What books do you keep on the nightstand near your bed or on the shelf next to your favorite chair? Those books (and magazines) probably say a lot about who you are and what is important to you. The subtitle of this blog, “a reverence for wood”, was not chosen casually. One of the five or six favorite books on my nightstand is “A Reverence for Wood” by Eric Sloane, originally published in 1965. Actually, the book I have is called “Sketches of America Past” and combines two other Sloane books, “Diary of an Early American Boy” and “A Museum of Early American Tools” along with “A Reverence for Wood”, in a single bound edition.
I first read “A Reverence for Wood” back in the early 1970’s and remember being totally captivated by it. I have re-read it many times since then. It’s my kind of book, lots of interesting illustrations, all by Eric Sloane himself. It is also a historical book about “the old ways” of making practical things out of wood. It shows that our ancestors had close relationship and intimate understanding of wood that, for the most part, has been lost by our present generation. It is a book about history and the ingenuity of the early American pioneers. It has definitely been an influence on my life and my pursuit of woodcraft.
I was not going to post this entry on my blog since I couldn’t imagine my blog visitors, most of who are interested in woodworking, as not having already read “A Reverence for Wood”. It is practically required reading for anyone interested in wood. But then I thought perhaps there are people out there, especially visitors from other parts of the world, who may never have heard of the book. But even if you have read the book before, it is worth getting a copy and going through it again. Every time I open it, it gives me a new incentive to go make something out of wood.
Have you read “A Reverence for Wood”? What are your thoughts about the book, or other books by Eric Sloane?