June 14th, 2019

Well, ancient may be a bit of hyperbole. The Tickencote Treasure was originally published only 116 years ago. This wonderful tale of an English gentleman caught up in the accidental obsession of a treasure caught my attention when I was searching for similar books. The tragedy for anyone who loves treasure stories is that there are so few and searching always yields either ‘Treasure Island,’ picture books for five-year-olds, or non-fiction stories which are entertaining but all too similar to be taken seriously. I’ll have to write another blog article someday about how many stories there are about a dying vagabond who bequeaths a map to a vast treasure to the heroic doctor who made his last hours more pleasant.

I love the self-referential quality of the difficulty in finding good stories about treasure. A treasure hunt to find a book about a treasure hunt is very G.E.B. It’s also a slice of the larger tragedy of finding any book that is “just right” for the tastes of any particular person. My hope is that someday soon, machine learning will be able to give each of us genuinely unbiased recommendations.

For those who like a bit of Victorian fiction, I recommend this treasure about treasure. The Tickencote Treasure is available free in several formats - all a bit awkward to use - from Project Gutenberg. Or, you can listen to the mp3’s I made for myself. These are by no means audio-book quality (‘read’ comes out sounding like ‘red’ instead of ‘reed’) but, they are on par with the Kindle’s text-to-speech. That being said, why didn’t I just have the Kindle do it? The problem I had with the Kindle was that it stopped only a few minutes into my morning walk. I put it in my pocket, and I think it stopped when it went into sleep mode. Another frustration was losing my place, and I really missed the feature of Overcast, the app I use to listen to Podcasts, which lets me go back 15 seconds. This ‘what did he just say?’ feature is so useful I just couldn’t do without it, so I added that to the webpage I made just to listen to this book.

If you have found another old treasure like this one and want to make your own mp3s, check out my previous post Text-To-Speech