I am a big fan of used book stores. I absolutely love them. There is something about that lovely slightly musty smell that old books have that is really enticing to me. I find it’s a great way to get the books that I want without having to pay ridiculous prices at those high-end bookstores. My wife likes going to ‘real’ bookstores, she likes buying her books new, preferably in hardback, but I was raised to love the library and the used book store.
There is just something magical about walking into a used book store, it’s very much like a treasure hunt. You have to dig through all of the useless things to find the rare gems. Most of the time I don’t have a particular need in mind, I’m not looking for a specific book, I’m just browsing to see what I can find. And that’s when wonderful things are found. I have a boxed set of the Lord of the Rings, 3rd or 4th printing from the mid 1960s, still in the box that I got for $1 each from DI. That makes me feel cool. I have a first edition of the Teachings of Joseph Smith, in German printed in the 1920s. I have a German Bible from 1885, and inside I found a baptismal record for a child born in 1915. That is the joy of used books, the history that they give you insight into. Somebody read this book, somebody held it, they may have really enjoyed it and wrote notes or underlined. I get fascinated reading what other people thought about what I am reading. And sometimes you find the most wonderful things tucked in between pages, probably forgotten, then donated along with the book. There is a cool website dedicated to Things in books, including cash, letters, and ticket stubs to long forgotten events.
That is my enjoyment of used bookstores – the history. One of my favorite finds is a simple paperback book, no more than a couple hundred pages. It is a manual for the teaching of Gospel Doctrine in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, printed in German in Germany 1939. Yes, 1939. This was probably one of the last things the Church was able to publish in Germany before WWII, and was probably the last book that German members had to last them through the war. This book is an incredible piece of history, and I haven’t even read it yet! I plan on it, to see what was taught and how.
Sometimes it’s just the journey that we find so entertaining, not necessarily the end product. I don’t always have to buy something when I go into a bookstore, in fact, I rarely do, but I love perusing the shelves, looking for treasures. It can be a challenge, most used bookstores are only very loosely organized, with certain genre books in one place or another, but very little alphabetizing by author or title done, like you would see in a ‘regular’ bookstore or a library. This can be frustrating when you are looking for something specific, but if you allow yourself to see the hidden beauties, it can be quite fun!
I just love used bookstores, I wish I had more money and more time to spend.