Ben Myers, from Brisbane, Queensland, made an incredible discovery when he came across a list of novels his grandmother has read since she was 14.
How would you measure your life? It is this one question we always find ourselves asking. We are wired for comparison and often try to gauge how we measure up to those around us. For humans, it is an inevitable facet of our being, and we want everything to be measured and recorded so that one day we can look back and relive it.
Although it may seem mundane to maintain a record of everything, Ben Myers, from Brisbane, Queensland, discovered a treasure trove of the most delightful kind when he came across a list of novels his grandmother had read since she was 14. He showed a glimpse of his 94-year-old grandmother's lifelong reading journey on Twitter, where it struck a chord with millions of people.
My 94-year-old grandmother has kept a list of every book she ever read since she was 14 years old. Amazing archive of one person’s mind over nearly a century pic.twitter.com/Cu9znTgkJO— Ben Myers (@_BenMyers_) March 20, 2023
“My 94-year-old grandmother has kept a list of every book she ever read since she was 14,” Myers wrote in the tweet. No one can compete with grandparents in preserving memories for their future grandchildren. His grandma meticulously documented every book she had read, which Myers described as an “amazing archive of one person’s mind over nearly a century." The list begins with books from 1943 and is mainly German literature.
The thread also included an English list from 1964-68, documenting the books she read as a refugee in Germany before migrating to Australia. Myres further disclosed, “The total number of books listed is 1658 (nearly one per fortnight over 80 years). Not bad for a person who never had the opportunity to finish school. In a different world, she would have studied philosophy at university.”
By popular demand, here are a few more pages that show my grandmother’s typical interests and her enormous range. This is from the years 1964-68 pic.twitter.com/1IHXR0apRc— Ben Myers (@_BenMyers_) March 22, 2023
Twitter users were intrigued by his grandmother’s lifelong reading list and asked about her favorite books. In another tweet, Myers revealed that his grandmother had a "stormy love affair with Goethe since first reading him in 1947 (#61 on the list)." She also told Myers about reconciling with Goethe after a dispute and prolonged breakup. Some books, however, also had a story behind them.
Myers shared a photo of an excerpt from his grandmother’s memoir that detailed the lodging she was given in a German farmhouse in 1945. She had found the book "The Greatest Thing in the World" by Henry Drummond embedded inside a wall. When other residents showed no interest in reading, his grandmother found herself lost while reading the German Gothic piece.
Some of these books have quite a story behind them too. Here is an excerpt from my grandmother’s memoir, about an incident in 1945 when she was given lodging in a German farmhouse (she was a refugee from Yugoslavia at the time) pic.twitter.com/bFFkJ4QkDE— Ben Myers (@_BenMyers_) March 20, 2023
“Absolutely love this thread! Did she read in other languages too, besides German and English?” @Adeline_Mz asked. Myers replied, “Serbian books on very rare occasions, possibly some Hungarian ones too." @DanagherM added, "Wow. I have done the same, but only since I was 24 years old. And I don’t read quite as much as your grandma, so am quite a ways behind."
Grandparents have a wealth of memories to share with their grandchildren, and their knowledge only enriches our lives in countless ways. Activities such as these only strengthen the bond, and with grandparents having additional time to spare, grandchildren take delight in this opportunity to take on new adventures with them.
This is incredible. Thank you for sharing.— Adam Frisch for CD-3 (@AdamForColorado) March 22, 2023
Omg! This is amazing. What a thing to get to know, see about your grandmother. I miss mine horribly, & while there's a lot I have to remind me of her, I wish I had any piece of writing or a memoir to look at whenever missing her gets too painful. Cherish her with all your ❤️.— Mona R (@fairy_mr) March 21, 2023
How wonderful. My grandma is 95&an avid book buyer. She didn’t keep a list but I discovered on the back page she wrote the date & what she thought of the book each time she read them. Some of the comments are hilarious. pic.twitter.com/lgxiE2g1Px— Naomi Dickinson (@TastyTooGood) March 21, 2023
Fascinated Twitter users shared their own experiences with similar archives. @TastyTooGood commented with a montage of pictures, "How wonderful. My grandma is 95 and an avid book buyer. She didn’t keep a list but I discovered on the back page she wrote the date and what she thought of the book each time she read them.” @madwive65 tweeted, "Reminded me of my mum, she kept a diary from the age of 14 until she was unable to do so in her 80s. She too listed every one books she read and even every item she knitted and who it was made for."