Monday, January 10, 2011

Secondhand Books

I have a lot of books. “Too many,” my husband says. That’s probably because I can’t pass a bookstore without going in, and I never come out empty-handed. But my favorite sources of books are secondhand bookstores, thrift shops, The Salvation Army, yard sales and flea markets. When you buy books at these places, you often get a dividend that you will never find in an E-book.

For example—an ancient postcard, a pressed flower, a faded photo, a yellowed newspaper clipping, or a forgotten letter. These are the items often secreted between the pages by a former owner that a new book will never offer. Sometimes it is a simple inscription on the flyleaf, scrawled in a spidery hand: “Dear Mary Ellen, I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Affectionately, Aunt Emily.” Or--a silk bookmark embroidered with rosebuds.

These are the things that make my heart stop--mementos from another time, another place, another person. Evidence that this book has been shared by another reader.

Robin Hathaway

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