For Christmas my daughter gave me a book in the Lakeside Classics series. These books are a bibliophile’s and librarian’s dream, and being a librarian and a bit of a bibliophile, I fell in love with the first one I saw, which was Revolutionary Days by Princess Julia Cantacuzene née Grant (but hers is another story).
For over one hundred years R.R. Donnelly and Sons of Chicago, a publishing firm that has grown to be a communications giant, has printed a book at Christmas time as a gift to their employees and clients. The books in the Lakeside Classics series are mostly first-person narratives of American history, often from works that are out of print and not easily obtainable.
Each book is an example of fine printing — cloth bound, gold embossed, with a sewn binding. The small size, about 5″ by 8″, feels pleasant in the hand. Everything about the book is good quality — the paper, the typography, the illustrations. These books are a sheer pleasure to read.
And which book did my daughter give me? A Bidwell book, of course. In 1928 the Lakeside Press published Echoes of the Past in California, by John Bidwell, together with another California classic, In Camp and Cabin, by Rev. John Steele. In future posts I will tell you something about John Steele and his adventures in California.
Several of the Lakeside Classic books deal with California history, including the one other volume that I own, From Mexican Days to the Gold Rush: Memoirs of James Wilson Marshall and Edward Gould Buffum Who Grew Up with California (1993). Just reading some of the titles in the series is enough to make a history lover drool: Six Years with the Texas Rangers by James B. Gillett, Across the Plains in Forty-nine by Reuben Cole Shaw, War-Path and Bivouac by John F. Finerty, A Frontier Doctor by Henry F. Hoyt, and Hell among the Yearlings by Edmund Randolph.
Seek them out in libraries and used bookstores, and enjoy reading!