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It seems a bit odd that in a blog I want to dedicate to novelty and newfound loves, my third post should be about used books! Still, I can't resist the urge to profess my love to those yellowed pages and broken binding.
Aside from being ridiiiiculously cheap (€1 used compared to €16 new? My choice is made! Except, of course, for special editions) and a more sustainable option, there is something terribly romantic about used books. I love how they smell - that gentle, subtle old-building muskiness that they exude (I'm not a freak, I swear! We all have our weaknesses. Who wants to make a cologne that smells of old books for me to force upon pretty boys?). They look like they have a history, with their battered covers and dry, browning paper. Who carted them around before now, and in what kind of bag? What kind of room were they kept in? What made the original owner buy this book?
I think it's that sense of connection with the previous reader that is most beautiful. I'm going to make a reference now to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I think just about every teenager who felt themselves to be a little alternative has read. And that's a compliment, not a deterrant; it certainly made 14-year-old Kerouac-obsessed gothy me feel a lot more comfortable in my skin than more conventional teenage books. Anyway anyway anyway, the reason I refer to it is that the strongest sentiment I gleaned from the book was that one is never alone because other people have seen the same things, felt the same sentiments and had the same thoughts as us, even if we never meet those people. Even if the person who read my new-old book before me didn't feel the same way about it, well, we've both read the same text from the same book, we are connected in some arcane way. My hands are where theirs were and my eyes are focused on the same point. It's a lovely sentiment when you think about it. And just as I think of them, they may have thought of the next reader when giving their book to the student union shop, or the parish sale, or wherever I crossed paths with it, and hoped that whoever reads it next enjoys it as much as they did. Or maybe they think "I pity whatever sucker shells out for this heap of trash," which probably applies to me, inclined as I am to buy books about anything (extremely dated sociology books on taboo for €1.50 anyone?). Hey, it's still a connection and it still applies.
I'm never distraught if I leave a favourite book down somewhere and wander off without it because I know that it'll be found by someone who might enjoy it and might feel the same about it as I did (unless they chuck it in a bin, in which case it's their loss!). And then, they might go and write in their blog about how they love the romance of old books and how they love thinking that someone else has read this book and felt something about it before them...