I have hundreds of books …. really far too many. They are everywhere, on shelves and in stacks in every room. But I can’t resist adding to my collection.
I buy them from all the usual places; online; in book stores and in secondhand book shops. But I also buy many that have been donated by kind people ….. the books found in Charity shops and those ‘table-top’ sales that seem to be everywhere at the moment. I have seen them in supermarkets; school halls and even in hospital and GP waiting rooms.
Some books come in assorted bundles ….like Forrest Gump’s chocolates, “ ……You never know what you are going to get” ……. ( Although, actually I have always thought that was a rather silly statement …. you just have to read the little menu that comes in every box of chocs and you know EXACTLY what you are going to get ! …..But I digress ) And other books are bought singly; in twos and threes or in great arms- full……. it just depends what’s available.
Some of the books ….. both the hard-backed and paperback editions ….. have been well- loved and obviously read and re-read many times. Some are even slightly tatty; their dog-eared pages turned over at the corners to ‘mark the place’ of the various times the reader has paused and placed the book aside. Perhaps to go to bed; to work; prepare or eat a meal; feed a baby; meet a lover ? I like to fantasize about the previous owners; wonder who they were; imagine their lives. Occasionally there are clues …..I discover little objects that have been used as bookmarks …… shopping lists; little notes; an old postcard; a used cinema ticket. Maybe one day I will find a love letter; a £10 note or a winning lottery ticket ….hahaha ! But I love all that ….the little signs of use; the personal touches; the wear and tear of daily life ….
However, sometimes I find a book that hasn’t been read. It is as perfect and pristine as the day it was purchased. And that always puzzles me. Yesterday, in my GP’s waiting room, I found this among the books for sale ……. for a mere 50p.
It hadn’t even been opened, let alone read. I could tell …..I just knew, from the way the cover was so firmly and intimately close to the title page; colophon and frontispiece. ….. the pages had never been turned. The spine was as rigid as the backbone of a Buckingham Palace guard …..
The whole book screamed of unsullied new-ness and I found it unutterably sad.
I mean ….why would you discard a book before you’d read it …..or, at least opened it and given it a try ? Surely you would read the inner jacket and a few pages before thinking,
” This isn’t for me”
Perhaps the donor didn’t buy it themselves, maybe it was a gift from someone who thought the recipient would love it. Its such a shame that he or she didn’t, isn’t it ?
So ….is it just me or does anyone else think that an unread, secondhand book, is rather sad ?
Or, am I being silly….( yes, probably !) ……
After all, I have lots of unread books at home. Ones that I’ve just not got round to reading yet. But, I wouldn’t dream of giving them away until I have. ( And even then I find it hard to part with books, but that’s another matter)
Ach, on reflection, maybe it IS just me ……. Maybe I’m just too ‘squirrely‘ ……..
P.S. I have started to read this book ….and I love it ……. The donor missed a rare treat !