A Kindred Spirit

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The copy of John Adams I checked out is due on Wednesday, and I am only half-way through this 650 page chunker. So today I've been alternating my responsibilities (cooking, tidying up, catching up on wedding thank yous, working on a Christmas surprise for someone I won't mention just in case they read this) with reading John Adams in ten page increments. I just found an anecdote that I love, and have to share just in case I don't have time to copy it down later.

Paris booksellers soon found they had an American patron like no other. In the bookshops and stalls along the Seine were volumes in numbers and variety such as Jefferson had never seen, and his pleasure was boundless. To Madison he would describe the surpassing pleasure of 'examining all the principal bookstores, turning over every book with my own hand and putting by everything related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable to every science.' There were weeks when he was buying books every day. In his first month in Paris, he could not buy them fast enough, and ran up bills totaling nearly 800 francs. Nor was the book-buying spree to end. The grand total of books he acquired in France was about 2,000, but he also bought books by the boxful for Washington, Franklin, and James Madison. (pg. 321)

I think I spent more money on books than anything else when I was in Paris (except maybe food) and this little story about Jefferson made me so nostalgic for those Paris bookshops. Although I don't have time today, one of these days I am going to have to write a special post about my two favorite bookstores in Paris. Something to look forward to when I finish exams and my library books. Hope you are all having a lovely Sunday evening!

ADDITION: Ok, I just read this post to my husband because he appreciates my nerd-ness. And he told me that his ancestors in Virginia bought slaves from Thomas Jefferson! He told me that his grandma told her best friend that they had the document from when they bought the slaves from Thomas Jefferson and the next day, her best friend had cut out the signature of Thomas Jefferson. Some friend, huh? Not so cool that my husband's family were slaveowners (although mine were outlaws in the Dalton Gang, so I don't know who is more infamous), but pretty cool that they had a document with Thomas Jefferson's signature. Especially now that I know he is my kindred spirit.


  1. I'm jealous of you for getting to read ten-page intervals all day. I wonder what the children in my class would say if I whipped out my latest book every half hour or so! :P

  2. What a great post! This book sounds incredible and I'm looking forward to reading a post on the bookshops in Paris!

    Not such a best friend for your husband's grandmother, most definitely! What kind of a friend is that!

  3. @Coffee and a Book Chick - I know, right? I would have loved to see that document! Oh well. And I'm hoping to get that post written soon - it brings up so many happy memories!


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