There is something about secondhand bookshops. They induce nostalgia for times that I have never even lived in. There is an air of mystery about them. As soon as I enter, I feel overwhelmed. Looking at the shelves crammed with colourful books – some of them older than I am – fills me with curiosity. I have the desire to find out where those books come from, who they once belonged to, where they will be going to.
Since I came to uni, I have bought most of my books secondhand. I got so used to it that just the thought of spending more than £6 on a book seems ridiculous to me unless it’s a book that I really can’t find anywhere or it has just recently been published. I could also go to a library and borrow books but knowing myself quite well I’d be spending all my money on paying fines. I am not going to lie, though, I have been considering to get one of those fancy Kindles everybody appears to have by now. The good, old classics I adore are free to download too, which is very handy and great, yet somehow the need to leaf through a book and feel the paper between my fingers is very strong. And yes, I’m also one of those sleazeballs who sniff books, new and old, when nobody’s looking.
The main reason why I am writing this post today is because a few days ago I ordered Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums from World of Books. The book is in a good condition and the cover looks quite ‘retro’ (it was published in 1972), which is all well and good. What I love most about it, however, is the dedication someone wrote in it. It doesn’t say much. It simply says ‘Eamon, 1987 Love Samantha xxxxx’. Whenever I find old books with dedications, I die a little inside. I wonder why they chose this book for that particular person. I ask myself why it is in my hands now. I want the whole story, although I will never be able to hear the story or know about what happened to these people. Books. They bury well-kept secrets. They often outlive their owners and sometimes find new ones. To me this is rather fascinating. Wayne Gooderham, who also writes for The Guardian and Time Out, dedicated a whole blog to book dedications, which I find wonderful. Finally, I am quite sure that if I will ever get that Kindle it possibly won’t outlive me. Well, at least I hope it won’t as that wouldn’t be very positive for me…
Taken by Lee Kaiser