Three Good Ways to Appriciate Old, Tattered Books

October 21, 2008

You’ve just left a book store that was stacked ceiling high with books.  It smelled of rotting paper, wood, and a slight bit like a wet dog.  The book that you hold in your hand is missing the first couple pages.  Yet you are able to look at the book with admiration, you can’t wait to get into the story that it holds, and you are even more excited by the way it looks.  Why is this?  Why is this half-ruined book worthy of your time?  Here are my three best reasons:

  1. The book has a personality.  When you open the cover of the book the previous owner’s person escapes.  The book that you are about to read has been through some of the most intimate times of another’s life.  It’s been in the subway on the way to work, it’s been in the park on an autumn day, it’s been in the bathroom; the book essentially holds two stories, one that comes from the text, and one from the original reader’s life.
  2. Books are meant to look yellow and tattered.  Stiff, white books are so dead feeling.  I’d much rather hold a book that smells of an old library and that has its price lightly penciled onto the inside cover.  Why pry open a brand new novel from Barnes and Noble when one can experience a REAL book.
  3. They are more fun to find.  Used book stores are a world of their own, the tall towers of books would make the average reader run in fear and the categorization would most likely make a librarian weep, but every good book found is a victory.  There is nothing more satisfying than finding that one special book sitting in the dusty corner of the store, you know, that one that hasn’t been reprinted since the 1960’s.

So there you have it, now go support your local used book store (or library, they’re good too).  If you live in or around Philly then check out Brickbat or The Book Trader

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