      2. Same here. There are bookshelves in the hallway…

  3. Chris Chiesa Avatar
    Chris Chiesa

    Same here. “So many books, so little time-and-space!” We moved house in 2015 and I have not yet unpacked my three or four full-height bookcases’ worth of books — because I’ve already _filled up_ the bookcases they were supposed to go into, with books purchased _since_ the move!

    1. The obvious answer for that is ‘more bookcases!’

  4. OldNFO Avatar

    Dang it, I forgot to show you the old cookbooks I have dating to the 1800s… I’m glad you didn’t take any pictures of my stacks of books everywhere… LOL

    1. Stacks of books simply everywhere are a sign of an active mind.

      I meant to ask you about a book for this series. Well. I shall have to come back and you can show me!