Skip to main content


By Robin Kaye

I’ve been an avid collector of two things for as long as I can remember—Books and music. I’ve kept them with me all my life though seven states, and 35+ moves.

When I was younger, I could name every move, in order, and I could have given you the street address too. I’m not sure I’d be able to remember my every move now, but when an old song comes on the radio, or the iPod, I can tell you where I lived when it was popular. It’s the same with books.

I know I lived in Mount Laurel, NJ the year Elton John’s Philadelphia Freedom was all the rage and read Judy Blume’s Forever and Louis Nizer’s Reflections Without Mirrors.

I lived in Reston, VA when a friend of my mother’s let me hang out at her apartment and read her prized collection of Wizard Of Oz books in exchange for walking her dog every day after school. That was the same year the songs Wildfire and Shannon brought tears to my eyes along with the book, Watership Downs.

I read JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbit and Jeffrey Archer’s Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less one of the summers I spent in Westhampton Beach, Long Island while tapping my foot to Billy Joel She’s always A Woman To Me.

I lived in Mountain Lakes, NJ when I first heard Elvis Costello sing about Watching The Detectives, and read The Thorn Birds in one sitting. It was also about that time I got in trouble for reading The Carpetbaggers and A Stone For Danny Fisher during my Harold Robbins phase.

Keeping my favorite books and music close to me has always been so important because wherever they were was home.

A year ago, my DH moved our storage from one room to another--this happens quite often when you’re restoring a hundred year old Victorian. Every time DH faces this task, everything I’ve loved and saved for years is in jeopardy of going the way of the dumpster. I became a victim of Get-rid-of-this-stuff-because-I-refuse-to-move-it-again syndrome. This time my entire record collection was placed on the chopping block. I refused to consider taking it to the big turntable in the sky and I’m so happy I’m more stubborn than he is.

Yesterday, during my weekly shopping jaunt to Costco, I spied something I haven’t seen in years. I swear I heard the angels sing—though it might have been Jim Morrison. There before me was a turntable! Yes, you’re not seeing things. It was a real, honest to God turntable that connects to a computer and records/downloads records (both 45’s and 33’s) to iTunes!

Last night, I opened my box of albums and found my family history. There was my grandparents’ operas and their Italian comedy album, Pepino the Italian Mouse. A BJ Thomas album that I’m sure was one of my parents’. The first Sesame Street Album that contained my favorite song on the show-- Oscar’s I Love Trash. I walked down memory lane through my southern rock phase, my hard rock phase; my jazz phase, and sadly, a short and very painful disco phase. I found everything from James Taylor to Tubular Bells, Bradford Marsalis to Gilbert and Sullivan. On my bookshelves and in that box of albums, I have a musical and reading history of my life—The good, the bad, and the disco. No matter where I was, I always had a book to read and good music to listen to. I’m a very lucky person.

What’s on your bookshelf and on your iPod?


  1. Fabulous post, Robin! Whenever I leave a bookstore or library with new reads in hand, I always feel rich! Best part of being an avid reader, I think. :} Oh, and I'll have to see if they have that turntable at my Costco...Alvin & The Chipmunks, Bread, Pink I come!

  2. Thanks Kathryn~

    OMG, I haven't thought about Bread in years. I do have their greatest hits album and thanks to you, I'll have the song "Diary" in my head for the rest of the day. Love Alvin and the Chipmunks, I have the album, but I also broke down years ago and downloaded them from iTunes.

  3. Great post, Robin. I know music, in particular, is a huge part of what makes Robin Robin. I still have all my vinyl (and so does Dan) so we have a huge box that ranges from Barry Manilow's white album to (like Kathryn) Best of Bread to Kiss Army to the soundtrack to They're Playing My Song. The box has made many a move with us. We still have a turntable but don't use it very often.

    Our daughter Emily, who is 14, is REALLY into the music of our generation, the 60s-80s. She has to be the only freshman at her HS with a Pink Floyd lunch box. We are so proud! As for my favorite books, I didn't keep them. For as long as I can remember my aunts and cousins (and my mother when she was alive) have had a robust book exchange. We read and pass. It's what we've always done. However, I was recently looking at a new copy of The Thorn Birds (which I devoured one summer, probably when I was far too young to be reading it) and thought I should buy it just to have it on my shelf. I may still do that because I'm sorry I ever let it go in the first place. And I'm thinking Emily would love it. :-)

  4. What a lovely, elegant post, Robin!

    My husband bought a turntable a couple years ago so we could enjoy old albums.

  5. Marie~

    We should get our kids together. Tony listens to my music more than his, although he likes Metal and I so don't. I think about what I was reading when I was my kid's ages and I cringe. There's no way I'd let them read half of the things I did. Tony did just read Not A Penny More, Not a Penny Less and loved it. He's a real Ludlum head too. The boy has great taste!

  6. Thanks, Libby. I wish I had a whole house stereo system. Maybe in the next house. I'd love to have my iTunes on wherever I am.

  7. My record albums are still in the boxes I moved them in, and we've lived in this house for twenty years now. I need one of those turntables!!!!

  8. OMG! A turntable!!! So, if I give you my lps will you download them for me? You can dance through my Prince and Air Supply phases! ;)

  9. Yep, all the collections! Books written by good friends, including CasaSisters, my iPod? Very eclectic from the Beach Boys, a lot of Celtic music, Steppenwolf, songs from old movies, Pussycat Dolls. And recently added Purple People Eater. :} My various playlists depend on my mood. Next weekend I'll switch over to Christmas music.


  10. Robin--That turn table sounds amazing! My dad has HUGE record collection (from Jazz to Disco and beyond) and I feel like this is a worthy investment to preserve the sounds I remember growing up with!

  11. We have all my dad's albums. He loved Mantovani. And in it I found a 78 of mine -- The Siamese Cat song from Lady and the Tramp along with all my 33s from high school.


  12. Wow! That is am amazing find and perfect device! I have often wondered if someone out there still made record players. How fabulous that they can connect and record to a digital medium. Brilliant! I should let my sister know. Her collection of 70s albums is priceless, literally. Who is the maker or brand name, Robin?

    I confess that I rarely listen to music. When I do it is classic rock. I am still stuck in the 70s and 80s.

    Books? Really, you don't want me to even go there! I have five floor to ceiling book shelves double stuffed, if that gives any clues.


Post a Comment