84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross Road84, Cross Cross Road, by Helene Hanff, is one of my favorite books of all time. Clocking in at less than 100 pages, it’s a short but delightful read. Seriously. Delightful.

Helene Hanff is a writer in New York. She writes to Marks & Co. in London in 1949, looking for rare and out-of-print books. Frank Doel responds on behalf of Marks & Co., and so begins a twenty-year correspondance and friendship. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll stop the summary there.

Here are a few of my favorite tidbits:

“But they are profoundly shocked to see me drop a book in the wastebasket or give it away. The way they look at it, you buy a book, you read it, you put it on the shelf, you never open it again for the rest of your life but YOU DON’T THROW IT OUT! NOT IF IT HAS A HARD COVER ON IT! Why not? I personally can’t think of anything less sacrosanct than a bad book or even a mediocre book.

“WELL!!! All I have to say to YOU, Frank Doel, is we live in depraved, destructive and degenerate times when a bookshop – a BOOKSHOP – starts tearing up beautiful old books to use as wrapping paper. I said to John Henry when he stepped out of it: “Would you believe a thing like that, Your Eminence?” and he said he wouldn’t. You tore that book up in the middle of a major battle and I don’t even know which war it was.”

This book showcases friendship and generosity and bibliophilia. What more could you want? Go out and read it!!

84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff [rating:5]

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Sassymonkey Reads
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The Zen Leaf

This book has been made into a movie starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. I saw it. It wasn’t nearly as good as the book. And, of course, the movie changed the ending.