Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘reading’


Monday, August 30th, 2010

the infinite realms of romanceAnd now, an ode to books. This is from Edith Mae Cummings’s book titled: Pots and Pans and Millions: A Study of Woman’s Right to Be in Business.

1929: Books

Books are often the best companions. They make it possible for us to walk through the streets of ancient cities, to talk with scientists and philosophers, to talk with statesmen, queens and emperors that lived so long ago that the cities that they ruled over have crumbled into dust. They make it possible for us to take flights into the infinite realms of romance. They make it possible for us to travel over all the earth by land and sea, to visit strange places, and talk with unusual people. They make it possible for us to know the lives of people who have moulded the history of the world and directed the course of human events.

They say that people might be judged by the company they keep. It is equally true that people may be judged by the kind of books they read. In these days of hectic speed, automobiles, moving pictures, radio, and companionate marriage, the old-fashioned pastime of spending our evenings home reading has about died out.

We must realize that our knowledge and education depend on reading. After we have left grade school, high school or college, our education stops if we do not read. The best educated people are the ones who keep on reading.

Source: Cummings, Edith Mae. Pots and Pans and Millions. Washington, D.C.: National School of Business Science for Women, 1929.
~ p. 373 ~

How and What to Read

Monday, August 30th, 2010

a single book may make or mar a lifeSince I have a great love of books, I thought that I would feature some words about books and reading, brought to you by C. H. Fowler and W. H. De Puy from Home and Health and Home Economics. It is interesting that in their preface they state:

“The preparation of these pages has been a constant delight. The privilege of putting so many hundred important suggestions into a hundred thousand homes, to enter into the convictions and manners and lives and destinies of so many young people, and bear the fruit of peace and comfort and gentleness and culture in a million homes of the future, is gratefully accepted as the opportunity of a life-time.”

Amazing ~ I was thinking that just the other day! Please excuse me while I wipe a tear from my eye and shout “right on!”

1880: How and What to Read

We live among books to find the good, the beautiful, and the true in them, and by them to be inspired and led into the heart of nature and into the soul of mankind. A few hints in this labyrinth is better than a master. Indiscriminate reading will give much information and lose more. It fixes no centers around which future acquisitions crystallize.

A course of reading should develop all the intellectual faculties.

A few books may give culture. Poverty, preventing you from buying many costly books, need not keep you from undertaking the culture of your mind. Lincoln read chiefly the Bible and Shakspeare [sic]. Good books can be frequently re-read with profit.

Choosing books is important business. A single book may make or mar a life. Voltaire learned an infidel poem when he was five years old, and it molded his life. Hume, when a boy, took the infidel side of a question in a debating society, and cast his die. What books will you let come into the place of your parents and friends?

Youth should be left to themselves in the selecting of books no more than in the selecting of companions.

The desirableness of books depends upon their truth to nature, their euphony, language, ideas, and vigor. The best books are those that elevate the character by moving the heart.

Some books should be read, whether we like them or not, because they are necessary to educate and culture.

Some books should be read because they are so often alluded to by other writers and in general conversation.

One should be thoroughly acquainted with the books and names of the authors of his own land. Patriotism should lead a man to know the glory in the midst of which he lives.

Read occasionally good essays, biographies, standard books of travel, and a little standard fiction. Sometimes too protracted reading of heavy histories wearies the purpose of the uncultured, and the mind refuses to hold the results. Change of diet is good for body and mind.

Let each prominent fact become a center of arrangement for other facts. When the piles are thus driven, it is wonderful how soon the sea washes in a new formation and foundation for future building. Every book, and almost every paper, will add something to the stock of knowledge.

Some find a blank book and a pencil good companions in reading. Thus, marked passages can be retained for reference, or impressed on the mind of the work of writing.

If convenient, read with a friend. Discussion clears and fixes in the mind what you read.

Read aloud portions of every book. It enables you to test the style of the author.

Never read second-class stories. They steal the time and weaken the mind.

Never read what you do not wish to remember.

Source: Fowler, C. H. and W. H. De Puy. Home and Health and Home Economics. New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1880.
~ pp. 60-61 ~