“I cannot live without books!”
One of the great men in history, Thomas Jefferson, is seen today as a scholar, sometimes a diplomat for the early United States, a great amateur architect (he designed his own home, Monticello, which is even the subject of a commemorative postage stamp!), and a formative figure in the economic strategies and politics of our country. But, financially, he never enjoyed great personal successes, in part because he lived honorably and gave handsomely to important charitable causes throughout his life. Meanwhile, in all his travels, he continued to buy and read books. Even on diplomatic missions to Europe, he sent home case after case of rare books purchased in book kiosks and shops, especially in Paris in the 1780’s. Jefferson himself called it “the choicest collection of books in the US”!
So, at a time in his life where he had amassed one of the largest book collections in the country, and where he dearly needed to pay his own debts, and where we had lost the Library of Congress to the War of 1812, he sold his entire book collection, about 6500 books, for the massive sum of $23,950, to the fledgeling Library of Congress to restore it to glory. Shortly after the tenth and final wagon left Monticello in June, 1815, bound with books for the Library of Congress, Jefferson said to John Adams (our second US President), “I cannot live without books, where fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.” So, soon after Jefferson sold this prize collection of books to our government, he started again to amass another collection of books, taking care to get the company of literature to the end of his days. “I have now to make up again a collection for myself of such as may amuse my hours of reading.”
To borrow another famous quote of his, “nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.” It’s easy to think Jefferson was happy starting over and exploring all the possibilities in books. Certainly, it wasn’t troublesome. So, in a harsh Winter as we’re seeing here in February, 2015, we want to invite you to come to our store, warm up with some coffee or tea or cocoa, browse a collection of books that we’ve amassed in our trade about the same in number as what Jefferson originally had, and find the ones that will be your best companions, “such as may amuse.” When Winter weather hits again, you’ll be prepared to relax and enjoy, and, certainly, you don’t have to live without books!
— Michael and Patty
Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester
65 James Street
Worcester, MA 01603