I love second hand book stores. The charity book stores in the UK are excellent, and when I used to live in another part of London there was an excellent Red Cross shop on the high street about 20 minutes walk away. Tom and I used to spend most Sundays going there, to "the Muppet show", as he called it, because the people who used to run it were...well, a cast of surreal characters, let's put it that way! But it was an excellent bookshop, you never knew what treasures you might unearth.
One of the things I love about second hand books is the history in them. Whose shelves did they sit on, who read them, where might they have gone to get to this moment with me holding them in my hands....there was sometimes a clue or two, sometimes nothing at all. Sometimes the donors to the bookshop left bookmarks in the pages. And not just your usual bookmarks - a business card from another country, a movie stub or bus ticket, and once a card that must have been sent with a bunch of flowers, saying that they hoped the recipient was "feeling better about life". I wonder what on earth happened there?!
I especially love finding books that have unusual thought provoking inscriptions. Whenever I was given a book as a child, the giver always wrote in it. My grandfather always gave me books, and seeing his handwriting in them, when he has been gone for sixteen years and my memories of him are fleeting, is wonderful. It is a legacy of sorts.
About two years ago, in my Red Cross bookshop, I found this copy of Franny and Zooey:
I bought it for the inscription!
So, who were Caitlin and (her) Salinger, I wonder?! Were they lovers, or just friends? It was given on Valentine's Day too. How did it end up in the Red Cross bookshop? Did they have a falling out, wherein she was determined to rid herself of anything the man had ever touched, anything that had a memory of him attached.....or was it just not her cup of tea and she was in a charitable mood one day?
But it's going in a book.
Have you ever found something really cool in a second hand store?