Freddie and Flossie and Nan and Bert.
Actually, going through athose books was bringing back memories like whoah. They were my very favorite series for most of my elementary school years. My dream was to one day, have unlimited time in which there was nothing I needed to do except curl up with KB and my special blanket and have milk and cookies and read the Bobbsey Twins. The collection was originally my cousin's (although we've probably at least doubled it since she passed it on) and for, well, probably about a year, Mom and Dad read them out loud to us, a chapter or two a night. Which was, let me tell you, excruciatingly tense! The cliffhangers, oh the cliffhangers! (The whining, oh the whining! 'One more chapter, it's not fair!') I swore right then that when I wrote my own novels, I would never, ever end a chapter on a cliffhanger.
I haven't read any of them in years and years and years. I'm almost afraid to now. It's astonishing, the extent to which they shaped my idea of what an ideal childhood would be like, set in a nebulous time and place somewhere near the Great Lakes sometime in between the 1920's and the 1970's. (These are all from the first two iterations of the books, the 1910-1920's ones where F&F are 4 and N&B are 8, and 1940-1960's ones where F&F are 8 and N&B are twelve. The modern retellings they had in the library were my introduction to the concept of 'absolute evil'.) If I read them now, either they'd be disappointing and I would be sad, or, well, or they'd be even better than I remember, now that I have context for them. And, well, in that case ... it's like, the whole time they've been sitting on my shelf, they've been accumulating a charge of magic, and once I re-read them, I'll have used it up ... and now that I've let it build up for this long, I want to save it for something really special.
(This is actually a theory I've worked from for a while: books grow magic that is used up by being read. As if the emotional charge is an electric charge, and every time I read it, it is discharged. The first time I read a book there's a brilliant glittery surge of it; after that, it increases the longer I wait to re-read. If I re-read too many times in quick sucession, not only will there be very little magic charge, but I run the risk of wearing it out by reading it on empty, and it'll be flat and dull for a *very* long time after that, like an exhausted farm field - on the range of decades, even, before it's fertile again. But if I go too long, there's always a risk that it will corrode with time and stop holding a charge at all. And reading a different copy than the original leads to a certain amount of 'waste' energy, because it's not quite compatible, so that the received charge is less. And this doesn't apply quite the same way with fanfic, because bits can't hold a charge like paper can (and because fic's emotional charge has always been about its interaction with the community as much as the words themselves, so it changes much more dynamically than most printed books) - I should try printing out some fic sometime and do some experiments.)
In another year or two my cousin's kids will be big enough for the Bobbsey Twins. I probably ought to offer to give them back. But I'm afraid they won't want them. Even worse, I'm afraid she will take them, but she won't love them enough. After all, she was the one who gave them away in the first place.
Anyway, there's still at least a couple more of those books stashed around the house somewhere or other. I rooted through my mom's collection of old Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs hardcovers and found a few more. I should probably make a real effort to complete the collection before I give it back, but they're selling for ridiculous prices (like, more than a dollar each!) these days. Meanwhile, while I was looking at those shelves, I found a bunch more kids' books that I'd been idly wondering about. I'm beginning to suspect that once I finish cataloging the books in my room and the SF collection in my sister's, I'll just keep going and going and going until every book in the house is listed, regardless of 'whose' it is, because I'm starting to realize that there's no way I can actually separate out 'not mine.' I LOVE THEM ALL! And Mom's never going to start her own catalog, right?
Plus, once I get all the books cataloged, what will I do with my spare time? At the moment, all that's left of my original ambitions are SF paperbacks A-Heinlein, all my textbooks, several shelves of random non-SF fiction, and whatever else is scattered around my room, mostly things like yearbooks and blank books and homemade books. I'm currently just about to hit 1,500, as soon as I add in the non-Bobbsey Twins books that I pulled off Mom's shelf. Who wants to bet that I'll hit 2,000 by the time all the SF is in? (And bear in mind that yard sale used book season is about to start up again.)