We have all probably finished a book and passed it on to someone else at least once or twice in our lifetime, but who can remember which book we gave to whom, and how long ago? Thanks to this week’s find on the used book floor here at Bayswater, we can answer that question – at least for 10 men in the year 1947.
In a 1946 hardcover copy of Thunder Out of China, we found a list of the New Hampshire YMCA Reading Circle from 1947. What was a reading circle, you may ask? Was it similar to a knitting or quilting circle, where individuals gathered together to knit/quilt/work on individual projects while they visited? The answer, at least in 1947 in New Hampshire, was no. A reading circle featured a book that was purchased and passed on, one month at a time, to each member. The member was granted one month to read the title and on the first day of the following month, read or not, the individual was required to mail it to the next person on the reading list. The names of all 10 men, their addresses, and the month that the book was to be in their possession are listed on a card inside of the book.
At that time, the reading circle consisted of men who lived throughout the state in the towns of Littleton, Dover, Lakeport, Lisbon, Keene, Nashua and Center Conway. The circle started out with Andrew in Keene for the month of September, followed by John in Dover for the month of October, and so on, until it ended up back at the State YMCA in Concord (now simply referred to as the Concord YMCA) in July of 1948. In short, this book was read and shipped from person to person across the state roughly 70 years ago! Might we also add (gleaned from the bold typing in all caps not so subtly reminding all members of the need for promptness) that we think one would not have wanted to be late in sending the book on in this circle. After all, Hugh from Nashua, Roger from Center Conway, or Charles from Littleton, should they be waiting on the book from you, had your name and address.
As with all of our used books that we feature here at Bayswater, “Thunder Out of China” can be yours for the price of $7, (complete with the 1947 NH reading circle find). You can catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor at bayswaterbooks.com and on facebook. Better yet, stop by our store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!
– Katie Small