The other day an old, over-laden bookcase in my library threatened to give way. Trying to keep that from happening, I lessened its load by taking out heavy volumes. Memories flooded by. There was, for example, tome after tome about adventures in the far north.

While writing for newspapers about travel, I managed each summer to visit and write about a Land of the Midnight Sun. I delighted in being where the sun shined almost the whole night through.

The far north books brought back my very earliest days of distant travel. I visited Alaska in 1959, the year of its statehood. There, in Juneau, I saw my first glacier. From Nome I flew with a bush pilot to an Inuit village of 500 named Shishmaref, located on an island five miles from the mainland. A national guardsman there verified by Telex that I wasn’t a Russian Inuit before I could leave the beach where we had landed. The winter before, an Inuit from neighboring Russian-owned Big Diomede Island had made his way to Shishmaref over the ice and had to be kept there until spring.

In Greenland, one sunny midnight, I had a long talk with a German doctor researching sleep deprivation and jet lag. He had learned through experiments with soldiers he had brought there during Midnight Sun time that it takes a full year to get over jet lag.

In the Northwest Territories in what is now the Inuit territory of Nunavut, I was taught how to savor muktuk (seal blubber).

But there were not just books on the cold north. Tucked in corners of the shelves and on the bookcase top were mementoes from other travels.

Lounging on one shelf was a puppet from sunny Sicily. On another shelf were pink and gray chunks of the Berlin Wall through which I had often passed. They were a gift from a six-year-old East Berliner who had “helped” to knock the Wall down.

On top of the bookcase was a red, green and gold runner from Hungary. Standing on it was a procession of wooden camels from Jordan. There was also the figure of a woman fashioned from shells by a Portuguese soldier in what was then the Portuguese African colony of Mozambique.

There was a black jug from Mexico and a sculpted head from South Africa. It was acquired on a visit there just at the end of Apartheid. It brought back memories of a ride on an ostrich and being chased by a cheetah whose cage a guide had invited me to visit. He had assured me and six other travel writers that the cheetah was a friendly one. It turned out it wasn’t.

A platter from England, decorated with a scene from Japan, reminded me of enjoying high tea with scones in England and of sleeping on a mat on the floor of a ryokan in Japan. There was a wooden carving of a man with a pipe that I had acquired on the island of Aero on my first visit to Norway.

Not part of the travel collection, but holding down the colorful runner on the bookcase top was a massive head of the 14th-century Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. On a neighboring somewhat hidden-away bookcase is the head of the beautiful Beatrice of his dreams. She is a bit out of sight because her nose has been broken. Both of these are family memorabilia that remind me of the poetry-loving grandfather who owned them.

I am hoping, of course, that the bookcase can be strengthened again, and everything in and on it put back. Meanwhile, I have been enjoying reminiscing, thanks to what I have found on the creaky old shelves.