Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Love Letters And Old Lists

I hate old books and not because I don't have an appreciation for recycling. The reasons I am disinclined to peruse used (and rare) bookstores are varied and many. Christian, on the other hand, loves nothing more than the idea of sharing books. He loves the browsing amidst dusty old volumes no longer in print. He can spend hours at charity book sales and is never one to turn away a hand-me-down or two, unless of course it is a contemporary fiction writer he does not care to read. I have no problem reading a book that belonged to a friend or family member, it is when the book comes from a place I do not know and was touched by hands and breathed upon by people I can only imagine that I start to get nervous.

The first time I read a 'used' book (and I am not talking about school text books, those don't count, you don't have a choice) I was in high school and it was a copy of Cat's Cradle I picked up at the Symphony Book Fair. I was about twenty pages in and already hooked when I came across a page with a big greasy thumb print. A few pages later I found an eyelash. I was totally grossed-out by that point and, fortunately, was able to borrow the copy Richmond had on his shelf. It is not that I never pick up used books or read the occasional book without knowing the origin, it is just that I do it with extreme care and caution. As a rule I will not read used books in bed and I would like to do it only while wearing latex gloves, but this gets complicated. The solution is to stick with new books when possible.

There is, however, one thing I love and will never cease to appreciate about used books. I love a certain aspect of the human impact - everything from the underlined words and notes made in the margins to the receipts and postcards left inside. I love the glimpses into the lives of the people who came before me and read (and maybe enjoyed) the book I am reading. If I could guarantee that human impact, and not have to worry about the other kind, I would continue to read used books with reckless abandon. Unfortunately, nobody can guarantee that I won't find a booger tucked away deep inside of Chapter 11.

The Found Magazine website has sort of filled this void for me. Although I only looked at the site once before tonight, after seeing and listening to Peter and Davy Rothbart earlier tonight at the Found v. Post Secret event I think I am hooked. I have had a lot of trouble making the links to other websites work but if you are interested you can check it out at It was an interesting night. The highlight was listening to the founder of Post Secret, Frank Warren, discuss how the project started, what it means to him, and what it has meant to the hundreds of thousands of lives it has touched. The impact is huge and far-reaching.

No pictures of the bug today but tomorrow will be a big day - St. Nick in the morning, dentist appointment, and tree shopping. It is going to be in the 70's and 80's this weekend and I have a problem selecting a Christmas tree in shorts, so I think we are going to try to go tomorrow night so that it will at least feel like Christmas at the tree lot.

1 comment:

Kitty Brown said...

I take it that you're off today -- props for that, and can't wait to see the Santa and tree pictures.