Renovation & Design

Some books should stay on the shelf

Mustard peruses his library in a pandemic pause

Laurie Mustard / Winnipeg Free Press

Mustard’s home library is loaded with books dedicated to his tireless “research.”

This isolation thing is getting a little boring. You vacuum, clean the bathroom in case company drops by, and if they do, you can’t let them in. "Love you! Go away!"

So it’s important to have things around your home that keep you entertained.

The most depressed people out there right now are those minimalists whose residence contains maybe four pieces of furniture, toilet paper, a toothpick, and a book on how to declutter.

Karma’s grinding them real good. Serves them right for getting rid of all their stuff.

Glad I’ve got stuff. Boy have I got stuff. I mean, I live in one of those homes that still even has a library. Imagine. One of my passions is old books, old medical books, books on life in general, and one whole shelf on relationships, love, marriage, raising a family and even polite clinical guidance regarding the role of sex in our lives.

I even have a 1965 Simon and Schuster book on The Sex Life of the Animals. I’m afraid to open it in case there’s pictures.

The fun part of the contents of this shelf is that most of this brilliant wisdom and guidance comes from the first half of the last century, almost all of it, of course, penned by men.

Example. Now here’s one that could get you killed in today’s world: Manual for Wives and Mothers, written by Dr. Pye Henry Chavasse. He even quotes, under his name, first page of the book, from Psalm 128: "The wife shall be as the fruitful vine upon the walls of thine house."

Scary. I’m even afraid to write about what he wrote.

His introductory chapter? Advice To A Wife — It’s possible this book may have spawned the birth of the term death wish.

Doctor Death loved quotes, an excerpt from another he included up front goes: "A good wife is Heaven’s last, best gift to man — his angel and minister of graces innumerable — his gem of many virtues — his casket of jewels — his brightest day, her kiss — the ablest advocate of Heaven’s blessing on his head," — Jeremy Taylor.

He also included this little grenade: "Of earthly goods the best is a good Wife; A bad, the bitterest curse of human life," — Simonides.

Key words from these deranged musings: "his" and "goods." Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the good doctor lived a very short life.

Moving along, here’s a handy book: When you Marry, which includes a chapter on Where Babies Come From.

I mean, if you don’t know that by the time you’re getting married, you have led one very sheltered life. I think kids today learn that in Grade 1. I mean, I considered myself a slow learner in that department because I didn’t learn "where babies come from" til one memorable recess in Grade 4, at Linwood School.

I had a very tough time even looking at my parents when I got home that day.

So many interesting books on that shelf. A Marriage Manual — a practical guide-book to sex and marriage. Sex, Marriage and Birth Control, with a front cover warning, in caps — TO BE SOLD TO ADULTS ONLY; another big thick book titled, Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male.

Why do I have these books you ask? I actually use them as resource material for some of the public speaking I do. Some great humour in there. They also come in handy for passing time during a pandemic.

But come on, who writes a book about The Sex Life of the Animals?

Which animals?

I don’t even want to know.

Comments and feedback always welcome!


Browse Homes

Browse by Building Type